back to article Nokia Lumia 1020: It's an imaging BEAST... and it makes calls too

Nokia's marketing department is comparing its new imaging champ, the Lumia 1020 smartphone, to digital SLR cameras. That's just silly. But what the Lumia 1020 can lay claim to is that it takes the best photos of any current modern smartphone – by a clear head and shoulders. And Nokia has packaged it into a modern phone, rather …


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  1. Michael B.

    Skydrive Upload

    Skydrive upload is optional on Windows Phones. There are 3 modes that can be selected, no upload, low resolution upload for sharing or a full resolution copy on Skydrive.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: :-)

    Skydrive upload is an option on my Lumia - its under settings for photos rather than in the camera settings.

    choices are don't upload, "good quality" with a warning that it may eat into your mobile data allowance, and "best quality (needs wifi)"

    [PS RBS and - unsurprisingly - Natwest have Winphone 8 apps]

  3. OldWarrior

    Re: :-)

    Just remember if moving to Android that >90% of Malware is targeted to Android, so be sure to load up on Security if you are doing Banking etc. An earlier story on TheReg listed MacAfee as the best at that time with ~80% resistance. Sadly, WP does, as yet, not have a lot of security Apps that I personally trust, but that might have changed since May when I last looked. (I do no banking on my phone, nor anything that requires security. If they want to steal my Rolling Stones, Have At)

  4. James 51 Silver badge

    Now that Microsoft has got it's mitts on Nokia and the patients behind this, perhaps we'll see those camera apps being intergrated as the new WP standard camera app.

  5. Professor Clifton Shallot

    You don't have to be mad to work here . . .

    "Now that Microsoft has got it's mitts on Nokia and the patients behind this"

    I guess we want the lunatics to take over the asylum then.

  6. Danny 14 Silver badge

    Re: You don't have to be mad to work here . . .

    On my S2 I just remove the SD card if I need to send the phone anywhere. Only store apps are saved on my "phone" so no problem there. as for syncing, dropbox app has had autosync for some time so that can be used on other brand phones if you wish. Nothing new here.

    Good camera, i'll wait until android phones start having something similar.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just Imagine

    How much better a phone it would have been with MeeGO on it

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Just Imagine

    1000 apps instead of 100,000 or more.

  9. Kiralexi

    Re: Just Imagine

    I've owned an N810, an N900, and an N9, which I used as my primary phone for over a year.

    The N810 and N900 are fun but very much not fit for general consumption. The OS has a lot of gotchas, is not particularly finger-friendly in places, and occasionally has unexplained crashes of core components a la Windows Mobile. That being said, for a power user who's familiar with Linux, the N900 kicks ass.

    The N9 (which runs Meego) is both frighteningly generic and quite limited - far from the wide-open Linux phone I think most people imagine. It can only load signed firmware, you can't downgrade your firmware, and only runs signed binaries unless you do some hacks (Inception). It also has a number of bizarre bugs - for instance, the camera often saves images with a temporary filename and file extension, which means they don't show up in the gallery. The browser really sucks (slow *and* unstable is a bad combination, and it doesn't even do text reflow).

    Overall, I think Meego wouldn't have been Nokia's savior without a lot more work. Windows Phone may be limited in some ways, but it's far, far beyond Meego in actual readiness.

  10. Terry Barnes

    Re: Just Imagine

    Meego ended up such a tangled mess it needed starting again from scratch to be a viable long-term OS. that's exactly what Nokia didn't have the time or money to do. Their strength was always in hardware and their own apps - Android would have left them just another 'me too' with little to differentiate them - who buys an Android phone for the manufacturer's apps? This game's not over by a long shot.

  11. David Simpson 1

    Re: Just Imagine

    "little to differentiate them" If only that some kind of unique camera technology......

  12. Squander Two

    Re: Just Imagine

    I have an N900. I really liked Maemo. Until I tried Windows Phone, which is simply far better. Yes, yes, Unix, blah, rootable, blah... but, for actually using the interface, rather than mucking around under the bonnet, Windows Phone wins hands-down.

  13. DaLo


    Rather than having to crank up the exposure, can you not touch an area of the live preview to auto set exposure and focus on?

