The Good Nokia’s Lumia 1520 delivers a large, glare-fighting screen, a fast processor, plenty of storage, and a strong 20-megapixel camera for the same on-contract price as a smaller premium phone.
The Bad Its size makes it difficult to work with one hand and the call quality is wiser than on most Nokia phones. Limited voice dictation and voice assistance in OS captures its usefulness as a phablet.
The Bottom Line While it lacks some of the features of its big phone rivals, the Nokia Lumia 1520 is a great buy for Windows Phone fans looking for a large-sized smartphone and premium hardware.
Bigger isn’t always better, but in Nokia’s case, it is. The 6-inch Lumia 1520 for AT&T is the fastest Windows Phone ever made. Slimmer and lighter than you’d expect for a supersize handset, the 1520 brings home the goods: a huge 1080p HD display, a 20-megapixel camera, and a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor — the latter a first for Windows Phone.
This high resolution camera and legibility outdoors were bright spots. However, the slippery finish of my red model made it too easy to blur. Some of the weaknesses with the platform itself – such as a limited voice assistant and no TV and movie store – are swayed by the true usefulness of a phone whose screen size causes endless visual consumption.
The impressive features and bold design of the Lumia 1520 are undoubtedly worth the $ 200 price tag for a Windows fan. However, if you want to milk every last drop of the big screen benefit from a tablet-like phone, then choose any of the multiplying Android options like Samsung Galaxy Note 3 , HTC One Max , and potentially even curved LG G Flex .
Design and build
Nokia smartphones tend to be sensitive, especially when using a higher resolution camera, but it’s not like the 1520.
This colossus is much slimmer and sexier than many Nokia phones – as much as 8.7 millimeters (0.34 inches) compared to Lumia 1020 0.41-inch depth. It’s still a bit thicker than Note 3 (0.33).
At 7.4 ounces, this is much heavier than the Note 5.9 ounces, but slightly less than the One Max (7.7 ounces). It feels healthy, but not too burdensome for a phone this size. I already carry a heavy purse packed with electronics; 1520 fits right into the jumper.
Nokia’s surprisingly slim 6-inch Lumia 1520 (pictures)
Surprisingly, a 20-megapixel shooter just pucks from the back to form an “O” about a quarter. Nokia disables the Xenon flash Lumia 1020 workhorse for a double LED flash here, partly trying to increase the waist of 1520.
1520 – in glossy red, matte black, matte white and matte yellow (we looked at it in red and black) – copes well with its size, though the glossy options are harder to grasp and the slippery device often falls out of my fingers. Rounded sides and curved back soften the sharper angles of the 1520, making it easier to hold – albeit less simple to hold in place than any flat-sided One Note, Note 3, or even 6.4-inch Sony Xperia Z Ultra .
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Proportionally, the 1520 feels tall rather than squat, though the device is still too massive for my hands, and I had to strain my fingers to (try) perform some tasks with one hand. Of course, my paws are smaller than some, and size is (always) a matter of personal preference. It protrudes halfway from my back pocket, and even more so from my front pocket. However, it fit better in the front and back pockets of several men’s loose pants, and I could see him sliding into the inside pocket of the blazer. Also in the backpack or wallet there is plenty of room for the 1520.
Unlike the Note 3 and Samsung 6.3-inch Galaxy Mega , The Lumia 1520 does not have one-handed software. This is not necessarily a bad thing; I’m not convinced that these modifications work anyway. On the other hand, the 1520 touch-sensitive goals are greater, so you have a better chance than usual to get the color you want. For example, I was able to effectively scroll through information-rich websites such as Wikipedia with my thumb across the screen.
In terms of materials, Nokia adheres to its signature polycarbonate body design, adding microSD card door to the nano-SIM door, both flush with the left spine. This slot, which you open with the tool provided in the box (or earrings back, as a last resort) puts 1520 on par with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and HTC One Max – all three have 32GB of internal storage and can take up to 64GB more. The SIM card tray is awkwardly positioned upside down, so it may fall out if you are not careful.
