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Nokia Lumia PureView 1020
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There's no getting away from it. That's what the latest - and final - Nokia Lumia smartphone is all about. The 41 megapixel camera.
But what exactly is it? What is behind all the hype? Why 41 megapixels?
Read our full review here >>>
by Mike Leader
The first thing to note is there are effectively two cameras on the Lumia 1020; a standard 5 megapixel camera and the much touted 41 megapixel beast.
To be more accurate, it's one camera powered by two separate apps, the standard (5 megapixel) camera app and the one powering the 41 megapixel camera. Nokia have labelled this the Nokia Pro Camera app.
We said 2 cameras?
The standard 5MP camera is an excellent quality unit in it's own right but you're not interested in that are you?
The 41 megapixel camera then actually only takes photos up to a mere 34 megapixels (16:9 format) or 38 megapixels (4:3 format). It carries a 1/1/5 inch sensor, the largest on any smartphone, which increases the amount of light captured by the camera thus improving the image quality, particularly in low light.
The image quality is simply stunning, easily wiping the floor with any other smartphone camera as of course you would expect. It also produces wider angle pictures, though only slightly larger than the HTC One, but the detail shown in your photographs is just breathtaking.
We have included some official sample photos though these are not at full resolution and the quality you see will obviously depend on the quality and resolution of the screen you are viewing them on so please bear this in mind.
More about that camera
The camera also does a trick of taking a high resolution photo - 34 or 38 megapixel - and a 5 megapixel photo at the same time. We'll use 34MP for the rest of the review.
What happens here is that the camera uses a feature called oversampling which works out the best bits from the 34 megapixel snap and uses them to make the best possible 5 megapixel image.
As ever we're not going to bore you with the technical gaggle here at 1st Mobile UK, it's enough to say that this is by far the best camera phone out there.
There is a Xenon flash which gives a far better spread of light than the usual smartphone LED flash, though the Nokia Lumia 1020 still uses a secondary LED light to help with focusing because a Xenon flash only produces, well, a quick flash. It isn't in an always-on state like an LED can be.
Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) is a feature that few camera phones include and this allows the shutter to remain open longer than usual which also means brighter, clearer shots with stunning detail.
However it is worth mentioning that action shots, or in fact anything moving, will produce a blurry image.
There are downsides. Because there is so much information to process it takes around 4-5 seconds between snaps so it's no good for burst shots.
The standard 5 megapixel camera is quicker but it still needs around two seconds between shots. Very low light and macro shots are also not nearly as good as a 'normal' compact digital camera either, so it's not all world class.
Your 34 megapixel megaphotos will also take up between 9 and 10 megabytes of memory space per photo which could mean long uploading/downloading times, memory space limitations and so on.
Happy snappers are soon going to eat into that 32GB of memory space (only O2 are exclusively offering the 64GB version in the UK at the time of writing) and although you get 7GB of OneDrive cloud storage there is no memory card slot so you can't add any more physical memory.
You might also want to consider that you can buy a top brand 20 megapixel compact camera with Xenon flash and OIS - and swappable memory cards - that will perform equally as well and probably much better in low light and for macro shots for a fraction of the price of this Nokia/Microsoft Windows 8 flagship.
We can't deny that this is far and away the best camera phone out there but then you would expect it to be.
Ultimately it probably comes down to whether you want to carry a separate camera around for more serious photography than the usual smartphone snapshots or pay the premium for what the Nokia Lumia 1020 has to offer.
There is no optical zoom either but with so many pixels to play with it hardly matters in practice.
The best of the rest - screen
158 grams may seem a little on the heavy side for a smartphone these days. In fact all of Nokia's Lumia range errs on the heavier side of average but it adds to the solid feel and means it doesn't feel too light and flimsy when taking those photos.
The screen is a superb 4.5 inch Super AMOLED Gorilla Glass coated panel and colours are clear and exceptionally bright. It really is fantastic for viewing your photos on, something you can't do to the same effect with a compact camera's relatively small screen.
Nokia have included a 1.5GHz processor and 2GB of RAM which is zippy enough in normal use but we suspect that the lag between shots would have been improved with a more powerful processor.
Otherwise though it has more than enough power, helped by the fact that the Windows Phone 8 operating system isn't particularly power hungry.
The camera will eat up battery power though and Nokia have produced a clip-on camera grip which includes an additional battery. It's a useful but pricey add-on.
It is well documented that Windows doesn't have nearly as many apps as Android or the iPhone's iOS but with almost 150,000 on tap (March 2014 update - now over 200,000) it hardly matters in the real world - that's more than the most app-hungry of you will ever need.
Nokia's own Here Maps and superb Here Drive+ sat nav apps are here, with voice guided navigation and you can stream or download up to 14 hours of music from Nokia Music's millions of tracks or from Nokia's Hit Radio app.
Windows Mobile Office is here too and there is enough here to tell you that this isn't just about the amazing camera.
In conclusion, the Nokia Lumia 1020 blows the competition out of the water with it's camera app but beyond that it is a very well equipped and high quality smartphone too.
Ultimately it's selling point is of course that 41 megapixel camera feature which ensures that this is also a very expensive smartphone.
It is not significantly more expensive than several other high end smartphones though but we do feel it is worth reiterating that if you are buying it specifically for it's high-end camera function you might just want to consider a compact camera instead.
Fantastic? Yes, absolutely. Worth the premium price? We'll leave that for you to decide.
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