|Nokia Lumia 1020. Check out those megapixels.
Let’s say that you are one of the world’s most famous brands, and you make a smartphone which easily has the best camera that any smartphone in the world has ever had, and then you add all the modern features that all the rivals have on top of it. Sounds like a recipe for success, yes? Well, in the case of the Nokia Lumia 1020… it wasn’t.
The headline feature of the Lumia 1020 was definitely the camera. Featuring a stonking 41 megapixels combined with optical image stabilisation (OIS) and a large sensor, this smartphone’s camera completely stomped on its rivals.
This remarkable “PureView” camera had first been seen in the Nokia 808 – Nokia’s very last Symbian smartphone – a bit over a year earlier. The clever folk at Nokia had tweaked it a bit in the meantime, and crucially had added OIS to make pictures even sharper. By default, the 1020 actually took 5 megapixel cameras that were vivid and sharp by using oversampling, but you could also use a Pro Camera app that could save both a 5 megapixel picture and one up to 38 megapixels at the same time. If you wanted to edit the photo and zoom into some detail later, then the higher resolution was probably for you. The Lumia 1020 could also effectively emulate an optical zoom by providing 4X near-lossless zoom with the huge megapixel count.
The rest of the hardware was no slouch either – a 4.5” 768 x 1280 pixel display, 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU, 2GB of RAM, 32 or 64GB of internal storage, NFC, 4G support and even an FM radio plus all the things that every other smartphone had. The camera could also take 1080p HD video and there was a 1.2 megapixel selfie camera on the front too. It was a bit of a big beast and it certainly wasn’t cheap, but what was there not to like?
The catch was… this was a Windows phone. Nokia had been punting Windows devices for a year and a half, and despite being critically acclaimed it turned out that consumers weren’t really that interested. The Windows 8 OS shipped with the Lumia 1020 was elegant and complemented the hardware precisely, but it simply did have whatever it needed to have to steal customers from Android and iOS. The seamless support for Office 365 did appeal to corporate customers though, and quite a few did start to migrate from BlackBerry to Windows. But it wasn’t enough.
Nokia did start on the path to produce a successor – the Lumia 1030. But by then Microsoft were in charge and they tried to drive Windows Phone sales by pursuing the value end of the market instead. Although 2015’s Lumia 950 did revisit the PureView camera with a decent enough 20 megapixel unit, Windows Phone was largely irrelevant by that point.
Today an unlocked Lumia 1020 in good condition can cost you less than £40, where the earlier Nokia 808 will cost you several times more. Today, Android devices such as the Huawei P20 Pro come close in terms of camera specifications, but no mainstream camera phone to date has topped the Lumia 1020’s 41 megapixel camera.
Image credit: Nokia