Published: Friday, July 19, 2013

Is Nokia Lumia 1020 worth the investment?

Is Nokia Lumia 1020 worth the investment?Nokia has once again produced a camera phone that will be unmatched in the image quality department with the Nokia Lumia 1020. It offers a mix of the PureView technologies found on the PureView 808 and Lumia 920, something tech enthusiasts have been waiting for since the launch of the PureView 808.
Evolution of PureView
The Nokia Pureview 808 started Nokia’s road to recovery. It had a 41 megapixel image sensor that combined many pixels to create a superpixel and produce 5 megapixel and 8 megapixel images. It also allowed users lossless zooming during video capture one of the many advantages of having such a big sensor and offered Nokia’s patented ‘Rich Recording’ that delivers the best-in-business recorded audio quality.
Then came the Nokia Lumia 920 with PureView Phase 2 technology and offered unparalleled low-light imaging quality with an Optical Image Sensor (OIS). What the OIS did was basically move the lens in accordance with how much light it needed in it. The results not only produced images that were well lit and visible under poor light but also had blur-free, sharp images, even if it was a moving object. However, because of a regular sized image sensor, pictures outdoors never could match up with the PureView 808.
So this eventually brought about questions of when a true successor of the PureView 808 would come and with the 1020 Nokia has finally answered the call. The image sensor is actually smaller than that of the 808 PureView although there is a bump on the back of the device where the camera resides. It’s 1/1.5″ instead of 1/1.2″ and this means it has somewhat smaller pixels – 1.12 microns instead of 1.4 microns. However, the new sensor has a Back-Side-Illuminated (BSI) design, which improves light sensitivity. There’s also a new 6-element ZEISS lens which has a wider aperture than the old one (F/2.2 instead of F/2.4) so it lets more light in. Add in the OIS and there will be no doubt that the images are going to be beating dedicated point-and-shoot cameras and even reaching SLR levels. With all this technology added in a body that is thinner (10.4 mm vs. 10.7 mm) and lighter (158 g vs. 185 g) than the 920 is a remarkable achievement from the Finnish manufacturer.
Price of PureView
Windows Phone is still miles behind Android and iOS in terms of user adoption and is still finding its feet as an individual OS. It has its upsides and perks but some key apps are missing and 1080p screens and quad-core processors are still not supported. The Lumia 1020 has a 300 USD price strapped for AT&T subscribers on a 2 year contract, whereas other mobile phone top dogs, the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 are priced at 200 USD.
It’s understandable that this ground-breaking PureView technology is not going to come cheap and the international price of the unlocked phone, especially here in Bangladesh, is still unknown. But aggressive pricing is something that Nokia is known for with the Lumia brand but even the pre-order prices are over the 700 USD mark, making it much more expensive than the Lumia 920.
Yes, the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S4 are around the Taka 60,000 mark, making it more expensive than the 735 USD pre-order price. But at the same time, aside for the 2 GB of RAM (which is a first for a Windows Phone handset), keep in mind the internals are still the same as that of the Lumia 920, with a dual-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 processor and a 720p HD 4.5 inch screen (Windows Phone 8′s limitation is to blame here). Although Windows Phone 8 runs perfectly without and lag or stutters with the given hardware this makes it theoretically inferior to the S4 in terms of processing power, screen size and resolution. The iPhone 5 is a different case as it has a cult following and its experience and app ecosystem are its main selling points.
Therein lies the issue for Nokia – once a prominent name, in the high-end mobile phone game, it has lost a lot of its brand value and is playing catch up. Recent numbers from adduplex show that the Lumia 520, one of the cheapest Windows Phone 8 handsets is also the most sold Windows Phone handset. Nokia cannot use its brand name to charge that premium price like Apple can nor does it have the cutting edge hardware like a Galaxy S4.
Nokia has produced a fantastic smartphone and the best camera phone to date that is ultimately bogged down by its OS. Sony and Motorola are both expected to soon release smartphones with excellent camera’s but are not expected to be better than the Lumia 1020. Pricing, availability and release date are all going to be key. Nokia has announced that the Lumia 1020 should be available worldwide by the end of September so that is still a couple of months away. Mircrosoft are to announce the next edition of Windows Phone this fall which would be introducing phones with 1080p screens and quad-core processors among its important features.
With the Finns making all the right noises with the Lumia line – the Lumia’s account for over 85% of all Windows Phone 8 devices sold worldwide according to adduplex – they can ill afford to back themselves into a corner with the price of the Lumia 1020. The mobile phone imaging is a frontier that is going to be the next battleground for manufacturers after app ecosystems and hardware (chipsets) but it has not yet been proven to be the soul driving the sales of a smartphone. Thus, the Nokia Lumia 1020 can be a niche product only aimed at photography enthusiasts or it can be a smartphone everyone wants to and can afford to have because of its camera capabilities. The onus is upon Nokia to decide what they want the Lumia 1020 to be and price it accordingly.