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Mobile review: Nokia Lumia 1520

Launch Date : 16 December 2013
Operating System : Windows Phone 8, with Lumia Black
Display : 6 inches
Battery : 3400 mAh
Camara : 20 MP
Processor : 2.2 GHz, Quad Core
RAM : 2 GB
Best Price
Rs. Alert

Editor Rating

outstanding

Nokia Lumia 1520 is a fantastic large screen device to thoroughly enjoy the WP 8 OS, the hardware promises greater imaging & overall performance.

    Pros
  • It has a good display
  • Hardware is top notch
  • Performance is smooth
    Cons
  • Large size might be uncomfortable at times
  • Lack of enough apps ready for HD display
  • Camera experience could be zippier

Nokia has been gunning the mobile imaging segment by introducing two powerful devices in last two years. Mobile enthusiasts were astonished with the Nokia 808 PureView launched in June 2012. Last year, Nokia introduce its flagship mobile imaging smartphone - Lumia 1020. We reviewed the Lumia 1020 and totally enjoyed clicking images using the 41 Megapixel camera with PureView. Keeping the promise, Nokia has implemented the PureView imaging technology to other devices as well.

Meanwhile, Samsung's large screen smartphone (phablet) Galaxy Note series was getting rave of accolades and appreciation from the consumers. Even the Galaxy Note II was heavily embraced and poked the handset makers to come up with a challenger. Soon the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, HTC One Max and Huawei Ascend Mate are the most powerfully popular ones around. Needless to say that the 5-inch display has become the norm for the flagship handsets and the 6-inch or higher is the standard for smartphone-tablet hybrid devices. Noting that, Microsoft and Nokia also thought about introducing a large screen display trotting smartphone with powerful hardware inside.

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Nokia had showed off the Lumia 1520, large screen smartphone, at the Nokia World 2013 in Abu Dhabi back in October 2013. With that, Nokia stepped in the 6-inch display bearing smartphone game with Lumia 1520 and also introduced its first smartphone with the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 mobile processor inside.

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Nokia Lumia 1520 brings in the PureView imaging technology with 20 megapixel camera and larger screen estate to enjoy the Windows Phone 8 platform. Also, Microsoft Windows Phone 8 Update 3 has bought lot of software improvements and is loaded as the Lumia Black on the Lumia 1520. Nokia is now pushing the Lumia Black update for the other Windows Phone 8 devices. Nokia Lumia 1520 is available in Red, Yellow, Black and White colours at a price starting Rs 46,999 for India.

Read our initial thoughts about the Lumia 1520 post the Nokia World 2013 here.

Design

Nokia prefers to keep the design language consistent across the device and uses basic colours to make them more appealing to consumers as well as business professionals. The Lumia 1520 bears the same Lumia 2013 lineup design resembling closely to the existing devices - Lumia 720 and Lumia 925. From the front, it appears as a really big brother of the Lumia 720 while it clearly seems to be a larger reincarnation of the Lumia 925 handset.

Adhering to the large screen smartphone standard, the Nokia Lumia 1520 does take a while to get comfortable with the huge physical presence. Handling it is the same case like using HTC One Max or Sony Xperia Z Ultra. The Lumia 1520 is constructed using the unibody polycarbonate shell with the touchscreen display crammed on top of it. No sharp edges on the corner. Thankfully, Nokia has not given a glossy finish to the back else the phone would easily slip out of the hands.

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The capacitive Windows keys are not visible in sleep mode. The camera module is slightly protruding out of the flat back panel and thus is prone to attract dirt and scratches with normal usage. All the physical buttons are on the right side - Volume Button, Power button and dedicated camera button. The nano SIM slot and micro SD card slot are placed high on the left side carefully covered to be barely visible. Both these slots require the bundled pin based ejector tool to open the slots.

When it comes to large screen smartphones, the Lumia 1520 looks really elegant. Microsoft and Nokia have put in a commendable effort to make the large screen display reasonably comfortable to hold in hands. Let us not forget the first time Samsung launched Galaxy Note and several enthusiasts found it to be too big. We did find the Lumia 1520 too big but easily got used to it because of the slimmer bezel on top and the bottom.

