With that said, the Lumia 1020, much like most of Nokia's Windows Phones, includes a full suite of OEM- and carrier-specific applications -- more than 20, in fact. This includes Nokia Care, Music, Pro Cam, Smart Cam, as well as a set of Here-based programs, such as City Lens, Drive+ Beta, Maps and Transit. On the AT&T side, you'll see Address Book, FamilyMap, Locker, Navigator, Radio, Mobile TV, myAT&T and YPMobile, all of which can be easily uninstalled if you don't find any use for them. There's also ESPN Hub, Wallet and a bunch of imaging-centric lenses, which we'll discuss in more detail in the next section. The 1020 also offers the same quick glance screen that we saw on the Lumia 925, which allows users to check the time while the screen is off; you can disable this feature or, if you prefer, add a night mode that dims the glance's brightness automatically during the hours of your choice.
The protruding module. The wondrous sounds of a mechanical shutter. Two different types of flash. The list goes on. You can't not notice how central a role the camera plays in the Lumia 1020's existence. Its whole purpose is to ensure that you, dear photography enthusiast, can enjoy the closest thing to a DSLR-like imaging experience on a smartphone. Perhaps likening it to a top-notch Canon or Nikon is a bit much -- we have a hard time believing that a phone is ready to replace professional-quality equipment -- but devices like the 808 PureView and the 1020 are giving some of the best point-and-shoots a run for their money. Such a possibility was a laughable concept at best a few years ago, so how is Nokia pulling it off?
If you've read up on the 808 and researched the idea of PureView, you'll realize that Nokia's second-generation approach to the tech isn't foreign. It's simply applying many of the clever imaging principles already used in the 808 and improving them, adding them to a more relevant operating system and throwing in a few additional features to make it even more tantalizing. We figure it's best to start from the beginning and offer a brief history lesson on what PureView is all about.
How it works
The 808 PureView camera boasted a whopping 41-megapixel CMOS, which sounds intimidating -- after all, the mainstream smartphone market still hadn't begun producing devices with 13MP cameras yet, so 41 felt like an awfully big leap. So what's the point of having so many pixels at one's disposal? In short, the magic is in oversampling. While it's possible to snap 38MP (and 34MP wide-angle) images at will, the 808 has a "creative mode" which takes lower-res shots -- eight, five and three megapixels, to be precise. Not only are these images easier to share, the phone oversamples the images, which means it combines several pixels to create one high-quality superpixel. The idea behind this is to add sharpness, reduce noise, eliminate Bayer-pattern problems and improve low-light performance. It also helps the camera achieve another superpower: lossless zoom. In other words, you can zoom in on an object without losing detail and resorting to interpolation.
Fast-forward to the Lumia 1020, which takes the PureView tech and improves upon it. Instead of having to choose between creative mode and high-res shots, the 1020 now takes both simultaneously, giving you a 38MP photo (34MP for wide-angle) and an oversampled 5MP version with lossless zoom as well. The camera benefits from a six-element lens array (compared to the 808's five), which consists of five plastic lenses and one made of glass. With the new device also came a shift from an FSI sensor to BSI and a wider aperture (it's now f/2.2, compared to f/2.4 on the 808). Both of these factors equate to better low-light performance, but that's not all: the phone also offers barrel-shift optical image stabilization (OIS), thanks to a set of ball bearings that are moved by tiny motors anytime the gyroscope detects shaking. Pro tip: activate the camera and wobble the phone to hear the various parts moving around inside.
Let's dive into more technical specs. At 1/1.5 inch, the sensor is significantly larger than any other flagship device (the GS4 is 1/3.06 inch, whereas the One is 1/3 inch), but it's slightly smaller than the 808's 1/1.2-inch offering. The size of each pixel is 1.12µm, which is the same as the GS4, but smaller than the 808. The 1020's 35mm equivalent focal length is 26mm,
which is more than three times as long as the 808's 8mm offering. (Update: it appears that the 808's 35mm equivalent focal length is actually 26mm for 16:9 and 28mm for 4:3. Thanks, @bharadc23!) Minimum focus distance for macro shots is set at 15cm.
Curiously, the Lumia 1020 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus chipset. This is standard fare for Windows Phones, but it's interesting to note that the SoC technically doesn't support such high-resolution cameras. According to Anandtech's Brian Klug, Nokia collaborated with Qualcomm to do a complete rewrite of the chipset's imaging stack in order to make everything work properly. With that said, a future update to the platform referred to as GDR3 will reportedly support Snapdragon 800 chipsets that are capable of getting up to 55MP, which is a pretty solid indication that future generations of Nokia's PureView lineup will continue to increase in resolution and features.
