iPhone 5 vs Lumia 1020 smartphone comparison review - 41Mp camerphone better than iPhone?

iPhone 5 vs Lumia 1020: review

The Lumia 1020 from Nokia is the latest Windows Phone 8 handset. It has a 41Mp camera that delivers amazing shots. But can the best of Windows Phone beat the best Apple smartphone? Read our iPhone 5 vs Lumia 1020 smartphone comparison review.

iPhone 5 vs Lumia 1020: UK price

Let's set the scene by working out just how close a rival the 1020 is to the iPhone 5. The Lumia 1020 will launch in the UK by the end of September, and Unlocked Mobiles has put the Lumia 1020 up for pre-order with a price of £549 inc VAT. Assuming that is the correct area, the iPhone 5 and the Nokia Lumia 1020 are close rivals, as Apple's smartphone starts at £529 inc VAT. See also: iPhone 6 release date, iPhone 6 UK price.

iPhone 5 vs Lumia 1020: Cameras

iPhone 5It may seem odd to start with the camera, but one of the key features of Nokia's Lumia 1020 is its 41Mp camera. Perhaps Nokia is hoping that you are prepared to ditch iOS for Windows Phone 8 in order to get a camera with a crazy megapixel count. The Lumia 1020 also features a custom camera app that has functions never before seen on a smartphone. And this is the only area in which straight off the bat the Lumia 1020 knocks the iPhone 5 off its perch. In general we find the iPhone 5's camera a decent all-rounder, of course, but the Lumia 1020 is simply better.

When you take a photo with the Lumia 1020 you create two image files: one at full resolution and a 5-megapixel resampling of that image which may be more practical to use and share. You can move and store both image files when you connect your Lumia 1020 to you Mac or PC, but if you delete an image from the camera roll within your phone it deletes both files. It's an odd system to describe, but very easy and sensible in use.

The Lumia 1020 has not one or two but three separate camera apps: the Windows Phone Camera app, Nokia Pro Cam, and Nokia Smart Cam. By default holding down the phone's physical camera button automatically launches Nokia Pro Cam. This is the best camera app and it lets you adjust your camera's ISO and shutter speed, and even features a rudimentary manual-focus mode. The biggest drawback to using Pro Cam, however, is that it's slow to launch and  to save and process photos. This doesn't help you in situations in which you need to take multiple shots.

Nokia Smart Cam takes multiple photos in rapid succession and gives you options to remove unwanted objects from the scene. It also lets you meld multiple photos together to create a single image in which everyone in the group is smiling and has their eyes open. The app works pretty well, but you’ll need to make sure that you’re holding very still while taking photos—the slightest movement can throw off the process, leaving you with a bunch of mediocre images.

By comparison the iPhone 5's rear-facing camera is much the same as that in the iPhone 4S, able to shoot full-HD video at 30fps, with software image stabilisation. The change here is a new lens cover, now crafted from sapphire crystal for improved optical clarity and hopefully scratch resistance. The front-facing camera is now up to 1280 x 720-pixel resolution, which enables Apple's video chat service FaceTime in HD mode. It's a good smartphone camera. I

Few people will need to print poster-sized images from their smartphone, so 8Mp is fine. The default iPhone 5 camera app has few features - you can't change the quality of photos or videos, for example, but you can display a grid, enable HDR or panorama modes. It also has face detection and you can choose the focus/exposure point by tapping and holding somewhere in the viewfinder.

An interesting fact about the iPhone 5 is that in extremely low light, the sensor switches to a mode where four pixels are combined into one in order to provide an effective increase of 2 f-stops. What that means is that photos taken in this mode will have a much lower resolution, but won't be as noisy.

Taking photos on the iPhone 5 isn't as easy as it could be because there's no dedicated shutter button, but you can use the volume up button instead of the on-screen button.

In most circumstances, the iPhone 5 does a great job. As long as there's enough light, photos are sharp and have good colour depth and tone. The HDR mode improves the dynamic range (useful when you have a dark subject and a bright background) but isn't great if people are moving around in the photo.

In general, the iPhone captures motion well when HDR is disabled, as long as there's plenty of light. That means it's good for kids and sports. Like most smartphones, it struggles in low light. However, in our tests, the iPhone 5 managed to capture sharp images with a surprising amount of detail. Panoramas require a steady hand, but it's possible to get excellent results with a bit of practice. See also: should I buy an iPhone 5 or wait for iPhone 5S, iPhone 6?

