Review by Andrew Kameka on Wednesday July 24, 2013.
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The Nokia Lumia 1020 is the phone Nokia promised it would deliver. The Lumia 1020, which has a 41-megapixel sensor and stakes its reputation on the cultivated power of its camera, is also the phone Nokia needs to catch on with consumers.
Nokia is now far from the top of the smartphone charts it once lead before the rise of iPhones and Androids knocked the company off its perch. Windows Phone 8 was supposed to guide the former Kings of Symbian and Meego to a more prominent position, but that has yet to happen. Nokia has made bold bets that delivering a better camera would eventually lead smartphone buyers to embrace Windows Phone as readily as its CEO. Sadly, slow growth has come in place of a breakthrough device. Is the Nokia Lumia 1020 the phone to finally deliver?
Hardware and Design
Nokia's smartphones since its Windows Phone embrace have been natural progressions of knowing what works and continuing to use it until it no longer does. The Meego-powered Nokia N9 was the foundation of the Windows Phone Lumia 900, which begat the Lumia 920. The Lumia 1020 descends from that overlooked tree with a design that pulls heavily from those obvious influences. The frame of the device is a matte polycarbonate material with a coating slightly slicker than the 920, but it has the same tall shape that's flat on its northern and southern surfaces but curved on the east and west. The screen is slightly raised from a slimmer but not slim frame that measures 130.4 x 71.4 x 10.4mm (5.1 x 2.8 x 0.4 in).
The shape of the Lumia 1020 is only half the story. One cannot discuss its design without pointing to the giant disc located near the top of the device. Like the Nokia PureView 808 before it, the Lumia 1020 features a 41-megapixel camera sensor that commands attention and a great deal of space on the rear. The aluminum circle and Gorilla Glass case that protect the camera from damage also protect the phone from being subtle. The camera house screams "Look at me" when viewed from behind, and its impossible to ignore when holding the phone. More than a few people did a double take as they passed and saw me taking photos with the 1020. It's off-putting at first to have to grip the phone lower than a natural position or contour a finger slightly to feel comfortable touching it. That feeling goes away fairly soon, but this is clearly not the average phone.
Nokia's design sense is otherwise spot-on. The camera dominates the top third of the phone, and the remaining portion has a comforting feel. The aluminum volume, power, and camera buttons provide great feedback. Stereo speakers are placed next to the micro USB charging port near the bottom of the phone along with a connector that grips a latch-on camera attachment. The design is unusual but functional.
The Lumia 1020 has a screen designed for improved fluidness, brightness, and outdoor visibility. The 4.5-inch OLED display has a color profile that's slightly off. White is of a different shade not as bright as typically seen and the yellow on the start screen takes on a light mustard coloring. The Lumia 1020 has a dynamic, bright screen that is vibrant without being overly saturated. The screen looks good but it feels even better thanks to the reinforced Gorilla Glass 3 and glove-friendly touch sensitivity.
Performance and Key Specs
A dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S 4 processor powers the Nokia Lumia 1020. It's a 1.5GHz processor with 2GB of RAM, an upgrade in specs necessary to facilitate that complex camera. The already fast Windows Phone 8 experience is smooth and continues the trend of lag-free transitions. The laboring "Loading" screens of apps that I've complained about in the past also seem to be a split second faster, and that split second makes a difference.
Storage is at a premium in the Lumia 1020 because there's only 32GB of internal memory and no chance for expansion through a micro SD slot. The best users can do to get extra space is to get 7GB of free Skydrive storage or download another cloud service.
- 4.5-inch WXGA (1280x768, 334ppi) display
- 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, 2GB RAM
- 32GB internal memory
- Dimensions: 130.4 x 71.4 x 10.4mm .1 x 2.8 x 0.4 in)
- Weight: 158g (5.6oz)
- NFC support for payments or wireless data transfer
- Bluetooth 3.0, USB 2.0, Micro-USB
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.