808 2 1020

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Wonderful things, smartphones. Even better when they can do a lot more than other smartphones. In 2012, Nokia released the superbly capable 808 PureView, showing the world that you could take terrific photos and then zoom in to create more terrific photos. But the tech-media world collectively sagged as it sighed: urggh…it ran Symbian. Oh God, no. Not that old, fusty, ancient OS from the N95 days! Forget it, not interested, supercamera or no supercamera. Actually, they were interested, but only when this imaging beastie gets slapped on a Windows Phone.

Of course those iPhone and SGS4 toting writers had immediately dismissed it without even giving Symbian Belle a chance, but, well, that can only be expected really.

My gorgeous RED 808
My gorgeous RED 808

Fast-forward to summer 2013 and there it was, the Nokia Lumia 1020, with the (almost) same 41MP sensor, but with the 920’s Optical Imaging Stabilisation and BackSide Illuminated sensor,  and combining Zeiss’s latest optics, meaning that the 1020 was like a fusion of the 808 and the 920. Photo Heaven.

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But I shunned the yellow jacket Lumia, because my glorious and cheeky bright red 808 PureView already took incredible photos, right? And as for the OS part of the experience, Symbian Belle FP2 did just the job, singing along nicely when I needed to text, email, tweet, like, and even surf. Not that speed was of the essence, but that was ok, it was Symbian, and I knew it wasn’t going to be superfast, and what did I care for a few extra nanoseconds – this thing took amazing pictures!

And that it did. I took the 808 on my honeymoon and took a gazillion photos in glorious detail and colour, some of which I have had enlarged to poster size for our home. And when the juice started to run out, I could quickly switch the dying battery for a fresh one and power back on within 2 minutes – a very valuable option when out and about.

Hawaii on my 808 - amazing
Hawaii on my 808 – amazing

But fast forward again to November 2013 – just a mere 3 months later – and things are rather different. Under the looming shadow of Nokia being bought up by Microsoft, and with Nokia deciding to ditch everything Symbian and MeeGo from their rapidly descending hot air balloon (by effectively closing the Nokia Store), using a Symbian phone as your main device now seems to have a very faint whiff of death about it.

I took my trusty 808 on holiday again in November, over a 4 day jolly to Jamaica, thinking that, as in Hawaii, it would serve just fine as my main device. But I was actually wrong. Disappointingly, in the time since I was snapping beaches and palm trees in Kauai and Maui, Nokia seem to have ripped more wires out of the old junction box. My email was essentially dead; I could manually ask it to check my Gmail account, but it would not do a good job of that, informing me I had no new mail when I knew very well that I definitely had. It was just as badly behaved when trying to upload a photo to either Twitter or Facebook from the Gallery, I would find out later that the uploads had failed. Retrying didn’t give any joy, and I can only assume that Nokia has cut this particular cord with their Microsoft-branded wire clippers. Also on the Naughty List was the OS itself – for the first time ever since upgrading to Belle Delight, the phone froze, restarted, froze some more, then froze some more after that. I was utterly frustrated at the phone, the 808, the red beast that had brought so much joy to my life throughout 2013, letting me down when I really needed it. So for a little while, my attention left the 808 and fell to the 920, which (of course) didn’t let me down once.

Jamaica captured on my 808
Jamaica captured on my 808…when it worked!

So on my plane journey home I did some serious, deep, supergeek thinking. I decided that, yes, I wanted the best camera phone out there. While I was sure that the No.1 slot went to the 808 even during early December 2013, I knew the 1020 couldn’t be too far behind. I’d read enough comparisons and “vs” articles on the web to know that no matter what Sony, Samsung, LG, et al threw out of their factories, nothing could beat the 808 or the 1020. So could I do what I had been trying not to do since the summer announcement of the 1020?

Yes. I simply had to. And with my mind made up, I set about selling my beloved 808 to fund the cost of an unlocked 1020. I played with the idea of going back to the Devil and signing over my soul – in other words, signing a new AT&T 2-year contract – but I really just couldn’t. I had paid good money to break my contract with them 4 years ago, so to go back and willingly offer up my soul to them again seemed asinine. And it seemed that while it was expensive, the 1020 was within my grasp if I got a decent price for my 808. And I did.

So I went ahead and bid on a couple of yellow 1020s on eBay, without luck, and then took the plunge, spending a tiny bit more than planned and bought one without bidding. As luck would have it, this particular 1020 arrived in the AT&T retail box with all the trimmings, and at a great price too. Score!

Woohoo!
Woohoo!

As if Emperor Elop himself had heard that N9Andy had turned his back on his 808 and stepped over to the Dark Side, something rather awesome happened the same day my 1020 arrived via UPS. Nokia released Lumia Black to all AT&T branded 1020s! Woohoo! Thank you, Nokia! So not only am I getting to grips with the world’s best supercamera beauty, but I received what most WP8 device owners assume isn’t coming until February/March 2014. And the update allows messaging and call icons to be permanently seen on the lockscreen (just as with our beloved Symbian and N9 phones), you can quickly close open apps with a tap on the ‘X’ – very similar again to Symbian and MeeGo, as well as a whole list of things that make using a WP8 device just that little bit more enjoyable.

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So what do I think of the Lumia 1020? As a diehard Symbian and MeeGo fan, I have to say, I love this thing. It performs better than I expect it too. I liked my 920, but didn’t love it because the photos were just, well,  good. Now I have this ultra-speedy OS, with lots of whistles and bells from my Symbian/N9 days, all wrapped around the most amazing camera ever, even more so than the 808, and that is saying something! Why though? Well, the 1020 doesn’t make the 808 obsolete. But with the OIS and the BSI elements of this camera, the 1020 does what the 808 does but goes a step further in quality and flexibility. But mostly, when you couple this kind of camera power with the under-the-hood heft of WP8 with apps opening in no time at all, uploads to social websites a complete doddle, email, texting, tweeting, etc, etc… it is just a better experience overall.

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Everything that my 808 did can be done 1000 times quicker, and it’s done in a way that is way more enjoyable and immersive because WP8 isn’t sitting on a 640×360 screen, running on a single-core 1.3GHz CPU with 512MB of RAM. Not that I’m knocking the hardware specs of the 808, but they are very 2011/12, and as I hop-skip-jump towards the line that crosses over into 2014, I want not only the best camera in a phone, but a phone that can handle things like speedy web browsing, voice commands that won’t crash the app (yes, you Vlingo!), and apps that serve my daily needs properly, like a Chase banking app, Kindle, Hulu+, Netflix, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Angry Birds GO!, FourSquare, updated HERE Maps and Drive, and email that just works. My 808 could do some of those things, but even so, it couldn’t do them reliably anymore, or at best couldn’t do them quickly.

Using the app SoZoom, you can brag about your 1020's abilities!
Using the app SoZoom, you can brag about your 1020’s abilities!

So here I am, about to start a new year with a new phone. In 2010 it was with a new, shiny Nokia E7. In 2011 it was a brand new Nokia N9 that remained my best friend for a good 2 years. In early 2013 my heart was captured by the 808 PureView. And now, in the last breaths of 2013, my mobile phone passion has a new focus for 2014: the Nokia Lumia 1020. A yellow one. And I’m loving it.

Here are a few more 1020 samples: (click on them for crazy 1020-style detail!)

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