    Also wouldn't an HDR mode like most other cameras and smartphones have be better rather than having to choose which part of the image is over or underexposed?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Are you serious when you say I can't even lock orientation? Also, you don't appear to say whether the default upload to skydrive can be turned off? Given that microsoft have closed people's accounts for pictures containing nudity and the like, what happens if I were to take pics of my special other? And why would I want potential blackmail material like this to be on skydrive where it's all accessible to the Nsa and by extension several other governments? In fact, why would I want any closed US tech like this? Android is no saint either but can be rooted and controlled, can Windows Mobile?

  15. APJ
    Thumb Up

    Re: What?

    I have one on order but it's not arrived yet. I have an older Lumia 900 and that certainly has an option in the Pictures - Settings list to "Automatically upload to SkyDrive". I can't imagine why this would be any different on the 1020, particularly as for the most part you wouldn't want to use up the bandwidth allowance.

  16. Andrew Hall

    Re: What?

    Some screens are locked, others not. Obviously browsing the web, you can simply rotate the screen and the orientation changes to suit, but on the home screen, rotation would be pointless and therefore it doesn't do it. For me it rotates in the situations that I need it to, I haven't really had any issues where I though "I wish this goddam app would rotate", it just does it where it's appropriate.

    What is Windows Mobile, isn't that an old OS from about 5 years ago? Windows Mobile probably can be rooted as it's so old.

  17. MacroRodent Silver badge


    Now, perhaps for the first time, a phone can take photos with a level of richness and detail good enough for posterity – for the mantelpiece or a family album – rather than for Facebook.

    Your mantelpieces are demanding... I would say the family album level was already exceeded with the 5mpx camera of Nokia N95 and its competitors. At the typical postcard size, it is as good or better than what you got from an affordable compact 35mm film camera, which was what most photos of this kind used to be taken with (or with an Instamatic, with much worse quality).

  18. Antonymous Coward

    Re: Mantelpieces

    At this scale a modern 5mp sensor would almost certainly be BETTER!!!!!one!! More megapixels is just a marketing scam for morons. Despite the (newly invented by Nokia - according to the ad!) on chip pixel binning. The reason being: Each subpixel requires on sensor logic and circuitry... for a given generation of sensor that ancillary silicon will be a set scale, so, the more pixels you've stuffed into you headline grabbing sensor, the more of it's area you've WASTED on non-photosensitive infrastructure... and the more sensitivity, DR and colour fidelity WILL SUFFER as a result. Furthermore, the aggressive binning and NR you'll have to apply to the pitiful signals from your tiny pixels will smear away any additional resolution your pixel density MAY have THEORETICALLY been able to capture. So your images won't even be sharper or more detailed!

    There's a good objective illustration of this here:

  19. Jack Faust meets Mephistopheles

    Re: Mantelpieces

    Hello AC!

    If you want to know about how the tech works rather than spouting gibberish, have a read of:

    Enjoy, and toodle pip!

  20. Squander Two

    Re: Mantelpieces

    OR you could look at the actual photos taken in the review and base your opinions on facts.

  21. Mick1976

    First up, I would just like to say that if you are with Nat West, then there id a very good banking app available for WP, as well as Halifax and RBS, so this article may be somewhat misleading.

    I switched to a Nokia Lumia 620 from Android (Samsung Galaxy SII) because I was looking for a cheap, temporary replacement for the remainder of my contract... My Galaxy SII having come off second best in a headbutting contest with a wall... I was intrigued by the simplicity and of the UI of a Windows phone, so I thought this was the best time to give it a go.

    It wasn't until a month after getting the 620 that I realised just how frustrated I had become with Android. Yes if you love tinkering with stuff and are obsessed with having 3 different iterations of the same apps then Android is perfect. But, I didn't realise that I had become accustomed to having to power cycle my Galaxy SII (Turn it off and back on again) and that it freezing up was just part of having a phone...

    Having a Windows phone was like a breath of fresh air to me, all the apps that I wanted are available and I don't have to use trial and error to make sure that the app I am downloading is any good or may freeze up what was already a temperamental OS. The Nokia Here apps are great and I have used these more times that I ever thought I would. I have Office 365, free of charge. I don't need Dropbox as I have Skydrive, and again I have found that I use this more than I thought I would.

    Needless to say, I have preordered the Lumia 1020, on O2, with 64Gb storage and accessory pack which includes the wireless charging cover and wireless charger, camera grip and a mini tripod.

  22. Terry Barnes

    I bought an 820 - and like you found myself seriously impressed at how well it works after owning Android. The hardware is good, certainly, but the OS is really very, very good. The simplicity and integration between apps - especially the Nokia developed ones - is exactly how a phone should be.

