Nokia 1020 – DSLR as a Smartphone?

We have quite a few reviews on this site of smartphones from manufacturers that have seemingly been left in the dust in an ultra-competitive market. The struggles of Nokia are well-known as what was once the undisputed heavyweight champ of mobile communication has fallen from it’s crest. It seems every year Nokia comes up with an idea; some are good and other not so much but at any rate they never seem to take hold. Nokia has been reduced to trying to carve out a niche in the smartphone market and of late has focused on the camera functions. The Nokia Lumia 1020 is the latest in their attempts to convince the consumer. After all, Nokia does make some pretty good devices, it’s just that it seems no one is taking notice.

Nokia Lumia 1020

41 mega pixel smartphone camera

Nokia has recognized correctly that smartphones are used less to actually talk to people, but rather to do other stuff. Things like taking pictures and posting them to Facebook or Instagram is a big deal, and many people shop for their phones with that in mind. The Nokia Lumia 1020 is focused on these consumers. It’s actually closer to a camera that can make phone calls and surf the web as it aims to carve space in that market niche.

Unlike the Pureview 808 with it’s monstrous 41 MP camera, this device features Windows Phone 8 instead of Symbian. That makes a big difference as far as the overall experience is concerned. In size and shape it is very similar to the 920 and 820 series which should be a comfort to those who are familiar with the series.

Look and Feel

The device features a touchscreen that measures an adequate 4.5-inch 1280 x 720 display. The left side is devoid of any buttons and the right side features a volume rocker along with power and a camera switch. The microphone is found on the bottom alongside the MicroUSB port for charging. The top features the headphone jack, an additional mic for noise-cancellation and the SIM-tray.
The rear of the phone with it’s protruding camera module, LED, lens and Xenon flash make it little bulky. It is a little tricky to get the hold and feel to suit your preferences but overall it’s not really a big deal. You’ll find your way around it soon enough in respect to the camera. It dimensions come in at 130.4 x 71.4 x 10.4 mm and it weighs 158g.


Windows Phone 8 is very similar to previous additions and this device is on board with Amber, a version only available on Nokia phones with minor feature additions. The interface is smooth and has some cool animations without the lag you tend to see on some Android iterations. While the tile system in Windows Phone 8 is excellent in that you can see the most important information at a glance, it’s the other apps in the background that force you to scroll through which is a bit cumbersome. Additionally, while Facebook, Twitter and a few other apps have native integration, Instagram and Vine as well as a few others are not to be had here. This is something that likely turns off potential users because even though the camera is better than most, what you DO with it is important. Third-party app support is still lacking on the platform.


The camera features as mentioned are pretty solid with the Xenon closer to daylight than the blueish hue one finds on most every LED flash. It has good range and functions better than most smartphone flash units. The Pro Cam software mimics DSLR function and is fairly intuitive. You can control focus and exposure pretty accurately, and it is very comfortable to use.

As far as the 41MP are concerned, it can get pretty complicated. It goes without saying that you would use up your data plan allotment fairly quickly if you posted multiple images using the full potential here. Generally speaking, the standard functions store 5MP images for Facebook and Twitter, while the larger images are intended to be transferred to and edited on a computer. One nice thing we noticed is that you can crop down the photos and lose remarkably little quality. For more information you should consult the white paper on the Nokia website.


The call quality is excellent as the loud speaker and earpiece lets you hear conversations just fine. However, if there is a lot of noise in the background it gets a little harder to hear, and doesn’t quite stack up to other manufacturers. Web connectivity is supported by Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, NFC and LTE bands 2, 4, 5, 17 and Bluetooth 3.0. It’s pretty good browsing the web on an LTE network. Browsing Facebook photos or scrolling through Twitter is unremarkable.


The battery doesn’t really compare very well with the Android devices out there, yet on a full charge the 2000 mAh unit holds up pretty well. You can get through a full day of checking emails, making calls and browsing with no worries.

All in all it’s a camera with smartphone features. It fits to those who likely wish to have a DSLR with them at all times, but also have some work to get done. Calls and web surfing are handled adequately, and the camera is one of the best out there. As mentioned third-party app support is lacking and because so much of what we do with smartphones involves more than using the camera, we find this device a bit lacking. The price of $299 on a contract seems to be a bit too much to swallow.

Posted in: Computers
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