Yellow Alert: my New Year’s Eve smartphone for 2014 is the Lumia 1020

The smartphone you carry on New Year’s Eve has a big say in how the night will be remembered. (And not just because it’s an opportunity to show off your newest holiday acquisition to your friends, you materialistic fop.) If you take pictures with your smartphone even semi-regularly, you’re bound to do it twice as often on a landmark event like New Year’s Eve – and so the phone you carry will play a big role in how well the evening is documented.

As tech reporters, the Pocketnow review team is lucky enough to have access to a slew of purchased and loaner smartphones, and while we’re all old enough/responsible enough/dull enough at this point in our lives that we can be trusted not to drop one of them off a fire escape in a drunken stupor, accidents do happen. So it’s good policy to carry a personal device, instead of a review phone, for a rollicking good time like New Year’s.

As we wrap up a year in which we’ve shared more of ourselves than ever before with the outside world, I thought it might be nice to let everyone know what smartphone I’ll be carrying as the ball drops. And while I do carry two smartphones as a matter of course …

If it's on Twitter, it must be true

If it’s on Twitter, it must be true

… I like to roll single-smartphone on nights that are bound to get crazy. And while I do love my Moto X, with its pocket-friendly form factor and handy twist-wrist-to-camera shortcut, I just can’t bear to commit myself to carrying a device whose low-light camera performance looks like this:

Click to expand/feel the noise

Click to feel the noise.

… when I could opt instead for a device whose camera kicks out low-light shots like this:


Click to drool harder.

And it’s not just low-light performance. The Lumia’s output is of course demonstrably better than most other smartphones, but there are other factors that make it particularly well-suited for festive environments like a New Year’s Eve party. The two-stage camera button is one, providing much more control over exactly when a photo is taken. Manual focus is another, allowing for forced macro shots when auto-focus just won’t stay locked on those holiday cookie sprinkles at close range. And then of course there’s Nokia’s excellent camera lenses for various effects, my favorite among them being Cinemagraph.

Click for the weirdest thing you've ever seen.

Click for the weirdest thing you’ve seen this year.

Yes, that’s a simple trick that’s just an app away on the Moto X, but I’ve never seen an implementation as slick or user-friendly as Nokia’s. And combined with the Smart Camera features, manual controls, and the new automatic shooting modes in the latest Nokia Camera app, it makes the 1020 not just my preferred smartphone camera of New Year’s Eve, but my favorite one of 2013 as well. (That shouldn’t be a surprise given the performance we’ve seen from it this year.)


Soon, New England’s beaches will unfreeze, and sample shots like this will again litter the site.

But that’s just me. There are umpteen millions of you out there, raring to celebrate the start of yet another exciting year for mobile technology. While not all of you have a wide range of choice in smartphones, we’re still interested in what devices you’ll be using to document the changeover. Drop us a note in the comments below with the phones or tablets you’ll be carrying at midnight, and be sure and visit the New Year’s Eve thread in our forums to do the same!

Wondering about the source of my love for the Lumia 1020’s camera? Check out our full review, then see Adam Lein’s guide to taking excellent photos and Taylor Martin’s and my combined piece on a weekend spent with the “Warthog’s” camera. Afterward, stay tuned for an After The Buzz on Nokia’s beefiest cameraphone, coming soon after the New Year’s celebrations!

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About The Author
Michael Fisher
Michael Fisher has followed the world of mobile technology for over ten years as hobbyist, retailer, and reviewer. A lengthy stint as a Sprint Nextel employee and a long-time devotion to webOS have cemented his love for the underdog platforms of the world. In addition to serving as Pocketnow's Reviews Editor, Michael is a stage, screen, and voice actor, as well as co-founder of a profitable YouTube-based business. He lives in Boston, MA. Read more about Michael Fisher!