Review of Nokia Lumia 1520
The Nokia Lumia 1520 is Nokia’s first smartphone to be released with a 6 inch screen. It is intended as their attempt to compete with other large screen products in the relatively new ‘phablet’ category, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and HTC One Max. Nokia are highlighting the size of the screen as the main draw of this phone, however there are many other advantages.
Camera technology within smartphones is being continually improved and Nokia are at the cutting edge with their products. The Lumia 1520 is no exception. While it doesn’t have the 41 Megapixel Pureview camera we have recently been treated to on the Lumia 1020, it still has a very impressive 20 Megapixel sensor. This easily beats the majority of the competition, with only the Sony Xperia Z1 & Z1 Compact being comparable.
Nokia has also ensured that the 1520 is no slouch in processing power with a 2.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor being included along with a generous 2GB of RAM. You will also find 32 GB of on-board storage available and the ability to use microSD up to 64 GB cards. If this isn’t enough, there is also additional storage available by using Microsoft Skydrive service with a free 7 GB being provided.
Smartphone manufacturers have continued to cram more and more connectivity technology into their phones. As a premium product the Lumia 1520 has all the latest technology options; WLAN 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and 4G LTE are all included and can be taken advantage of if you have the necessary associated equipment or data contract.
Finally Nokia have included numerous apps, which means you can get started quickly without having to access the Store to download them. I will be looking at the pre-installed apps and providing details including functionality so you know what is included. Read on the full review.
Nokia has set an exceptional standard with the design of their Windows Phone Lumia products and the 1520 is no different. The curved, minimalistic design we typically see with their recent products returns, along with a smooth polycarbonate finish for a comfortable feel. The buttons are located in positions which are easy to access and the inclusion of a dedicated camera button is welcome sight for anyone who regularly uses their phone to take photos.
A 3.5 mm audio connector is positioned on the top edge of the phone, which I believe is the ideal place for the greatest compatibility with third-party earphones. The micro USB slot is on the bottom edge, while the SIM card and SD card slots are at the top of the left side of the phone. Both of these require the use of an included extraction tool, so they can be instantly accessed. For some this may be a shame as it means SD cards can’t been easily exchanged, but I can understand there has to be some compromises in the design of a phone.
The size of the screen was always going to create a large phone which is occasionally difficult to hold. I personally found it impossible to carry the phone within trouser pockets unless you wear baggy jeans. I would say though that Nokia has done a great job with the design, as the Lumia 1520 is usable despite its size. Some people will find it difficult to actually use it as a phone, but the 1520 is exceptionally good for website browsing and playing games.
One thing interesting about the design of the phone is that despite its size Nokia has chosen to use a NANO SIM card slot. Previous Lumias have all used the micro SIM version and as mentioned the 1520 is not a small phone. It is likely that the extra space created wasn’t really required. This is the shape of progress though and at the time of writing makes the Lumia 1520 the first phone we have seen to use a NANO SIM that hasn’t been manufactured by Apple. No doubt mobile networks will soon be dispatching more NANO SIM cards as more manufacturers adopt this new standard.
The 6 inch TrueColor Clearblack IPS screen included by Nokia provides a full 1080p display resolution with a pixel density of 368 PPI. These are impressive paper specifications and real world usage is equally as good.
Being able to watch movies stored on the phone in full 1080p really enhances the experience and means you can fully enjoy them, whilst photos have a warm feel with a huge amount of detail. Zooming into photos taken on the 1520, you very quickly start to realize the benefit of having a 20 Megapixel camera and comparably high quality display.
As indicated previously, the large screen is excellent for web browsing and games, as you have experience close to that of a small tablet. There is just simply more room to navigate websites and having a larger screen is always beneficial when playing any game.
The Home/Glance screen also benefits from the size of the screen; the extra space providing room for an extra column of medium sized Windows Phone Lie tiles to a total of 3. This gives you more opportunity to customise the Home screen as it has been optimized to take advantage of the larger screen. This all makes the Home screen experience more immersive and rewarding.
