The Nokia 1020 is really the first breakout phone from any manufacturer that I think could recapture some of the exclusivity Apple's iPhone has lost.
Part of what made the iPhone special in the early days was that it did great things AND few people actually had one. If you had an iPhone, people asked about it with a certain awe and excitement but as more and more people got the phones there was less and less of that magic.
What is the point of asking the person next to you about their iPhone when you can pull yours out of your pocket and, increasingly, if you had something different like a Samsung S4 you bought it because you thought it was better and the iPhone user should be asking you about your phone, dammit! Mobile devices like phones and tablets are becoming more and more statements about who we are, fashion accessories if you like, and that doesn’t play well to Apple’s one-size-fits-all model. Samsung seems to get this as does Nokia.
But while the Samsung’s big screen is clearly an attention getter, the S4 phone itself has received mixed reviews as it is overshadowed by other Samsung devices. It feels like the version one of what will be a great version two or three product, not fully cooked. The Nokia 1020 has that wonderful 41 MP camera with the Xeon flash and mechanical image stabilization, with reviews more consistently glowing. Not only does the feature work, it is incredibly useful and trumps every other smartphone on the planet, at least for now, in picture taking.
When you are paying several hundred dollars for a device and then a hundred or more dollars a month to use it, it should be a bit special I think. If my phone is free or cheap then all it needs to do is work. However, if I’m paying a premium I want something I can brag a bit about and the iPhone is like buying a Toyota Camry at the moment, pretty much everyone you know has one and the only differentiating feature is the case you wrap around it. This last point really hits me as screwy because Apple pays a ton for the beautiful aluminum case they put on their phones and virtually no one sees that case outside of store displays.
But part of what makes exclusivity work is that the phone has to be distinctive. Of course, after a while most smartphones start to look pretty much the same, particularly if folks are wrapping them in protective cases. About the same size and no distinctive features, in a way most seem to be iPhone knockoffs which isn’t particularly great for Apple.
The Nokia 1020 camera extends slightly out of the back and coupled with the fact folks are often taking pictures with it causes you to notice that it is very different and prompts people to ask questions about the device. This speaks to status and exclusivity which seems to wrap this phone, at least it has for the week or so I’ve had it.
Excellent pictures, I think, can be that killer app because the activity is visible, you often hand your camera/phone to others to take the picture making them wish they had as good a camera on their phone, and you share the pictures which look as good as those taken from an SLR. The pictures this phone produces are truly glorious and since you share them there is also an opportunity to point out they weren’t taken from a camera but a phone. For example, I went on a club drive this last weekend and we had a photographer with an SLR while I had my 1020. While his shots were a bit more artistic mine were just as clear and engaging (probably because they had more of me and my car in them).
Wrapping Up: Nokia 1020 The New “It Phone”?
Granted, to make a new phone like the iPhone in its heyday, you need advocacy by influencers, like celebrities, and a certain about of advertising and placement so that people that can’t buy the phone lust after it and all of that has yet to come. But in terms of hardware this is the first Windows Phone that tries to really step up to the plate and deliver something good enough to be in the running. We’ll see how it plays out, for now I’m just pleased I have one to uniquely play with. It is kind of fun to walk up to an iPhone user and suggest they use my phone if they want a good picture. Now if they’d just build a blue one that matched my eyes.