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Review: Nokia Lumia 1020 for AT&T

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Jul 30, 2013, 3:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia's latest flagship Windows Phone features an incredible 41-megapixel camera and PureView imaging technology. Get the full picture with Phone Scoop's in-depth review.

Is It Your Type

Nokia is doing its best to differentiate its products in a crowded market. Devices such as the Lumia 1020, which boasts a 41-megapixel PureView camera and polycarbonate design, stand as far apart from competitors as possible. Is the Lumia 1020 for you? Sure, if you are a photo-snapping addict who also happens to love Windows Phone.


In February 2012, Nokia stunned the world with the PureView 808. People were agog at the smartphone's 41-megapixel imager, something that offered insane amounts of zoom and image-taking prowess. Unfortunately, Nokia wrapped the 808's PureView camera in a Symbian smartphone that was never sold in the U.S. Fifteen months later, Nokia has finally ported the PureView camera technology to a Windows Phone device in the Lumia 1020. Even better, it is being sold by AT&T for $299 with a contract.

One of the PureView 808's faults was its sheer size. The PureView camera module was large and left the 808 with an enormous hump at one end. It truly resembled a point-and-shoot camera more than a smartphone in some respects. With the 1020, Nokia has managed to shrink the camera module to a certain degree, but it is still a large and obvious part of the phone. What I'm trying to say here is that the Nokia Lumia 1020, with its massive camera array, is quite a big device. There's no getting around its size. Take the monstrosity of the Lumia 900, throw an extra half-inch on the back, and you have the 1020. It's a super-slab with a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup strapped to the back.


From any angle except the back, the Lumia 1020 looks exactly like the Lumia 900 and 920. It has a large polycarbonate shell that houses and protects the device's guts. Nokia chose black, white, and yellow shades for the 1020. The sides are rounded, the top and bottom are flat, and the front is a large glass panel that houses the display. The only thing that really sets it apart physically from other Lumias is the camera module, which protrudes from the back surface.

I found the 1020 a bit awkward to hold. Thanks to the camera module, the 1020 is top heavy. My inclination was to put my fingers below the camera module when using it, but that left it unbalanced in my hand. The 1020 is also a bit slippery thanks to the smooth polycarbonate and rounded shape. The materials are top-notch, though, and the device feels strong and solid. It will fit in loose pockets, but its size and weight won't go unnoticed.

Whichever color you pick, 90% of the front is the black display and surrounding bezel. The 1020 has three capacitive buttons for the standard Back, Home, and Bing (search) functions. The buttons work well. I've long thought Nokia uses too much bezel in its Lumia designs, and the 1020 is no different. There is a lot of bezel surrounding the 1020's display.

All of the 1020's physical buttons are on the right edge. They're all colored black to match the display and stick out from the side of the phone the perfect amount. The volume toggle is closest to the top, followed by the screen lock in the middle, and the dedicated camera button closest to the bottom. All three buttons have absolutely perfect travel and feedback. There are no controls on the left edge at all. The microUSB port is on the bottom and the headphone jack is on the top.

In step with other premium smartphones, the Lumia 1020's battery is built into the device and completely inaccessible. If a removable battery is something you want, the 1020 isn't for you. (Nokia does sell a camera accessory that serves as both a camera grip and an extended battery.) The SIM card can only be removed with the help of a tool or small paper clip. The tray is housed in the top edge of the phone. The Lumia 1020 does not have a user-accessible memory card slot, which is a bummer since Windows Phone 8 now supports removable memory.

While I understand that Nokia did the best it could with the 1020 given the requirements of the camera module, the end result is a big, heavy phone that may not appeal to some people.

About the author, Eric M. Zeman:

Eric has been covering the mobile telecommunications industry for 17 years at various print and online publications. He studied at Rutgers Newark and University of Kentucky, and has a degree in writing. He likes playing guitar, attending concerts, listening to music, and driving sports cars.


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Jul 30, 2013, 5:07 PM

Dear God.

I want the phone simply for that clarity you got at the concert. That's a feature I've always wanted in a phone, and has always eluded me. Recording at a concert is always a static-y mess.
I know right, that camera is so awesome. The more I read about it and see it in action the more I like it. 😡 I may buy it unlocked and use it on Tmo.

Only thing holding me back is the lack of apps on wp8 xD
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