Lumia 1020

iPhone 5 vs Lumia 1020: Screen

Here we find things to like about both handsets. The iPhone 5 has a small 4in display compared to top-end rivals such as the Lumia 1020. The iPhone 5 raises its screen estate by simply extending the screen's height by 14mm, keeping the width identical. The 640 x 1136-pixel display is still IPS, only even richer in colour saturation while still looking more natural than the slightly cloying OLED alternatives. And importantly the Apple iPhone 5's screen has the pixel-hiding Retina resolution of 326ppi.

Operating the iPhone 5 with its longer screen is a doddle. Unlike the semi-tablet sized phones such as the 1020 with 4.5in or larger screens, you really can reach the whole screen to operate it easily still with just one hand. Pick up an iPhone 5 though, and you'll notice a new featherweight quality. Down at 115g against the 4S' 141g, it feels wafer-like, almost too light in fact. Beautifully balanced, its mass is evenly distributed to offset any bias toward top or bottom

The Lumia 1020 boasts a display resolution of 1280 by 768, which would have been fine had the phone launched a year ago. Nowadays, with lots of smartphones touting 1080p displays, it's disappointing that Microsoft has yet to update the Windows Phone OS to support higher resolutions.TIt's a 4.5-inch WXGA display that uses the an AMOLED "PureMotion HD+" panel and has pixel density of 331ppi.

The screen on the Lumia 1020 is acceptable for watching movies or playing games, but it would have been nice to have a sharper display available for viewing photos shot with the phone’s impressive camera. The Lumia 1020 could have been the first Windows Phone with a 1080p display, and the fact that it isn't feels like a missed opportunity for both Nokia and Microsoft.

Overall we prefer the iPhone's screen, despite the Lumia 1020's extra size and similar pixel density.

iPhone 5 vs Lumia 1020: Processor and performance

Performance is something you can measure, normally... Sadly the deserted nature of the Windows Phone app world means that our usual iOS and Android benchmarks can't be used on the Windows Phone 8-running Lumia 1020.

Which is a shame because the iPhone 5 is such a performer. The iPhone 5 scored 1650 points in Geekbench 2, compared to the 4S' score of 632. That's over 2.6 times faster. When it came to gaming performance, the iPhone 5 ran the Egypt HD test within the GLBenchmark 2.5 test at 38fps, which is exactly twice the framerate of the 4S' which scored 19fps.

Browsing the web was super speedy. When tested for JavaScript rendering speed, we found the iPhone 5 to again be around twice as fast – scoring 903ms in the SunSpider test, against 1891ms for an iPhone 4S; both using iOS 6.
In general use, the iPhone 5 feels incredibly snappy, opening apps and loading websites quicker than ever before. Even web browsing over 3G feels appreciably faster.

And in our tests, it was. Not just JavaScript, but 3G cellular is much quicker – almost twice the speed. We took a series of network speed tests over a short time period from the same location, using the same Three nano-SIM card. The iPhone 4S averaged 7.92 Mbps download, and 2.34 Mbps upload from our office location in London. Peak speed recorded in any single run was 8.78 Mbps.

The iPhone 5 is helped along by not just a faster processor but a more modern RF chipset for cellular data. It averaged 13.3 Mbps download and 2.52 Mbps upload. Peak speed hit a giddy 16.91 Mbps.

We have been seeing in excess of two days' battery life, suggesting that all the extra power is not having a major effect on runtime.

Those results all compare favourably to all but the best Android handsets - but how does the Lumia 1020 stack up? As previously trailed, we have to be a little subjective. The Lumia 1020 packs a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 processor and ships with 32GB of internal storage. (There's more choice with the iPhone 5 which has 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models.) Although the Windows Phone OS runs fine on this somewhat antiquated hardware, we found that taking a lot of photos and videos would cause the phone to become notably hot to the touch. The two games we played, Jetpack Joyride and Radiant, worked flawlessly but didn't look as good as their iOS or Android counterparts.

The Lumia 1020 isn't yet available in the UK, so we tested it in the US. Call quality over AT&T's network in San Francisco was good, with no hints of hiss or static. Obviously call quality will vary depending on where you live, so be sure to consult coverage maps to make sure you aren’t in an AT&T dead zone. The phone's 2000mAh battery held up through an entire day’s use, though I noticed the charge level drop rapidly the moment I started taking photos. Packing a charger may be worthwhile if you're going sightseeing and planning on using the phone as your primary means of capturing memories.

It's certainly not a slow or laggy phone, but subjectively we find the iPhone 5 faster and more responsive. See also: how do I transfer contacts from Android to iPhone?

Lumia 1020

iPhone 5 vs Lumia 1020: Design and build

Apple's iPhone 5 remains one of the smallest flagship devices at 59 x 124 x 7.6mm and 112g. This is mostly due to the fact it has a smaller screen. In terms of build quality the iPhone 5 is put together beautifully with a combination of aluminium and glass. The build quality is jewel-like, reminiscent of a Swiss watch.