You will find the headset connector on the top bezel, below is the Micro-USB charging port, and the power / lock buttons, volume and camera shutter on the right. Nokia is proud to note that the 1520 has four microphones, one on the top and bottom on each side, to control the noise if you get a disturbingly large earpiece.
Although there is only one speaker on the back, Pandora music, Nokia Music Mix games and videos, and YouTube videos came out loud and clear. The Flixster movie preview sounded thicker and slimmer, which, I suspect, was more of a problem with Flixster files than with the phone’s ability to play them.
Most of the phone’s body is occupied by a 6-inch LCD screen with a resolution of 1080 pixels, which made the Windows Phone start screen appear.
The colors look bright, and the edges are crisp on the Lumia 1520, which has a pixel density of 367 pixels per inch. The One Max and Note 3, with their slightly smaller screens, make up more pixels, but the difference is hardly noticeable.
Nokia is always grateful to work to reduce screen reflection with a polarization filter called ClearBlack Display. Not only is it designed to combat glare in direct sunlight – it makes it easier to read screens – it also helps keep the light off indoors. By turning on the sunlight readability setting (relax, this is the default), the Lumia 1520 automatically adjusts when it detects bright rays and recedes when you go back inside. It makes a big difference when you rely on your phone to read directions or link to a website while walking on the street.
Indeed, with all three phones with both automatic and maximum brightness settings, the Lumia 1520 was the easiest trio to read on the street in the midday sun. Colors were more sophisticated, text was sharper (and larger), and glare was easier to avoid. If you prefer a different color tone, you can adjust the phone’s color profile in the settings.
Thanks to the touch screen, you can control the phone with (most) gloves or with your fingernail.
OS and features
Along with the mid-level Nokia Lumia 1320, the Lumia 1520 is the first to deliver a slightly upgraded Microsoft OS called Windows Phone 8 Update 3 . The main thing you need to know is that this setting is a three-column view for 6-inch and above device screens.
This layout naturally fits into the Model 1520, not as much a toy as it might look if Microsoft simply decided to increase the size of its already large living tiles. A three-column view has the bonus that more icons will appear on the screen, which means fewer scrolls for you, especially if you use the smallest tiles. You will also find that more emails and photos in the gallery fill the screen, which is another benefit of increasing the size.
Windows Phone provides standard calendars and alarms, Xbox game connections, podcasts, and a mobile version of Microsoft Office. Also included is 7GB of Skydrive cloud storage. Multitasking, multiple inboxes, integrated social sharing, music identification and a barcode scanner are also built into the Windows Phone platform.
Perhaps more important than what is, what is missing. Obsolete Microsoft TellMe software can open any installed application, make calls, send text, and search for weather (among other things), but it lacks the type of deeply integrated natural language engine that powers Apple Siri and Google voice actions (commonly referred to as Google Now).
Microsoft is hard at work on Cortana, its overdue response to these two, but it doesn’t help 1520. Unlike iOS and Android, you can’t specifically search for much, and your phone doesn’t exactly read the answer to you. You can’t even dictate text by message by switching the keyboard; it does not exist. For a phone as big and sometimes difficult to hold as the 1520, voice dictation integrated into every keyboard (not just email and text composition) is what I’ve been striving for throughout the test period.
Also conspicuously absent is a native Microsoft store for buying and renting TV shows and movies, a shame since the 1520’s 6-inch screen is primed for extended video playback. Of course, there are plenty of third-party ways to get content: Hulu+, Netflix, Vevo, Vimeo, YouTube, and Crackle, for example, plus AT&T’s aforementioned U-Verse Mobile TV service. But don’t let those distract you from Microsoft’s missed opportunity in closing the loop itself.
As for preloaded apps, a plethora from AT&T, Nokia, and Microsoft and their partners awaits — like Nokia Music and Here Maps, AT&T’s subscription Mobile TV ($10 per month), and Bing Finance and Weather, to name just a few. The Vine video snippet creation app, Yellow Pages Mobile, and Zinio are other examples of partner installations.
Find many Nokia branded applications and you will find a new one that the company is pushing hard for. This optional add-on called Nokia Storyteller (the default pre-loaded shortcut) essentially mixes your geo tag photo gallery to create a timeline of your events that you can follow on the map.
