Nokia Lumia 1020 with PureView – First Impressions [Video]

After plenty of rumors and leaks, Nokia has officially announced the Lumia 1020 running Windows Phone 8. But the Lumia 1020 is no ordinary Windows Phone device, and that is because it packs in an amazing 41MP sensor that is powered by PureView technology and enhanced with advanced camera features. We have been impatiently waiting for Nokia’s PureView technology to show up on Windows Phone ever since Nokia announced the Nokia PureView 808 at MWC 2012, and that day has finally arrived.

So what makes PureView tech so groundbreaking? For starters, its 41 megapixel sensor is pretty much unheard of on most consumer cameras and smartphones. And with 41MP on the Lumia 1020 you are able to zoom in on an unprecedented amount of detail with every shot you take. That also means you can take a shot and frame and crop it later for the ultimate creative shot.

But everyone knows that megapixels aren’t everything, and fortunately, PureView performs beyond just megapixels. The camera on the Lumia 1020 also offers Optical Image Stabilization and a Xenon Flash. The Optical Image Stabilization promises blur free shots, while the Xenon Flash promises great photos in dark lighting conditions, all with a flash that won’t wash out your subjects the way most smartphone’s do.

Nokia has bundled the Lumia 1020 with several new apps that can really take advantage of PureView. For starters, their Nokia Pro camera offers users the ability to make manual adjustments and fine tune their shots by easily adjusting focus, shutter speed, and white balance. From our brief hands on time with the app, the user interface felt very intuitive – and even a lot more intuitive than the typical manual controls you would find on a dedicated camera.

But it’s not just the still shots that PureView excels at, but the detailed HD video that it’s able to record. Nokia also talked about how well the device is able to record stereo distortion free audio – even in a loud environment, with Nokia Rich Recording.

Nokia is also preloading the Lumia 1020 with special apps like Vine, Path and Flipboard, and their exclusive Hipstamatic Oggl PRO app which will let users post photos to Instagram.

Design-wise, the Lumia 1020 has inherited the signature looks of the Lumia 920, and it sports nearly identical dimensions, yet it’s significantly lighter, weighing just 157.6 grams vs the Lumia 920’s hefty 185 grams. We immediately noticed the weight difference when we picked up the 1020, and were impressed with how reasonably weighted it is for a device packing in such powerful optics.

The Lumia 1020 will be available in a choice of white, black or yellow – which is a shame because we’ll miss the cyan option. In any case, we’re especially excited for its Camera Grip accessory which offers a better DSLR-like grip for the phone, while also providing a 1020mAh built-in rechargeable battery for 55 minutes more shoot time. The grip also allows you to attach the 1020 to any standard tripod. This accessory will retail for $129.

One of Nokia’s representatives told us that the 1020 is comparable in photo quality to not only a typical dedicated point and shoot, but they were confident enough to compare its quality to a four thirds system camera as well.

The original PureView 808 was hampered by the Symbian operating system, but now with Windows Phone on the Lumia 1020, PureView has become so much more powerful and versatile. This killer combination makes the device a potential game changer, especially for Windows Phone. The Windows Phone blog has a neat post up where Joe Belfiore of Windows Phone and Kevin Shields of Nokia talk more about the collaboration between the two companies on this project.

The catch? Nokia does acknowledge the fact that the Lumia 1020 wont snap photos quite as quickly as other camera phones, but the trade off in photo quality seems acceptable. Also, the Lumia 1020 is set to retail for $299 on contract. This pricing might scare off some, but considering that you’re potentially getting a true camera replacement with this phone, and that it packs in 32GB of built-in storage, $299 doesn’t seem like an unreasonable price at all. The Lumia 1020 will be available starting July 26th as an AT&T exclusive.

Overall, we’re giddy with excitement based on our brief hands-on with the 1020, but we will need to spend more time with it before reaching a final verdict.