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The Nokia Lumia 1020 marries an amazing camera to year-old hardware

Armando Rodriguez | July 30, 2013
Nokia's latest Windows Phone packs an impressive 41-megapixel camera, but lacks a strong app ecosystem and competitive specs.

Call quality over AT&T's network in San Francisco was good, with no hints of hiss or static. Obviously call quality will vary depending on where you live, so be sure to consult coverage maps to make sure you aren't in an AT&T dead zone. The phone's 2000mAh battery held up through an entire day's use, though I noticed the charge level drop rapidly the moment I started taking photos. Packing a charger may be worthwhile if you're going sightseeing and planning on using the phone as your primary means of capturing memories.

Desperate for Instagram
Perhaps the biggest drawback of the Lumia 1020 is that it uses Microsoft's mobile OS. Although Windows Phone 8 runs buttery smooth, going through the Windows Phone Store in search of apps is downright depressing: A lot of the top-rated offerings are either apps made by Microsoft or games that have been ported over from iOS. I thought it was amusing that one app in the top-ranked section, when I checked the store, was designed to display a photo of the iOS home screen so that you could "trick" your friends into thinking you had an iPhone. Wow.

Although Nokia bundles a number of useful camera and photo apps with the Lumia 1020 (more on those in a bit), trying to find anything worthwhile in the store is a fruitless endeavor. At the time I searched, I saw a number of third-party apps that let you access services such as Instagram and Vine, but they just don't work as well as the real deal. Right now, the Lumia 1020 is one official Instagram app away from being the best smartphone for photos, period. Only time will tell if such an app ever makes its way to the platform.

A first-rate camera
I could go on and on about how good the camera on the Lumia 1020 is, but maybe it's better if I show you a picture instead.

When you take a photo, you actually end up with two images—one at full resolution and a 5-megapixel resampling of that image. The Lumia 1020 creates the 5-megapixel version so that you can share the photo via email, through text, or over your social networks, as trying to upload an album full of 10MB-plus images over a cellular connection would be a huge pain. You get access to both versions of your photos when you plug the phone into your computer, but you have no real way to access both images directly from the phone. Deleting an image from your camera roll deletes both the full-resolution photo and the 5-megapixel resampling, so you'll need to hook the phone up to a computer if you want to save one versus the other.


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