Hardware

Nokia has packed the top of the line hardware available today in the Lumia 1520. To start off, the Lumia 1520 has a magnanimous 6-inch IPS LCD display with 1920x1080 pixel resolution. By default, the display offers pixel density of 367 pixels per inch which is still good enough for not letting any pixels to be easily visible. The gorgeous display is bright and offers great colour production. Nokia has also implemented the ClearBlack technology to offer great visibility when used under the sun. Display also offers super sensitivity to be usable even with gloves on - we tried it and it works.

Qualcomm's top of the line quad-core Snapdragon 800 MSM8974 mobile system-on-chip paired with Adreno 330 GPU. The Lumia 1020 ideally should have had the Snapdragon 800 inside with more powerful battery support. Nokia now uses the Snapdragon 800 for the Lumia 1520 with 2 GB RAM.

Nokia has gone head over heels with the audio department for Lumia 1520. It was good to see that the Lumia 1520 has four microphones - two in the front and two at the back, for richer audio recording support. Out of the two microphones in the front, one is next to the earpiece and one at the bottom. While at the back, one is at the top and other rests in the speaker mesh at the bottom. Nokia has also implemented the Dolby Headphone sound enhancement chip to work with the standard 3.5mm audio port at the top center of the smartphone.

For imaging, Nokia has packed a 20 megapixel camera with the PureView imaging technology. The camera has 20 megapixel image sensor coupled with Carl Zeiss lens and dual LED flash just above the lens. In the front is a 1.2 megapixel camera for video calls with supported applications.

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Nokia is offering the Lumia 1520 RM-937 global version that offers 4G LTE network support for following bands - 800/900/2100/2600. So if you happen to have a 4G LTE network support in your Telecom Circle from specific operator, you may be able to enjoy high speed mobile Internet. Since the 4G LTE network availability is not nationwide, we shall update about it later. Another great aspect of the Lumia 1520 (RM-937) is the 32 GB on-board storage space and microSD card slot to support up to 64 GB card. Not to forget, every Windows Phone device bundles along the 7 GB SkyDrive cloud storage for free. With so much storage options, we doubt there will be any shortage experience by an average user.

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Nokia has also packed dual-band WiFi chip that supports 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac standards and also offers WiFi Hotspot capabilities. With this dual-band WiFi option, one can easily enjoy faster downloads to streaming a high quality movie over WiFi network. Nokia has also integrated the Near Field Communication chip to make the smartphone usable with variety of NFC enabled accessories and services.

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Better experience with location based services is promised with the Qualcomm's GPS chip that supports A-GPS and GLONASS network for faster and more accurate location locking on HERE Maps. For the old school music lovers, Lumia 1520 also packs a FM Radio inside. Nokia Lumia 1520 packs a powerful hardware ready to be used and enjoyed out of the box. The hardware is worthy enough to be compared with the other similar hardware packing smartphones.

The only thing odd we noticed is that Nokia has offered nano-SIM compatibility with the Lumia 1520 instead of micro-SIM. However, we believe that nano-SIM is the way forward and thus Lumia 1520 embarks a futuristic step towards accommodating the smallest SIM. We would rate the Lumia 1520 with full marks when it comes to hardware - 10 out of 10.

Software

Microsoft had announced the Windows Phone 8 Update 3 (GDR3) to bring the support for the multi-core mobile processors and full 1080p HD display. The two highlighted features are obviously included in the Lumia 1520 along with several other improvements. As mentioned earlier, Nokia has implemented the GDR3 with several other features to call the update Lumia Black.

The Windows Phone 8 user interface certainly looks big and offers space for one more column of Live Tiles. The Modern User Interface allows re-arranging by resizing the Live Tiles. The Lockscreen has become more effective with the Live apps being able to show notifications there apart from the Music controls.

The Multitasking interface can be accessed with 'Press and Hold' action on the Back key. The new improvement here is the X button on the app snapshot. Users can quickly close the app by hitting the X button on the app snapshot. Thankfully, there is an option in settings to turn off the Automatic Screen rotation.

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In the Settings app, swipe from right to left to reveal the Applications tab. The first option - Background Tasks is one of our favorite because it allows selecting the apps that can continue to function (run) in background. To top it, the apps that tend to run in background will automatically get blocked if you have not opened it for two weeks. The Background Tasks does not hinder the performance of the app but certainly helps you save up on some data usage.

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Speaking of Data usage, the Data Sense feature just below the Background Tasks is meant for those on pre-paid connections. Data Sense lets the user make ample settings to allow specific data usage when on mobile connection and rest on Wi-Fi network. User can also set a data usage limit in order to prevent spike in the mobile bills.

