My First Week With Nokia Lumia 1020

imageA week ago I splurged and upgraded my Lumia 920 to the Lumia 1020. So to those of you who were expecting me to switch over the Android or an iDevice; I'm still entrenched in the Windows Phone world. And this phone cements my opinion to stay.  Let's talk about the good and the bad.

Pro: The Weight

I like the weight. I was worried that with the camera bulge that this would feel like a much bigger device but if anything it feels smaller than the 920. I haven't looked up the weight but it feels really nice. I actually find the camera bulge useful as a pivot point to hold the phone.

Pro: The Camera

As no one should be surprised, the camera is that good on the new phone. It's an amazing experience. But you might wonder why you would need 41 megapixels (ok, 38 megapixels since the lens is round)? You don't actually…

I am not a photographer or a photo-nerd. I just like to be able to take pictures when I am out and about. I don't take a lot of pictures, but I know my way around apertures, depth-of-field and manual focus to be dangerous. The phone delivers by taking two photos when you snap a picture: 5 megapixel image for general consumption and a 38 megapixel image for when you have to have that big image. But for me the image size doesn't matter…where the camera really shines is in the ability to zoom. Nokia has touted the idea of 'zoom after' and it works really well. Essentially, you can turn on the preview feature on the new phone and when you take a picture it takes you to a preview of the full-size image after the shot and you can crop it down. What this means is that you're using the high-resolution to zoom without all that nasty pixelization. And it works really well.  For example here is a picture I just took at the Panera I'm writing in (just a snapshop, no flash; no special conditions…just a picture):

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(click images for full size photo)

And here I took the same photo but used Zoom after:

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(click images for full size photo)

Neither picture is great, but they are from exactly the same location (and are the same size images). Zoom after allowed me to get closer without loss of quality (or at least a minimum loss of quality).

So Nokia combined their great low-light, image stabilization features found in the 920 (et al.) and added an amazing resolution. In addition they added a xenon flash which makes a lot of difference in my opinion.

Additionally, the Microsoft store threw in the Camera grip which both adds an additional battery (3-4 hours of life is what I've been told to expect) but more importantly it gives it that Camera feel when you need it. The shutter button is much better than on the phone and a tripod mount makes it a must have for me:

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(click images for full size photo)V__7C3C

(click images for full size photo)

Lastly, the new Nokia Camera pro app is a great improvement on the built-in camera app. It brings in manual focus, white balance, framing, and a whole slew of new features. Can you pick another app as your default camera app if you don't like the new app, but I think you will:

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(click images for full size photo)

Con: The Camera

Overall I have few quibbles about the camera but they should be mentioned:

  • If you're used to the "hold-camera button while locked to take a picture" feature, this only works if you're phone doesn't have a password. This is only an issue with the non-standard camera app (e.g. Nokia Camera Pro) but it is annoying. I suspect this is a bug not a feature ;)
  • To get the full-size image you *have* to connect it to a computer. This isn't obvious but it is required. Every picture will have a XXX.jpg version and a XXX_hires.jpg version on the phone. There should be a way to upload the full image but you can't yet.
  • Saving pictures is slow when you're capturing both images so you might miss critical shots (so you stop capturing the big images or turn off preview when at a time sensitive event like a sports event).

Pro: Glimpse

The new glimpse feature to show you the time, connection and battery level when your phone is locked works really well. It's very dim and seems to have negligible impact on the battery life so far. And it's a welcome addition.  Double-tapping to unlock the phone (instead of the power button) is nice addition too!

Con: Glimpse

While double-tapping to unlock is convenient, it is a bit unreliable so far.

Con: Wireless Charging

No wireless charging without a charging cover which makes it a non-starter for me. Of course I couldn't get wireless charging to work seamlessly on my 920 either so I don't miss it much.

 

Do you have yours yet? Any quibbles or raves I missed?

 

Comments

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Ken Monday, August 05, 2013

The PenTile screen bothers me, coming from the 920. The fact I can't access the high-res images is also a con for me. The camera will improve over time so speed, open from lock, and stability will get better. Wireless charging was never used on my 920, so no fuss. The camera grip tripod mount isn't the greatest, but I did manage to capture some great long lens speed night shots. Overall, solid device, and glad I upgraded

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Shawn Wildermuth Monday, August 05, 2013

Ken,

What is the "PenTile screen"?

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Michael Monday, August 05, 2013

The lack of wireless charging (without an extra cover) is what keeps me away from the 1020. Why couldn't you get it to work on your 920? I use it all the time at home and in the car.

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Shawn Wildermuth Monday, August 05, 2013

Michael,

It worked (I have the Lumia wireless stand) - but about six months ago it stopped powering it up to 100%. Could be the phone or the stand, no idea. But it's not a big deal to me.

