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Nokia Lumia 1020 – Call Quality, Sound Quality and Verdict

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams



Our Score:


Nokia Lumia 1020 – Call Quality

The Nokia Lumia 1020 offers good call quality. Its call speaker offers excellent clarity, with none of the muffled quality you can get in some phones that neglect call quality over flashier features.

Earpiece speaker volume is good rather than astounding, but it’s more than fit for purpose. Like most higher-end phones, the Lumia 1020 employs a secondary microphone to remove ambient noise from the call signal before it reaches whoever you’re talking to.

Nokia Lumia 1020 – Music and Sound Quality

The Nokia Lumia 1020 uses the standard Windows Phone 8 music player, which is both snappy and attractive. Nokia has added some sound enhancements for headphones too.

You get a seven-band equaliser and the Dolby Headphone DSP mode that fiddles with the audio channels and the sound balance a bit to give the impression of 5.1 surround sound using plain old stereo headphones. We don’t rate it using it for music, but it is handy for movies.

Nokia Lumia 1020 – Internal Speaker

None of the audio enhancements can be used when playing through the Lumia 1020’s internal speaker, though. And the speaker isn’t anything to get too excited about.

It fires out of the bottom edge of the phone through a single grille – giving no chance of any stereo effect whatsoever. Maximum volume is pretty good, but sound quality in general is unremarkable. The Lumia 1020 lacks the bass response of something like the HTC One, and can sound a little harsh at high volumes.

Nokia Lumia 1020 – Battery Life

The Nokia Lumia 1020 has a 2,000mAh battery, and there’s no way to easily access it as the body is completely sealed. Stamina varies hugely depending on how you use the phone – more so than with an Android mobile.

The tight reins Windows Phone 8 keeps on a phone mean that with very light use, the Lumia 1020 can last for ages – Nokia quotes a standby time of 16 days or 384 hours. That’s more than an iPhone 5S.

However, with some use of the Xenon flash, some web browsing and game-playing, the Lumia 1020 is less-than-impressive. You can easily drain the thing in a day, and even with fairly careful moderate use you’ll need to charge every day.

There is a battery-saving mode that helps out, though. Battery Saver mode stops automatic syncing of things that require internet access, such as emails and social network updates. With this feature engaged you can comfortably glide through a day and a half’s use – but you get similar modes with current Android phones anyway.

Should I buy the Nokia Lumia 1020?

The Nokia Lumia 1020 is a phone that only makes sense as a buy if you care about camera quality above almost anything else in a phone. It can produce shots that’ll compete with compact system cameras in some specific lighting conditions, and easily outclasses the vast majority of phones.

However, disregard the camera and the Lumia 1020 and your left with a phone that doesn’t necessarily offer quite enough benefits over a lower-end, or slightly older, Lumia phone. Its processor is only slightly more powerful than the bottom-rung Nokia Windows phones. The leveling effect of the efficient Windows Phone 8 system makes top-end phones difficult to justify.

And next to a top-end Android, or an iPhone, the games and apps selection – and the rate of app updates - is frustratingly poor. In a £500 phone, these issues are harder than ever to forget.


The Nokia Lumia 1020 is a slick, striking phone with a class-leading – if not entirely perfect – camera. However, if camera quality is not your number one concern, we consider the Lumia 925 or an even cheaper Lumia model, like the Nokia Lumia 620.

Next read our round-up of all the best phones

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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