User interface and lenses
The stock Windows Phone camera application is for chumps, and Nokia's goal is to prove it. While you can use the vanilla app if you prefer, we have no idea what benefit you'd get from doing so -- images taken within the app are limited to 5MP, regardless of which aspect ratio you choose. The default lens featured on the Lumia 1020 is called the Nokia Pro Cam, and it's the most comprehensive WP8 imaging app we've ever used (and arguably one of the best on any platform). The user experience is pretty intuitive, and it has more manual adjustment options than we're used to enjoying. Drag the virtual shutter key slightly to the left and something that looks like your grade school's diagram of the Solar System appears before your very eyes. It's set up as a series of sliders, each one representing a different adjustment setting: white balance, manual focus, ISO (up to 3200), shutter speed (1/16,000 to 4 seconds) and EV are all here, many of which have the ability to adjust in real time. Try changing the white balance settings, for instance, and the viewfinder instantly shows you what your picture should look like.
The entire process couldn't be smoother, and it helps ensure that you're not spending precious minutes attempting to properly frame your shot. (Video has a similar wheel-style setup, by the way, but it only features white balance and focus.) However, there are situations in which even this method takes too long and you just need to tweak one particular aspect of your shot; in that case, all of the settings are available on the top of your viewfinder, and can be accessed individually simply by pressing down on whichever one you want. (As an aside, this app will be coming to the Lumia 920, 925 and 928 after they receive an update to WP8's Amber refresh.)
You can switch from stills to video by sliding your finger down on the shutter key. To work the digital zoom, slide your fingers up and down on the viewfinder. In the top-left corner, you'll find options to either edit your last shot or go directly into the camera roll. An icon in the bottom-right corner lets you switch to other lenses, such as Cinemagraph, Panorama, Smart Cam or others. Lastly, a series of three dots in the top-right corner is your go-to place for settings and miscellaneous menu options: this is where you can switch to the front-facing camera, enable shutter delay and change the shortcut assigned to your hardware shutter button. This is also where you'll find the toggle to go back and forth from standard 38MP images to wide-angle 34MP (and vice versa, of course). Additionally, you can snap just 5MP shots if you don't want a high-res shot hogging up storage space. Frankly, this toggle is the only letdown about the user interface -- we'd much prefer the ability to switch back and forth directly from the viewfinder, instead of taking three extra clicks to get the same desired effect.
As briefly mentioned earlier, Nokia's also thrown in its Smart Cam lens, already available on the Lumia 925. It's worth a brief mention, at least, since it will undoubtedly play a significant role in how you use the 1020's camera. Smart Cam takes a series of burst shots over the course of a few seconds; from there, you can grab the best shot, an action shot (think Drama Mode for the Galaxy S 4), add blurring to emphasize motion or remove photobombers (just like Eraser Mode on the GS4). Fortunately, you can do multiple things with the same series of photos: for instance, you can save your action shot and then go back and do something else.
Creative Studio is an image manipulation app included as part of the overall imaging package on the 1020. Introduced on the Lumia 925, it offers a few post-production, Photoshop-like techniques to add a little extra flair to your high-res photos: you can manipulate focus, blur, color (giving you the chance to highlight specific hues, as seen above) and make a collage, among other things.
All of your saved photos, regardless of which Nokia lens or app you use to create it, get aggregated into the camera roll. Each of them can be edited after the fact by clicking on the app link that shows up underneath. The same goes for high-res photos: while the camera roll only features the 5MP versions, head into the edit option to behold it in all its full-res glory. Speaking of which, one of the editing features we enjoyed was the reframe option. This gives you the chance to straighten out crooked pictures, rotate your image or change the aspect ratio (3:2, 1:1, 16:9 and 4:3 are all there).
Additionally, the unveiling of the 1020 brought about the introduction of Nokia's new imaging SDK, which is currently in beta and offers developers access to many of the PureView features and APIs; in fact, Creative Studio was developed using the SDK. Devs can take advantage of partial JPEG decoding, the ability to offer cropping and reformatting, full WP8 compatibility and up to 50 filters and effects.
So we've gone into a lot of detail about how the Lumia 1020 camera works, which undoubtedly has a lot of you drooling. Nokia has a lengthy history of backing up its boastful imaging claims, and fortunately that reputation continues with the 1020. Simply put, the camera is stunning. In most situations, the automatic settings work well, especially when it comes to white balance, low light and focus. But the camera shines even brighter if you get adventurous and start tinkering with manual settings. Images taken in the dark turned out with more light, more detail and less noise than the HTC One and 808. The lossless zoom on the 1020 completely blew us away; we could legibly see signs from a distance of over 100 yards, and we were able to zoom in on faces of people who were barely noticeable in the original image. We were also very impressed by the vast amount of detail in every shot. As you can imagine, there's a lot to love.
No camera is perfect, however. When taking pictures in the shade, we noticed that colors popped a little too much compared to other flagship cameras we tested -- in fact, there were times they didn't appear natural (though this could potentially be fixed in post-processing). We also noticed that the 1020 struggled with the high end of the dynamic range at times; for instance, the camera was unable to pick out details in the wall of a sunlit building that the 808 and Galaxy S 4 had no problem seeing. The 1020 lacks neutral density, a feature that the 808 possessed and aids the camera in really bright light; unfortunately it takes up space, which is a possible reason why it was left out in this iteration.