Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

October 21, 2013 | Mark Goldstein | |

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#1 Stilian

I would rather buy Samsung Galxy S4 than this. It makes great photos and Full HD videos. Or there is another option - you can buy cheaper Samsung smartphone and with the money left you can get something like this and you will still have some money left.

9:20 am - Tuesday, October 22, 2013

#2 tandeh

stop trolling fanboy, or samsung employee

10:44 am - Friday, October 25, 2013

#3 Bel

Yea great camera and video features, but the volume is shit cant get it any louder than 30. I thought Nokia would’ve been onto that

9:51 pm - Friday, October 25, 2013

#4 Jloop

Still dont get why they wont support sd cards

2:00 pm - Tuesday, December 3, 2013

#5 Tumpin

Hi Jloop, It seems strange they left out SD support especially with the huge pictures this phone will produce but there is a good reason.

Basically Windows Phone 8 doesnt handle SD cards very well. The Samsung Win Phones have SD cards but you will see there are lots of problems. Files doubling up, missing pictures, slowness, all sorts of madness. Give it a google and you will see.

A lot of it is down to poor quality SD cards being used but its also a problem with Windows that Microsoft need to address.

There is also no file manager on Win Phone, making it all very confusing.

So its a good thing that Nokia left out SD cards for now to keep it simple and slick. I would defo go for the 64Gb version of this phone. Recoding videos will take up huge memory!

8:25 am - Thursday, December 5, 2013

#6 Trd

The review says image quality is excellent and “handled noise well, not becoming too obvious until ISO 1600”.  Are you kidding!?  Anyone who cared to check out the samples can see that the images are very soft and noisy even in broad daylight (means when lowest ISO used)!  Another thing I noticed is that, in the noise test, noise is high at ISO 100 but seems lowest in ISO 800, and none of the settings produced sharp image.  What gives!?

7:57 pm - Tuesday, December 10, 2013

#7 Marcel Smit

I have purchased this phone 6 weeks ago, fantastic camera. Here is example what you can do with it

4:19 pm - Monday, March 31, 2014

#8 Ricardo Esteves

I bought the phone, and I tried it against my friends xperia Z1, LG G2 and Samsung Galaxy S5, and i can tell you that this phone, for me, has only 2 problems, 1-not waterproof, 2-not Android, the camera it’s such a huge difference, i’m telling you no one comes close, and the others are very close to eachother, the S5 takes the lead, closely followed by the Z1, but the lumia 1020 is light years ahead… Daylight photos, great difference, low light photos you would think the others were 10year old phones compared!

10:32 am - Monday, June 16, 2014

#9 Antonio

Nokia Lumia 1020 is the best Windows Phone smartphone which you can get.
When you get used to WP I’m sure you will not want to go back to other mobile systems.
The main disadvantage of this phone is that you cannot expand the memory more than 32G what is more than enough.
The main feature of this mobile phone is its almost perfect camera that can be the main and only reason for buying this product.
People who travel frequently will use this phone as a replacement for the camera.
Take a look at this comparison at and You will see comparison to HTC One and iPhone 5.
Anyone considering purchasing this Nokia needs to see the information in this chart.

8:36 pm - Wednesday, August 6, 2014

#10 J.J.Polko

It’s also true that I’m buying a phone… to phone, mainly. So I find that Android system is a big advantage and much more usable than WP.

12:17 pm - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

#11 Jayrton

having used the phonecamera for over a year, yes the image quality is stunning IF you have time to wait the 10 seconds from unlock to first picture taken.
This is an eternity with kids, but I would still like to take good pics without carrying my Nikon D700 with me. Most of the time I am not able to adjust settings or get closer to take a situation picture.
With 1020 I dont have to get closer but it is slooooow. Way too sloooow. All I would crave for is dramatic increase in speed with start-up, focus and savings pics. This would mean a dedicated chip with high-speed memory buffer and some sensor iteration (like the focus pixels in iP6).
With those I would be glad to update my 1020.

9:28 pm - Sunday, December 28, 2014

#12 Ricardo Esteves

I agree Jayrton, only disadvantage is the slowness! Another disadvantage is that if you are recording video and receive a call, a message or something, the video will be lost… :\ But believe me when I say that all my friends are amazed of the pictures my phone takes! And to have me at all times a 6 second camera is enough, i still prefer quality over speed! And the quality is superb! And in low light conditions is where it really shines above competition! even comparing to dedicated cameras! The think i dislike more in the phone is the slowness of app changing from fbmessenger to whatsapp and so on… texting to several people in different apps its not great!

3:18 am - Monday, December 29, 2014

#13 Rob

Why there are no 5-megapixel pictures reviewed? You do know that the reason for crazy-high megapixel count is to enable the technique called pixel-binning, right? It’s something NASA uses in their deep space photography, and it basically means comparing every 7 neighbouring pixels and picking the best one of them. It gets rid of any noise, blur and artifacts from optics. Seriously, the results are otherworldly, have a look here for example: and prepare to have your jaw dropped - the clarity, all the detail in the foliage! And yet the review does not acknowledge these 5-megapixel pixel-binning enabled pictures at all! Did you guys even know about this technique? Hence the PureView moniker, btw. You should really update your review to reflect these 5-megapixel samples, too.

