The Nokia Lumia 1020 – who says a camera phone ISN’T a “real” camera?

Carrie Sylvester
Jul 15, 2013

Nokia Lumia 1020

So you think your camera phone takes “good” pictures? Last week Nokia introduced a new smartphone that plans to change our definition of “good” mobile photos. The handset manufacturer from Finland introduced the Lumia 1020 on July 11th in New York City, a Windows smartphone that features a 41 megapixel camera with advanced photo features.

This isn’t Nokia’s first entry into the high resolution mobile photography area. Back in February 2012 Nokia introduced the PureView 808, a smartphone that featured a 41 megapixel camera built on the company’s own PureView technology. This model has been the highest megapixel camera available in the market since it was introduced, as current mobile phone camera offerings top out at 8-12 MP even on the high-end models. Nokia achieves this high resolution by combining a larger sized image sensor, with some software algorithm magic (PureView technology), and a lens designed by Zeiss to deliver crisp clear mobile photos.

I wrote about this product in a blog last summer The Nokia PureView 808 — Welcome Super Pixels — that featured a photo comparison showing oversampling vs normal pixels on an Android device. At that time my only real grumble was the operating system, which was Nokia’s proprietary platform and not Windows. The 808 is a phenomenal product, but it didn’t have access to even one-fifth of the apps that iOS or Android users enjoy nor a “hook” to get the gadget-loving photo enthusiast past the over $500 off-contract price. Even now a search for the PureView 808 shows pricing around $350-$450, as it is primarily a GSM (aka unsubsidized by a carrier) model.

With the Lumia 1020 introduction, Nokia made another bold move to drive the mobile photography needle further by bringing the high resolution, 41 megapixel photo experience to a Windows smartphone.

The Announcement

Nokia CEO, Stephen Elop, Introducing the Lumia 1020

Nokia invited industry experts and press to an event in NYC at Pier 92 with a teaser of 41 million reasons to get excited and banners with hints of “Zoom Reinvented”. There were over 200 industry analysts and members of the press gathered and anxiously awaiting to learn about the new phone and how it would reinvent mobile phone photography. The audience included analyst firms, well-known news organizations and bloggers from NBC, Mashable, TechGadget and PhoneDog, as well as some lesser known publications outside the U.S. from as far away as the Middle East and Africa.

What’s so great about the Lumia 1020?

The Lumia 1020’s sensor has been improved beyond what the PureView 808’s 41 MP had to offer a year ago, but this time would bring it to a smart Windows phone platform. Nokia touts the phone as a social network friendly device. It has a feature called dual capture that simultaneously takes a high resolution 38 megapixel image for editing (a “digital negative” if you will) and also creates a shareable version, a 5 megapixel picture that is smaller in size and easier to share on social networks. Once we have had a chance to play with the camera phone we will dive more deeply into this feature, but it sounded pretty compelling especially for those people that do a lot of sharing. When asked about storage worries, the Nokia representative replied that the phone has 32 GB internal storage and also comes with 7GB of SkyDrive cloud storage. Combining this capacity with the phone’s ability to achieve reasonable file sizes even on a full resolution image, we don’t believe storage will be an issue for anyone in the near term.

The specs

The Lumia 1020 is a 4.5-inch handset that runs the Windows 8 smartphone platform. Although it is a phone, we didn’t hear much about the “voice” aspects but a whole lot about the camera’s specifications and capabilities. Here is a quick look at the specs:

  • Screen: 4.5″ AMOLED WXGA (1280×768) screen — made from 2.5 D sculpted Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Processor: 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4
  • Main camera: PureView 41 MP with optical image stabilization
  • Resolution: 7712 x 5360.
  • Xenon flash for still images – LED flash for video
  • Front facing camera HD 1.2 MP wide angle
  • Memory 2 GB RAM, 32 GB internal memory;
  • 7 GB free SkyDrive cloud storage
  • Price: $299 through AT&T (with 2 yr contract)

Downside – Lack of Apps

Although the product comes out of the gate strong, it also comes with a pretty big shortfall. The “elephant” in the room is the low number of apps that are available for the Windows Phone platform. As of January 2013, the iTunes store had 775,000 apps available and Google Play/Android is estimated at 800,000. The Windows Phone Marketplace is behind the app race with around 130,000 app, though it is still far ahead of Blackberry World which has around 70,000 apps.

There was a special session directed at developers and the newly released Nokia software developers kit (SDK). Nokia highlighted some of the newer partner/app supporters and had the co-founder of Hipstamatic speak at the event. The partnership with Hipstamatic is a valid attempt to fill the void of the missing industry leading Instagram. Hipstamatic was the first to make retro filters “Hip,” so maybe they can bring a similar experience and success to Windows Phone. Other partners that came forward to announce support for the new Nokia phone include Flipboard, Oggl, Path, and Vyclone, and there was also mention of a Vine development that will be forthcoming. Having some fresh developers working toward building cool and innovative photo apps will be key in the early stages of the 1020’s adoption curve and even more vital to Microsoft if they are to drive a much needed increase in Windows Phone adoption.

InfoTrends Opinion

Although we didn’t actually test the camera itself, we did have a little hands-on time, and were presented with a number of up-close demonstrations showing the camera’s abilities in low-light (actually NO light) and bright-light situations as well as depth of field and motion capabilities that can be accessed through the Camera Pro App. The camera produced very good, high quality images, better than anything we’ve seen captured on a smartphone, or any camera phone for that matter.

With this introduction Nokia not only reaffirms their strong support of Windows, but more importantly demonstrated that they want to be considered a serious innovator in the mobile photography arena. The Lumia 1020 will be a good back up camera for someone that is looking to have a camera on hand at all times, and could even be a worthwhile replacement for a point & shoot camera given it produces such high quality photos and has the convenience to share photos right from the device- one of the most important features still lacking in most consumer cameras today.

DSLRs should also be a little worried because the Lumia 1020 not only gives a photographer access to advanced manual controls but it shows in real time and on-screen how those manual changes are affecting the image, giving the photographer an on the fly education.

But will the advanced camera features and technology be enough to push Nokia back onto the market leader board and bring some much needed excitement and attention to Windows phones? It certainly has the potential to, although the $299 price tag may hinder the phone’s adoption a bit as the price may be out of the average phone buyer’s budget. If the phone reaches a $200 price (under contract), it will be an affordably priced option for more consumers. However even at its current price level, it is a good option for a tech-savvy, aspiring photographer that is willing to invest a little more to get a better mobile camera and ready make the leap to the “Other” platform.

Contact Matt O’Keefe with to learn more about InfoTrends’ ongoing research into the Mobile Imaging industry.

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