Nokia’s new Lumia 1020 is the company’s most significant device yet. Announced only a few weeks ago, the handset’s biggest selling point is easily its 41-megapixel sensor, which Nokia paraded around as the best mobile camera the industry has ever seen. Having seen examples, and learned more about the technology, it’s easy to see why Nokia is so confident. But even with such an enormous sensor, how does it stack up against the competition?
Apple’s iPhone is currently the most widely used camera in the world (on Flickr)—that’s an accomplishment in and of itself. And while it doesn’t have the highest megapixel count, or even the most robust feature set, the iPhone 5’s camera is still more than capable of producing excellent results. Apple says its cameras are so popular because the company focuses on more than just megapixel count.
With an 8-megapixel sensor, the iPhone 5 is able to capture a ton of photo data, with hardware and software making behind-the-scenes image adjustments for the most lifelike photos. Photos taken with the iPhone 5 often represent colors quite well, if a little oversaturated, while the camera itself does a pretty excellent job metering different lighting situations. It may not be the best performer in low-light conditions, but it can hold its own.
Going up against a 41-megapixel sensor (1/1.5-inch) was always going to be an uphill battle. Not only that, but Nokia’s Lumia 1020 comes packing a six lens system, f/2.2, mechanical shutter and new OIS technology. Additionally, Nokia developed new algorithms for auto-exposure, auto-focus and auto-white-balance, which promises better image quality under any conditions.
Nokia talked a lot about being able to crop images without losing any quality—we performed a quick unscientific test between the Lumia 1020 and iPhone 5 and found the difference is quite noticeable. But overall, is that 41-megapixel camera that worth it? This is the first comparison of many with the Lumia 1020. Both devices—Lumia 1020 and iPhone 5—were set to auto, taken under similar conditions at nearly the same time to ensure a level playing field.
So is that $300 price tag worth it for the Lumia 1020’s 41-megapixel sensor? This is still largely the same Windows Phone 8 device as the Lumia 920/925/928, so the camera is obviously its biggest selling point. Do the results do enough to convince you?