Apple iPhone 5S vs. Nokia Lumia 1020: Which Camera is Better?

Apple’s brand new iPhone 5S has an enhanced iSight digital camera, but how does it stack up to Nokia’s impressive 41-megapixel PureView Lumia 1020 camera?’s Al Sacco pits the two popular devices against each other in this hands-on iPhone vs. Lumia camera comparison. The results might surprise you.

UPDATED: As noted in the comments by user “M_F,” the Nokia Lumia 1020 images that were originally included in this post were scaled-down, 5MP images and not the Lumia 1020’s full-resolution 34MP images. The Nokia Lumia 1020 saves two versions of every image captured with its Pro Camera: a full-resolution 34MP image and a smaller, 5MP version for sharing. I have updated this post to include iPhone 5S images and both the smaller 5MP and larger 34MP Lumia 1020 images; the 34MP images are marked “High Res” in the photo captions. I have also updated the final Conclusions page.

Apple last week released its latest iPhones, the high-end iPhone 5S and midrange iPhone 5C. Among the most notable features is the iPhones’ iSight camera. The new iPhone 5S has an 8MP camera, which is the same megapixel count as last year’s iPhone 5. But Apple says the new device has “a redesigned camera sensor that allows for bigger pixels. Bigger pixels equal better photos. And better photos are precisely what inspired the advancements we made with the new iSight camera on iPhone 5s.”

The camera is one of the most used and most valued features in today’s top-of-the-line smartphones. I put Apple’s latest and greatest to the test against the best Nokia has to offer: The Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone, which is among the best camera phones available today.

Apple says, “What makes the iSight camera so remarkable is how beautiful photos look without your having to do anything at all. Just aim and shoot. That’s it.”

So that’s what I did. The following comparison is not meant to be scientific; it’s meant to serve as a quick image-quality comparison. I did not use any “advanced” settings; in all cases, I used the cameras’ default and “auto” settings.

I also won’t get into cameras specifications beyond the following basics. If you want details or full camera specs, visit Apple’s iPhone 5S page or Nokia’s Lumia 1020 page.

Nokia Lumia 1020 rear-facing camera: 41MP PureView camera; Carl Zeiss Tessar lens; f/2.2 aperture; autofocus; and Xenon flash.

Apple iPhone 5S rear-facing camera: 8MP iSight camera; f/2.2 aperture; autofocus; and True Tone flash with dual LEDs.


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