Microsoft: No Successor to the Nokia Lumia 1020

Microsoft: No Successor to the Nokia Lumia 1020

By Rich W Woods

I have been spending the week with Microsoft at Mobile World Congress and having an amazing time. They showed off the new foldable keyboard, the Microsoft Lumia 640, and the Microsoft Lumia 640 XL. They gave an amazing time to everyone there and it was really clear that every single person at Microsoft has a real passion for the company and the products that they create, as well as empowering users to do more with what they have.

I think I heard the phrase “bring flagship features to low cost devices” about a million times, so that raised the obvious question: What about flagships? Of course, we reported that not only did Steven Elop say that there will be a new flagship with Windows 10, but that Tuula Rytila, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Mobile Device Marketing, stated that the next flagship will be worth waiting for. There is, however, more to that story.

Just as obvious as the question about flagships is the question about a successor to the Nokia Lumia 1020. After all, there is nothing like the 41 MP sensor on the Lumia 1020 on the market.

Of course, at this point, the Nokia Lumia 1020 is getting a bit long in the tooth. Windows Phones were using dual core Snapdragon S4s when Android was using quad core Snapdragon 800 and Windows Phones started using Snapdragon 800 when everyone else was using Snapdragon 801. The 1.5 GHz dual core Snapdragon S4 Plus in the Nokia Lumia 1020 makes for a slow phone and an especially slow camera, as it’s a low end chipset that is powering a very high end camera.

So what’s the deal with the 41 MP Pureview? When are we going to see that 41 MP sensor backed up with an octa core Snapdragon 810 processor with 3 GB of RAM? Well, never.

At the same Q&A where we were told that the next flagship would be “worth the wait”, we asked about a successor to the Nokia Lumia 1020. They talked a lot about how a flagship should be special. Most companies release one flagship a year, if that, so Microsoft wants to have one phone that stands for the Windows Phone lineup.

They said that they do not want to create a flagship that alienates a portion of the mainstream market. If you recall, both the Nokia Lumia 1020 and the Nokia Pureview 808 has a large bulge where the camera was. After all, it’s not just the resolution of the sensor that makes it great, it’s the 1/1.5″ sensor and the xenon flash.

While it is certainly a tragedy that there will be no successor to the Nokia Pureview 808 and the Nokia Lumia 1020, I do understand why they are doing this. 99% of users (not a confirmed number) use their smart phone cameras for quick shots. They don’t adjust manual settings. They open the camera app, point, and shoot. When I do a camera comparison with the Nokia Lumia 1020, I get emails about how I don’t know how to use it because I leave it on automatic settings.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 is not a mainstream product. The 41 MP Pureview camera is a marvel of modern technology, but it’s not mainstream. Microsoft is streamlining their flagship efforts. Their three flagship lines are 9xx, 10xx, and 15xx. It’s clear that the one to discontinue will be the 10xx, as it does alienate a portion of the mainstream market.

Since the naming convention used in the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL are going to be permanent, I would expect the next flagships to be the Lumia 940 and Lumia 940 XL, instead of a 940 and 1540.

If they’re not going to focus on camera innovation then what? They’re putting flagship features in low price devices and they said the next flagship would be special, innovative, and worth waiting for. So if not camera innovation, then what? Well, it’s Microsoft, so expect productivity innovation. Expect WACOM support in the Lumia 940 XL, if not the Lumia 940 as well.

Windows Phone users are tired of hearing that it will get better soon. I remember back in 2013 when Joe Belfiore tweeted that the app gap would be closed by the end of 2014. We forgive him because of the hair, but still. For years, we have been hearing the same thing, that it will get better soon. Now, we’re hearing that it will get better when Windows 10 comes out.

Microsoft is smart to do the brilliant things that they are doing in the mid-range and the low end, but they can’t forget about flagships. I met hundreds of Lumia lovers over the past couple days. I was extremely jealous that they all had Lumia 930s and I never even had the opportunity to buy one.

Now the Nokia Lumia 1020 will be two years old in July. For all of us that rushed out and bought one on launch day because we know what a 41 MP Pureview camera can do, it’s time to upgrade for us. It worries me that we might not have something to upgrade to.

Pureview is one of the things that makes Lumia special and it is the main reason that Lumia enthusiasts love Lumias so much. For us, we have been dreaming about that 41 MP camera backed up by a solid quad core processor for years. Let’s just hope someone from Microsoft is listening.

