Welcome to IRL, an ongoing feature where we talk about the gadgets, apps and toys we're using in real life and take a second look at products that already got the formal review treatment.

IRL: Testing the Nokia Lumia 1020's optional camera grip / battery case

If you're going to buy the Lumia 1020 for its 41-megapixel camera (and if not that, what the heck did you buy it for?) you may as well spring for the $59 camera grip too. That's what Philip told himself, anyway, after picking up the phone on AT&T.

Camera Grip for Nokia Lumia 1020

IRL Testing a camera grip for the Nokia Lumia 1020The accessorizing continues. Not long after picking up a Nokia Lumia 1020, I sought out the optional camera grip, which adds, among other things, a tripod socket. After all, my return to the Windows Phone world had more to do with the amazing camera than, well, most anything else. So how does the camera grip perform for folks like me, who view the Lumia 1020 as a camera first and a smartphone second? Not too bad, really.

The grip covers the entire backside of the 1020, save for the protruding camera module. Installing it is a simple matter of sliding the phone in until its micro-USB port connects to the grip's base, then snapping two stubby arms that sort of hug the phone at the opposite end. That base provides a substantial handgrip with a strip of somewhat grippy rubber for your fingertips. Up top, you'll find a dedicated two-stage shutter button that's much larger than the one on the phone itself. The base also houses a 1,020mAh battery, which Nokia says is good for another 285 shots or 48 minutes of video. The extra juice is a nice bonus that makes good use of the handgrip's added volume and provides some weight to give the accessory a nice balance.

I opted for the black camera grip for my banana yellow Lumia as I wanted to have a nice, dual-tone look (read: my local AT&T store didn't have yellow in stock and I didn't want to wait). The grip performs as advertised and the point-and-shoot ergonomics do come in handy when I'm using the 1020 almost exclusively as a camera.

It's certainly not something I'd keep attached to my phone 24/7, which makes me wish the removal process was a bit smoother. Those stubby arms cling for dear life to the phone's edges, and I've yet to devise a way to quickly and effortlessly pry them off. And while the tripod socket is a welcome addition, it's located on the extreme edge of the camera rather than lined up below the lens. Yes, I know that's not really feasible here, but it does cause problems when attaching it to certain equipment like, say, my ABR800 ringflash.

In all, the improved ergonomics and handy, if a bit oddly placed, tripod socket justify the $59 price in my book. The additional battery power is certainly welcome too. It's not an everyday accessory, but the Camera Grip for Nokia Lumia 1020 has earned a spot in my gear bag.

-- Philip Palermo