We give the Lumia 1020 3.5 stars because of its camera. We'd probably knock off the half star if it weren't for the 41MP shooter. While this Lumia phone is a premium device, its platform is its major drawback. And though the camera is the best there is on any smartphone in the market, you're probably going to spend more time interfacing with the operating system than shooting photos.
The camera is the obvious winner here. While 41MP seems like overkill for a smartphone, it does have its benefits. Images are sharper at larger sizes, and the 5MP photos are more crisp than what you'd normally find on any other 5MP or even 8MP smartphone camera. Lossless zoom is also nice to have, coupled with the full resolution photo of the entire scene that's stored along with the zoomed-in photo. To top it off, battery life wasn't bad on the Lumia 1020, so that gives us a little confidence when leaving home without a charger or battery pack.
Unfortunately, Windows Phone 8 still has a way to go in terms of competing with Android and iOS. Aside from a lack of great apps, the platform desperately needs a better notification system. It's easy to miss e-mails, messages or app notifications if the tiles aren't in plain sight. Because of these things, the highly advanced camera just doesn't seem all that appealing. It would be like putting a Ferrari engine in a 1998 Toyota Corolla. We would probably give it better consideration if it didn't cost so much, either. $299 is steep for what you're getting with this device.
The incredible camera on this phone would benefit from apps that are found on iOS and Android, but missing on Windows Phone 8. Apps like Instagram, Snapseed and Vine would be terrific additions to Windows Phone 8, and it would really help this camera shine. But with the lack or slow development of those types of apps, there is more incentive to go with Android or iOS.
We would recommend this phone for those who don't spend too much time in apps, and find themselves messaging and e-mailing and browsing the web more than playing around in apps.
In terms of the camera, we can't say this will replace your point-and-shoot or compact camera. However, if you're looking for incredible smartphone camera photos and the flexibility of huge image files while making a few concessions by switching to Windows Phone 8, we might be able to recommend this phone for you. Except it's $299 on contract and that's just a tough price point to justify for the Lumia 1020.