Over the past few years I have tested out several Lumia devices and have watched how they have evolved in every aspect. When Nokia announced the Lumia 1520, they were entering a new segment, phablets, and this is an interesting approach in my opinion, especially since my daily phone is a Samsung Note 3, also a phablet. I was curious, really curious.
Nokia sent me the Lumia 1520 to give it a try, and I was actually amazed by its size! Coming from a Note 3, one hardly expects a device to be bigger and It was! Let me put it this way, Nokia define the phone as a “Large Screen Smartphone”, enough said.
Quick Spec Sheet
The device is 162.8mm tall, 85.4mm wide, 8.7mm thick and weighs 209g. It holds a huge 6 inch, Corning® Gorilla® Glass 2, Clear-Black IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1920×1080 and 368PPI on the front with a 1.2 Megapixel front facing, wide angle camera, and around the back a 20 Megapixel, Pureview, Auto-focus camera with Carl Zeiss optics and dual LED Flash.
Sounds good so far? Wait till you hear what powers it! On the inside sits a Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 800, Quad-Core processor clocked at 2.2Ghz with 2GB of RAM.
The monster also has a 3400mAh battery, built in Wireless-Charging, Bluetooth 4.0, WLAN 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, LTE and NFC
What’s in the box?
The only main difference in the Lumia 1520, aside from the usual, in-ear earphones, wall adapter and a Micro-USB Cable, is that Nokia has now supplied a flip cover for the device!
The case fits perfectly, designed very well and can be used as a stand when folded backwards. The only issue is, there is no magnetic latch designed, so the flip can open with ease, and it does not lock the device when closed, but as far as protection goes, all edges, front and back are protected except for some parts of the side, top and bottom, for access to ports and buttons.
The physical device
The Lumia I got was in Matte Black, and I got to say it is one of the nicest looking devices in terms of finishing and feel. All Lumias are built very solid and have this one piece look, but the Lumia 1520 has more “device” to show off. The finishing is really good, no creaks, squeaks or any other noises, simply solid.
Being that the device is so large, some people have mentioned that the chances for such a device to slip is high, especially on the glossy models. Coming from a Note 3, I have to say, it is big and needs to be held well regardless.
A way to pitch the Luma1520, is the screen size. the quality of the screen is brilliant. Very nice quality, colors and viewing angles. They have also updated their “Glance” feature which shows the time on the screen at all times while the screen is off, with improved night mode functions.
The device has a lot of sensors as well including: Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Proximity sensor, Gyroscope, Magnetometer.
The screen has a Super Sensitive Touch technology which means that the sensitivity can be adjusted and operation can continue even when using gloves. Definitely not something used in this region, but it is an important functionality feature.
On the bottom of the device sits a Micro-USB port and a small cut out on the bottom of the screen for the Microphone.
Unlike how Lumia usually did it, the Lumia 1520 has the Nano-SIM slot on the left side (Yes, Nano-SIM) along with a little surprise, a Micro-SD card slot! One of the biggest issue I had in the past was limited alternatives for online storage (aside from Skydrive) users never got the chance to expand storage. Not anymore.
When they stated it had a 20 Megapixel camera I was concerned about the bulge in the back, I have used the Lumia 1020 and it had a huge one, on the Lumia 1520, it is much more subtle. There are also 4 microphone holes, which, according to Nokia, helps record noises from slightly different angles for better audio. I like that kind of attention to detail.
Living with a Lumia 1520
Lets get it out of the way, if you do not require a large screen, then this device is probably not for you. The Lumia 1520 was designed with one thing in mind, being one of the largest (if not THE largest) device that can be used as a phone before entering the tablet segment.
The device is big, and with the supplied cover it is thick too, but if that isn’t a factor that bothers you, then it becomes a very useful device.
