Nokia Lumia 1020

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The summary: The 1020 is a one-trick pony, but it is an excellent trick. If I wasn’t so smitten with BlackBerry OS, this is the phone I’d use.

My dream phone would be the Nokia 1020 running BlackBerry OS with the speaker from my BlackBerry Z30 and the app selection from iOS. Sure, it will never happen, but I can dream. There are a bevy of excellent reviews of the Nokia Lumia 1020. This one is my favourite. I’m not going to rehash it. This is now an old(ish) device. It’s also the only Windows Phone I’ll own, thank you very much.

 

Hardware

Hardware wise, the 1020 is practically perfect.  The super-clean, minimal design is pretty much flawless, the phone sits well in the hand, it’s tough, and the 4.5″ AMOLED screen is beautiful.  My only complaints are that the speaker isn’t up to the high standard set by the BlackBerry Z30 and that, in extended day-to-day use, the phone’s search button is right where my finger wants to rest when I’m taking a picture.

The 1020’s one trick is the 41 megapixel camera that down samples to 5mp and simultaneously saves the original in RAW for future processing. I’ve got photo samples below. It’s a great camera that blows everything other than Nokia’s own 808 PureView out of the water.  Despite being “just” a dual-core phone with 2012 specs, the OS is fast and fluid. Nokia’s apps for image processing and maps really make the device. The only time the CPU seems to struggle is when saving images, which takes a ridiculously long time.  Nokia’s previous 41MP device, the outstanding Nokia 808 PureView, was a much, much faster camera with slightly better optics. However, the Nokia 1020 is much nicer to use day-to-day, has optical image stabilization, and is the absolute best low-light camera I’ve ever used. The 1020 makes it easy to take great photos, and the software has layers of complexity that allow it to scale with you as your knowledge grows.

 

Camera Samples

I’ve taken some stellar shots with this camera. Trust me, it isn’t the photographer. Nokia have created something quite unique with the 1020. Here are a few samples taken in Barbados and Kingston:

 

Software

Overall, Windows Phone 8.1 is pretty nice to use but I find it frustrating to attempt new uses. For instance, setting a ringtone is just dumb. I have to plug the 1020 into a computer (Linux works well with MTP) and drag MP3 files to a certain folder. You simply can’t do this from the device. Why? Who knows. Dumb. The app situation is also pretty bad. Think BlackBerry 10 without the option to run Android apps coupled with what seems to be a worse software development stack. You also appear to have to be using Windows 8 to program for Windows Phone 8.1.  Yes, that’s right. Not only can you not write an app from Linux or MacOS, you can’t even use Windows 7.  Again, dumb.  Getting back to Windows Phone 8.1, the software keyboard, while terrible compared to BlackBerry OS, is undeniably the second best stock keyboard to ship on a smartphone OS.The built-in music player seems rather terrible to me, but that’s just my preference. As for cloud access, Windows Phone integrates beautifully with OneDrive and nothing else. There’s a decent third-party Dropbox app that saves camera images to a folder, so that’s better than nothing.

Other limitations of the 1020 are that it only has 32GB of storage and cannot accept an SD card. You’re stuck with 32GB. That’s not too bad, especially given the lack of large apps to fill up this space, but you can run out of space quickly if you record HD video and take a lot of photos. Forget doing that with a reasonable amount of music on the device. (Which is fine by me, as I also can’t stand the built-in music player.)

If you were all-in with OneDrive, Windows 8.1, X Box, and X Box Music, the 1020 would compliment everything beautifully. Me, I tend to use it with Linux or Mac OS, and stick to iTunes even when using Windows, which makes for a functional albeit less-than-stellar software experience.  That said, I get that I’m not Microsoft’s ideal customer. It could be worse.

 

Closing

Wrapping up, the OS holds it back, but Nokia’s hardware and custom software elevates the Lumia 1020 enough to make it a great day-to-day device when I’m on vacation, and a solid secondary device the rest of the time. It took a while to grow on me, but I really like this phone.  If my Z30 wasn’t such a great communication device, I’d be using the 1020. That’s very high praise for me. As of December 2014, you can pick up a Nokia 1020 for around $350 on ebay. Even just for use as a camera, I’d recommend doing this.

GoSaBe Blog - Dec 30, 2014 | Hardware, Windows