Nokia Announces Ultimate 41 MP Smartphone Camera

This article was last updated on May 25, 2022

Nokia has made a bid for the best smartphone money can buy with the Nokia Lumia 1020 41 MP camera

Nokia Lumia 1020, will a 41 megapixel camera make this the must own smartphone?

Nokia’s announcement of their new Lumia 1020 with 41 MP camera will set the new best-in-class standard for smartphones.

It may save the company: up until the 1020 there was nothing from Nokia to convince consumers to switch from Apple or Samsung to the Windows Phone platform.

If the Nokia Lumia 1020 lives up to its potential as the world’s best camera disguised as a phone the Lumia 1020 is a game changer.  I already prefer Windows Phone so my opinion is biased but I expect the Lumia 1020 will have geeks and photo buffs alike wanting this phone.

The Lumia 1020 is built on the Nokia PureView 808 camera, the world’s highest resolution camera in a phone, with the addition of stabilization (anti-shake) technology designed for the Lumia 920. “The Nokia Lumia 1020 takes photos and video that no other smartphone can match with a 41 megapixel camera sensor, PureView technology, Optical Image Stabilization and amazing high-resolution zoom.” Nokia

The Lumia 1020 actually stores two pictures every time you click the shutter: a 5 MB photo for sharing and the 41 MB photo for editing or high-resolution printing. Microsoft modified Windows Phone 8 to make that trick happen smoothly.

Forget zoom before taking the shot. “Nokia Pro Camera on the Nokia Lumia 1020 lets you shoot in super high-resolution, which means you can zoom in close to your shot after you’ve taken it. Then rotate, reframe, crop and share new images as many times as you want.”

You will not want to send 41 MP photos to the SkyDrive Cloud, Instagram or Facebook: they are simply too large. But the 41 MP photos will allow more detail and editing ability than any other camera in a phone.

The reality is Nokia’s pixel resolution is only part of the camera solution. Nokia must have the software to make the 1020 perform to its full potential. From the videos at least we will be getting better software to control picture-taking.

The iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy SIII has an 8 MP camera, the Samsung Galaxy 4 has 14 MP. Apple has slightly better software to make iPhone pictures challenge low-end SLR’s. While pixels are important, most of the processing that works the photography miracle is in the software.

The Lumia 1020 has 42 MP which is a huge increase in number. What that means is you can magnify the picture to zoom in and crop the photo without pixalization, something that both Apple and Samsung cannot do. Anytime you zoom with either Apple or Samsung you will lose resolution and get fuzzy pictures.

A real digital camera with zoom will usually make better photographs because it will have real optical lenses for zoom. For example, my Panasonic Lumix ZS20 14.1 MP which is portable and costs about $300, only has 14.1 MP but the lens has 20X zoom. The photographs from it are sharper and have better color than any of the current smartphone cameras including Nokia’s Lumia 920.

Nokia claims the video will be higher resolution as well. “Capture sharp, detailed HD video, and zoom in up to six times without losing quality. And with Nokia Rich Recording, you can capture distortion -free, stereo sound.”

I’m from Missouri the Show-Me State on video and sound. None of the smartphones make decent video recorders. Neither Nokia nor Samsung have enough headroom for recording the audio part of video for say live music. That takes about 110 dB and the Nokia Lumia 920 has about 75 dB of headroom. As a result, live music recording is distorted.

Video shot with Nokia Lumia 1020 – note they recorded the sound separately.

Apple has a better audio recording system with at least 10 dB more headroom, still not enough. First they need user controlled gain on the microphone, which these phones don’t have. Second, the phone needs look-ahead compression that sense when the signal will distort and compresses it gently.

The Sony PCM-D50 24-bit recorder records two streams of music. The first one is the real music. The second is delayed while the recorder analyses the signal and compresses it when necessary. That takes software and memory that none of the phones has yet. Until they do, people will be disappointed by the sound on smartphone videos. That’s why your favorite band’s concert recordings by fans are painful to hear. Real enthusiasts record the audio separately using something like the Sony PCM-D50.

Nokia Lumia 1020 availability

The Lumia 1020 will cost $299 on a 2 year contract but only from AT&T in the United States. Other countries will be added fall 2013. Pre-orders start July 16th, 2013 with the first phones arriving July 26th. The Lumia 1020 will ship in Canada within the quarter according to, a source on all things smartphone in Canada.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 comes in black, white and yellow. Accessories include wireless chargers (awesome) and a video/camera grip which will help if the 1020 becomes a useful video camera.

Check out 10 Reasons To Get Excited About the Lumia 1020 and Engadget’s early hand-on review which is mainly a photo gallery.

The only gripe so far is that the Lumia 1020 is limited by the Windows Phone platform which does not have that many apps. Whine whine whine I say. I use my Nokia Lumia 920 so much that I had to bump up by data package to 2 GB and unlimited calling/text.

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