About the author
Rich Woods

Being a computer programmer wasn't enough to fulfill his love of technology. In 2013, Rich founded For the Love of Tech and has been writing about his love of tech ever since.

  • p.

    No Lumia 1020 successor means Lumia 1020 will be my first and my last WP.

    I am buying a CM1 successor or whatever comes next.

    I can’t live without true multitasking AND a good, fast camera for much longer.

    • rwoods716

      Well, the 930 is a good, fast camera. This is sad news though.

  • That’s really some sad news. I guess some people were driven to the Lumia phones (despite the lack of support for Windows Phones compared to iOS and Android) because of the cameras.

    At least I *HOPE* that MS won’t go crazy on the “MAKE IT THINNER!” syndrome that has hit all the other manufacturers. That would mean we would drop from the decent 1/2.5″ sensor to one of those horrid 1/3.2″ sensors.

    Also, personally, I don’t get this thing against “the bulge”. I bet everyone carries a wallet in their jeans’ pockets that are a lot thicker than the ‘bulge’. My wallet is, at least, twice as thick as my L930 and it fits just fine in my pocket.

    • rwoods716

      I think the “make it thinner” syndrome has only really hit Apple. Most Android devices are getting thicker, heavier, and bulkier as uselessly high resolution displays demand larger batteries.

      I understand why the mainstream doesn’t want a phone with a bulge. The iPhone 6 is widely known as the best camera because it has great auto settings. 99% of people will never see the benefits of a camera like the 1020. I find it extremely sad that they’re not going to do it, but I do understand why.

      • Yes, I understand “why” as well. But MS is risking being a “me too” company. They are already doing that stupid “let’s release a new phone every week” thing, trying to cover the whole market in way that you don’t know any more which phone is better than the other.

        To be honest, I find smartphones rather boring nowadays. They all have nearly the same specs, do the same thing, have the same size, same screen, same camera module (currently the Sony 13mp camera module, but eventually everyone will upgrade), same same same. Only difference being brand, costing a few bucks more or few bucks less and Android customization.

        The Lumias had the opportunity to offer something else rather than a different O.S.

        Currently, let’s face it, the WP is lacking a lot, app-wise. And if MS tries to tackle the other phones using their very same strategy, they are going to lose it because they can’t compete with Android directly because of the structure Google already has.

        Cool features like Cortana or the integration with Windows 10 may not be enough.

        • rwoods716

          Well, I agree that smart phone hardware is boring. In fact, I wrote a whole column about how I think Project Ara will be a failure. Back in 2012, you’d buy a flagship smart phone but it still had something to be desired. You could get the one with a great camera or you could get the one with the super fast processor or you could get the one with the great battery. Smart phone hardware leaves nothing to be desired anymore.

          I do, however, think that software is more important than hardware when it comes to the camera. Nokia’s low end 5 MP sensors do a better job than Motorola’s and OnePlus’s 13 MP Sony sensors, and the reason is crappy firmware and software.

          When it comes to Windows 10, it’s not just Cortana or Windows 10 that it has going for it. Read this column I wrote about why their Windows 10 app strategy works. In short, no one made Windows 8 apps because only Windows 8 had the store. Why make an app that only 14% of Windows users can use when you can make a desktop app that 100% of Windows users can use? On the other hand, Windows 10 will be free, so it will have a much greater market share. Many more people will have a store, causing more devs to create apps. The universal apps mean those apps will also be available on Windows Phone. They’re using their desktop market share to leverage their mobile platform. It’s pretty brilliant.

          http://fortheloveoftech.com/2015/03/11/microsofts-windows-10-mobile-strategy-why-it-works/

          Also, while it’s clear that they aren’t going for camera hardware innovation, they did make it clear that they will innovate on their next flagship. Rich Capture is an amazing new feature in Lumia Denim, so they are still working on the camera. But they said they’re bringing flagship features to low cost devices. If that’s the case, then what do they put in the flagship? I would expect productivity innovation, because after all, that’s Microsoft, so expect WACOM support.

          • I can also predict the big concern for us waiting, will end in Window’s 10 devices being able to sideload android apps like Blackberry did to stay relevant [to its younger consumers that loved their devices in a different time]. Hopefully, if that happens I hope we will be able to download from the google play store directly for convenience as well as install from unknown sources (lol).