5:02 pm - Saturday, January 10, 2015

#14 Jayrton

Rob, have to agree with you there. The 5-meg pics are in a world of their own with the tech you mentioned. I find it fantastic that you can get the 5 and 41 at the same time and choose which one you will use. Or both, cropping the other for another part of what you shot.
But, what puzzles me is that when I turn off the +34meg feature, it still takes exactly the same amount of time to save the image. Maybe this is because the 7-to-1 pixel processing you mentioned. Seems saving the pics in memory is not the bottleneck, it is the image processing for the 5-meg pic? Would be interesting to see what happended if only the 34-meg pic was saved.

5:14 am - Sunday, January 11, 2015

#15 Rob

Jayrton, the reason your 1020 is so slow at taking pictures is because of this pixel-binning wizardry - all of these pixels from the sensor need to be processed by the aging S4 Pro processor, and that takes time. This chip was no sprinter even when the 1020 launched, there were better chips out there at the time, just the OS wasn’t ready to support them. And with crazy workload that is processing 38-million pixel photos, tediously comparing groups of pixels one after another, the cameraphone was bound to be a slouch.

Truth be told, the 1020 was a little rushed to marked, before the OS running the show was able to use separate image processors like previous Nokia phones running Symbian did. Take a look at the 808, for example - it had separate state-of-the-art image processor built-in and it was really fast, having the same crazy-high megapixel count and using the same pixel-binning technique, full year before the 1020 launched. That’s because it was not dragged down by third-party, arguably dumbed-down operating system like Windows Phone. Take a look at the 808, it’s actually even better at taking pictures than 1020, it’s got an even bigger physically sensor, and it’s much faster. It has option to save original 38-megapixel files only, and processed ones can be 3,5 or 8-megapixel. It does not have optical stabilisation, though, and the Symbian is horrible as a smartphone OS. But it’s worth a look - you won’t believe how much better the pictures from the 808 are, much more natural and higher quality.

7:14 pm - Sunday, January 11, 2015

#16 Rob

Take a look at this one: I know it’s broad daylight and it’s easier to get a bit of a nice bokeh with macro photography, but still it’s a 2012 phone! I mean, how awesome Nokia was, right?

7:28 pm - Sunday, January 11, 2015

#17 Jayrton

Rob, I agree with everything you said. Also about Symbian up and downsides.
In the meantime when we have agreed the Lumia 1020 is a great camera held down by its OS, I wait for its successor.
Since I in Salo and know some of the product managers, I have stated clearly that I want drastically more speed and am more than happy with the image quality and pixel count (you could argue it always could be better).
Specs asked for: From phone closed and pressing the shutter button and camera ready to fire should be around 2 - 2,5 seconds and picture saving max 1,5 seconds. Faster for the raw 30 something mpix image. Faster focus, 3D continous focus and able to shoot for 3 seconds 30 frames without selectng an option and holding the camera steady.
Interesting to see can they meet any of those with the OS. One thing I suggested was using a seperate processor that would emulate towards WP OS the camera function but would do camera and it’s memory only, speeding up it drastically. Microsoft has a partnership with Canon…

4:50 am - Monday, January 12, 2015

#18 Rob

My dream Lumia would have to lose the bulge, it’s unsightly. Also, 4.5-inch is too much strain on my shortish fingers; I’d say, 4 to 4.3 max. I usually don’t like AMOLED screens, due to their oversaturated colours, but they do Windows Phone’s gorgeous UI justice, what with those deep blacks, so I’d let that one slide. Camera-side, speed, speed, speed! Native HDR. Variable aperture (real bokeh). Lose some megapixels and shave off some sensor diagonal, if you have to, but get rid of the horrible bulge on the back. Drop the 38-megapixel option, these pictures are useless anyway, most of the time. Processed pictures should be at least 8-megapixel, 5-Mp are not enough in this time and age. Video recording using full sensor and pixel-binning in real time. Lumia Camera with live preview. Crazy-bright lens and ND filter. Mechanical shutter. Manual focus and aperture control during recording video. No 4K would still be fine, I guess. I find 4K to be mostly gimmick, so no damage here. But I guess it’d be good for publicity, since most flagships record 4K already. But if any, then done properly - no stupid 5-minute limit and overheating issues.

But dammit, the most annoying thing about the 1020 and all Lumia phones, is how poorly it handles shadows. Anything that is the slightest bit darker gets pitch black in an instant, and the rest of the scene is blown out, with yellow cast and oversaturated colours. Seriously, they might as well keep the 1020 as it is and give me back my Nokia N8-kind of processing. Natural, warm and rich, full of tones and grades. I miss my N8. Sorry for the long post.

8:05 pm - Monday, January 12, 2015

#19 TK

Rob, good comments man. I got this phone with Win8.1 on it, really nice OS, very smooth even with the old chip on board. excellent camera, 5mp images of course. never needed the 38mp ones !  manual controls are great, fixed focus allows faster shooting. got the camera grip with extra battery, a must buy really.  takes much better photos that the 8mp ones of my iPhone6, oh yeahhhh.  marvelous phone.  Can’t wait to see the next Lumia 1030 :-)

12:55 am - Tuesday, June 30, 2015

#20 NX

Not even close to Nokia 808.. Good for the phone camera, but much more grain and worst quality then 808, maybe more saturated but that’s it..

7:52 pm - Monday, June 6, 2016

Entry Tags

review, 1080p, test, movie, camera, video, smartphone, JPEG, movies, image stabilisation, phone, 26mm, 3x zoom, videos, OIS, full HD, 6x zoom, Nokia, Nokia Lumia 1020, 41 megapixel, Lumia 1020, f2.2

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