First impressions of the Nokia Lumia 1020

I am a cameraphone nut. I have to admit that. I really like taking pictures with my phone of the people around me, and seeing a phone as capable as the Lumia 1020 at taking pictures is a thrill. However, it runs Windows Phone and I am more of an Android person. And that price (although, I believe we only the subsidised price)?! Read along to see my first (non-hands on) impressions.

Hardware

Nokia Lumia with Pro Camera
Nokia Lumia with Pro Camera

The hardware of this phone is in my eyes absolutely amazing. The design is great, I think, and the colours and materials as well. It’s like a refined Lumia 920. The Lumia 920 was bulky and heavy, but the Lumia 1020 has just the right dimensions, in my opinion. I have a Nexus 4 as my daily driver and the Lumia 1020 basically matches its size (though it is a little heavier). The screen is large enough to show a lot of information, but not too large for one handed use (particularly as you don’t have to touch the top of the screen much in WP). Just like the Nexus 4 it has a slightly wider screen and that is very convenient for typing, particularly.

As I said, the screen has the right size for me, and the technology Nokia uses appears to be a guarantee for a nice user experience. I am sure some people will mention the fact that it does not have a 1080p screen, but I frankly couldn’t really care. I prefer quality pixels over quantity pixels (knowing that the pixel density is way over 300 anyway).

I don’t feel like I have to say too much about the camera. It packs so much technology! It will be a guarantee of potentially great pictures. I say potentially, as I am sure that Nokia will need to tweak the software the first few months – just like what happened with the Lumia 920. I don’t consider that too much of a problem, because it is clear Nokia is very committed and they will get it right.

As you can see, the hardware has me very excited and if it were for just hardware, this would be my next phone. However, more and more smartphones are not just hardware.

Operating system and ecosystem

I tried a HTC 8X for several months. There were things I liked about WP8, and there were things I didn’t particularly like. Overall though, I came to the conclusion that Android is a better OS for me. You can read my reasons in this post. The Lumia 1020 comes with WP8.1 (or WP8 GDR2) and there are some interesting improvements. Will it be good enough? It may just be good enough for me, but it will be a compromise on my behalf for the sake of having the Lumia 1020’s hardware.

The other thing that lets down Windows Phone is the lack of maturity of the app ecosystem. I think that for most things I could find a work-around, but you don’t want to have to do that. It felt like being behind the curve the whole time. One particular app I enjoy, Flipboard, is apparantly coming and that is an especially nice addition, because it is so unique. Also over the last few months I have seen more active development of apps. I guess that the fact that Windows Phone is really becoming the third ecosystem does make a difference.

Lastly, and with reference to the ecosystem, Nokia is the place to be if you want Windows Phone. They have a great selection of Nokia software add-ons (e.g. they try to solve the Other-storage issue) and also have interesting exclusives on third-party apps. I certainly felt I was missing out when I was on the 8X and would feel more comfortable going for a Lumia phone.

Price and positioning

The last little issue that may just ruin it all, for now, is price and placement. Although I don’t think we know the unlocked price, the subsidised price of the Lumia 1020 on AT&T shows that it will be very much premium priced. I understand it is a premium phone, but it would be a little ridiculous to charge more than an iPhone or a HTC One / Samsung Galaxy S4 at launch. They are the competitors for this phone and you have to stay in that price point, I feel.

Besides that, there is an issue with availability. The Lumia 920 was quite difficult to get unlocked, and I hope that won’t happen to the 1020. I would like to purchase it outright and enjoy all the OS updates as they come out. This is particularly important for me, as I don’t think the camera software will be completely ready (they may prove me wrong, of course) and in the past the camera algorithm improvements were packed in OS updates. I don’t want to be stuck on an old firmware because of an operator.

If looking at the Lumia 920 tells us something about the future, then neither of these issues will be long-term. The Nokia Lumia 920 is readily available now unlocked and for 380 euros, which is really a steal.

Wrap up

So yes, I am excited about the Lumia 1020. I can’t wait to see it in action. Will I get one? Well, I would like to get one, but it will depend on what is out there when it is released and at what price it is available.

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