Nokia Lumia 1020: Smart-cam-phone, but not necessarily a 'buy'

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The first thing you're probably asking yourself is if owning the Lumia 1020 is like carrying a bulky point-and-shoot camera in your pocket. The first thing you're probably asking yourself is if owning the Lumia 1020 is like carrying a bulky point-and-shoot camera in your pocket.
SummaryLumia 1020 is pricier than most high-end smartphones, but will make some salivate.

A niche device, the Lumia 1020 is pricier than most high-end smartphones that will make some salivate.

Nokiaís new Lumia 1020 is the companyís most significant device yet. Announced only a few weeks ago, the handsetís biggest selling point is easily its 41-megapixel camera sensor, which Nokia paraded around as the best mobile camera the industry has ever seen.

Having seen the gadget in action, itís easy to see why Nokia is so confident.

But even with such an enormous sensor, how does it stack up against the competition?

Apple's iPhone is currently the most widely used camera in the world (data is available for Flickr only) ó thatís an accomplishment in and of itself. And while it doesnít have the highest megapixel count, or even the most robust feature set, the iPhone 5ís camera is still more than capable of producing excellent results. Apple says its cameras are so popular because the company focuses on more than just megapixel count.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 smartphone's camera captures extremely high-resolution images with fine detail, and puts creative controls at your fingertips.

A niche device, due to its extreme focus on its camera, the Lumia 1020 is USD 100 pricier than most high-end smartphones. Having said that, for the aficionados there are relevant high points, but for the general user, the lens makes it a little bulky while multiple camera apps are confusing. It lacks manual f-stop control and presets for common shooting scenarios.

Lumia 1020 high-octane shooter, along with camera app, defines this marquee Windows 8-based smartphone. What will make photographers salivate is that 1020 pushes the smartphone camera envelope with a combination of raw image-capturing prowess and close-cropping capability that makes it one of the most artistically-enabled smartphone cameras that we've tested.

Casual users may not venture from automatic settings and may not notice much difference in image quality unless they frequently crop photos tightly.

Another similar device is the 16-megapixel Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom. Of course, the S4 Zoom's optical zoom element could give the 1020 a run for its money.

Design and build

The first thing you're probably asking yourself is if owning the Lumia 1020 is like carrying a bulky point-and-shoot camera in your pocket. Blessedly, it is not.

Compared with the chunky Galaxy S4 Zoom and bulbous Nokia 808 PureView (the company's first attempt at a 41-megapixel phone), the Lumia 1020 seems only slightly thicker than the Lumia 920 and 928, both of which it physically resembles.

Dimensions of 5.1 inches tall by 2.8 inches wide are pretty standard, and the 1020 measures 0.4 inch thick throughout most of its body. It's that large camera module on the back (about 1.75 inches in diameter) that protrudes a full 0.51 inch from the phone's face.

That means the phone won't lie flat on its back, which is surprisingly sometimes helpful when the face tilts toward you as if on a stand.

Keeping the phone this slim was quite the design feat, especially when you compare the 1020 with the chunky S4 Zoom, which is shaped more like a point-and-shoot device with a smartphone attached.

At 5.6 ounces, the matte yellow, white, or black 1020 is hefty, sturdy, and undeniably solid.

Like all the Lumia 920-series phones, the 1020's 4.5-inch display features a 1,280x768-pixel resolution (WXGA) and pixel density of 334ppi. Its AMOLED screen is also supersensitive, which means you can operate it with fingernails or gloved fingertips. Gorilla Glass 3 helps resist cracks, though smash any screen hard enough or often enough and it'll break.

In keeping with the Lumia design philosophy, you'll find oblong volume, power/lock, and camera shutter buttons on the right spine, and the headset jack and micro-SIM card slot up top. In addition to the front-facing camera there are three capacitive navigation buttons on the front, and the Micro-USB charging port is down on the bottom edge. On the back, the massive camera module includes a wide xenon flash and a six-lens Carl Zeiss lens, plus an LED sidekick that's mainly used for focus.

A completely sealed unibody device, the Lumia 1020 doesn't have a removable battery or microSD card storage, which may make avid photographers jittery about storage limits, especially with large photo files.

Buy?

Avid mobile photographers will love the Nokia Lumia 1020's exact controls, but casual users should stick to cheaper camera phones.

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