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Nokia Music app needs to be upgraded to offer a unified music solution - Nokia MixRadio. Read about Nokia MixRadio in detail from here. Though there is Vimeo app there is no dedicated Video viewing app. Users will still have to open the Photos app to search for the Videos and play them. S

Messaging is the BlackBerry Hub like unified Inbox for the messages received via SMS, Email and Chats. Users can always set the permissions to let specific or all messages appear in there. Health frenzy folks can make the best of Adidas miCoach app but we wonder if anyone is going to take the Lumia 1520 for a jog. Preloaded apps also include the Evernote, Flipkart eBooks and BigFlix for movies. Your Movies app offers a large library of movies for purchase and the capability to download and watch a full length movie.

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One of the new apps include the Storyteller Beta app. Create audio-visual packaging made Stories from the images in your Photos app. The best part is that the geo-tagging metadata of the photos integrates those images on the HERE maps. So it is not only a compilation of visuals for a particular trip, it also bundles information viewable on the HERE Maps. Also, the users can add tags or information about the photo. Zoom out of the photo to see the location where it was taken on the HERE Maps. Since this feature is in Beta, we can expect some level of issues with accuracy of the placements on the HERE Maps.

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Large screen and loud audio really benefits when the Lumia 1520 has to be used on the Drive Mode. No more squinting of eyes or shushing other folks in the car to listen to the voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation. Nokia has packed options to block unwanted calls and SMS right in the Settings app.

With Instagram in Beta, Nokia has tried to make up for the lost time. The Lumia Exclusive apps along with Instagram, Vimeo and Vine might persude someone to actually use it as the main device. However, Microsoft still has miles to go with Nokia for nurturing and making the Windows Phone ecosystem stronger. That is said because, if you strip off the Lumia 1520 of the Lumia exclusive features, there is hardly anything worth on the device. The lack of a good File Explorer still hurts. Now since the display has been pushed to 6-inch in size and support for full 1080p HD resolution will make all the developers work on their respective apps again.

We would rate the software of the Lumia 1520 a noble 7 out of 10 considering the Nokia added improvements and still await a decent notification center.

Camera

The Lumia 1520 has been designed to be accepted by all kind of folks, especially business professionals. The camera module bulge has been reduced to minimal. The image sensor inside the Lumia 1520's camera module measures 1/2.5-inch and is coupled with f/2.4 aperture bragging lens. The image sensor is smaller than the one in the Lumia 1020, Nokia's imaging flagship device. The Lumia 1020 integrates a 1/1.5-inch large image sensor and rest space is occupied by the motors to support the Optical Image Stabilization. At the rear is a dual-LED flash on the top of the Carl Zeiss optics bearing camera. Not to forget, that Nokia has also implemented the PureView Imaging technology (oversampling of the pixels) in the Nokia camera app.

The default Windows camera app has been undermined and overpowered with the new Nokia camera app that basically integrates the Nokia Pro Cam app. The Nokia camera app takes almost three and a half seconds to open up from the locked state using the dedicated camera button. Nokia camera app brings the comprehensive settings for manual manipulation. One can choose the shutter speed, adjust white balance easily and set the appropriate light sensitivity. Unlike other camera apps, the Nokia camera app offers more manual focus control for the user to focus on the desired area. However, if the focus is left to auto, then the camera takes just more than a second. The Autofocus is still slow.

Nokia did debut the DNG (read RAW quality) file format support for the imaging enthusiasts and professionals. The DNG format is captured in 16 megapixel quality in 16:9 aspect ratio and 19 megapixel quality in 4:3 aspect ratio. This large size image is also used for re-cropping through the camera app and also adjusting focus using the Refocus app. The Refocus app is the new unique app that allows the user to choose up to three different focus points from the DNG image.

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Smart camera app features are also baked as the smart sequence which is actually a burst mode that allows shooting multiple images in couple of seconds. Once the user clicks an image using Smart Sequence, the resultant bunch of images can be further manipulated using the built-in software lenses. The Action Shot allows capturing the action in the burst mode images. Motion Focus allows the user choose to focus on a particular area on the image. Of course, there is a Change Faces option that allows the user to choose the best emotion on the subject's face.

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Video recording is amazing since this is the part when the camera app makes use of the four microphones to record rich quality audio along with the visuals. If you plan to use the phone to record HD quality videos, we recommend using a quieter environment for the sensitive four microphones will record every possible sound around you. The video recording supports 3x Zoom while the video is being recorded - just swipe upwards to Zoom. The Optical Image Stabilization helps reducing the handshake affecting the video and thus less jerkier video.

