Nokia Lumia 1020 review

Price when reviewed

Despite all the buzz surrounding the latest iPhones, the Nokia Lumia 1020 is impossible to ignore. At long last, Nokia has got around to including its 41-megapixel sensor technology from the 808 PureView in a smartphone worthy of the name, and after a frustrating two-month wait, it’s finally arrived in the UK.

Design-wise, the Lumia 1020 is the natural successor to the Lumia 920. Just like that handset, it’s constructed from a single block of high-quality plastic, with gently curved sides and squared-off ends. As we’d expect from Nokia’s flagship handset, it feels extremely sturdy, and it’s available in a variety of colours (yellow, white and black). We love the bright yellow of our review sample, and it feels fantastic in the hand – the silky, matte finish is a cut above most other smartphones.

The one thing we’d worried about in the build up to the launch of the 1020 was how Nokia would manage to squeeze such a large camera unit in and keep the size down; after all, the sensor’s larger than the average smartphone’s is, and it comes complete with optical image stabilisation. However, we needn’t have concerned ourselves: the 1020 weighs 158g, which although heavy by the standards of the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S4, is 26g lighter than the 920.

Despite this, nothing’s missing from the specifications list – aside from wireless charging, and we’re not too bothered by that. Otherwise, it’s all familiar stuff: a 4.5in 768 x 1,280 OLED display with a subtly curved Gorilla Glass front; a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 CPU; 2GB of RAM; and 4G compatibility.

The camera

If you’re interested in the 1020, though, it won’t be for the design – it’s all about the monstrous 41-megapixel snapper strapped to the back.

The 1020 uses a 2/3in, backside-illuminated, 41-megapixel sensor to produce 34-megapixel images at an aspect ratio of 16:9, or 38-megapixel photos at 4:3. It has a Carl Zeiss-branded, f/2.2 lens; a shutter speed range of 1/4,000s to 4s; an ISO range of 100 to 4000; and the ability to manually adjust focus, adjust the white balance and set exposure compensation between -3 and +3EV in 1/3 stop steps.

All the settings described above can be adjusted manually, via the intuitive, translucent, dial-based interface of Nokia’s Pro Camera app. This delivers the sort of control normally associated with enthusiast compact cameras and DSLRs. There’s also an optional camera grip, which costs £50, that snaps onto the front and adds a supplementary battery, a tripod thread and a larger, two-stage shutter button.

Nokia Lumia 1020

It’s impressive stuff, and all this control has obvious benefits, such as the ability to limit noise by keeping the ISO low, or to freeze fast action by setting the shutter speed high. The advantages of the super-high 41-megapixel resolution are initially less clear, though. You certainly don’t need this sort of resolution to post to Facebook or Twitter, and you don’t need it for print, either.

In practice, the main bonus of having all those pixels is the ability to zoom into a scene without the need for bulky optics – a problem on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom – or quality-reducing interpolation, which is the method most other smartphones use.

This can be achieved in-shot, by dragging a thumb up and down on the display, or by cropping into the image after snapping. The 1020 even allows you to re-crop a zoomed-in shot after the fact, since it always keeps a copy of the full-resolution image.


Cheapest price on contract Free
Contract monthly charge £37.00
Contract period 24 months
Contract provider


Dimensions 71.4 x 10.4 x 130.4mm (WDH)
Touchscreen yes

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 2.00GB
Camera megapixel rating 41.0mp
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes


Screen size 4.5in
Resolution 768 x 1280

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes


OS family Other

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