Nokia Lumia 1020 (with Camera Grip) User Review

 *This is a product review of a loaned unit from Nokia Malaysia*

Recently, the Nokia Malaysia folks were nice enough to share with me a review unit of the Nokia Lumia 1020 which is the second highest-end smartphone in their Lumia Windows Phone series. The highest end, as of time of writing, goes to the new 6-inch Nokia Lumia 1520 announced in Malaysia last week. The killer feature that most would know about this Nokia Lumia 1020 phone is, of course, the much hyped 41 megapixel rear camera!!!

Having reviewed a number of Nokia Lumia phones in the past, I have come to expect a certain level of quality when it comes to Nokia’s line of Windows Phones. As a non-Lumia user, you might get confused with all the numbering naming conventions – Lumia 920, Lumia 925, Lumia 1520,  Lumia 2520, Lumia 520, Lumia 720 and the list of confusing numbers go on. Check out the Nokia Lumia  product page here.

This is how it works – the numbers means the low to high end range of the phones. The higher the number, the higher end and vice versa. Also, how each model differs from each other (eg Lumia 920 vs Lumia 925) comes down to the individual features and specs.

See Also : 41 Megapixel Nokia Lumia 1020 On Sale in Malaysia

Having the chance to use the phone as my primary phone for 2 weeks, here’s what I think about it.

 

Unboxing & Hardware Overview – Lumia 1020

Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia Lumia 1020

The Lumia 1020 includes superb low light photography capabilities from its 41 megapixel lens with new and improved Nokia Pro Camera app. Here’s a high level overview of the specs for the Nokia Lumia 1020:-

  • 4.5″ AMOLED WXGA PureMotion HD+ Clear Black display with Gorilla Glass 3 (1280 x 768)
  • 1.5 GHz dual core Snapdragon S4 processor
  • 32 GB internal storage (FREE 7GB SkyDrive cloud storage, no expandable microSD slot) + 2 GB RAM
  • Powered by Windows Phone 8 OS
  • 41 megapixel “PureView”  rear camera with Carl Zeiss lens (1080p video) with Xenon flash, 1.2 megapixel wide angle front facing camera
  • 10.4 mm thin, weighing 158 grams
  • 2,000 mAH non-removable battery (13.3 hours 3G talktime)
  • Connectivity : 4G LTE/HSPA+, WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0, NFC
  • Available in Black, White and Yellow colours

For more detail specs, check out the Nokia Lumia 1020 Product Page at http://www.nokia.com/my-en/phones/phone/lumia1020/

Nokia Lumia 1020 is now available for sale in Malaysia since September / October 2013, packaged with the Camera Grip accessory priced at a Recommended Retail Price (RRP) of RM2,499.

See Also : Nokia Lumia 920 User Review

Nokia Lumia 1020 & Camera Grip - Packaging
Nokia Lumia 1020 & Camera Grip – Packaging
Nokia Lumia 1020 - Unboxing
Unboxing the Nokia Lumia 1020

Inside the box packaging for the Nokia Lumia 1020, you’ll find your standard affair – the device (I got the signature yellow coloured version), matching yellow standard earbud headphones, 2-pin adapter charger, USB to micro USB syncing and charging cable, and user manuals.

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Hardware 1
Front and back of the Lumia 1020
Nokia Lumia 1020 - Hardware 2
Side profile of buttons and ports

As with most Lumia series phones, the Lumia 1020 is made of Nokia’s signature matte polycarbonate (read : plastic) material (except the aluminium Lumia 925), that has a rubbery finish and feels premium in your hands.

The 41 megapixel lens is housed in a round black housing that sticks out of the back of the phone, meaning the phone will not sit flush on its back. The is a necessary design decision, I suppose, given what a large lens they have placed in this phone.

The rest of the buttons and ports are rather standard, with the speakers placed at the bottom of the phone, the Power On/Off button at the centre of its right side, including a dedicated camera button.  The access to the micro SIM card is hidden with a tray accessible using a pin provided in the box,a s per other Lumia phones.

