Nokia recently announced the Lumia 1020, a smartphone with a 41-megapixel camera and 2GB of RAM that runs on Windows Phone 8. The Nokia Lumia 1020 will be released July 26 and will be exclusively carried on the AT&T network.
The Nokia Lumia 1020 is marketed as the most capable smartphone for capturing and sharing digital images, much like the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom. With a head-to-head comparison of the specifications of these two smartphone mega-shooters, we try to determine which device has the best camera and which makes a better smartphone.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom was announced in June and is available in some markets but has not yet had a U.S. release date announced. The shape of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom borrows more from a digital camera than any smartphone, while the Nokia Lumia 1020 has a form factor that is slimmer and more closely resembles a standard touchscreen device.
How does the Nokia Lumia 1020 measure up to the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom on paper?
The 41-megapixel sensor on the Nokia Lumia 1020 does not protrude as much from the front of the phone as the lens on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom. However, with the addition of the Camera Grip snap-on accessory (which will be likely priced at around $69.99), the Nokia Lumia 1020 transforms into a more camera-like device that can attach to any standard tripod. Equipped with the Camera Grip, the Nokia Lumia 1020 has an ergonomic form factor like a more traditional shooter, with an extra battery and larger dedicated shutter button.
The accessory for the Nokia Lumia 1020 increases its overall price to more than the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom's but also makes it more versatile. Without the accessory, the Lumia 1020 still functions as the most powerful smartphone camera on the market, but it has a trim shape that makes it more readily held in one hand.
The Nokia Lumia 1020 has 2 gigabytes of random access memory (RAM) packed inside, 33% more than the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom, which has 1.5 gigabytes. More RAM inside will allow the Lumia 1020 to more deftly switch from app to app while running multiple programs. With Windows Phone 8, Nokia Lumia 1020 users will also have access to the Office suite of programs. Both of these features make the Lumia 1020 an appealing device to businesspeople looking to edit Word documents or a PowerPoint on the fly. However, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop made a point of mentioning “back to school” time at the Lumia 1020 launch, indicating the real market Nokia is catering to with the Lumia 1020 is students and education.
With a single press of the dedicated camera button (or shutter button), Nokia’s Lumia 1020 simultaneously takes a 38-megapixel shot useful or printing or cropping and a 5-megapixel shot that can more easily be sent via email or MMS-messaging. The 5-megapixel shot is also much easier for uploading to social networks.
There is also more storage space built into the Nokia Lumia 1020 at 32GB, but the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is expandable from 8GB to over 64GB of space with a single SD card. Many photographers carry multiple memory cards, batteries and lenses for a long shoot. For those looking to carry a camera/smartphone hybrid for longer photo sessions, the swappable battery and SD card in the Zoom might outweigh the Lumia 1020’s more powerful camera sensor. The additional battery found in the Lumia 1020’s available camera grip accessory is a nice touch, however.
The Nokia Lumia 1020 is capable of capturing more than twice the megapixels (or photographic data) in a given shot at 38-megapixels, and also has a higher-resolution screen than the Zoom, which takes 16-megapixel photographs. The optical image stabilization, or OIS, found in the Nokia Lumia 1020 was described by CEO Stephen Elop as software integrated with a series of coils built into the device, to reduce the blur in a photograph caused by a shaky hand. IBTimes found in its review of the Nokia Lumia 928 that OIS helped with shaky hands but did not make a big difference in the blur caused by quickly moving subjects.
The Android OS running on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom might be its more valuable upper hand for students as well as photographers, as opposed to the Nokia Lumia 1020’s Windows Phone 8. While the Office suite is a nice touch, the majority of apps currently being released -- whether for writing, taking photos, banking, listening to music or streaming video -- are released for iOS first and Android shortly thereafter. While some app developers may then work on a version for competing operating systems, such as for BlackBerry’s BB10 and Windows Phone 8, they generally trail the versions for iPhone and Android devices by months or even years. Windows Phone 8 versions of apps also sometimes lack the functionality found in iOS or Android versions.
The not-quite-Office suite of cloud-based products found on Google Drive and available on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is a powerful alternative to the Nokia Lumia 1020’s Windows Phone 8 Office integration and SkyDrive cloud service.
The Bottom Line
When choosing between the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom to the Nokia Lumia 1020, there are three defining factors that consumers will have to decide between: operating system, form factor and camera.
The Android OS found on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is much more popular than Windows Phone 8, and therefore the Zoom has more apps available than the Nokia Lumia 1020. The Lumia 1020 from Nokia will have a slimmer profile and an additional accessory to increase battery life, while the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom has swappable batteries and SD cards. The Nokia Lumia 1020 also will have a much more powerful camera, with six different lenses built in and the ability to take photos at much higher resolution.
The Nokia Lumia 1020 seems to be the touchscreen shooter of choice for mobile photographers and students looking for the best camera in a smartphone, despite fewer apps being available for Windows Phone 8. Do you agree, or are you a Windows Phone 8 user who prefers the operating system to any other? Are you going to purchase either device? Let us know in the comments below.
Thomas Halleck is a tech reporter for the International Business Times, covering Google, wearables, product reviews and mobile news....