The Nokia Lumia 1520 will be my first maiden Windows Phone review. Yet, I’m not a total stranger to Windows phones though; my dad uses one and I helped him set it up. So why the lack of Windows phone love? The ecosystem pales in comparison to Apple and Google. Let’s face it, even Xiaomi outsells Nokia / Windows devices. The below table sums it up, even Xiaomi, a pretty new entrant to the smartphone market, has two phones on the Top 10 List.
That being said, let’s focus on the Nokia Lumia 1520, a “Phablet” per se, with a huge six inch screen.
It has been in the market already for a good 4 months, and the current retail price in Singapore, is approximately $750-780, price without contract. The current market leader in the Phablet category is no doubt the 5.7″ Galaxy Note 3, and how does the Lumia 1520 compare? Well, the Lumia 1520 is slightly taller and also heavier at 206g, as compared to 168g. Physical dimensions are 162.8 x 85.4 x 8.7 mm. Detailed specifications can be found on the internet, but the Lumia 1520 is definitely not shabby with a 2.2GHz, quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor and 2GB of RAM.
Initial Impression of the Lumia 1520
Coming from a Galaxy S3, the Lumia 1520 is a significant step up in real estate. It is huge. As mentioned above, the phone is a tad heavy at 206g. I also had problems fitting it in my pockets, especially when seated down and for comfort, I prefer to slip it into my bag instead. That’s not a problem for work days but on weekends, I just did’t know where to put the phone. In baggy shorts, I was worried that the phone might slip out of my pocket, and in tight jeans, well, it bordered on uncomfortable. Guess I am still personally not use to the phablet revolution.
The back is home to a new, 20-megapixel PureView camera with a Carl Zeiss lens, an external speaker, and also the Qi Charger internally. The Nokia 1520 is compatible with Qi Chargers for wireless charging so that you do not need to waste time figuring out and fiddling with the micro USB connections. There’s also memory expansion capable through a microSD card slot. The SIM card slot is next to it, and well, to my surprise, for such a large phone, the phone only accepts nano sim. Without a nano sim in inventory< i only was able to test the phone on the WiFi setting.
Size Matters. It dictates a smartphone’s ergonomics, user-friendliness and, to a degree, capabilities. And as Samsung has proved with its wildly successful phablets, lots and lots of people think bigger means better. The 1520 is certainly big. In fact, it’s a big list of big firsts for Nokia, and for Windows Phone. The 6-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel IPS LCD is bright, colour-accurate and well, and just simply good. No issues on the blacks, and the overall colours and bright interface works well. Externally, the phone comes in a variety of colours, red, white, black and a bright eye-catching yellow that might be more appropriate for the younger generation.
Beautiful Stock Apps help build the argument for Quality over Quantity
But size and mobility aside, the screen is gorgeous and the Windows 8 phone interface is simple and pleasing to use. One thing that personally stood out was how good the stock apps are. Bing News, Bing Sport, Weather, etc, all share the same common beautiful user interface (i.e. photo-rich). Also, there’s also the addition of the Nokia Apps. In particular, Music was pretty cool with the ability to generate auto playlists based on your specified artistes and make it offline too. So while the eco system might be limited, windows phone adopters can take respite that the system apps are at least adequate alternatives, if not better than some of their Android or Apple counterparts. But overall, on the third party front, it doesn’t seem that Windows would catch up to the Android or Apple ecosystem anytime soon. One benefit of default Nokia apps is the ability to use maps and navigation offline. Nokia maps works offline, and that’s great for overseas use. However, critical point to note is the frequency of the updates. For e.g. The MCE introduced in late Dec 2013, has not been updated yet. But, there’s Waze and also Google Maps for Windows phone.
Lumia 1520 works well in an Office Setting
The nokia 1520 works great in an office setting – what with Office 2013 built in, and don’t forget =OneNote integration, OfficeLens, Nokia Screen Beam all makes the Lumia 1520 very compelling as an Office Companion. It’s an app that allow you to display the content of your Windows Phone onto any screen, as long as both device have internet connection. I thought Screen Beam really stood out, Android alternatives were limited for me due to limitations of network server security settings, like the need for AirDroid to install as an administrative app on the computer. Miracast can’t compare.
This is all neatly summed up in the UK advertisement.
Nokia does know their way around cameras
The Lumia 1520 comes with a 20MP PureView camera that has a sensor size of 1/2.5-inches. While not the 41MP and better sensor of the Lumia 1020, the 1520 stil holds it own and generally deliever great results. I like the manual controls and it offers an easy interface to control white balance, ISO, shutter speed, FOCUS and flash settings. The images are generally well captured, little to no amount of noise, also thanks to the in-built OIS. Generally, one of the better mobile shooters available today.
A Great Phone for a Microsoft Fan
The Lumia 1520 is itself a great phone, but lacked down by the app environment. It would take some time before it improves though. Nonetheless, Microsoft has continued to pour in great effort to the eco system and the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 looks great. The Lumia 1520 would definitely support Windows Phone 8.1 and you could actually install it via the developer edition today. I didn’t try it on the review unit thought. It is only too bad that Cortana wouldn’t be available in this region till early 2015, as otherwise, she would be a pretty awesome feature to rival Siri and Google Now.