Vise Review: Nokia Lumia 1020 – the Camera with a Smartphone


Months ago, at the Lumia 1020 product announcement, it was touted as the world’s best smartphone camera. After many months, TechVise finally got hold of the Lumia 1020 device for review so we could run our own tests and hopefully answer some nagging questions that plague a buyer’s mind.

Lumia 1020 Phone Build

The Lumia 1020 is built very much like it predecessors; with four hard buttons on the right hand side dedicated to volume keys, power/lock key and a dedicated camera key. Measuring slightly larger and weighing a lot less than the Lumia 920 (185 gm vs 158 gm), the Lumia 1020 feels great in the hand and is a pleasure to hold even though there is a large camera lens protrusion on the back. Nokia has removed QI wireless charging from the phone body itself however there is a wireless charging cover that can be purchased fitted over the phone.

Nokia Lumia 1020

Power & Performance

The Lumia 1020 upgrades the RAM from 1 GB to 2 GB which has direct impact on the speed, performance & power consumption of the device. The camera application loads really fast, the apps open very quickly and everything responds far quicker to the touch than other Windows Phones out there (which is already fast when compared to iOS and Android devices); however the battery consumption clearly takes a nose dive when operating the camera.

Battery

Officially specs wise, there is no difference in the battery capacity  (2000 mAh) between the Lumia 920 and the Lumia 1020, however the difference is there in the voltage (3.7 V and 3.8 V respectively) and consumption where Lumia 1020 is supposed to give more hours under heavy usage than its predecessor Lumia 920. Under test conditions with battery saver turned on; the device initially estimated 1 day and 21 hours of usage (1 email box, approx 45 mins of internet browser usage & app downloads and 30 mins talk time). At the end of its 1 day and 21 hours, the device still had 32% battery left which is when I turned on the camera app. After 30 mins of Camera usage, the device was down to 12% and in battery saver mode.

All told the performance of the device and its battery consumption is impressive when compared to other smartphones however Nokia should have mentioned how camera usage would affect the battery just like it mentions the impact of video playback, internet browsing, 3G etc.

Storage

The Lumia 1020 comes with 32 GB onboard memory of which approx 26 GB is available for use. There is also the addition of 7 GB space on Skydrive that is used as a backup / auto upload for images and videos (only standard image and video formats, no DNG files sorry), text messages & phone settings.

Nokia Lumia Phone StorageDefault storage management on the device is fairly good and can be accessed directly from Settings > Phone Storage. It gives a detailed breakdown of how much space is being utilised by photos, apps + games, documents, music + videos, maps, email + messaging, system and temporary files. Users can use this to clear temporary files from the phone. A better storage management app is the Nokia Storage Check which users can use to understand how much space individual apps + games are taking so they can choose what to delete/remove from the phone wisely.

Display + Touch

The Lumia 1020 has a massive 4.5 inch High Definition display with 334 ppi, clear black AMOLED display with super sensitive touch all provided through Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3. What does this really mean for users? It means that you can operate this device with gloves, the screen won’t shatter if it falls face down on the street (believe me its happened with me), you will see clearer photos and videos and be able to play a game or read in sunlight. This is a definite plus point for this device.

Lumia 1020 Camera & Camera Apps

The much touted camera is worth all fuss. It takes superb photos and videos. For all the non-pros out there, the floating lens is a gift since last minute shakes still capture a great photo and with the ‘reframe’ option in Nokia Camera app, users can actually zoom in, and reframe the images. Goodbye tilts!

While Nokia & Microsoft have way too many camera applications, the two most useful Camera applications are Nokia Camera and Nokia Smart Cam. The Nokia Camera is the “Pro” application, that allows users to play with Flash, White Balance, Focus, ISO, Shutter Speed and Brightness. All the settings have an ‘auto’ as well as a range of user defined options that are easy to set. The interface for all the Pro Camera settings is very intuitive. Within the settings of the Camera application there are 3 options, JPEG 5 MP pictures, JPEG 5 MP + 34 MP pictures (if set on 16:9) otherwise its JEPG 5 MP + 38 MP pictures for 4:3 image ratio and JPEG 5 MP + 34 MP DNG images.

For those new to the RAW versus DNG image format debate, RAW formats were primarily used by Pro Digital Cameras and the image format was a pain to deal with since Nikon, Canon, Sony all had different RAW algorithms. Adobe came along with the Digital Negative Format (DNG) which is a very high quality image that can be edited in Adobe Photoshop without losing quality; a common problem with JPEG images.

For Nokia Lumia 1020, this means there is a very real impact on storage. A 5 MP + 34 MP JPEG image translates to average file sizes 1.6 MB + 7.6 MB images, whereas a 5 MP + 34 MP DNG image translates to average file sizes of 1.6 MB + 43.7 MB images. Suffice to say, after a photo shoot of 30 minutes spanning 29 images and 2 videos, the Lumia 1020 used 439.5  MB of storage space.  Whereas 60 photos in DNG + JPEG format took up a whopping 2.56 GB of storage space.

Nokia Apps & Lumia Black Update

Nokia has some very good applications for the device namely the likes of Nokia Smart Cam, Nokia Camera, Nokia Storyteller (useless in Pakistan since there are no Here Maps for our country yet), Nokia Beamer (sends anything on the device to internet connected screens), App Folder etc. Lumia Black update adds the ability to maintain App folders, alert icons to the glance screen, save images in DNG format (Lumia 1020 and Lumia 1520 devices only), toggle screen rotation and shutdown running applications / screens.

Other than these there is Data Sense and SMS + Call Filter, two must have applications for any user. Data Sense monitors how much internet the device is using over Mobile and WiFi networks. SMS + Call Filter allows us to block calls and SMS from specific users.

Wallet and Data Sense

Other Interesting Observations

I did not test the Nokia Camera grip accessory for this device which would have made a difference to its battery life since it has a built in battery for extra usage as well as the ability to take selfies through the use of a tripod. Speaking of selfies, the front camera is a 1.2 MP HD camera which takes the one of the best front camera pictures in my experience.

The Here Maps, Here Drive + applications from Nokia are further augmented by LiveSight which is very much useless with the rest of brilliant Here applications and Drive Mode in Pakistan. Nokia Pakistan refuses to give a release date for its downloadable maps and doesn’t allow manual map editing (which it does for other neighbouring countries). I have used these apps in UK and UAE and they are very good. Once available in Pakistan, it would give these devices an edge over Google Maps which power Android and iOS applications and do not have decent driving applications yet.

Lumia 1020 Conclusion

Available in Black, White and Yellow, the Lumia 1020 is currently priced between PKR 60,0000 (white) – PKR 65,000 (black, yellow) online from Home Shopping Network and PKR 69,900 at Nokia Care Outlets. If you want a great Camera and a smartphone and do not mind a little  weight and bulk, the Lumia 1020 is the best Camera + Smartphone out there. The phone’s weakest link is not its price, hardware or OS but rather the availability of apps which 18 months on are still way behind Android and iOS devices. Having said that, if I had the choice between Lumia 1020, Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5S, I would choose the Lumia 1020.

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