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Ryan Buckwalter Monday, August 05, 2013

PenTile Matrix is the arrangement of the RGB pixels on the OLED screen.

Normal screens, like CRTs/LCDs, use a RGB "stripe" layout with each "pixel" being made up of 3 equal parts, a strip of color for each of the 3, red, green, and blue.

Some OLED screens use the PenTile Matrix arrangement were the colors alternate Red, Green, Blue, Green, and then back to red. Unlike the RGB stripe method though, each individual color OLED pixel/subpixel is not uniform.

Different screens vary depending on the manufacture, but given the Lumia 1020 has the same screen as the other OLED high end Lumias it will appears like this: http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/IMG_6222.jpg where Green appears as thin a strip, red is more square and average sized, and Blue is a large rectangle.

Compare that to the Lumia 920's IPS LCD screen with standard RGB stripe layout: http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/IMG_6235.jpg

So what does this all mean?

Well for one, it makes the display cheaper to make. I also helps with some of the issues that arise with producing OLED screens, in particular issues with individual color productions/lifespan.

Next the number of actual "full" pixels can be argued to be less than the phones described resolution because there are really only 2 full color subpixels per pixel, and even then they are arranged in a way to fit nicely into a normal pixel grid layout.

Then since the pixels don't line up you get weird artifacts depending on what you're displaying. Text is often found to be fuzzier, since there isn't a clean edge. Also, I personally find solid colors very disturbing on PenTile Matrix screens, as it looks checkerboard-ish compared the standard stripes clean solid color. This is especially noticeable on the edges of solid colors as well.

There are a number of other issues people have noticed with PenTile Matrix screens; for me it was very noticeable and actually did make the screen quality far worse.

That said, people also say higher resolution screens make many of the issues with PenTile Matrix seem less noticeable. In any case, if you can't notice an issue with the screen, then I guess that's all that matters.

For me, other than it makes the screen cheaper/easier to make... I'd still prefer a regular stripe RGB screen over a PenTile Matrix screen any day.

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Jason Tucker Monday, August 05, 2013

re: PenTile

It's a way the RGB subpixels are placed are laid out on a display. Here is more than you'll ever need to really know: http://www.cnet.com/8301-17918_1-57445567-85/abcs-of-smartphone-screens-1080p-and-more-smartphones-unlocked/


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Ken Monday, August 05, 2013

PenTile is a subpixel arrangement commonly used on smartphones with AMOLED displays. Instead of RGB pixel arrangements, it is RGBG, so it uses more pixels to display all the colors. I don't have my 920 on me now, but I will try to get some magnified shots of the difference. It gives it a CRT monitor feel to me, especially on balck text, white background. I love AMOLED because of the blacks and brighter colors but Nokia using PenTile (cheaper to make, therefore cheaper to buy) was a coat-saving move.

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matt Tuesday, August 06, 2013

all I want to know is, how's the battery?

I have been living with an HTC Thunderbolt for a couple of years now. it barely makes it through the day. I worry that taking lots of pictures will drain the 1020.

I guess one could buy the camera grip as a charger, but then it's another thing to carry around...

how's it been for you?

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matt Thursday, August 08, 2013

crickets on the battery...just as I feared...

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Shawn Wildermuth Thursday, August 08, 2013

matt,

Sorry, I didn't see your post ;)

Taking lots of pictures will eat up the battery, but not more than any other phone i've had. I am getting about 10+ hours on mine (but it's new and this gets worse as the phone ages). The Camera Grip helps but I also plug it in when I am in my car (since I use it as a GPS). Go to the windowsphone reddit, there is someone doing comparisons of batteries on the different Lumias. I can't find the link right now as Reddit search sucks.

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matt Friday, August 09, 2013

thansk Shawn, and sorry for nagging.

i've been asking a lot of reviewers about this, and your is the first useful response I've received. thanks!

it sounds like my worry about the battery might not be unfounded. i tend to run a pedometer all day, which sucks the battery worse than normal.

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Justin Thursday, August 15, 2013

Why doesn't the Pro Nokia App allow one to control the F-stop? This is VERY annoying. do you think that there will be an update to correct this deficiency? Thank you

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Eiger Borneu Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Thanks for the great review. I just went over to the Windows Store and tried to upgrade my Lumia 920 to a 1020 and AT&T rejected. How were you able to purchase the 1020 - at full retail price (999$)?

I received the following message after clicking on "Submit Order":
"We're sorry, but AT&T has notified us that at least one mobile number on your order is not eligible to upgrade at this time.
Please click the Eligibility Details link below for additional information."

It notes that I am not eligible for an upgrade until Dec. 2014! What a bummer...

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Shawn Wildermuth Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Eiger,

I paid the $699 full price for mine, but my Girlfriend's 2 year contract was up so she got it for $299.


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