Nokia Lumia 1020 vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom: What's the difference?

It may well be a fairly new category - the camera phone with the emphasis on "camera" - but we've had two recent examples from two big manufacturers, so this is where the Nokia Lumia 1020 will be fighting its biggest battle. Both it and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom are all about their cameras and they offer two very different smartphone photography experiences.

Nokia already has a bit of a pedigree in the imaging department, with the PureView 808 being quite an impressive device. But then so does Samsung, which has already tried something similar with the Galaxy Camera. So which is the one to go for?

Camera

We may as well start off with the big talking point: the camera. Samsung's Galaxy S4 Zoom uses a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor with an f/3.1-f/6.3 24-240mm 10x zoom lens in front. The Lumia 1020 however, features a 41-megapixel PureView sensor that has an f/2.2 lens.

This means the Nokia should do better in low light, simply because it has a faster f/2.2 lens, although all those megapixels could result in a fair amount of noise. That said, if it is anything like the 808 PureView unit, it will be class-leading in terms of noise reduction.

The larger 10x optical zoom on the Galaxy S4 rather than the 1020's up to 6x digital one might be more useful to some, but don’t forget that the Ultra-high Resolution on the Lumia 1020 means you can still home into images a decent amount, without losing much detail.

Storage

All that photography tech means you want plenty of space to store photos you have snapped. The Nokia Lumia 1020 trumps the Samsung here by quite a long way, featuring 32GB of space straight out of the box.

The Samsung, on the other hand, comes with just 8GB of internal storage, most of which will be taken up by the Android operating system. However, the Samsung camera phone comes with a microSD card slot that allows for further expansion. In addition, the Galaxy S4 Zoom comes with free 50GB of Dropbox storage for the first two years and can be set to store all pictures taken straight to the cloud. The Lumia 1020 has cloud storage packaged too, but only 7GB of Skydrive space.

Operating system

This is really down to the individual. Android has plenty more to play with when it comes to apps, especially with photography, with Instagram and Vine being big selling points for the operating system.

Nokia however, has done a great job expanding the general Windows Phone experience with its own apps. As such, the camera is very usable, with plenty of customisation options. Where it falls short is in the sharing, with Windows Phone 8 just lacking the ease of use that Android has when it comes to sending pictures to various social networks.

If you are all about taking photos, then you might find the Nokia a bit better, but beyond that, Android and the Galaxy S4 Zoom is a much more formidable proposition.

Design

The lack of a big zoom unit on the back of the Lumia 1020 means it is far more compact than the Galaxy S4 Zoom’s fairly bulky 125.5 x 63.5 x 15.4 mm size. The real heft of the Galaxy S4 Zoom comes in the large lens unit on the back, which is why the camera has a 10x optical zoom. The Nokia is wider, with a slightly bigger 4.5-inch AMOLED screen - the Galaxy S4 Zoom comes with a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display - but screen size aside, the 1020 is still a more compact device measuring 10.4mm thick and weighing 158g (the Zoom weighs 208g).

Nokia’s high-resolution approach leaves the phone much more compact, although it is bulkier than a lot of the rest of the smartphone competition. The difference here is that it will be much more comfortable in your pocket.

Conclusion

It really comes down to two things here. First, do you want an Android phone and the apps that come with it? If so, go for the Samsung, it also feels much more like a traditional compact camera. But if you can do without some of the main apps and like what Windows Phone 8 has to offer then the Nokia is definitely the product to go for.