An updated version of Corning Gorilla Glass 2 has been used to protect the screen. This newer version refines the technology and the Lumia 1520 benefits from the reduction in thickness of the glass, as the touch screen is more responsive and easier to use, without there being any effect to the level of protection provided.
The main camera has a 20 Megapixel Pureview sensor with ZEISS optics. This camera includes a large f/2.4 aperture for obtaining the maximum amount of light available. I found this combined well with the dual LED flash for providing excellent photo quality in low light conditions.
The camera also includes useful technology for assisting with capturing the perfect image such as high resolution 2x zoom and optical image stabilization (OIS), so you don’t encounter motion blur when taking photos. The two stage camera button allows you to first focus on the subject and then further holding results in the actual photo being taken. This avoids unnecessary out of focus pictures being captured, and likens the camera experience to a ‘proper’ point and shoot.
There are two ways to take photos; using the standard camera app, or Nokia’s own Pro Cam app. The latter provides an interface which makes it incredibly easy to take high quality photos. Settings are adjusted using a rotating dial, for quick and easy access to most options. The majority of these are available at the top of the camera app’s viewport, making them simple to locate. The standard camera app is functional, but you should find yourself always using the enhanced Nokia version.
The photo and video modes can be accessed by simply pressing the buttons located at the bottom of the camera view. While using the video mode it is possible to capture films with a resolution of up to full 1080p at 30 frames per second. At this level you can easily shoot high quality amateur videos to share with friends and family, without any other equipment.
The secondary camera, located on the top right corner of the phone’s front panel has a resolution of 1280 x 960. This module’s aperture is f/2.4 like the main unit for capturing the maximum amount of light. This produces fairly good quality images in various light conditions, while high definition 1.2MP wide angle video recording at a resolution of 720p (1280 x 720) should be adequate for most Skype conversations and usage of this camera.
A few sample photos:
Nokia has chosen to include a 2.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor within the Lumia 1520 along with 2 GB RAM. The Snapdragon 800 is the premium quad-core processor which we have seen within the likes of the Sony Xperia Z1 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3. It is used here to good effect here; I didn’t encounter any slow down while playing games, browsing the web or using other apps. Everything just works smoothly and you don’t encounter any problems, so Nokia was right to choose this processor.
A sizeable 32 GB of main storage is provided which enables the storage of your favourite games, apps and any media including photos, music and videos. If you find that 32GB just isn’t enough, then 7 GB of Skydrive cloud space will likely be of interest to you. Alternatively microSD cards up to 64 GB can also be used for media storage.
A massive 3,400 mAh battery is installed, although not removable, which is definitely a good thing considering the size of the screen. The quoted manufacturer usage time for the battery indicates 27.4 hours talk time and 32 days standby. As usual I found that in practice these estimated times would be difficult to replicate, as the typical user is likely to be watching movies, browsing the Internet as well as taking calls. The Nokia Lumia 1520 should however get you through a typical day with a bit of battery power to spare
All types of communication are present and correct as Nokia has provided WLAN 801.11 (WiFi) a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and LTE connectivity.
Having the latest version of WiFi means you can take advantage of the higher data speeds available over this type of connection. If you haven’t (like me) got an up to date 802.11 ac compatible WLAN access point or home wireless router available to you, at least you know your phone is future proof.
I didn’t run into any problems using either of the access points I used for testing. Something which should however should be considered is the array of WLAN security profiles available with the Nokia Lumia 1520. The profiles installed mean the 1520 can be used within enterprise environments where security is essential.
Bluetooth 4.0 is included along with NFC (Near Field Communication), unlike previous high end Lumia devices from Nokia. This makes it possible to use the latest fitness accessories and peripherals with 1520 and take advantage of the new Low Energy profile. Also with NFC you can make instant payments and conveniently connect to Bluetooth accessories with one touch pairing, avoiding the usual connection hassle.