Watching videos on this device is amazing. I watched a few TV shows on it and the quality is really something to be adored, very smooth, thanks to the superior processor, and beautiful, thanks to the great screen. The key highlight of the device is how much one can see in the screen at one time, whether it is movies running at full HD or spreadsheets.
The device comes in with a whole array of Nokia software and Microsoft document support, which means using and editing all those important documents, sheets and presentations are a breeze on this without the need to buy additional software like on other platforms. Nokia’s software is also really good, there are plenty of amazing features. A whole variety of GPS & Navigation apps, Camera apps/lenses, Nokia creative studio, Video Trimmer, Cinemagraph, etc
The device’s battery life is very good and I easily managed to get over 8 hours of constant use without issues, between making calls, watching videos, browsing and playing games.
Surprisingly, instead of being mocked for how huge the device is, people often ask what the device is, and when they use it, they go like that is a massive screen. I even once got asked if it can be used as a phone!
How is the photography?
Lumia’s are known for their simplicity and this continues in their camera apps with various software “lenses” which enhances the features, but lets face it, most people simply keep everything on auto and expect the best results, and that is what I have done as well for this review.
Keeping that in mind, The 1520’s lens uses an aperture of f/2.4, has a sensor size of 1/2.5 inch, optical image stabilization (OIS) and offers a focal length of 26mm with max ISO of 4000. There is a lot of customization capabilities when taking images and it is very simple to use.
There are some sample images i’ve taken with the Lumia 1520 (Unedited High-Res version) The Lumia 1520 saves two copies, one in High rest and one in 5 Megapixel size (as an option) for easier transfer/posting.
And since I had the Note 3 with me, here are two images side by side for comparison. The Note 3 has a 13 Megapixel camera. (Left Nokia Lumia 1520, Right Samsung Note 3)
Clearly, the Lumia 1520 has a resolution advantage, so in most cases the images would appear to look better on a computer screen, but aside from the resolution, when outdoors, the Lumia 1520 is a better performer than the Note 3. Indoors with worse light conditions and Macro mode is where the Lumia 1520 starts to slowly loose its throne.
Overall, a very good camera, among the best cameras in a smartphone today (Nothing compares to the Lumia 1020). It performs well, speedy and focuses really well. Certainly a winner.
Lets sum up!
I have had the device for a couple of weeks and have used the device in various situations, and it certainly is the best Nokia Lumia to date. It may not have the Camera of the Lumia 1020, or a form factor that allows one handed use, but as an all round Lumia device, this is the best.
Screen Screen Screen. I cannot praise the size and quality enough. I am certainly a huge fan of good screens and this is amazing. The screen makes everything a lot more usable, vibrant, readable and certainly for entertainment use, is amazing. Coupled with the fact it comes with a case that can be turned into a stand, it was designed for screen use.
Great battery that can last a whole day of use easily is a huge advantage and coupled with one of the fastest processors, it does not skip a beat. It has everything Nokia has to offer in terms of features, from NFC to Wireless-Charging, it is all in there with the latest and fastest connectivity chips.
The camera is brilliant for a smartphone, and with a physical button, its a breeze to take images, and with expandable storage, nothing really limits you anymore.
Microsoft may hate me for this, but the truth remains that Windows Phone 8 lacks a lot of modern day features we all require now a days in smartphones; Notification center/drop-down/slider, Quick toggles for functions like Wifi and Bluetooth, Folders, Functional Widgets, etc. That aside though, Windows Phone 8 remains one of the simplest operating systems, if not the simplest to use.
The bulk may not be for everyone. Putting it in your pocket is a challenge (depending on your pant size), pulling it out and using it while moving is a bit of a challenge, and lets not forget one handed use is out of the question, but you make that decision the second you buy it. It is obvious.
A lot of people will go on about removable back covers, exchangeable batteries, etc but lets face it, this is the direction phones are going now a days. If you want a device that looks as seam-less as the Lumia 1520, there can be no seams. If you love Windows Phone 8, this might be the device to have today.