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Nokia Lumia 1020 Initial Hands-on: Best Smartphone Camera in the World?

Unbox Writer Colin Chan with the Nokia Lumia 1020!
Unbox Writer Colin Chan with the Nokia Lumia 1020!

Nokia Lumia 1020 Initial Impressions

Note from EIC: Okay we’ll be very honest on this one, hehe. When we posted our article questioning the Nokia Lumia 1020’s SRP we received a fair amount of negative comments. We took those comments seriously and we now understand that the way we wrote that piece might have been a bit degrading. So to those who were offended, we apologize. This spurred us to make an all-out effort to get our hands on the Nokia Lumia 1020. Fortunately the powers of our resident Windows Phone superfan, Colin, was finally able to connect to the new PR firm of Nokia PH and snag us a review unit! Yay! Read below for Colin’s initial impressions of the device. 🙂

The Nokia Lumia 1020 is the newest Windows Phone flagship in the market to date. While other brands have attempted to make Windows Phones handsets, most of them have failed miserably. Nokia has always been the only one who got it right with their combination of exclusive software and hardware designs. We were able to get a review unit of the Nokia Lumia 1020 and we’ll definitely do a full review but for now allow us to share with you our initial impressions!

Nokia Lumia 1020 Spec Sheet

  • 1.5 GHz dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8960 processor
  • Adreno 225 graphics
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB internal storage, no expandable memory
  • 4.5-inch AMOLED PureMotion HD+ ClearBlack display (768 x 1280 pixels) 332 ppi
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • 41-megapixel rear facing camera with Carl Zeiss optics Optical Image Stabilization, auto/manual focus and Xenon flash.
  • 1.2 megapixel front facing camera
  • LTE, dual band Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi hotspot, DLNA, Bluetooth 3.0
  • 2,000 mAh battery
  • Windows Phone 8 Amber

Major changes from the Nokia Lumia 920? Other than the better Corning Gorilla Glass screen and increased RAM, the most obvious upgrade is the 41-megapixel primary shooter. Nokia really set out to make the best smartphone camera in the world and while we’ve only been using it for a day, we’re inclined to believe that they’ve succeeded!

Hardware: Sleeker and Lighter Despite the Huge Sensor

That's a big sensor.
That’s a big sensor.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 does away with the glossy finish of the previous 920 and goes with a full smoother matte coating for the 1020. Personally we prefer this treatment because it feels “less plastic” and more premium. The phone feels more compact and solid compared to the pillow-shaped Nokia Lumia 920. It’s definitely still very comfortable to hold and easy to use because of it’s 4.5-inch form factor (it’s nowhere near a phablet).

The distinguishing mark on the hardware side really is the huge sensor at the back. Nokia seriously invested in trying to make a super compact but powerful and effective camera that they could put at the back of the Lumia 1020’s body. That effort paid off though because this camera really isn’t a joke. We’ll share the photos from the full review but we can tell you now that it really left the LG G2, Xperia Z, and the iPhone 5 in the dust especially in low-light and zoom situations.

Picture picture!
Picture picture!

Other than the sensor and the matte finish, it has very similar physical features as it’s predecessor. Having owned Lumia smartphones since the Lumia 800, we can say without a doubt that this is the best designed Nokia Lumia device ever. That 41-MP black sensor at the back isn’t just a camera, it’s a statement.

Software: Same Old, hehe.

Windows Phone 8
Windows Phone 8

The Nokia Lumia 1020 pretty much runs like a Nokia Lumia 920 with the Amber update. You have the Nokia Pro Cam, Smart Cam, and the full suite of HERE apps. There are still notable apps missing in the Windows Store like Instagram but there are workaround apps like 6Tag. You just have to exert a little more effort but we’re hoping that it’s only a matter of time before the big time developers start porting their apps over to this ecosystem.

Full Review Coming Soon


Our full review of the Nokia Lumia 1020 comes out in a week. Expect tons of photos in different situations and several side-by-side comparisons with other flagships.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 is already available locally with an SRP of Php 35,650. It comes with a free camera grip accessory.

Nokia Lumia 1020 on the Unbox Podcast

We recently did a live unboxing of the Nokia Lumia 1020 on the Unbox Podcast. Check out the full episode below.

Colin Chan

Colin is Unbox's resident Nokia Lumia fanboy. He's inept in any other OS but he's trying his best to learn...so go easy on him. What he lacks in technical know-how he makes up with a wealth of cultural knowledge--hence he writes (or should be writing) Movie Reviews and other things like men's fashion and whatnot.

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  1. Also, kindly, check how you sized up Samsung Note 3’s camera. You stated in your review that it’s inferior to the camera on the iPhone 5s/Xperia Z1/G2. In gsmarena ‘s 6-wy shootout. Note 3’ s camera is adjudged 2nd best–just next to the one on the Lucia 1020. Thank you.

  2. Colin, the raised black mound for the camera at the back is not called a “sensor”. It should be called as a “lens module”. The real “sensor” of a camera is inside the body, at the back of the lens.

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