Nokia Lumia 1520 Review
Abbas Jaffar Ali
<RANT> The Nokia Lumia 1520 was introduced to the world by Nokia in the UAE. Nokia shipped review samples to media across the world a few weeks following that and the unit was put on sale in the UAE a few weeks back. Yet, no review samples were sent to local media in the country it was launched until last week. </RANT>
The Nokia Lumia 1520 is the first Windows Mobile based handset based on the next-gen hardware- the top of the line Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad core processor. It is also the largest Windows Phone that I have come across with a massive 6-inch screen. Finally, it comes with Windows Phone 8 Update GDR3 and Nokia Black- the latest updates that Microsoft and Nokia have issued. Lets find out what the end result is when you put all of that together.
Packaged in the familiar blue Nokia box, the Lumia 1520 comes with the usual sort of accessories you’d expect to be included such as the charging cable and plug, a headset and quick start guides. the following videos shows you the unboxing of the unit.
Nokia has also included an iPad style cover but with no magnets so it doesn’t make the Nokia 1520 turn on when you open the cover. It would also have been nice if Nokia had does something like Samsung with a cut-out on the cover to show the glance feature.
Design and Construction
Just like some of the older models, Nokia uses a polycarbonite body for the Lumia 1520 which translates into a really solid build quality. Measuring 162.8 x 85.4 mm, the Lumia 1520 is a fairly large device that will require you to use both your hands most of the time. I generally check my phones when I’m stopped at a traffic light for quickly catching on any IMs or emails but that provided to be a difficult task with the Lumia 1520. Also like all other 6-inch phones we have looked at, the Lumia 1520 taking a rather large chunk of space in your pockets.
The Lumia 1520 follows Microsoft’s guidelines as far as buttons are concerned so you have the three captive buttons below the screen for back, home and search as well as volume buttons, the power button and the dedicated camera button that Nokia has placed on the right side of the device. A micro USB connector is placed at the bottom and a 3.5mm jack on top. Finally the left has the SIM card and SD card trays. Interestingly Nokia uses the nano SIM format on the Lumia 1520- the same one that is used on the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S as well as the Moto X.
Specs and Performance
As we mentioned earlier, the Nokia Lumia 1520 is the first phone we’ve received that is based on the latest generation of specs that are supported by Microsoft through their Windows Phone GDR3 update. Featuring the Snapdragon 800 processor that is a quad core version running a 2.2GHz, along with 2GB of RAM, the Lumia 1520 matches the highest-end phones on the Android side as far as specs are concerned. You also get 32GB of storage along with a microSD card for storing your media.
Coming to the performance side of things, unfortunately most of the apps we use for testing such as 3D Mark and Geekbench are not available on the Windows Phone platform. Thus, the only test we were able to run was the browser based Sunspider which was completed in 544ms on the Lumia 1520 which is the faster than almost any other Android handset we’ve tested such as the Google Nexus 5 or the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. The only phone that completes that test faster is the iPhone 5S.
Screen & Sound
The Nokia Lumia 1520 has a massive 6-inch full-HD screen which puts it right up there with Sony Xperia Z Ultra and the HTC One Max as the largest screen I’ve seen on a phone. One of the best features about the screen is how it looks equally good outdoors as it does indoors. In fact, this is the first phone I’ve used where I didn’t have to adjust the screen angle to get better readability in the bright sun.
Nokia has also added a good and loud set of speakers on the Lumia 1520 that, along with the full-HD screen, gives a pretty good overall video watching experience. One thing that I particularly appreciated was the inclusion of quad microphones with directional recording that improves clarity from audio in front- tremendously helpful during interviews and getting the speaker’s voice loud and clear.
Interface & Apps
There are few UI tweaks that the latest update for Windows Phone brings along including the addition of a column of medium sized tiles. Where previously you could place two medium square tiles in a row, you can now do three. I’m still in two minds on whether I like this addition or not- one one hand it allows you see a lot more information at a glance but on the other you lose that neat, minimal look of your home screen and it now appears as a clutter of post-it notes. Im hoping that Microsoft will give you the flexibility of switching between a 2 or 3 column layout in a future update.
Coming to the apps, Nokia is doing a fantastic job in releasing Windows Phone specific apps such as HERE Maps and HERE Drive+ as well as the Nokia Camera app, Cinemagraph and Creative Studio. You also have the Nokia Storyteller than can work with the Lumia 2520 tablet. Nokia has also added the Shahid.NET app for MBC to give the phone a bit of a local flavour.
However, you also have to realise that Windows Phone users are still quite a bit behind when it comes to new third-party apps. Yes, you have Instagram and Twitter and many of the other major apps but to give you an example, I recently bought the Wi-Fi controlled LIFX light bulb which only works on iOS and Android. Similarly, Uber does not have an app for Windows Phone.
The camera is one area where you can expect a high-end Nokia device to take stunning shots and the Lumia 1520 does not disappoint. I took the Lumia 1520 around with me and it takes beautiful shots at any time of the day. Although you do need to put in a bit of a time to take your shots- I found the speed of the auto-focus and click on the 1520 to be slower than the iPhone 5S- especially when it came to low-light shots. Here are some examples of photos taken on the Lumia 1520.
One of the concerns that not only me but many have had with Windows Phones is the lack of a good battery life. Nokia was certainly listening and the size of the Lumia 1520 allowed them to pack a reasonably large 3400mAh battery. During my testing, that was enough to last over two days with light usage, almost two days with moderate usage and easily a full day with heavy usage which included shooting quite a few pictures and some video.
The Nokia Lumia 1520 is the best Windows Phone currently available. It is super fast and has a great battery life. It also has an amazing screen, however, sized at a massive 6-inch, it isn’t for everyone and I highly recommend you play with one at a store to see how comfortable you are.