Smartphones have been beefing up their cameras recently. Head and shoulders above the rest, in terms of practicality as a portable smartphone and out and out megapixel power, are the Sony Xperia™ Z1 and the Nokia Lumia 1020. So, let the battle to decide the best camera phone commence.
Camera quality is difficult to judge, but here's how it goes. The Sony Xperia™ Z1 is designed as a camera that will give you great shots with loads of detail, without any effort. Just point and click, and the built in Superior auto mode will kick in, automatically choosing the right settings to give the best shot, every time. The zoom is excellent, and the speed of the camera is impressive and practical. From the screen being off to having the camera on and ready to take a shot takes a lot less than a second. There are also loads of picture effects, from pencil sketch to fisheye. It makes it easy to play around and get a great shot to share with mates in no time.
The Lumia 1020's strengths are with ultra close-up shots and medium distance shots. The details it picks up with its 41MP lens are super impressive and shots have a great depth of field. This is when the foreground is focused and the background blurred - it looks very professional. Because of the 41MP lens, the zoom is also a real strength. It's also got an incredibly fast shutter, allowing you to grab shots of people jumping in mid-air or a car going by without it blurring. There's also loads of settings that you can play with, so if you've got the time, you can create truly unique shots.
Even more than that, the 1020 has a Xenon flash. These are normally found on standalone cameras, and are better than their LED flash counterparts. They are brighter, and faster. In fact, this makes the flash on the Nokia is actually the brightest and fastest on a smartphone, so it's excellent for dark shots, and close ups in low light.
The Z1 is a point and click photographers dream, giving easy and practical options in a camera that will fire up and take care of itself. The 1020 is a slightly slower app, but offers more professional customisation. Details are pretty much even, although our samples are not yet featuring final software. We would say that the Z1 will give you a great shot no matter what, while the Nokia will give you a bit more detail but you might want to work at it to get the best shot possible. In low light, the xenon flash of the Nokia is superior.
When it comes to camera features, Sony and Nokia have taken completely different routes.
The Sony Xperia™ Z1 has four headline features. The first is Social live. This lets you broadcast live videos to Facebook. It can be setup in seconds, and even lets you see how many people are watching your live stream and read comments in real time. Info-eye™ is another impressive feature. It lets you search the internet for information using just your internet connection and a photo. It works with landmarks, books, wine, barcodes, text and more. Just point and shoot and the Z1 will search the net using the image to find relevant information. This might be reviews, overviews, general information, or even nearby attractions.
You can have a bit of fun with the Z1's AR effect feature. This lets you superimpose moving 3D images into your shots and videos. You can have dinosaurs, a disco, even a fairy tale village, all added into your shots. Finally there's Timeshift burst. This takes 61 shots in two seconds, one second either side of when you pressed the camera button. This means you can wind back to just before you took your photo, as well as just after, ensuring you'll always have the exact shot you wanted.
The Nokia Lumia 1020 has gone for a much more professional camera experience. The Pro Camera app lets you alter the focus depth, so you can focus on objects at different distances. The result is a really impressive shot like you'd get on super expensive, specially designed cameras. You can also manually change the shutter speed, which is perfect for catching night shots. You remember those shots where the car headlights are blurred and stretch across the whole screen like it's moving at 1,000mph? That'll let you do just that.
Nokia also wanted you to have a powerful Photoshop style app for editing photos on the fly. This is Creative Studio, and it's more very impressive, and more useful than you'd think. There are features like colour pop that let you pick out individual colours to enhance, filters to give Instagram-esque shots as well as multiple ways to blur your images to give some really individual photos.
You do have Nokia Smart Cam for a bit of fun with the 1020. This takes 10 shots in quick succession, letting you manipulate them in a variety of ways. You can change faces, picking your favourites from the different shots to get the ultimate single shot. You can take an action shot, which blends together the photos into one frame, giving you say, the same cyclist in ten different positions as they cycled by. There's also object removal, and motion blur. This keeps a moving in focus and blurs the background as if it's speeding by - a very cool effect.
With the Xpeia™ Z1 you have features that are ideal to share, either live on Facebook with Social live, or later with Timeshift or AR effects. Info-eye™ is also a really nice feature that makes great use of the powerful camera. With the Lumia 1020 you'll be equipped for getting those unusual shots that take a bit of effort. You've also got a great app in Creative Studio for tweaking and polishing your shots, and Smart Cam for fun shots.
