After weeks of wild speculations and very promising teasers, Nokia finally reveals the Lumia 1020, the next big Windows Phone with enough camera tech to have any photographer bouncing with glee. Very similar to the Lumia 920, this new 41 MPx camera phone sets itself apart from the world of mobile photography in such a way that it redefines the label itself.
It all starts and ends with the camera. This phone is defined by its 41 megapixel sensor that incorporates PureView image processing right down to its core. Nokia is well aware that more megapixels does not mean better image quality, so along with the sensor comes a six-lens Carl Zeiss optics kit, similar to the one in the Lumia 925. The reasoning for the large image capture is a 3x digital zoom that enables a lossless zoom that still provides brilliant 5 MP cropped photos. This feature is available via the 30 fps video recording as well.
The camera (naturally) comes with auto focus as well (and even a manual focus for those who prefer twiddling the dials themselves), and for the first time, a dual-flash setup. With a primary LED flash, the phone delivers some extraordinary illumination with a backup Xenon flash (similar to the Lumia 928). Low light photos are always difficult, and for those sneaky shots in art galleries where a flash is frowned upon, the Lumia 1020 has some remarkable improvements.
Anyone who has tried using a zoom lens and auto focus while moving around will appreciate the improvements Nokia has made to the image stabilization, replacing the previous springs with ball bearings, and allowing for a shallow mount with some spectacular results. CEO Stephen Elop showed some pictures he took with the phone on a rocking boat, and they do not disappoint. Now, the hardware side of the phone seems brilliant, but without equivalent software, you might as well not bother in the first place, right? Nokia has thought of that, too.
The company's Pro Camera app is stuffed to the brim with settings and functions that go a long way to satisfy the photography enthusiast. Manual exposure, complicated HUDs and even tutorials for newbies are all included and everything the app misses is bound to be covered by others available on Windows Phone (although Nokia is confusing folks further by calling these additional apps "lenses"). Those that have had an opportunity to try the native camera app have described it as "intuitive," "responsive," and "functional," and Nokia has apparently done what very few can by creating a "clutter-free augmented reality" for the app. We can barely wait.
Of course, the Lumia 1020 isn't just camera, and there is still some essence of an actual smartphone present. The device has a 4.5-inch AMOLED Puremotion display with a resolution of 1,280x768 pixels. The touchscreen can apparently be operated with a mere fingernail or even a gloved hand (winter photographers rejoice!), and boasts the new Gorilla Glass 3 treatment. Above this impressive screen sits a sad little 1.2 MP front-facing camera.
In the belly of the beast sits a 1.5 GHz dual core Snapdragon S4, which is backed up with 32 GB of internal storage (non-expandable) and 7GB of SkyDrive storage courtesy of Microsoft, as well as 4G LTE support. While the camera will not allow sharing of full 41 MP pictures, it will take a second 5 MP version for sharing (captured simultaneously) so don't worry about ridiculously large photos on social media sites just yet.
The phone boasts the same design as the Lumia 920 series (square corners and comfortable rounded edges), and impresses with some premium build quality comprised of solid-feeling polycarbonate. It's available in matte black, white and yellow and will be globally available for preorder from July 16 for a July 26 release date. However, U.S. customers will be stuck with AT&T-only contracts. Prices start at $300 for a two-year contract.