The interface looks clean and I like the idea of Nokia software intelligently using metadata to group photos by theme (yes, you can edit them if the grouping is wrong). Over time, and traveling outside of your hometown, it promises a more comprehensive way to tell family and friends about your recent trips, especially since the app uses Nokia mapping software here to get to nearby businesses and attractions.
In these early stages, it is simply not clear whether Storyteller is a good, but minimally useful, supplement or a function that people will learn to use. People who prefer location-based spatial orientation (such as my dad, who sincerely interrupts stories to ask for a crossroads) are most likely to be most admired.
Again on the hardware side, on the 1520 and 15 platforms there is NFC or nearby communications Qi wireless charging making his return.
Cameras and video
Nokia’s deep investment in luxury optics continues in the Lumia 1520. Like other Nokia phones, the 1520 uses Carl Zeiss optics and PureView technology, which Nokia associates with its brand. There are ball bearings for efficient optical image stabilization, and dual LED flash instead of xenon flash in both Lumia 928 from Verizon and in Lumia 1020.
You’ll also find a backlit sensor with f / 2.4 aperture, a 16: 9 default aspect ratio, and a 26mm focal length.
In addition to the hardware, the 1520 camera app has about the same Nokia Camera app that we saw in the Lumia 1020, down to the on-screen controls, which can be clicked on the futsal with exposure ratings, etc., both individually and all at once. The 1520 version also comes with a shortcut to the Nokia Smart Cam application that used to be its lens. Now, you hit the on-screen button to get these tools, which include “Best Faces” for group photos and some action modes, the start of good consolidation.
Nokia also offers several separate lenses (read: camera applications), such as Panorama mode, Nokia Creative Studio, Nokia Video Trimmer, and a new one called Refocus, which works similar to a Lytro camera to change focus after shooting.
These additions certainly enhance the camera’s capabilities … in the aggregate. Unfortunately, Nokia has not made any fixes that would fit most of my critical UI links, which is basically to combine functionality in one application. The new Refocus app perfectly highlights my frustration. A special task-specific application, Refocus doesn’t really cause a flash, so be sure to take pictures with well-lit nights.
In addition, since Refocus takes a series of shots to master its computing magic, you should also anticipate wanting to play with focus ranges or colors is his secondary task. I have never found a natural use case where I didn’t know where to focus my lens. When in doubt, I would personally take two separate pictures myself.
Even the Smart Cam app has some problematic logic, such as some confusing icons and missing on-screen controls to quickly switch between the front and rear cameras. Because you handle much larger images, and you save full-size images and the 5 megapixel image used in most sharing situations, it takes a lot longer to process your photos. Count on four seconds from one shot to the next, instead of one or two seconds.
Also note that the default camera app is not a native Windows Phone camera, so if you want to use this mode, or panorama mode, or video trimmer, you’ll need to switch. Everyone. Unmarried Time.
Image quality is not as sharp as that of a 41MP 1020, allowing you to stunningly get close to cropping without loss. Yet the 1520 produces strong images of its own. Low light conditions are better than some when using the focus flash, even when the normal flash is off, but they are not as impressive as on other Nokia phones. Circumcision still produced some results for 1520, even if the camera tilted the objects in blue light.
And now, without unnecessary affection, photos taken with Lumia 1520 if not specified, the photos are taken automatically and have not been cropped or modified. Click to enlarge
Compare studio shots from other phones in this photo comparison gallery.
I tested the Lumia 1520 in San Francisco using AT&T’s network. Call quality was passable, but not enjoyable. I heard a persistent white noise shhh when the calls and voices sounded muffled, though still clear. The volume was a little over half loud.
On the other hand, my test partner said she could say I was on a cellphone, but the volume was high and I made it clear. When I was talking, she noticed random modulations, and the sability was not always purely crystalline. Overall, it was a similar experience for most phone calls, she said.
Nokia Lumia 1520 Sample Call QualityListen now:
Loudspeaker quality has fallen from both ends of the line. At my end, the voices sounded crashing and distant, and much more muffled than before. Similarly, my calling partner said that she needed to strain to understand me. There was no static, but the words became less clear. As a plus, the volume remained unchanged on the loudspeaker.