The move to aluminium helps to lose some weight and provides a more handleable object for the fingertips. The iPhone 5's anodised aluminium backplate allows a tad more purchase in the hand. Durability may suffer a little though.

A phone as light as the iPhone 5 also seems to leave no sensation of its presence in the pocket. It's a a matter of taste whether you like this idea or prefer to have some subtle clue that the phone is still there... or not.

Overall, the Lumia 1020 is extremely well built, and it probably could survive its fair share of drops and spills. I would still take special care with the camera module, though, as a well-timed drop could be all it takes to damage the sensor inside and make your handset just another Windows Phone.

The Lumia 1020 is essentially a Lumia 920 with a better camera tacked onto the back. The phones share some design elements—such as a rounded chassis and a large, 4.5-inch screen—although the 1020 doesn’t feel as chunky when you hold it in your hand. This phone is slimmer than the 920, but the camera on the rear of the 1020 protrudes a bit and can make the handset feel awkward while it’s resting in your pocket. That isn’t a deal breaker, necessarily. It’s just something to keep in mind if you tend to wear skinny jeans.

Most of all the Lumia 1020 is a big bright bold slab of a phone. Where the iPhone 5 is a refined and restrained, opulent gift of a handset, the Lumia 1020 is an almost cartoon-like dash of colour. Which you prefer to look at is a matter of opinion. But we'd wager that all iPhone users will want to slap a case on their phones, whereas your Lumia 1020 will likely live a full live unsheathed. Let's call this one a score draw.

iPhone 5 vs Lumia 1020: Connectivity

The iPhone 5 offers offer dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, DLNA, GPS and support for 4G LTE networks. Of course the iPhone 5 uses Apple's proprietary Lightning connector, whereas the Lumia 1020 connects via mini USB, like most other smartphones. The Lumia 102 is another 4G phone with Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 3.0, NFC and microUSB.

iPhone 5 vs Lumia 1020: Software

You're reading this on Macworld UK, so the chances are that you are an Apple fan. You don't then need us to tell you that iOS7 is a superb operating system. It's both easy to use and packed with features, and there are more than ever in this new release.

Siri is better than the voice-controlled TellMe function in Windows Phone 8, but Apple doesn't allow third-party developers to expand on Siri's capabilities as Microsoft will in WP8.

iOS 7 also has tight Twitter and Facebook integration, what looks to be an impressive new Maps app, and many other standard high-quality apps. Let's not forget, too, that the App Store has hundreds of thousands of apps, whereas the Windows Phone equivalent still lacks some major names, and contains lots of apps that are little more than websites in a wrapper.

Which is not to say that Windows Phone 8 isn't a good OS. And because we presume you aren't as familiar with it, here is a detailed outline.

We are big fans of Windows Phone 8. It's a gorgeous operating system that's great to look at and mostly simple to navigate. Big, bright Live tiles on the home screen update with the information that's important to you in real time. Our main concern is with its apps menu, which can become rather long and unwieldy the more utilities you install. Not that you're likely to install that many…

The Windows Store remains in a different league to Apple's App Store and Android's Google Play. Many of the big-name apps are present, including the likes of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Viber, YouTube, Tumblr, TVCatchup, Netflix, eBay, BBC Radio and Wikipedia (even Skype, but you'll miss that front-facing camera), but there's little else of note.

That said, Nokia develops its own apps, and some of them are very decent. For example, Nokia Music and Mix Radio offer free music that you can stream or download to play offline. HERE Maps and Drive offer turn-by-turn driving directions, as well as walking distances and the best routes for public transport, including departure times.

Windows Phone 8 also offers Family Room, within which you can connect with other members of the household and share information such as where you are, photos, and even reminders to, say, pick up some milk on the way home from work. Kid's Corner is another neat utility, allowing you to make available to your children only the features and apps you deem suitable. And then there's the Xbox Live Hub, which lets you connect and play with friends wherever you are.

Being a Windows Phone, Microsoft Office is also built-in. The Nokia Lumia 520 offers access to Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, plus there's that 7GB of SkyDrive storage we mentioned earlier.

Overall iOS is the best mobile OS. But don't discount WP8 without first taking a look. Visit our spotlight on iPhone and iPad for more.

iPhone 5 review

OUR VERDICT

Overall we have to opt for the iPhone 5. The best Apple phone has to be better than the best Windows Phone, and we're not even sure that is what the Lumia 1020 is. But if you are looking for a great camera phone, the Lumia 1020 is a good buy.

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