With 4G connectivity being available you can access the new high speed data networks which are currently being deployed across the UK. Unfortunately I don’t yet have any 4G accounts available for testing, so I was unable to confirm the data speeds. We do now have available 4G network provisions within Clove’s local area, so hopefully in the future it will be possible to provide you with more detailed opinions on 4G very soon. Nokia does quote up to 150 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload in ideal conditions.
There are a multitude of pre-installed apps supplied with the Nokia Lumia 1520 and the sections below describe them.
Nokia Care is a good place to start when first using your Lumia 1520. It provides tips and tricks, along with help on getting started. It is split into sections including personalising the start screen, camera and many other topics.
Nokia Screen Beamer is an app which I haven’t seen before which allows you to instantly beam the contents of your screen on the Nokia Lumia 1520 to a web browser. To do this you simply navigate to the website and then while within the app, point the phone at the screen to read a QR code. When you within a phone screen you wish to display, shake the phone and the webpage will be instantly updated.
Screen Beamer is an app that provides a quick and easy way to provide presentations without fiddling with cables or having to worry about WiFi access codes – all you need is an Internet connection. It is also one of those brilliantly simple apps that works well, yet I fear may be completely unused or lost in the system as a whole.
Nokia Photo Beamer works in a similar way to Screen Beamer, but for photos. With it you can send photos to your friend’s phone for viewing.
Nokia Storyteller is an app similar to many that have begun appearing on Android device, for example the HTC One. It takes the photos and videos on your 1520 and intelligently creates a story based on their time and location, combining relevant images into a presentation. Captions can be added and you can even zoom out of the photo to see its location on a map. If you have ever wondered where a picture was taken, this simple integration of geolocation data is excellent.
Zinio has been included by Nokia for providing easy access to over 5,500 magazines which are of various interests. You can filter your interests from an extensive list that includes Lifestyle, Travel, Tech and many more. After signing up to Zinio you can download articles and set the app to automatically obtain previous issues of magazines, when connected to a Wi-Fi Access Point. If there is an article which is of particular interest you can of course bookmark it for later reading. The shop section enables you to purchase your favourite publications and it is easy to browse through the selection using the interface.
Nokia Music like we have seen on previous Nokia phones is a great service which provides access to free mix stations. There is a wide selection of stations available and you can easily move between Dance, Pop, Rock and Jazz, depending on your mood. There are lots of other genres available so there should be something to suit everyone.
As you would expect Nokia Music includes a store for making purchases; the interface is easy to navigate and there is a useful search option. Also if you allow your location to be monitored, you can be provided with information on gigs in your local area. The cool feature provides you with the date, location and time of the event – you never know your favourite band could be playing near you!
Nokia HERE provides a convenient map in your current vicinity. You have the ability to navigate to destinations with clear instructions and different map overlays can be used for satellite images, details of public transport and where traffic is busy. Places of interest can also be viewed on the map with it being possible to access information regarding them.
Nokia Drive + assists with all your driving and route planning needs. It can even be set up for your daily commute as it learns the routes you travel the most. If there is a delay, real-time traffic information can be used to select an alternative route. Destinations can be set by an address or postcode and it is possible to optimize the route just like on a dedicated navigation system.
An advantage of both applications is that you have the ability to download maps for usage later, so you are able to use the navigation even when a data connection is not available. This is important if you are intending to travel through an area with poor, or no network coverage.
Bing Weather is a new option on the apps menu. This app provides detailed information of the current weather, for example temperature, humidity, wind speed and visibility. You can additionally check how the weather may progress through the day and up to 10 days ahead. Regional and national maps are provided showing temperature and precipitation. All of this information is included within an interface which is easy to understand and navigate.