  23. Tim 69

    I like the WinPho GUI so much that when I had to replace my windows phone with an Android (don't ask, network issues) I immediately installed the Launcher8 app which gives me the best of both worlds. Feels like WinPho, but has the benefits of Android notifications, etc.

    I must be in a minority of actually liking the Live Tiles and an apps list ordered in a way that makes it straightforward to find an app. Select a letter, find apps that start with said letter. But then, I don't have 500 apps on my phone. I don't see why I need them.

  24. Darryl

    Downvotes for the people who actually had the gall to suggest they actually like their WinPhones

    How dare you compliment Windows Phone??

    Don't you know that Evil Micro$oft is destroying the world? If you buy Windows Phone, it will molest your sister and eat your pets!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "the camera compensates for a shaky hand or wobbly undercarriage"

    Who holds their phone down there?!

  26. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Re: "the camera compensates for a shaky hand or wobbly undercarriage"

    I like to call mine my monopod.

    You can get some very interesting pictures if you screw a camera on the end. Almost good enough to make the trip to casualty afterwards worthwhile...

    [should I have clicked anon here?]

  27. Jon Green

    It's a phone

    So what're the call quality and signal strength like? Is Windows Phone well-implemented, or are there glitches? How responsive is it? What are the bundled apps? (Other than imaging ones.) Is it something that you'd be happy using as a phone all day, or is it just a camera with some RF attached?

    This is not a phone review, it's a camera review. OK, it's got an interesting camera. Got that. Given that I'd be using it for taking pictures maybe once a day, and as a phone *all* day, I know little more about what it's like in practice than before I started reading the article.

  28. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Re: It's a phone

    As Colombo would say, just one more thing.

    Someone below commented on satellite lock times. My old Lumia 710 go the fastest satellite locks of any phone or in-car sat-nav I've used. I've never used professional kit though. And it gives you an error circle, so you know when you've moved from the WiFi element of aGPS to the satellite one. Another thing that made the Nokia mapping apps good.

    Incidentally, is it just my imagination, or is that Nokia phone a much yellower yellow than the Apple iPhone 5C?

  29. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Re: It's a phone

    I'd imagine he's bored of reviewing Windows Phone, and suspects the readers will be bored with reading it. You don't get a review of Android with every 'droid that's released. Only the first ones, with new versions.

    As for that, I used to have an older Nokia Lumia, and I doubt things have changed. Call quality and signal will be good, because it's a Nokia. Also it's plastic, so you don't get the radio and WiFi/Bluetooth issues you sometimes get with metal ones. There's a stupid issue with Win Phone where you turn the volume down on apps,and that also turns down the ringer volume, rather than being separate.

    The bundled Nokia apps are brilliant. I think you have to download some of them, but as it's a Nokia they're free. You get HERE maps, which gives off-line maps, off-line sat-nav - and it can recalculate routes offline as well. Nokias maps don't have as good local information as Google's and they're not as pretty as Apple's, but they're very good quality and work properly when you have no signal. Unlike dedicated sat-navs you can just go to the controls when you're on WiFi and download the map for a whole country to the phone. Microsoft's app store (Marketplace) isn't as good as the other 2 major ones, but it's apparently improved a lot in the year since I moved to an iPhone.

    As a phone Windows Phone is better than both Android and iPhone. In my opinion anyway. And I've owned all 3. The address book has big text, and is customisable and searchable. If you like that sort of thing it fully integrates Facebook and Twitter, so you can have your friend's combined witterings displayed combined with their call history, emails and texts. This last bit is excellent for business, where I get to see a list of recent emails as I call someone. It also handles my 4,000 business contacts far better than the iPhone, in that I can display just my personal ones and 'favourite' customers, while hiding the 4,000 others - who turn up as soon as I search by name. Apple will only let me search what's displayed - or tediously set long lists of favourites. All the Android ones I've tried have been quite fiddly, but at least the search feature actually worked properly. The phone operation is all pretty standard, but with nice chunky buttons.

    For me, the standout feature of WinPho is the big buttons, big text and big icons for the stuff you use a lot in the home screen. Which is more customisable than Apple, but nowhere near as good as Android. The browser on Win Pho 7 isn't as good as iOS or Android. I've not used a Win Pho 8 enough to have an opinion. My summing up is that Windows Phone is a better phone, and worse mobile computer. The top end Nokias also seem to have superb cameras, with this one being double-superb I guess. Hope that all helps.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Memory space

    I like my Lumia 620 but I have a bit of a gripe about how it handles internal storage.

