Review: Nokia Lumia 1020

The big, circular bump on the back of the Lumia 1020 is impossible to miss. Place the phone on a table and it rests at an angle, slightly propped up by the protrusion. Hold it in your hand and you’re always fondling the circle’s edges.

But the phone’s uniquely shaped backside isn’t without reason. In fact, it’s there for a really great reason: Nokia’s Lumia 1020 packs the best smartphone camera available, one with a gargantuan 41-megapixel sensor, Xenon flash, six physical lens elements, and the software to support it all.

The Finnish company had previously trumped all smartphone cameras with its 41-megapixel PureView 808 last year. It won accolades and plenty of press buzz. The actual Symbian-powered phone, however, was mediocre. And where the Lumia 1020’s raised back looks fairly elegant and sleek, the PureView 808 looks as if somebody had just slapped an extra piece onto an already bulky phone’s back.

Which is to say, I’ve been eagerly waiting for Nokia to make the Lumia 1020 since the PureView camera made its debut. And luckily, this new Windows Phone-powered mobile does not disappoint.

That said, if you want the absolute best camera on a smartphone, then the Lumia 1020 is for you. At $300 with a two-year contract, it’s the same price as an iPhone with equivalent storage, and its camera blows away the iPhone’s, along with all other smartphones we’ve tested this year. Nokia is leading the pack when it comes to smartphone imaging technology.

You just have to be OK with hitching your wagon to Windows Phone. It’s definitely trailing behind when it comes to the best apps, but who knows, maybe the Lumia 1020 and Nokia’s imaging SDK will be enough to spur developers to hop on.

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