These are two very different phones. The 1020 is slightly shorter and noticeably lighter than the Z1, but the Sony is thinner. The Nokia's plastic body is actually of very high quality, so don't let that word 'plastic' put you off. It's got a pleasing chunky feel in the hand, and the metal sensor on the back definitely gets you attention and compliments when you're out and about. The Z1 is a sharper looking device, and a lot more subtle. While it might not turn heads so much, it does have two advantages over the 1020. The metal frame offers a bit more damage protection but the real ace up its sleeve is its waterproofing. The Z1 will withstand being submerged in a metre of water for over 30 minutes, so you don't have to worry if it rains, or even if you drop it in the sink while doing the washing up.
On the front of the Sony Xperia™ Z1 is a 5" 1080p HD LCD display. The Nokia Lumia 1020 has a 4.5" 720p AMOLED display. Let us explain this a bit more. The Sony's screen is noticeably larger, making it better for video watching and general viewing, although it will be a little harder to use, especially with just one hand. When it comes to resolution, the Z1 offers the sharper screen, making it better for detail. In fact, the Sony's display is over 30% sharper, so for super high quality content, you'll see a difference in the sharpness.
Because the Sony uses LCD technology to power the screen, it has slightly more realistic, or true to life, colours. It may be a little bright at times, but generally speaking the Sony matches the colour of objects a little more closely than the 1020. The AMOLED display of the Nokia does have its advantages though. It uses less power than the LCD variant. This is because when the screen shows the colour black, the pixels are actually turned off and use no power. The 1020's AMOLED screen also has more colour pop, giving a nice glow to everything.
If you want sharper, more true to life visuals on your content, the Z1 is the phone you'll want to get your hands on. If you like super vivid colours and high contrast, the 1020 will suit you more.
Windows Phone 8 vs Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2.
Here's a quick summary of how Windows Phone 8 on the Nokia Lumia 1020 and Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean on the Sony Xperia™ Z1 compare. Windows is a very simple operating system to use that's got handy and visually appealing live tiles on its homescreen. These are boxes that update automatically every few seconds with new information. This can be photos, texts messages, news updates and more. It's an excellent operating system for emails and messaging. It links in well with social networks, so is great for use with Facebook. And with Microsoft Office built in, it's ideal if you want the 1020 as a work phone too. Sharing is simple and Nokia has some excellent built-in apps. There's Nokia Music for free music, plus the excellent Here Maps for GPS and navigation.
Android is a slightly more complex system, but offers more features and more customisation. Looking for a system that lets you change the colours of the menus and the background wallpaper? Maybe you want to control more advanced features like turning off certain apps so they don't drain your battery. You'll need Android.
With the power of the Z1, Android is the faster and more responsive system. It's excellent for gaming and apps. In fact, the Google Play™ Store offers over a million apps and games, so there's plenty of choice. If you want a new feature, chances are the Play™ Store has it.
Instead of Live tiles, Android uses widgets. These are interactive boxes on your screen that display information like Facebook updates and gallery photos, and they act as shortcuts too. They'll take you straight to the news article that appears on them, will let you change settings without having to jump into menus and much more.
Battery - which will last longest?
When it comes to battery life, it's a one sided battle. The 3,000mAh battery in its metal shell is good for 850 hours of standby. Call time is a stellar 15 hours. The 1020 packs a respectable 2,000mAh battery, which is good for 384 hours of standby time, or 13 hours 20 minutes of calls. Both have battery saving features, so if you need a little longer juice at the end of the day, turn them on. The Battery STAMINA mode of the Z1 shuts down apps that aren't needed and turns off the internet connection when the screen turns off. The Battery saver feature of the 1020 is similar, turning off all non-essential functions. Both work well and will certainly eke out a little extra time from the batteries.
|Sony Xperia™ Z1
||Nokia Lumia 1020
|Size||144 x 74 x 8.5 mm 170g||130.4 x 71.4 x 10.4mm 158g|
|Display||5" 1080p HD with Triluminous and X-Reality technology||4.5" 720p Puremotion HD+, Supersensitive touch and ClearBlack with Sunlight readability.|
|Processor||2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 quad core||1.5Ghz dual core Snapdragon S4 Plus|
|RAM||2GB RAM||2GB RAM|
|Front facing camera||2MP||1.2MP|
|Connectivity||4G, NFC, Wi-Fi /b/g/n, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0||4G, NFC, Wi-Fi /b/g/n, DLNA, Bluetooth 3.0|
|Battery||Battery size: 3,000mAh
Standby time: 850 hours
Talk time: 15 hours
|Battery size: 2,000mAh
Standby time: 384 hours
Talk time: 13 hours 20 minutes
|Memory||16GB on board storage, microSD up to 64GB||32GB on board storage|