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Nokia Lumia 1020 review

Andrew Williams



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Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Lumia 1020 demo
  • Lumia 1020 photos
  • Lumia 1020 photo 3


Our Score:



  • Excellent camera in most respects
  • Punchy, colourful screen
  • Excellent build quality


  • Camera processing is sluggish
  • Camera lens housing causes handling issues
  • Not much more powerful than entry-level phones
  • Windows apps/games selection is poor

Key Features

  • 41-megapixel PureView camera
  • Xenon flash with LED focus light
  • 4.5-inch 1,280 x 768 pixel Super AMOLED display
  • Windows Phone 8
  • Dual-Core 1.5GHz Krait CPU, 2GB RAM
  • Manufacturer: Nokia
  • Review Price: £599.99

What is the Nokia Lumia 1020?

The Nokia Lumia 1020 is a phone we’ve been anticipating for a long time. It’s a Windows Phone 8 mobile that uses similar camera tech to the Nokia 808 PureView. That phone had an incredible camera, but was bought by just a handful, thanks to its rubbish Symbian OS and that no network wanted to stock it.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 is not quite the perfect flagship, but for those who care about having a good on-the-road camera to whip out whenever needed it’s a cracking phone.

Nokia Lumia 1020 1

Head straight to the Lumia 1020 camera page if that's all you care about>

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Video Review

Fancy a video version? Here's our handy video review of the 41-megapixel snapper smartphone.

Nokia Lumia 1020 – Design and Features

Stylistically, the Nokia Lumia 1020 is quite a lot like the Lumia 920, but with a matt, instead of glossy, finish. It uses Lumia’s series-staple colourful polycarbonate for its body, and it’s a relatively chunky and heavy phone.

The chunk issue is exacerbated by the camera housing on the back, which sticks out a couple of millimetres from the rear. The Lumia 1020 is 158g and 10.4mm thick, making it significantly less slim than three key rivals, the Galaxy S4, iPhone 5S and HTC One.

Nokia Lumia 1020 2

However, Nokia has managed the make the phone a lot lighter than the 185g Lumia 920 (a right old porker), and we don’t think a 10mm phone is anything to worry about – unlike, say, if it was a phone with a 6.4-inch screen like the Sony Xperia Z Ultra.

There is a design issue, though – ergonomics. When holding the Lumia 1020 the camera housing sits under your fingers. And as it juts out at a fairly severe angle, rather than smoothly blooming out of the body, it feels awkward. In terms of hand-friendliness, this is probably the worst of all the Lumias.

It’s all down to the camera housing, as otherwise the Lumia 1020 has the same Lumia loveliness in its build that we’re used to. Its sides are smoothly curved, and two-tone yellow and black finish of our review model looks great. Its body is yellow, the buttons, screen surround and camera housing are black.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 also comes in black and white, but their looks are less striking.

Nokia Lumia 1020 4

Also typical of the Lumia series style, the Nokia Lumia 1020 keeps its sides as simple as possible. There’s no memory card slot, and the microSIM lives in a little tray on the top edge of the phone. There are 32GB and 64GB versions of the phone, but the 64GB edition is only available from O2, for 2013 at least.

It’s pretty up-to-date in terms of features, with NFC and 4G as well as the more common smartphone standards, such as GPS.

Nokia Lumia 1020 – Screen

With a 4.5-inch screen, the Lumia 1020 isn’t up there with the largest-screen phones on the market – almost all top-end Androids have larger displays these days. It’s not immediately obvious that it’s smaller either as the Lumia 1020 has a chunkier bezel than many other of the best phones of 2013.

It does make the Lumia 1020 slightly less attractive as a portable movie/TV watcher though. Nokia Lumia 1020

The Lumia 1020 display is a 1,280 x 768 pixel AMOLED screen that’s typical of the Lumia-series ClearBlack display line – which are geared for clarity in all conditions. It’s good too. Contrast is excellent, colour reproduction is strong (if anything we’d like the ability to tone it down) and outdoors brightness is unusally good thanks to the Super AMOLED-type panel and the decent anti-reflective coating used.

It’s a highly effective, good-looking screen in most situations.

There are weak points for pedants to point out, though. We’d argue that this screen doesn’t quite deserve the ‘Retina’ grade tag that Apple cleverly invented when it launched the iPhone 4.

Specs-wise this doesn’t seem to make sense at first – with 1,280 x 768 pixels spread across 4.5 inches, the Lumia 1020’s pixel density is actually slightly higher than the iPhone’s. It is 332 instead of 326ppi.

So how can it be less sharp? The Nokia Lumia 1020’s AMOLED screen uses a PenTile sub-pixel matrix that uses two whole sub-pixels per pixel instead of three. This significantly reduces the impression of sharpness – and looking closely you can still see the slight fuzziness of a PenTile display. However, it is far, far less pronounced than in older large-screen Lumias like the Lumia 900.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


September 17, 2013, 5:54 pm

"The level and quality of bokeh a camera can create is based primarily on the camera’s lens, but the crop factor of the camera’s sensor also affects it."