    Windows Phone 8 seems to reserve a lot of space for local copies of files ("media and files") it thinks you might need. I have told the phone to store mp3s and the photos from the camera on a 16GB SD card and that is where they lie.

    It ought clear this local storage out but doesn't seem to. You can force clearance of the browser files and some temporary files and app storage is reported by the inbuilt tool so you can see what's happening there. However the big block taken out of use is vast and mysterious (4.7 Gb on my phone out of 8GB internal).

    I'd like to think that has either been addressed on the 1020 or its internal space is large enough for the OS land grab to peak while still leaving plenty of room for pictures.

    I will see what effect the Amber(?) update will have on my phone - once I've found 520Mb of space to download it.

  31. Jack Faust meets Mephistopheles

    Re: Memory space


    This problem is much reduced in Amber but if you've built up storage it won't really clear it, it will stop adding to it. I think this is the bug that has taken 6 months to quash which is why they're so behind on the update schedule. (citation needed)

    So after you get Amber, if you still need to free up space and 'Storage Check' Nokia system app won't clear it down enough, a hard rest might be necessary. After that it shouldn't build up again but I have no info either way tbh.

  32. returnmyjedi

    Default SkyDrive upload can be turned off, folks. I think the point being made in the review, albeit unclearly, is that only the 5MP image can be uploaded to BSkyB Drive. The hefty 38MP one can only be transferred off the handset by physically plugging it into your computer. A micro SD card in the camera grip would have been a genuinely useful addition, especially if you're not getting the O2 exclusive 64GB version and are stuck with the 32GB one.

  33. Sil

    I'm almost sure you can deactivate the auto uploading to SkyDrive & choose between a few resolutions.At least with stock camera app.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Am I the only one...

    ... who don't think those images were any good?

    High res, yes, but they had purple fringing, blurring, some signs of nasty high iso noise, and other problems often found on cameras using small sensor chips.

    Picture quality is a lot more than just high resolution.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Am I the only one...

    It's a camera phone, it's not supposed to be rivalling SLRs, it's approaching the quality of a compact camera, that's it.

  36. Terry Barnes

    Re: Am I the only one...

    The sensor is 2/3" - the same as most compact cameras.

    I think you're missing just how deeply zoomed some of those images are.

  37. Paul Shirley

    Re: Am I the only one...

    ...for a camera sold on it's ability to zoom (by cropping) post capture, we're not missing anything about the zoom level. What disturbed me more than the lens artefacts were the quite strong compression artefacts. I hope that's not the highest quality compression on display.

    It does confirm there's no sufficiently good substitute for optical zoom yet or a bigger lense. Looking forward to the first head to head comparison of the Sony Z1 with addon Bluetooth lenses against Nokias efforts.

  38. Ian 55

    Re: Am I the only one...

    Yes. For that money, you can buy a lot better camera and have enough left over for an OK phone.

  39. Terry Barnes

    Re: Am I the only one...

    For the price of an i7 laptop I could buy a typewriter, some paper notebooks, a full set of felt-tip pens and a portable DVD player - but it kind of misses the point.

  40. o_0

    Uploading to Skydrive is optional guys

    and you can choose the resolution you want to upload, and whether to wait till the phone connects to wifi first before uploading to save on your data plans.

  41. Andrew Hall

    Unless they've changed the options specifically on the 1020, you can most definitely turn off uploading to SkyDrive if you'd prefer it not to, at least I've had the option on the Nokia and HTC Windows phones I've had.

  42. Anonymous Coward

    Review requests

    When doing phone reviews can we get a standard set of images in similarish conditions? I'm after "this is a standard object" e.g. postbox, cafe front, etc.. at x ANSI lumens, this is the same object in low light at x ANSI lumens. Here is a vista shot, here is a movement shot, etc...

    I'd settle for a standardised camera phone shown next to it, e.g. here is the Lumia 1020 image and next to it is the iPhone 4S taking the same image. As long as the standardised camera is used accross lots of different reviews.

    It's like the battery test, knowing the phone will last x hours looping a video is quite helpfull.

    Also with phone reviews, I would hope for a browser JS benchmarking test (using stock browser), something like the Antutu score. While I'm not sure if these are solved some information on quality the GPS*, bluetooth range**, etc... would be nice. For example the Z1/Z Ultra push wireless mirrorcast, but does it work well?