            On the brighter side, the Nokia Lumnia 1030 cameras ` software compete(s/d) well against iPhone 5c & iPhone 5s previously as Lumnia users that wanted a point & shoot with focus in mind yet Microsoft’s app store extensions for connecting to world was horrid it. You couldn’t possibly get distracted from work on a windows phone. Most users meaningfully wanted a camera without having to invest to much in a platform nor worry about how their going to sync or rip data off their device as apple users fork over the cash for the apple innovation bandwagon when for most people it is not practical to use Apple’s luxury features. Finally, Microsoft is answering our demands and has shown how messy it developed as a business for consumers and how slowly yet practical they handle their business with enterprises as if they were scrambling to condense their levels of the company & software without foreseeing the need to condense the software across the board which hopefully will grow and improve their customer support department across the country.

          • rwoods716

            Ok, a couple things. There is no 1030, that’s the point of this article. I’m guessing you meant 1020. Also, your thesis about how people actually buy Windows Phones because they don’t want decent apps and services and completely unfounded.

            Also, you will never see the Google Play Store on Windows Phone. Possibly the Amazon Appstore, but not the Google Play Store.

  • What about On The Go (OTG)?
    What about removable MicroSD Card?
    What about dual SIM support?
    What about a file manager?
    What about a user replaceable battery?
    What about a Bluetooth selfie support?
    What about a decent flash (no LED)?

    Get with it Microsoft!!

    • rwoods716

      I love your enthusiasm, but I’m not very clear on what you’re talking about. Most Windows Phones support microSD, although the Icon and the 930 do not. You’ll never see dual SIM in a flagship, from Windows Phone or otherwise. Most Windows Phones have replaceable batteries, although not the flagships, something that’s becoming less and less common, as LG is the last to do that in their flagships. As for a decent flash, LEDs are fine for smart phones. Something like the 1020 deserved a xenon flash because of what it was, but most phones wouldn’t even benefit. The new rich capture feature really makes up for that.

      Also, what do you mean by Bluetooth selfie support?

  • Sad news – I won’t downgrade my 1020 to a worse camera

    • rwoods716

      I’m not sure why you would. So what are you saying? You’re done with Windows Phone since their will be no successor to the 1020? Or are you saying that you will use the 1020 until you die one day?

  • This is sad and outrageous.. MSFT should have built on the incredible photographic intellectual property that Nokia had been investing in heavily for the past decade, not kill it!! Shame on you MSFT. The next maker that produces a xenon-flash camera phone will win me as a customer.. i don’t care if it’s Samsung, Sony, HTC or Apple. No matter how professional you are with picture taking, if you’re using those shitty LED (true tone my ass) flash bulbs, the majority of your pictures will be a little blurry. Only Xenon flash will produce crisp pictures. Sad Sad Sad

    • p

      I agree with you. I am also not downgrading my 1020 camera as the above commenter said. So it means that I am pretty much done with WP.

      It seems that Panasonic is the brand to watch. Their CM1 was impressive, but difficult to find. They seem to be working on a CM1 successor. I am aware that it will take a while to be ready to market, but I can wait.

      RIP great legacy of Nokia cameras! N95, N8, 808, 1020.

      • p

        Just hope that the CM1 successor brings a Xenon flash. I know that they are considering it.

      • rwoods716

        Well, again, the 930 and Icon do have great cameras. Let’s see what we get from the next flagship before we jump to conclusions.

        • p

          Yes, I know. But, I mean, according to Smartcamclub the S6 already has a camera that’s better than either 930 or 1520. If the new Lumia flagship does not deliver a substantial improvement over the 930/1520, enough to best by a safe margin the S6, then I do not see any reason to stick with Lumia.

          • rwoods716

            Well, today I’ll be publishing a comparison between the S6 and the iPhone 6. Tonight, I’ll write one comparing the S6 and the Icon (which is the 930), and we’ll put that theory to the test.

  • Anne

    i love my nokia 1020 it takes some cool pics, sometimes the pics are better then when i use the camera. I really hope that MS do think about a successor soon as i would love a faster phone with the great camera

    • rwoods716

      You know, I really should point out here that the 20 MP cameras that they use in flagships are really great cameras. I mean, I’d love to see another 41 MP Pureview, but the 20 MP isn’t as much of a downgrade as people make it out to be

  • A couple days ago, I cursed and cursed and cursed that I dropped my 1020 face down on the concrete from pretty high up. The screen was completely shattered. Within the hour, I was online looking for another 1020.

    Much to my disappointment, it turned out to be extremely dificult to find. Most shops simply can’t order them anymore (or don’t want to). The few that are left are charging DOUBLE of what I paid for mine a good year ago.

