Nokia Lumia 1020 yet again redefines smartphone photography


Nokia started the ball rolling when it comes to insanely specced smartphone cameras, and despite the HTC One offering a rather different take on proceedings, Nokia has laughed in the face of ultrapixels once again with another 41 – that’s FORTY ONE – megapixel camera in the Lumia 1020.With HTC’s take on what smartphone users really want (despite a rather mixed reception for ultrapixels), can the Lumia claim to be the unabashed photo powerhouse it needs to be?

Reviews of the device as a smartphone, because at the end of the day that’s what it really is, are mixed, even if the camera element is generally highly praised.

TechRadar said it awarded a relatively meagre 3.5 stars (out of 5) largely because of the camera, which is “the best there is on any smartphone in the market”. It goes on to state that “In auto mode, photos are generally well exposed with good dynamic range. Details are clear and sharp, and colors are accurate and rich” though it did bemoan the time it takes between the camera firing up and being able to take actual photos, as well as taking photos in rapid succession. It also criticised the relatively meagre app-support on Windows 8 and compares the combination of this and the camera with “putting a Ferrari engine in a 1998 Toyota Corolla”.

TrustedReviews also has issues with the “sluggish” camera processing alongside handling issues related to the lens housing. Being relatively poorly specced is notable, being “not much more powerful than entry-level phones”, as are similar issues with the Windows Mobile app market. It concludes by (perhaps predictably) saying that the Lumia 1020 only makes sense if the camera is significantly more important to you than almost anything else in a phone – we’re starting to see a theme developing here…

In fact it’s one that runs through many other Nokia Lumia 1020 reviews, including PCAdvisor, who awards it 3.5/5 but claims it’s “it’s expensive for what is essentially a now out-of-date Lumia 920 with a better snapper” and has some issues with battery life. DigitalSpy is slightly more positive, praising the aesthetics and design of the phone and claiming it’s one of their favourites of 2013, but still cites issues with the Windows Phone architecture, and Expert Reviews is very complementary, giving it 5 stars and calling it the “ultimate cameraphone”, though is largely focused on reviewing the phone as a camera rather than an all-rounder.

And finally GMSArena, in typically detailed fashion, takes every element of the Lumia 1020 for a spin and concludes that it may well be the final big swansong for the Finnish firm, and despite some excellent technology and impressive results from the snapper, other manufacturers have come further, despite less megapixels, on more fully-featured platforms.

The only other point of note from these reviews is that while the camera was widely praised, it was pointed out that it is still not an effective replacement for a dedicated compact system, so it seems that even with these sorts of specifications, smartphone-snappers still have some way to go before they will replace the traditional point-and-shoot.

So there you have it. Ultimate cameraphone the Lumia 1020 may be, but ultimate smartphone? It doesn’t look like it.