Lens' aperture, focal length and focusing distance affect the depth of field. Crop factor because the higher it is, the smaller the physical size of the aperture will be = greater depth of field(less bokeh).

And why not a word on dynamic range? Highlight single shot DR(not multiple shot combining stuff) was poor on the 808 pureview, and probably is poor on the 1020 as well.
That's common with all small pixel sensors.


September 17, 2013, 9:27 pm

We'll be doing some pretty in-depth camera comparisons over the coming week or so - after which I'll add some more detail to this review (even if it is far more than we usually do!). So far the bracketing doesn't seem to have been particularly impressive.


September 18, 2013, 6:40 am

This phone looks Amazingggggg.
camera is one of the most important parts of a mobile these days as we can just snap and upload to Facebook.. and this phone blows iPhone and Samsung out of the ocean.
guys as for the software , it may not be as powerful as Samsung are apple but it doesn't need to be to run the this OS . that's a good thing.
And yes it doesn't have as many torch, facebook, twitter , etc etc etc.
but if you think about it who cares as it has what the general public needs.
I only need one of each app to be honest.
I have ordered mine of three at £38.00 month . unlimited internet and no extra charge for 4g when it kicks in.
This mobile kicks ass. it deserves a 9 boys., so hop to it and get your finger out.


September 18, 2013, 7:40 am

Hi Andrew,
Found some of this a bit odd... but did like the attention to detail.
If you wish to compare then compare phones. Their was too much cherry picking of singular features on a multitude of other phones to have any real basis as a comparison. The gaming performance guess? yes well we both know that was a guess. and just after you acknowledged the lower overheads that make is so fast even on lesser models?
It would be nice just to do the 1020, s4 and i5 as I think that would be more meaningful to more people.


September 18, 2013, 7:41 am

How much of the screen and photo testing is done "blind" - i.e. without knowing which device you are judging?
I ask because, despite best intentions, it is nigh on impossible to avoid bias once you know (or even think you know) which device you are looking at. For example, you know this is a pentile screen. That knowledge will affect your judgement, whether you want it to or not.
Is it possible to rig up some kind of a testing apparatus where only the screen is visible, and the people making judgements can see only the screen and nothing else? I'm sure there are all sorts of reasons why it would be difficult. The hardest would be to discourage a "pissing contest" mentality whereby the judges try to prove their worth by second-guessing which device is which, thereby clouding their own better judgement.

And it must be possible display or print out photos and have them judged "blind".


September 18, 2013, 10:03 am

Why so many grammar and typo errors? Is the author a native English speaker?


September 18, 2013, 11:01 am

For me, it was this or the Note 3. Considering they are the same price, i think i'd rather get the note 3 now, as it's such a shame this phone has such old specs. I've been using WP7 since launch, and been waiting eagerly for the appstore to grow, and functionality to increase, however, 3 years on, it STILL doesn't compare. And now MS Office and OneNote in particular are available on android, I see no reason to stay with WP.


September 18, 2013, 1:31 pm

Also, this is quite amusing. Nokia advertising the phone, yet Katy Perry uses the forward facing camera for selfies..... I really don't understand this marketing... http://youtu.be/8UUSB9iKIy8


September 18, 2013, 4:07 pm

We'll be doing some full comparison features with the Lumia 1020 and other phones soon :) Stay tuned!


October 16, 2013, 2:22 am

I just purchased this phone and there is a very noticeable internal lens flaw, that shows up on all photographs. The camera is amazing when it worked properly, low light is fantastic, (you forget it is a phone) but caution.. Look for lens flaw (take pictures in different lighting situations) and KNOW your carriers replacement policy, as my carrier wants to give me a refurb unit only 18 days after purchase.

Andrew Coote

November 18, 2013, 9:16 pm

I have recently purchased this phone - but not in yellow! A lot of people seem to miss the point of this phone (and all Windows 8 Nokia phones) - its not a Google bot. I can live without fantastic games, and only ever used a few apps on my previous Samsung with Android. I can understand people having reservations about Microsoft trying to conquer the world - but Apple and (even more so) Google are far closer to world domination. And the worrying thing about Google is that they want to know all your innermost private life - and market it... its all getting very Big Brother and too intrusive. I have Windows 8 on my desktop computer and use my Skydrive to save notes and photos on work (I am in construction industry so no big secrets to share anyway). This gives me connectivity that Android and Apple cant. That's a big bonus. Oh... and its great as a mobile phone too - easy to use excellent sound and microphone.


January 7, 2014, 10:17 pm

I've got 64Gb version from O2 and it suffers from hissing issue during calls. I noticed it's quite a common issue with 1020s :-(

Michael J King

January 21, 2014, 2:39 pm

The behind the scenes video is shot with the Lumia, that's the point.


January 23, 2014, 8:39 pm

Says who? This is not true!


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