    I bought a 930 instead. It’s a great phone for sure, but if I could trade it in for another 1020, I’ld do it in a heartbeat.

    The 930 has no glance either, which is a shame for a flagship. Once you are used to having Glance, it’s really something that is heavily missed once it’s gone. And off course, that camera…..

    The 930’s pureview 20mp isn’t bad at all though, but it’s a long way from what the 1020 could do.

    Essentially, I know have a phone with a lot more memory and a lot more power. Yet, this feels like a downgrade instead of an upgrade.

    As far as I am concerned, the 1020 was THE phone that stood out against all the others (apples and droids included).

    And if microsoft would simply discontinue this thing, I feel like it would be a major mistake. They had a real differentiator in their hands there… Sure, it might have been for a relative niche market as opposed to the “mainstream”, but who cares? You have all the other lumia’s for the mainstream squares…

    Here’s hoping microsoft turns that around and comes with a successor after all….

    • rwoods716

      What would you say that the 1020 can do that the 930 can’t, especially at this point? At this point, the 930 can do living images, rich capture, and 4K video. The 1020 can’t do any of that. The 930 is also a hell of a lot faster, even before it got the Lumia Denim update. The processor in the 1020 is just too old for any kind of decent performance. Sure, the 930 doesn’t have glance, but it has a better display and overall, it’s a much more pleasant phone to use.

      • Henry

        Why would someone want 4K video? Honestly is not like many of us have 4K TV’s.

        • rwoods716

          Personally, I agree with you, but trust me, people want it. Big time.

  • I think that the Lumia 1020 is a great phone and does not deserve to end like that , at this point I’ll be waiting a successor, I love my phone but if it does not show up , perhaps i use the phone until his died

    • rwoods716

      Boy would I love to be wrong about this…

  • Pekka Liemola

    Too bad ,I like my 1020 to the point I do not carry my big Canon much anymore.
    I am afraid this is doing of Mr. Ellop,he already dismantled Nokia and now he is ready to dismantle the best camera phone.
    I am very surprised of the stupidity of Ms to keep people like him in the company.
    Too many bad decisions , but since you have money to burn Who cares!

  • p

    “Well, today I’ll be publishing a comparison between the S6 and the iPhone 6. Tonight, I’ll write one comparing the S6 and the Icon (which is the 930), and we’ll put that theory to the test.”

    Hi, is it online already, the comparison of the 930/Icon vs S6?

    • rwoods716

      That one actually slipped my mind. I did S6 and the 1020 but never ended up publishing the one with the Icon. I’ll try to do it this weekend. I just got the HTC One M9 in and Monday the LG G Flex 2 is coming in so as you can imagine, I’m pretty busy

  • Jasmine Ell

    If there is no successor to the 1020 then it will be my last ever windows phone.

  • Ved

    I have a 1020 and I just love it. I have kept my Nokia N8 safely in a drawer. If this one dies and there is no upgrade to 1020…I will move back to N8…sounds stupid…But some of the flagships dont even come close to images taken by N8….

    Limiting PureView to 20MP and without Xenon flash is an insult to PureView….

    • rwoods716

      Well, there really is no benefit to the extra resolution except for the ability to zoom in on the photos without losing quality. It’s still only giving the user a 5 MP image.

  • Andrew

    If Microsoft won’t build a 1020 successor I hope Nokia is doing it when they are allowed to produce their own phones. That would be a nice comeback!

    • rwoods716

      They are allowed to produce their own phones, but as far as I know, Microsoft owns the Pureview technology.

  • Vinol

    for me, it’s the camera that made the difference. it made me switch to windows phone and it seems it’ll make me switch back. i’ll use my 1020 till it dies & switch to whatever phone that offers a comparable camera. i liked the 1520 but not the 930. so, it’s obviously not the 20MP camera. maybe I miss the polycarbonate sides. anyway, all MS have to do is take the 1020, give it a bigger battery and upgrade the processor to a quad core and call it lumia 1030. i’ll bet each and every 1020 owner will buy it. even a 1520 with 1020’s camera will do.

  • madmarty

    It’s very sad that microsoft bought nokia. The 1020 camera was just genius, more the sensor size than the megapixel.
    If there will be no successor I’m pretty sure I will never buy a mircrosoft phone. Even if it may be no phone for the masses it was good for the reputation of nokia.

  • skeeter

    It’s sad that they abandoned it! I just upgraded to the iPhone 6 and I do miss the 41 MP Camera!