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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.

The Lumia 1020 comes with three separate camera apps: the standard Windows Phone Camera app, Nokia Pro Cam, and Nokia Smart Cam. Holding down the phone's physical camera button automatically launches Nokia Pro Cam, and I couldn't find any way to change this default in the phone's settings. Not that you'd want to use anything other than Pro Cam, anyway: The app lets you adjust your camera's ISO and shutter speed, and even features a rudimentary manual-focus mode. The biggest drawback to using Pro Cam, however, is that it's slow to launch and often requires a few seconds to start up fully. It also takes a considerable amount of time to save and process photos, meaning that you have noticeable downtime between shots.

Nokia Smart Cam is similar to the Zoe shooting mode on the HTC One. Smart Cam takes multiple photos in rapid succession and gives you options to remove unwanted objects from the scene. Smart Cam also comes in handy with group shots, because you can meld those multiple photos together to create a single image in which everyone in the group is smiling and has their eyes open. The app works pretty well, but you'll need to make sure that you're holding very still while taking photos—the slightest movement can throw off the process, leaving you with a bunch of mediocre images.

Bottom line

The Nokia Lumia 1020 faces an uphill battle: Not only is it competing against heavyweights such as the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5, but it is also fighting against the stigma surrounding the Windows Phone OS. The Lumia 1020 is an excellent phone with one of the best all-around cameras out there, but its AT&T exclusivity and older hardware make it a hard sell. If you're an AT&T customer who has been curious about Windows Phone, I strongly urge you to pick up the Lumia 1020. For everyone else, you'll have to ask yourself whether a fancy camera and the struggling Windows Phone ecosystem are enough to break your contract over.


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