Nokia Lumia 1020 in my hands
Nokia Lumia 1020 in my hands

 

In my hands, the phone’s 4.5″ screen size feels just right. It fits nicely in my palm for easy handling and single handed use. This size is just the perfect size, in my opinion. At 158 grams and 10.4 mm thin, the phone is not exactly the slimmest or lightest though. Something that doesn’t please me too much. If the decision was to go with a protruding lens at the back, Nokia could’ve made the phone slimmer and lighter still, I think.

 

Unboxing & Hardware Overview – Camera Grip

Camera Grip for Nokia Lumia 1020
Camera Grip for Nokia Lumia 1020

Here’s a quick overview of the included accessories of the Camera Grip:-

  • 27.2 mm thick; weighing 72.8 grams
  • Universal tripod mount 1/4 inch -20 UNC
  • 1,020 mAh Li-Ion battery
  • Connectivity : micro USB 2.0
  • Buttons : Power indicator key, Two-stage camera key
  • Available in Black, White and Yellow colours (matching the Lumia 1020 devices)

For more info or specs, check out the Camera Grip for Nokia Lumia 1020 Product Page at http://www.nokia.com/my-en/accessories/accessory/pd-95g/

Camera Grip for Lumia 1020 - Packaging
Minimalist box packaging for the Camera Grip
Lumia 1020 Camera Grip - Unboxing
Unboxing the Camera Grip

The box packaging is minimalistic. Inside the packaging, you’ll find the camera grip (I got a contrasting black coloured version to my yellow coloured device) with a cardboard envelope or user manuals behind it. Underneath, at the bottom of the box, is an included camera wrist strap.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Camera Grip - Hardware 1
Front and back of the Camera Grip
Nokia Lumia 1020 Camera Grip - Hardware 2
Side profiles of the Camera Grip
Camera Grip - Nokia Lumia 1020
Attaching the phone to the grip

You sorta slide the device into the camera grip, which doubles as a hard case for your phone. There’s a microUSB port that would align with the charging/syncing port on the bottom of your Lumia 1020, too. The hand grip part of the camera grip is not just for show, as it includes a 1.020 mAH battery, which then turns this into a power bank to juice up your phone.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Review 017
Power indicator and two-stage camera shutter button

There’s little dotted lights at the side of the Camera Grip to indicate power levels. The awesome thing is the camera shutter button is a two-stage button, mimicking a traditional camera shutter. Half press to focus, full press to snap the photo. Well done, Nokia.

Camera Grip of Nokia Lumia 1020
Camera Grip in my hands

It does add a bit of bulk to the phone though. Which, I guess, is kinda expected.

Camera grip - Lumia 1020

Camera Grip - Lumia 1020

Holding the Lumia 1020 with the camera grip on, in my hands feels like I’m walking around with a rather large sized compact camera. It can get a bit bulky for daily use, when you’re not taking much pictures. Probably, put the camera grip / extended battery / hard case on when you’re in a party or event or photo walk or something and you need to be taking loads of pictures. On normal days, you’d probably do without the camera grip.

Nokia Lumia 1020 with Camera Grip

 

Of course, the way the Camera Grip was designed, you can only use it with your right hand, with the shutter button at the top just like a normal digital camera.

 

Software Overview

Some of the key highlighted features for the Lumia 1020 includes:

  • 41 MP camera – high resolution zoom, with auto focus, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) with the latest “PureView” technology
  • Nokia Pro Camera app – Take more beautiful pictures with shutter speed, exposure & white balance controls; then zoom in to edit, crop, rotate, reframe and share
  • Nokia Rich Recording – Capture distortion -free, stereo sound HD videos – so you can relive the moment as if you were there again
  • Dual resolution images – Capture both full resolution and standard 5MP images for easier sharing
  • 4G LTE enabled – Fast 4G Windows Phone 8 with Live Tiles & Free 7GB Skydrive Storage
Nokia Lumia 1020 - Menu, Navigation
Tile based Windows Phone menu and navigation

As with previous Nokia Lumia series phones, they’re powered by the tile based Windows Phone interface, just like the ones on the Windows 8 desktop interface as well. You can customise the theme to any colour you want. Because the device I had was yellow, I stuck to the yellow coloured theme, which was quite refreshing, actually.

