Lets start with a short story.
Nokia was circling the drain at the beginning of 2011 and the good ship Symbian was struggling to stay afloat. The anchors of the hefty N8 and E7 were pulling it down into a whirlpool of dispair. The liferaft of the the N9 and Meego had still not really inspired much hope for the future and things were looking pretty bleak.
Then, on the horizon appears SS Elop and Coastguard Cutter Ballmer. Nokia was scooped up and a partnership was forged to have Windows phone on the newly born Lumia range. Out of the ashes of the N9 we got the Lumia 800. A year later the Lumia 920 followed by the recent addition of the Lumia 1020 and Lumia 925 both flagships in their own right.
Now, in 2014, we have Nokia being a subsidiary of Microsoft and the launch of the Lumia 1520 being the first Nokia integrate Bing services out of the box.
What is future for Nokia/Microsoft? Well, it is hard to say but if the 1520 is anything to go by, it’s looking good.
– 6″ full HD 1920×1080 screen
– Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU 2.2GHz quad-core CPU
– 3400mAh Battery
– Nano SIM
– Micro USB
– 3.5mm audio port
– Bluetooth 4.0
– WiFi, NFC, 4G, microSD card slot
– 7GB free cloud storage
– 2GB RAM
– 20 megapixel rear camera, 1.2 megapixel front cam.
Hopefully most of you will have already seen the unboxing video I’ve done for this device before Christmas, if not then here it is again.
The phone feels incredible. Even though it is the biggest Lumia to date it doesn’t feel as monsterous as some of the phablets out there (yes we are definitely in phablet territory here).
The slim edges and rounded corners make it very comfortable to hold and use. I will state here that unless you are the Hulk this is a two-handed device. The texture of the materials used are grippy but not as grippy as say a Nexus 7 (2013). I have the black edition and I’ve held the red one too. It’s a lot slippier due to the glossy finish and this is worth bearing in mind when buying.
The “trouser pocket test” was fine and it didn’t feel like it was restricting me from sitting down unless I was wearing very tight jeans. It also fits into a suit pocket effortlessly. In comparison to the Xperia Z1 Ultra, this feels much smaller, even though in reality there is not a huge difference. it also feels less fragile. I don’t use a case for it at the moment although I will be getting some screen protectors for it in the very near future.
The buttons all fall into place nicely, just below where your fingers rest naturally when you pick the phone up. They are, however, very flush to the sides which can be annoying especially in the middle of the night when checking the time etc (although Glance helps here). The buttons are glossy plastic and this contrast nicely with the matte black polycarbonate used for the phones body.
Port positioning is great with the 3.5mm headset located at the top next to one of the four mics. At the bottom we have the Micro USB for charging and data sync, unfortunately no Slimport or MHL wizardry here which is a shame.
On the right side we have the two trays. One for the nanoSIM card and one for microSD with support for 64GB. On the left is (from the bottom to top) a camera shutter key, Power/Sleep and Volume rocker.
The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 800 2.2GHz Quad Core chipset with Adreno 300 alongside for Graphics. This in turn drives the 6″ 1080p resolution display with a PPI of 367. With this being a Nokia it is a Pureview ClearBlack display with Gorilla Glass 2 for protection.
For those of you familiar with Android flagships, the chipset will no doubt sound familiar, as it is the one that is powering both Xperia Z1, Xperia Z Ultra, the Note 3, LG G2 and the Nexus 5.
So WP8 has caught up with the Android crew in terms of CPU. But what does this mean for usability? Read on to find out.
The software here is what we all know from previous devices, but it has had the benefit of the GDR 3 release that supports 1080p res screens and it’ll allow more customization of the Start screen. Instead of the standard 4 small-tiles-wide layout, we can now fit 6 of them on here.
Is this a ground breaking feature ? No, but it is a nice touch and really does allow you make use of the Live tiles much better than before.
Something I have always really liked about WP8 is the ability to read text messages out when connected to Bluetooth. This has been built upon in the latest release, bringing us the “Driving mode”. This allows control of the incoming texts and calls during driving and will notify if you want or you can choose to ignore them until you stop and it’s safe to answer.
Lastly, but definitely not least, is the ability to actually close apps from running (well, paused) in the background. This is done by holding the back arrow until the apps appear on the side (iOS7 style). You then simply press the “x” to close it and stop it from running. Those are the main changes brought about by the GDR 3 update. You may remember the “close button debate” from way back in Windows Mobile 6 etc too.
Nokia also brings their own apps. A really useful feature is the expansion of “Nokia Glance”, which allows notifications to now appear on the Glance screen. There’s the ability to customize the colours too, which is a really nice when checking the time at the night.
“Storyteller” makes its debut on the 1520 and the 2520. This is essentially another gallery which means I would normally ignore it and then come back to it when I want to show off. However, it’s really nice to use as it lays out your photos in a really logical manner. It’ll group them by various different categories such as location and date. It integrates into “Here Maps” so you can easily share the location of those favourite spots.
Another one that comes preinstalled is “Nokia Beamer”. This allows you to beam the content of your phone to an internet enabled TV/device, therefore showing of your pics or vids on the big screen. It works in the next room or the next country. It is not something I have really played with extensively but it looks great and makes sense. Up until now this is something that WP8 is missing from all its devices.
All in these additions are not truly earth shattering, but they do bring it more in line with the best of Android.
So we have a massive phone with great software. Surely we are going to have a cost saving somewhere? Well, not on this device. The Lumia 1520 brings a 20 megapixel Pureview-powered camera to play.
Now, I am aware that the camera aficionados will be shouting from the rooftops about the lack of the 41 megapixel sensor from the Lumia 1020. However, lets just explain why the 20 megapixel shooter has been used here. One reason is size. The 41 megapixel sensor is very large and adds a lot of thickness to your phone. If we were to make a thick phone at this size then you would have a lot of people not wanting to buy it, which would be bad.
I have to say having used both of the phones for photos I am not hugely missing the high megapixel count of the 1020. For my purposes the 20 megapixel does the job just fine. I have attached some sample pics below for you to have a look at. I am by no means a great photographer but I am more than happy with the results.
I can honestly say that this is the best Windows phone I have used to date. Nokia seems to have hit the nail on the head here with the Lumia 1520. I have used a few devices from their range over the last few years and there’s been a clear evolution over that time. This is the pinnacle of the achievements so far.
Yes, it is big and the buttons on the side are a bit flush. However, all things considered this is my winner out the range and I can’t see myself changing to another Phablet anytime soon.
Lets see what happens when MS come to the party over the course of the next year.
Links Nokia Lumia 1520