Nokia Lumia 1020 – a 41 megapixel phone

When I heard earlier this year that Nokia were going to release a 41 megapixel camera phone I was intrigued. I normally lug around a 21 megapixel DSLR and associated lenses – which gets seriously heavy after a day and is pretty bulky – so the idea that you could have a decent camera combined with a phone was pretty appealing. Of course such a device can’t hope to replace a fully fledged DSLR but when Nokia UK got in touch recently and offered me the chance to trial their new 41mp 1020 phone for a month it was an easy decision to say “yes”. A week or so in here’s my verdict….

Out of the box it’s as slippery as an eel so I quickly added on the battery grip and a cord to wrap it around my wrist. It’s a simple task to add and remove the grip – just slide the phone in and clip into place. That said I like it so much I’ve pretty much left it in place the whole time I’ve had the phone. Yellow probably wouldn’t have been my choice (it certainly has attracted attention) but it is available in different colours including an altogether more discrete black. Once on it operates like any other camera, press the shutter button top right half way down to focus and fully depress to take the shot. The grip is excellent – there’s even a standard sized tripod mount underneath and a further battery inside which prolongs the battery life to well over a days use.

Nokia Lumia 10 with battery grip in yellow

Controls on the camera when selecting the Procam option are surprisingly good. Just like a DSLR or decent compact camera you can adjust white balance, ISO, shutter speed and you can even manually focus – there’s no aperture adjustment though. Having these controls in place means that you can become a lot more creative and certainly avoids the ‘focus dammit’ frustrations of a lot of camera phones. All good so far but how about picture quality? Well I’m pleased to report that it’s stunning for such a small device. I’m quite used to compact cameras producing ‘smudgy’ results when viewed close up but this cameras very high resolution means that pictures taken in relatively good light retain an impressive level of detail even when zooming in on an image. It’s great to be able to throw out a background when needed by adjusting the controls. Have a look at a few examples here – you can click through to download the larger sizes if you want to peek at a pixel level.

Original image crop

Zooming in to create a more closely cropped scene

The same image again but this time with an even closer crop – and it’s till perfectly usable and retains good detail.

Hard to believe this has been taken with a camera phone

Taking the phone to a couple of gigs it performed very well. I recorded some footage of the Cockney Rejects on it and despite standing next to the speaker stack it recorded the sound with little or no distortion. A couple of days later I took it along to a Barb Wire Dolls gig and using the inbuilt flash recorded some decent shots. Without the flash it struggled a little bit despite using a high ISO4000 setting but it was a very dark venue mainly lit in red!

So what about the phone itself. The screen is excellent and has drawn a great many favourable comments. The operating system (Windows Lumia) is swift and has performed well. It does seem a lot more intuitive than previous Nokia devices I have used – much more like the iPhone experience. I’d say the iPhone still shades it in its usability but the gap has certainly narrowed. I must admit the screen size, the camera and the other features of the Nokia such as the ease of sharing images meant that my iPhone 5 actually seems very dated (and small) in comparison. The apps available are more limited but just about all the main ones are here (there is no Instagram at present but apparently it’s coming and third party clients are available).

So is it an iPhone beater? Well, yes – certainly in the photography department, screen size and more. I’ll miss it when it goes back and that’s surely a good sign that this is a very accomplished device.

There will be a couple more posts featuring this phone shortly – one about how it performed on a street art tour of London and one with some Slinkachu style photos.



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