As a reminder, the tiles on the “homescreen” serves not just as shortcut app icons, they also include notifications indicated by numbers on the tile. As I mentioned before, unlike a dedicated “Notification Centre” on iOS and Android phones, they can be easy to miss.

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Browser, Keyboard, Phone
Browser, Keyboard and Phone functions

On-screen keyboard on Nokia Lumia phones have always been great. Auto correct, word prediction and spacing of the keys are just right on this 4.5″ screen.

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Apps
Pre-installed apps on the Lumia 1020

 

Camera

Nokia Lumia 1020's 41 megapixel camera
The biggest killer feature – 41 megapixel camera

Zoom Reinvented. Photos Like a Pro. Videos That Brings Back The Moment.

These are the top 3 highlighted killer features of this Nokia Lumia 1020. With a whopping 41 megapixel “PureView”  rear camera with Carl Zeiss lens (1080p video) with Xenon flash, you get the picture that this phone is indeed all about the camera and photo and video taking capabilities.

See Also : Nokia Lumia 925 User Review

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Nokia Pro Camera

The Lumia 1020 comes with new camera apps pre-installed – Nokia Pro Camera, alongside the default Camera app. Of course, the Nokia Pro Camera app is the best that includes all great functions for those of you who loves photography and toggle with the different settings like you would with your digital cameras. This phone doesn’t disappoint.

It’s jaw dropping great images with this Nokia Lumia 1020.

Here are some sample images taken with the Nokia Lumia 1020, unedited and not resized. To view the details, hover for detail of image condition and click to see enlarged version:-

As with ALL Nokia Lumia series phones in the past, Nokia phones have done amazing job with low light photography, with their Carl Zeiss lens technology, this is no exception.

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Low Light Photo
(Top & Bottom Left) Screenshot of the low light condition (Top & Bottom Right) Actual photo quality

With this image above, you see the comparison of the actual low light condition on the images on the left where I took a screenshot. Compared to the images on the right, which are the actual quality of the pictures taken with the camera, without any flash, just pure awesome-sauce camera technology.

Jaw dropping!

 

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Nokia Creative Studio
Nokia Creative Studio app allows you to edit your photos easily

As with most smartphones, there are some standard photo editing app included in the Camera app. But in case you want more, and in this case with the amazing 41 megapixel picures, you would want more, Nokia bundled in a new app called Nokia Creative Studio that lets you make great edits to your images. You can do focus + blur which is a depth of field effect (some parts of the image is in focus, and background blurred), colour pop (black and white picture with some parts in colour), collage creation and many more.

 

Conclusion

The Nokia Lumia 1020 may be a bit on the bulky side for me. The protruding lens at the back gets me nervous when I place it on a table sometimes, thinking I might scratch this crazy good lens.

With the Camera Grip in place, it almost feels like I’m just walking around with a camera – which is a good thing for when I need to quickly start snapping some pictures at an event or something. At other times, it just looks like I’m talking to my camera, not a smartphone.

It’s all about the camera with this Lumia 1020, of course. There’s really no skirting around this. And boy, is it a great camera. Images are jaw droppingly good. I’m not kidding. Low light photography lets you take pictures in your candlelight dinner, clubbing environment, etc with great image quality without the harsh flash.

In conclusion, if you love taking pictures, occasionally in low light condition, there is no better smartphone camera out there than this Nokia Lumia 1020.

Battery life has been good to me, as well, especially with the “Battery Saver” mode turned on, allowing you to save some juice for when the phone is not in use by shutting down some connectivity like WiFi, push emails, etc.

If you’re looking for a smartphone with a great camera, this is it. Windows Phone OS might not be for everyone though, although I have to say that Microsoft and Nokia has been doing a great job lately adding more apps in their Windows Phone Store lately.

At RM 2,499 for the Nokia Lumia 1020 bundled with the Camera Grip, this is certainly on the higher end price range for a smartphone. But hey – price you pay for great DSLR quality pictures from a smartphone, right?

 

 

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