Nokia Lumia 1020 review: View from the top

GSMArena team, 21 September 2013.

Hardware overview

Microsoft keeps a pretty tight control over the hardware of Windows Phone devices, so understandably the Lumia 1020 brings little surprises here.

Above the screen you will find the earpiece, the ambient light and proximity sensors, as well as the 1.2MP front-facing camera.

Nokia Lumia 1020
The ambient and proximity sensors sit alongside the front-facing camera and the earpiece

Below the screen are the three touch-sensitive buttons for getting around the Windows Phone 8 UI. These are probably the most generously spaced capacitive keys in business. That and the extra space below them will be much appreciated for allowing an extra solid grip of that big and heavy handset.

Nokia Lumia 1020
The usual three keys at the bottom

Two-thumb typing in landscape is quite comfortable, but the uneven thickness makes getting a secure hold harder.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia Lumia 1020 held in hand

There is absolutely nothing on the phone's left side but things get a lot busier on the right. The volume rocker is there, along with the power/lock key and a dedicated camera button. The latter would launch the camera even if the phone is locked.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Nokia Lumia 1020 Nokia Lumia 1020
The left side is bare, with all three keys on the right

At the top you get the 3.5mm audio jack, the secondary microphone and the microSIM tray. You'll need the SIM eject tool supplied in the retail package or another suitable sharp object to release the tray, but that's often the case with microSIM-packing devices, so we won't be deducting any points here.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Nokia Lumia 1020 Nokia Lumia 1020
A view from the top

Moving on to the bottom of the phone, we find the microUSB port, which is flanked by the loudspeaker and the lanyard eyelet. There's no pinhole in sight for the primary microphone, so it must be located behind the grille, too.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Nokia Lumia 1020
The microUSB port, the lanyard eyelet and the loudspeaker grille are at the bottom

The back of the device is where a large round plate accommodates the 6-element ZEISS lens of the 41MP camera, the xenon flash and the LED flash, which also serves as a video light. The bump is noticeable, but it's certainly subtler than those earlier leaks and the official photos made us believe.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Nokia Lumia 1020 Nokia Lumia 1020
The 41 megapixel camera and its entourage

Unfortunately, it's located quite low on the phone, so when you hold it one of your fingers usually ends up on the bump. Now, that doesn't add too much to the thickness of the smartphone but it means you might get the occasional fingerprint on it, so make sure you clean the lens properly before the photo shoot.

The Lumia 1020 doesn't have a removable battery cover, which means you can't access or replace your battery. You can extend its capacity by another 1000mAh if you get the optional grip cover, which also adds a larger shutter button and a comfortable grip.

The two dots at the back connect to the optional wireless charging shell. Unlike the Lumia 920, the 1020 lacks that feature out of the box and you have to get the optional cover to make it work. The combo is certainly bulkier but you only need to connect the cover when you are actually using it, so we find this the better solution.

Aside from the non-removable battery, the other sacrifice mandated by the unibody design is the lack of expandable storage. Now 32GB should be enough for most users, but if you need more you'll have to go with Telefonica as the carrier has exclusivity on the 64GB version.

Battery life

The Nokia Lumia 1020 has a small (by today's standards) 2,000mAh battery, but Windows Phone 8's tight management of background processes should make a difference compared to Androids. Also, there's the Camera Grip accessory, which adds an extra 1,020mAh of battery capacity (along with a big shutter key, a great grip and a tripod mount).

The talk time is very respectable at over 22 hours - other phones have lasted longer, but they had larger batteries. Plus 22 hours of calls is more than you can reasonably do over several days. Web browsing is not great at just under 6 hours, but we recently saw the Sony Xperia Z1 - one of Lumia 1020's most capable opponents in the camera department - manage only as much on a 3,000mAh battery. Finally, the video playback time is pretty great at 13 hours.

Nokia Lumia 1020 battery life

With an overall rating of 61 hours, the Nokia Lumia 1020 will easily take you through a couple of days of moderate usage. If you browse the web for more than an hour a day, you might have to charge the 1020 daily. Check out more details on the phone's battery life over at our blog.