Nokia Lumia 1020: Does It Hold Up Four Years Later?

When Nokia released the Lumia 1020 it touted the largest smartphone sensor available. Nokia was trying to win hearts and minds with their stellar cameras. In the end, the Lumia line failed, but how does the camera stack up four years on?

Juan Bagnell, a senior editor at PocketNow, did exactly this. The Nokia Lumia 1020 was released in July 2013. At the time its largest competitor was the iPhone 5, and the iPhone 5s would be released in September with a slightly faster aperture. Nonetheless, the Nokia 1020 was the camera to beat. It largely came down to the sensor size, which created amazingly sharp images (download them and see for yourself).

While other manufacturers were trying to avoid a camera-bump, Nokia made it a defining feature. Bagnell pits the phone against the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, which I would define as a leader in cutting edge camera technology. The Mate 10 Pro has two sensors, with f/1.6 lenses, and is powered by a custom AI chip that really helps with low light photography. However, the Huawei is definitely prone to oversharpening an image, which is why the Lumia 1020 looks smoother. I would have liked to see the raw images from the Huawei tested, not just the JPEGs. 

The Lumia 1020's sensor is 2/3", and the Mate 10 Pro's sensors are 1/2.9".

Why didn’t it take off? Presently defunct, Windows phone is deemed as the main issue. At the time Nokia was embroiled in controversy for using a DSLR in their Lumia 920 commercials and passing it off as the phone’s camera. However, this didn’t seem to have a negative effect on the Lumia 1020 sales.

It’s crazy to look back on how far we’ve come over the past four years. The Huawei Mate 10 Pro’s camera is powered by an 8-core AI processor, whereas Nokia’s Lumia 1020 relied on a regular old dual-core processor. While Huawei tries to make up for the lack of sensor size with sheer power (like creating faux-bokeh in portrait mode) you just can’t beat physics.

[via SomeGadgetGuy]

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Working in broadcasting and digital media, Stephen Kampff brings key advice to shoots and works hard to stay on top of what's going to be important to the industry.

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I worked in public relations for AT&T at the time the Lumia was disrupting the cell phone camera market and I tested it first-hand before its release. The camera was leaps and bounds ahead of its competition, but the Windows OS was the worst I've ever used. Microsoft's "Tiles" were an abomination in a field dominated by the UIs delivered by iOS and Android. But, man, that camera was slick.

This phone with android would have been a best seller.


The difference between Windows Phone/Mobile and every other fun is a similar fundamental difference between macOS and Windows. One which is one is information centric and other is program. Live Tiles are genuinely useful in information rich environments, and I use live tiles extensively to glance key information when I need it. On Android/iOS you have to open each app or go into the notification trays.

You have to give credit to MS for at least trying something new, and to be fair tiles are still one of the best ways to handle multi-device and platform systems as Windows is now on VR/AR platforms, tablets and desktops all with similar interfaces. Both Google and Apple will struggle to achieve the same fluidity when device convergence hits them as neither OS is capable (although Google is slowly rolling out their new OS but remains to be seen how well it'll handle multiple platforms). That convergence is bearing fruit this year from all accounts with devices from Samsung and LG rumoured to be hitting stores and then there's MS's own project Andromeda. We'll see when the mobile phone expo kicks off.

Also a phone with Android may or may not have been a best seller, The market was dominated by Samsung and still is, which is why most Android manufacturers are bleeding money or have now pulled out.