Nokia Lumia 1020 Review: It’s The Little Things

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a Nokia Lumia 1020. It’s big, powerful and yellow all over.

Having used it for a long enough time to form a meaningful opinion, I thought I’d share that opinion so here we go.

The Lumia 1020 is a beautiful device. Mine is a matte yellow, but they also come in black and white. The device has a very high build quality and is very sturdy to hold in your hand. My one gripe with its shape, however, is the fact that the huge 41 Megapixel camera sticking out of the back makes holding the phone initially a bit awkward. After a while, though, you get used to it and it becomes a non-issue.


Now, on to the interesting stuff:

The Software

Being that the Lumia 1020 is the first Windows Phone Device I’ve used, this could be seen as a review of the Windows Phone 8 platform in general, though with a couple of Nokia-specific details thrown in.

lumia screenshot 3

The Windows Phone Modern UI design is a beautiful and refreshing move away from  the  extremely similar and rather boring designs of iOS and Android. The beauty of  the system is  that Microsoft found a way, with the live tiles, to make it so that all the  Windows Phone home  screens can be uniquely configured to each users tastes but  still be similar enough for a user of  another windows phone to pick it up and easily  figure out what’s going on. The home screen is  basically an vertically scrolling page  containing tiles of 3 different sizes for whichever  applications you choose to pin  there. Swiping left from this page brings you to a simple list of  all  your apps which  has a useful alphabet view and a search function to make finding specific  apps  quite  painless.

Coming from a Nexus 4 (and an iPhone 5 before that), the modern UI did come with a  slight  learning curve but after 10 minutes of use, it really just became obvious how  everything  worked and at that point the whole interface became extremely intuitive.


The Lumia 1020 is a unique phone in that it does have a 41 Megapixel Camera on the back that makes photo capture absolutely amazing. This isn’t because 41 Megapixels make for better images than, say, a 12 Megapixel DSLR. They don’t necessarily. It’s because of a combination of Nokia’s amazing software and the ability of the camera to capture so much detail that 3x digital zoom of a shot would have nearly no loss of quality. So, you know when you take a nice picture, zoom in, and suddenly, your image is blurry and sad? That doesn’t happen here. Basically, the phone takes amazing photos.

Now, I would go into detail about all the various features the phone has but honestly, its not worth it. Suffice to say it does all the things you would expect a modern smartphone to be able to do, so I’ll move on to the little things.

Like I implied in the title, the things I likes (and dislike) about this device are really the little things, the minor details that were either added or left out that make the overall experience of owning and using a windows phone that much better (or worse).

lumia screenshot 2

The Good:

  • Peek: This is one of my favorite features. When you push the power button and it puts your phone to sleep, the screen is still enabled, in a low-power mode, to show you the time and battery charge level which is extremely useful for those of us whose phones also serve as our primary timepiece. Also, when the phone is asleep, you can double-tap the screen to turn it on.
  • The ability to flip your phone over to silence incoming calls.
  • The local search that helps me find and call local businesses pretty effortlessly
  • The photo search that I never thought I’d use until I had to pick between 2 games. Show it a game, it gives you ratings, pricing etc.
  • The consistent and simple UI pattern across all apps makes using new apps less of a headache
  • Live Tiles are, to me, the best implementation of the idea of widgets on a mobile OS.
  • Nokia maps are amazing for driving and walking and also for bus directions in areas of coverage
  • The screen visibility in bright sunlight is better than any other smartphone I’ve ever used

The Bad:

  • Seemingly concerted effort by Google to provide as few Google services as possible to the platform. So, no Google maps.
  • Nokia Maps don’t cover bus directions in Ottawa making my life rather difficult
  • Some of the more popular apps/services (Instagram for example) don’t have official apps for windows phone. Though this problem is really a non-issue due to the number of 3rd party apps available that work instead.
  • Gmail doesn’t support push email on windows phone
  • Voice recognition on the windows phone is not as good as it is on iOS or Android
  • I miss having Google Now.

In conclusion, the Nokia Lumia 1020 is an amazing phone with a beautiful and refreshing Operating System in Windows Phone 8. Due to the small nature of the Windows Phone ecosystem, there a a few areas where the phone is lacking, but what it does do, it does extremely well. In all, the phone is a refreshing departure from what we are used to on iOS and Android and is, in my opinion, the best Windows Phone currently on the market. That being said, the ecosystem could use some time to mature and so if you are looking to buy a Windows Phone, I would recommend waiting for the next generation of Windows Phone devices that will come with the upcoming release of Windows Phone 8.1. If you can’t wait however, and/or you are looking to buy an amazing camera phone, this phone is the best Windows Phone smartphone you can get and with the best smartphone camera on any platform available today.

Dunni Abiodun

Dunni is a tech enthusiast who has great interest in all fields of tech but places his primary interests in the development of mobile platforms and in tech innovation in emerging markets. He has been a blogger for over 3 years now and covers a variety of topics.

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