Performance: LTE, processor, battery life
The first Windows quad-core phone, the Lumia 1520, has much to prove. The 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 800 Qualcomm is currently the boldest on the market, and in my tests it has maintained the standards for all the tasks I rejected. The phone comes with 2GB of RAM.
Operations meant that speed was never left behind, and it handled game graphics well for high-resolution titles such as Temple Run. (Unfortunately, not all games I downloaded are formatted to look good on a 1520 screen, but it’s definitely not the CPU’s fault.)
AnTuTu diagnostic results came in at 25,000 after three tests, just below the Note 3 score of 27,000 (using the same Snapdragon 800 chipset). The benchmark of 1520 was also lower than the HTC One Max 26,375 using the Snapdagon 600 chip. I am skeptical of this reading for several reasons. AnTuTu is much better designed for Android, where graphical tests take a few minutes and you can watch them. On Windows Phone, AnTuTu runs as a beta and ends much faster; one graphic test you see animates a grid of fast-changing color boxes, a test you don’t see anywhere on your Android counterpart. Finally, AnTuTu also incorrectly detected a screen resolution of 1520 at 800×480 pixels, rather than an actual resolution of 1,920×1,080p.
Diagnostic results for the 1520’s 4G LTE data speeds were much lower in downtown San Francisco than I expected for the usually blazing AT&T: 3.5 to about 7.5 Mbps down, rather than 15Mbps to 30Mbps down on other phones. Upload speeds were faster on the 1520, between 8Mbps up and 12.7. However, the scores of an AT&T Note 3 were on par when I tested it in the same location.
Real-world tests were satisfying and fast: Web sites were loading fast and music and videos were released without icons, skips or delays.
|Nokia Lumia 1520||AT&T|
|Install Endomondo (3MB)||19.6 seconds|
|Load up Endomondo mobile app||3.4 seconds|
|CNET mobile site load||4 seconds|
|CNET desktop site load||30 seconds|
|Boot time to lock screen||32 seconds|
|Camera boot time||3-3.5 seconds|
|Camera, shot-to-shot time||4 seconds with autofocus, flash (Nokia Cam)|
The capacity of the battery is a respectable 3400 mAh, which should exceed the duration of 1520 at least a full day without requiring charging. Nokia estimates the battery life at 25 hours above 3G (no 4G rating), but depending on how you use it, you will be more likely to waste resources by doing things like streaming photos and videos. In the traditional battery discharge test, the 1520 had 12 hours, 15 minutes of talk time.
The Lumia 1520 has a digital efficiency factor of 0.59 watts per kilogram, according to FCC radiation tests.
Supersize me: Giants of the smartphone world (pictures)
Buy or miss?
Nokia has been competing for an extraordinarily large amount of space for smartphones, and it is doing so by bringing the highest performance and attractive equipment to an increasingly crowded field.
Competitively priced at $200 retail with a two-year AT&T agreement, the large, slim, fast Lumia 1520 comes in $50 cheaper than Sprint’s 5.9-inch HTC One Max and $ 100 less Samsung Galaxy Note 3 , sold in multiple media. (The phone has a premium price of $ 750 per contract.)
However, the 1520 megapixel monster camera does not have the windows of other phones lined up: Max’s fingerprint scanner and Note 3 stylus. Windows Phone itself is also more streamlined. Despite its NFC, lock screen shortcuts, and some clear but invisible touchscreen controls, the OS just can’t compete with Android and iOS for voice assistance, mapping, integration with Google services, and more content you can buy, rent and download from your home store.
The Windows Phone interface, while clean and useful with the optional third column column, is also the least visual OS overall. If everything suits you, buy the Lumia 1520 – it provides a large, crisp screen; literate camera; and the sophistication of the contract price of a smaller screen phone.
Buy the Nokia Lumia 1520 if you:
-Bleat an extremely large screen
-It seems like high resolution cameras and no crop without loss
-Don’t want to pay more for phablets
Skip 1520 if you are:
-Walk the smartphone with a highly developed voice assistant
-Select a screen that is easier to control with one hand
-Does the ability to deeply customize the OS experience