The Nokia Lumia 1020: initial impressions

, posted: 1-Oct-2013 20:58

I was lucky enough to be sent a brand new Nokia Lumia 1020 to review. I received it this week so what follows are my initial impressions.

First, some back story. I have been a keen Windows Phone user since the Nokia Lumia 800 was first released. I upgraded from a Nokia E60, so the Nokia Lumia 800 was my first real smartphone, but was getting a bit long in the tooth. Apps either don’t support Windows Phone 7 or just run slowly, even Microsoft have recently ended Skype support on anything older than Windows Phone 8. So it definitely felt like time for an upgrade, but what to buy? We have all ecosystems represented at home - iPhone 5, Android 4 and Windows Phone. I was leaning towards Android (due to a great experience with a Nexus 7) but really wanting to give Windows Phone 8 a go first.

Then along came the Nokia Lumia 1020. Originally known as the 909, this is Nokia’s second attempt at putting their new camera technology on/in a phone. The 808 was the first device to come along with the 41 megapixel monster attached, but it ran Symbian, making it a dead duck for all but the most dedicated gadget heads. It has taken a long time for a Windows Phone handset to come along with the same (but better) tech attached, the Nokia Lumia 1020 even has some traces of the original moniker around the place (about phone shows the model as NOKIA 909). The 1020 is running Windows Phone 8 and ships with the following versions installed:

  • OS - 8.0.10328.78
  • Firmware Revision Number - 3049.0000.1330.1002
  • Hardware Revision Number - 1.0.0.0
  • Radio Software Version - 3.2.04033.1
  • Chip SOC Version - 8960

The settings menu now also lists an extra+info item, which shows the version of all Nokia applications.

To complete the numbers, the 1020 contains a Dual Core, 1.5Ghz Snapdragon S4 Processor with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of Storage.

The box is small, with a little bit of Telecom branding. It is very similar to the box from my original Lumia 800. Inside you will find:

  • The Handset (wrapped in plastic)
  • SIM Tool (for popping open the SIM tray)
  • In-ear earbuds (the same colour as the handset)
  • USB Cable (luckily not the same colour as the handset)
  • USB Charger (plug comes out the side)
  • Some paper

My first surprise was the colour. Going from a black Lumia 800 to the Yellow 1020 is something of a shock. The pictures don’t do it justice: this thing is bright, bright yellow. It has taken a few days but I am finally getting used to it and I’m even starting to like it. Everyone who has seen it has commented on it, most positively. The ear buds included in the box match the colour and I suspect I look a little bit ridiculous wandering the Auckland streets with bright yellow earbuds on.

The next thing you notice is the camera bump. As you can see this sticks out a good few millimetres. I was concerned this bump would get damaged or bits scratched but it seems sturdy and has yet to show any signs of scratching or scuffing, despite spending most of the last few days with the bump down on my desk at work. The flashes look to have a strong coating on the outside and the lens itself is covered and recessed from the surface of the bump. It certainly isn’t fragile, but I do treat it a little bit more carefully than my flat backed 800.

Going from a smaller phone, 4.5 inches does feel quite large. It is definitely usable in one hand, however I do have long fingers. Reaching from bottom left to top right with my thumb requires a bit of stretching. This is common to all larger phones and it not limited to the 1020. The 1020 does feel solid and weighty, but in a good way, sturdy, not heavy. My biggest gripe so far is that the polycarbonate shell is quite slippery. A case is going to be my first purchase when I can find one.

Next up, the screen. It is absolutely gorgeous. Running at 768x1280 the 4.5 inch AMOLED display has 334ppi, slightly higher than the iPhone 5’s 326 and even the 2013 Nexus 7’s 323. This is my first phone with a larger than 4 inch screen and I am enjoying it immensely. Blacks are deep and colours vibrant. The display settings applet also contains a Lumia colour profile section, which allows you to set Colour Temperature and Saturation. Mind shipped with the saturation set to enhanced, I reduced this to normal. On a side note, the phone ships with the theme matching the handset colour. Suffice to stand my very yellow phone with a very yellow theme was a little bit much, I had to change to dark blue.

The ear buds that ship with the 1020 do a good job. They are the in-ear type and come with 4 sets of rubber sleeves. I am not a fan of this style (I prefer earbuds or over ear) but they work fine for my morning commute on the ferry. Volume with headphones on the 1020 is also greater than my old 800. I used to have to max the 800 out to listen to Podcasts, I no longer have to do so. The ear-buds also contain a microphone and button (for call control and music playback). Voice quality using the ear-buds is good and the button on them responsive and very useful when the phone is in an inside pocket under a jacket.

Ports on the device are limited to a 3.5mm headphone jack in the middle of the top, alongside the SIM tray (which requires the included SIM tool to open) and a USB port in the middle at the bottom, next to the speaker. There is a good quality USB cable included in the box for syncing and charging with the included USB charger. The charger itself is very small and flat, with the port on the right hand side of the plug. Handy for sockets mounted above/below each other, not so much for side by side.

As far as applications, the 1020 comes with nothing I would consider bloat and no carrier branding whatsoever. The Nokia HERE Apps (Drive, Maps, Transit) are all pre-installed, along with the requisite camera apps (more on those later), Data Transfer utility (copies data from supported phones using Bluetooth), Data Sense (shows data usage by app and can set limits) and the usual basic apps (Alarm, Calculator etc). The first apps I went to the store and downloaded were Adobe Reader, Baconit (for reddit) and NZ Herald. Beyond that Windows Phone has pretty good social network integration built right into the People Hub.

Hopefully this has been a helpful introduction and unboxing. Over the next few weeks I intend to cover some other aspects of the device in greater detail. In particular the camera (from an amateur and enthusiast perspective), phone hardware, Windows Phone 8 and Telecom network performance.

My Geekzone username is wasabi2. I am an IT consultant located in Auckland. I am currently working at SKYCITY. I have been interested in technology since I was a kid, where I got started breaking the family PC. These days I spend a lot of time keeping up to date with the latest tech. My house has all mobile ecosystems covered (Android, iOS, Windows Phone).



Other related posts:
Nokia Lumia 1020 Social Features
Lumia 1020 for Work
Nokia Lumia 1020: some photos






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Telecom New Zealand
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New Zealand


Telecom Tech is a different type of blog. We're sponsored by Telecom New Zealand, but most of the posts here are from every day users like you.

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