Bing News is another new addition which is also works very well. Details of news events are clearly laid out and you can also enter which sources are of interest to you, making it easy to search and retain relating articles. There is even a video section relating to news headlines.
Bing Finance provides information regarding the money markets and also enables individual company shares to be monitored. News headlines regarding finance are also available and sources can be selected. There is a handy currency converter, current currency and commodities values, along with details of world markets.
The inclusion of Office apps is beneficial to any business user, as it enables the easy creation and manipulation of Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. Additionally any documents received by email can be quickly edited and then either uploaded to the Microsoft Skydrive storage or attached to a reply. Microsoft includes 7 GB of Skydrive storage which can be quickly and conveniently used to store and manage your documents with a high level of integration.
Office 365 can also be accessed providing you with documents, emails, calendar entries and contact details stored within your account. This ensures these details can be quickly obtained with the minimum of fuss when you need them.
OneNote appears as a separate app on the main menu, rather than in the Office suite. It enables notes and lists to be created for capturing great ideas, or just to ensure you don’t forget to do something. Photos can be inserted into the documents and there is also the ability to take voice notes. Once notes and lists have been created they can be accessed from any computer or tablet you use, just like the other Office apps. They can also be pinned to the Home screen for convenience.
Windows 8 apps
Internet Explorer 10 is an application you are likely to use on a regular basis and I was impressed by how responsive it to use is in practice. Multiple tabs can be opened and are easily accessed and organised using the navigation menu. There is also convenient access to favourites and the ability to pin a web page to the Start menu is a real bonus. All this shows what is possible with Windows Phone 8’s integration and cross app compatibility.
The Microsoft Store also continues to improve; Microsoft has ensured that more apps are available and with a greater diversity. You will now find the most popular apps (the ones you really use) are available, but unfortunately there is still no comparison to the choice offered with Android or Apple products. It is getting better though and you will find the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, eBay, Amazon Mobile, Rightmove, BBC iPlayer, 4oD and Netflix are now all available.
Kids Corner is a useful application for any parent who is happy to let their child use/play with their phone. It controls the apps which are available to the child and allows for a password to secure the phone in this mode, stopping accidental access to the rest of its features and functions.
The Nokia Lumia 1520 is a worthy release from Nokia which is pitted well against its competitors. The 6 inch screen is of exceptional quality, making it a pleasure to watch movies and view photos. The additional space available on the display is also well used by the Home screen, with the extra column of available Live Tiles being especially useful for quickly accessing apps and viewing any lists or other pinned information.
The 20 MegaPixel Pureview camera provides the photography capabilities which we have come to expect from Nokia, with superb detail and rich colours being captured within pictures. Zooming into photos highlights the level of detail which is possible with this camera, while the range of options available is impressive. The Nokia Pro Cam app makes it easy to access these settings and take great quality photos.
A multitude of apps are pre-installed on the Nokia Lumia 1520 and unlike the ‘bloatware’ on some Android devices, I found the majority of these to be truly useful. The combination of apps produced by Nokia and Microsoft means that power users shouldn’t have to go searching for too many productivity extras when getting started. If there are any apps you require it should be possible to locate these within the Microsoft Store, but as said most essential requirements are fulfilled with pre-installed ones.
As will always be the case with a phone of this size, the simultaneous strength and weakness of the Nokia Lumia 1520 is its size. Certainly it is enjoyable to have a large screen for watching movies and accessing the Internet, but using it as a phone is definitely cumbersome. Nokia’s design has limited this issue as they have made the 1520 as easy to handle as possible, but it can be difficult to carry and use it in many circumstances.
If you are looking for a phone with a large display and want it to have an excellent design with an equally good camera then the Nokia Lumia 1520 is a great choice. It is also good for business with its enterprise features and Office apps. Those looking primarily for standard phone features, rather than an Internet or business app platform may simply find it too big, as with all handsets in this category.
For more information, or to purchase the Nokia Lumia 1520 from Clove Technology, Click Here