    *Years ago I had an Xperia Play and encouraged family to go for smartphones and ditch the tomtoms. It turned out the Samsung Galaxy S and the Samsung Nexus S had truely terrible GPS reception. None of the Samsungs at the time could get a fix in any family members car. I saw nothing in reviews about this at the time.

    **A friend has a HTC One X, recently he was talking about the poor bluetooth range of the device. Which seems to be less than 2 metres. Again he assumed it would work fine to 10m's.

  43. cambsukguy

    Re: Review requests

    This video might suit..

    The comparison starting at 5:50 or thereabouts is good, the HTC has OIS also so there are enough TLAs in that sentence.

    The zoomed image at 6:24 basically says it all but it is interesting none-the-less.

    There is no point at all comparing a phone against the 4S - it is so appalling as to be pointless - the 5S may be worth a shot (haha), the same outfit that made the video above do make a comparison video for that that device too.

    And, so you know, unless they decided to go around and hobble all the capabilities compared to my 920 and my friends' 925, the BT is easily good for 10m - I wander about cleaning etc. with BT headphones while my phone is on the table top, dropout occurs but only when walls and the 10m distance limit would expect it to. Headphones use A2DP which has highish data rates and stresses BT reasonably. It also supports BT4.0 giving 24mbs as well as BT Low Energy (as does the 9xx series with the Amber update).

    And, just in case you wonder why your friends HTC has a crappy BT range, look at the case. What makes it attractive is also a radio opaque material, especially for BT. Still, as long as it looks nice, who needs phones calls, BT or WiFi to work, not to mention GPS?

    All the radios work very nicely on my 920, GPS can lock in 5 or fewer seconds if I have a data connection, often faster when on WiFi and often just as quickly even if I am driving. Phone calls, especially noise cancellation is excellent, I would expect nothing less.

    And as for the Samsung, well, I did ask my other Note2-owning friend to show me her maps and GPS stuff so I could make a fair comparison but after waiting for her to turn on the GPS ('cause of the battery drain), then wait for the signal for more than a minute ('cause we were indoors) and then wait for the pixelated nightmare of Google maps to load when the GPS dot finally appeared ('cause of the poor signal reception area), well, I had my answer, mine took a few seconds and the map was already present and correct at any zoom level - not to mention that it would have been so even if I had been out of data range or, indeed, roaming in another country altogether.

  44. Terry Barnes

    It's interesting how in the space of maybe three months the comments on Lumia articles have gone from "no-one will ever buy one" to "I've just ordered one", "my 720 does this", "my 620 does that". I'm seeing a fair few in the wild, and both me and my wife have bought 820s - which means we can do the party trick of opening a photo on one phone and sending it to the other just by touching the cases together.

  45. Paul Shirley

    Still haven't seen one in the wild. Or in a shop come to think of it. Maybe the streets of London are awash with them, they seem vanishingly rare in the Midlands.

  46. James Hughes 1

    I've seen them (Windows Phone Nokias) in the wild, and the eldest offspring (11) wants one now he's at 'big school'. Methinks they may be making a comeback, much to the commentards annoyance.

    More to the point., a post I made on this thread was obviously rejected - shame - it contained quite a few facts about the 808 and who actually did the hard camera work (i.e. my team @ Broadcom). Also had a comment about Damien Dinning, the ex-Nokia 'imaging guru' Perhaps that's why it was rejected...

  47. K Cartlidge

    They *do* exist in the Midlands

    I'm there and have an old 800 and a current 720 (amazing battery life).

    Our office has 3 and a member of the wife's family (a non-techie) just bought one (unprompted by me).

  48. Jack Faust meets Mephistopheles

    They're rare in the South East, I have a L920 and when I see another we instantly gush about them at each other for a moment then look embarrassed and never bring it up again!

  49. cambsukguy

    Weird, my experience of the Midlands was always sensible folk that understood the value of money. Maybe that precludes the 1020 being popular but the 5xx, 6xx, 7xx and even 8xx - all better value than anything but Landfill Android - all updated and looked after for reasonable periods and all with excellent Nokia call quality and build.

    I shall have to update my views unless my next trip there tells me otherwise.

  50. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    I saw my first ever in Germany at the weekend. I was so impressed I posted about it on El Reg even if it was bought mainly for research purposes.

    The sale of Nokia's handset business to Microsoft says volumes about how well phone sales are going. Even if they are up on a year ago they are not where they should be. Nokia has produced some great kit, Microsoft has failed to update the OS and it's a fast moving world.

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