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The video enthusiasts should try experimenting with the settings for Video that allows recording a video at 24 frames per second and 25 frames per second in both - 720p and 1080p. There is the usual 30 frames per second but surprisingly no 60fps for the 720p mode.

The overall camera quality was nowhere close to the Lumia 1020, but that can be accepted due to variety of changes made by Nokia. The photos appear closer to the quality found in 808 PureView than the saturated ones from Lumia 1020. Unfortunately, Nokia has not offered any easily accessible HDR Mode on the camera user interface. Meanwhile, most top of the line Android phones come with HDR featured in the camera department.

At the end of the day, it takes several shots to get that one right shot worth sharing with all. While that still takes an effort, we would love to see some tweaks in speed and performance improvements with future updates for camera app. We would rate the Lumia 1520's camera 7.5 out of 10 to basically stand above others and still holding the Lumia 1020 and 808 PureView above it.

Performance

Nokia's tallest monster - Lumia 1520 packs the quad-core 2.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC with 2 GB RAM. Same mobile chipset has also been used in the LG Nexus 5, LG G2, HTC One Max and Samsung Galaxy Note 3. The Windows Phone experience is consistent on the Lumia 1520. The power of Snapdragon 800 is realized while playing games. Now we hope that Microsoft ropes in several game developer studios to bring top of the line mobile games to the Lumia 1520 to let the large screen seeking gamers enjoy the games.

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Watching full HD videos on the large display is certainly worth it. Also, the large real estate with HD resolution makes images wonderful and absolute bliss to pan through the albums. The display's pixel density is great enough to let the user enjoy an eBook or a webpage text easily readable. The Zinio Magazine app is handy for the magazine readers to easily catch up with their monthly or fortnightly subscriptions anytime. When it comes to audio output, the Lumia 1520's audio is really loud and clear. We are sure that one may never miss notifications or alarms, unless the person is a deep sleeper.

The bunch of Lumia Exclusive apps - Refocus, camera, MixRadio and Storyteller Beta suffice their purpose and work fine with the multimedia. The native Internet Explorer offers great deal of options such as Do Not Track and sending URLs to the Data Sense for reducing the data usage. Except for some delay in opening camera and capturing images, we seldom faced any issue with the Lumia 1520. For performance, we would give 10 out of 10 marks.

Battery Life

Nokia had consistently used a 2000 mAh battery in the previous Lumia devices which was kind of hurting the line-up. After all, the battery is an important component of a mobile. The Lumia 1520 has housed a large 3400 mAh battery to support the stellar hardware and big display. The large battery easily allows the phone to be used almost for a day and a half with moderate usage. But if one goes frenzy with imaging, watching videos and gaming, the battery life dips to just about a day. With large display, the phone does bite large amount of battery pie on heavy usage.

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However, the Lumia 1520 has one of the biggest batteries in the market right now and Microsoft has a big chance to help improve it with tweaks. Background Tasks, if used wisely, can help save up some battery juice for the crisis. Still there are certain native apps that can not be blocked from using data in background and thereby chewing some battery pie chunks. When it comes to battery, the Lumia 1520 is undoubtedly and obviously better than the Lumia 1020.

Images By Sushil Kumar

Verdict
Nokia has finally introduced the smartphone that can do justice with the Windows Phone 8 mobile platform. Flaunting a beautiful 6-inch full HD display, Lumia 1520 packs top quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 mobile chipset and 3400 mAh battery. The Lumia 1520 really is the flagship device from Nokia, while the Lumia 1020 will be more of the imaging flagship. Of course, some of the features would be made available through Lumia Black for Lumia 1020 as well. Nokia Lumia 1520 is the worthy Windows Phone 8 device to compete strongly with the Android based Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and HTC One Max. If there is a shoot-out between all three devices, the difference between them would be marginally acceptable. The large screen is something that takes a while to get comfortable with. Also, if Microsoft integrates HID (human interface device) support, the Lumia 1520 can be used with a Bluetooth Keyboard like Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard) for fluent typing of long articles, working on spreadsheets or peacefully responding to emails.The Nokia Lumia 1520 is fantastic large screen device to thoroughly enjoy the Windows Phone 8 platform and get busy with imaging.
First Published : Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - 00:00



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