Nokia Lumia 1520
Nokia’s phone division is about to be gobbled up by the Microsoft mothership, but that doesn’t mean it’s slowed down on the smartphone releases. Quite the opposite, in fact. They’re coming thicker and faster than ever - and bigger. With a display measuring a mammoth six inches across, the new Nokia Lumia 1520 is the biggest Windows Phone ever made by some considerable distance. It’s a phablet for Microsoft fans who prefer a bigger screen and better battery life over something that doesn’t look absurd when you hold it to your face to make calls. But without Samsung’s stylus smarts included in the Galaxy Note range - not to mention Android’s massive app catalogue - can it stand out? We fired one up to find out.
By now, you’re surely familiar with Nokia’s Lumia range and the clean design language that comes with the name, and that continues with the 1520. It’s the same curved design that we’ve grown to know and love since the Lumia 800 first made its debut in 2011, only it’s been given the super-sized treatment and simply towers over the rest of the range. The 1080p HD display measures up at a potentially pocket-destroying six inches, and the shell lines up at 8.7mm at its thickest point, but it’s still manageable and light too: its polycarbonate chassis weighs in at just 209 grams. If you can cram it into your jean pocket, it won’t weigh you down.
Nokia’s blessed the 1520 with a full HD screen, giving you a staggering 368 pixels per inch - and thanks to the latest version of Windows Phone 8, you can make use of the extra real estate with an extra column of tiles on the start screen. The quality is top-notch too, with clear, deep blacks and colours that pop, and it makes rival phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 look over-saturated in comparison. If you’re getting a phablet for its display quality, the 1520 is a sure fire bet. The 1520 is also speedy too, thanks to Qualcomm’s excellent quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor and 2GB of RAM, which makes Windows Phone 8 seem even snappier: you won’t be bogged down swiping from screen to screen or when you’re multitasking.
Joining the new look homescreen is Nokia’s PureView camera tech with Zeiss optics, dual LED flash and RAW capabilities, and while it’s not as big on the megapixels as its smaller Lumia 1020 sibling, its 20MP sensor is still equally impressive. Nokia’s camera apps like Pro Cam, Cinemagraph and Refocus make full use of the phone’s camera, and provide extra software smarts to make sure you get the shot you want.
To make the most of its camera, Nokia has also included a huge 32GB of storage for you to play with, and even if you manage to top that out, Nokia has included a MicroSD slot (upgradable to 64GB), something the 1020 sorely lacked. There’s also a free 7GB of SkyDrive cloud storage thrown in too, so you’ll always have plenty of room for your photos, and don’t forget Flickr’s incredible 1TB of cloud storage too. As a result of its huge size, Nokia has also managed to stuff in a massive 3400mAh battery, and we’re happy to report that equals to an incredibly long battery life. We managed to squeeze out a full two days of heavy usage before needing to plug it in, meaning this is a phone you can use without worry of draining it in daily use.
The Nokia Lumia is big, but it’s not unwieldy. You’ll look a bit daft holding it to your head to make calls, but if you Snapchat and WhatsApp more than you ring, it’s not a problem. What is however, is that Nokia and Microsoft have done little to convince us there’s a need for a screen this size. Samsung’s Galaxy Note phones offer a brilliantly thought out stylus as well as the ability to run two apps on screen at once, and even resize each window to suit your needs. Aside from an extra column of homescreen tiles, here, the pixels are just a tad bigger (Which means Microsoft’s awful mobile Internet Explorer browser renders mobile sites horribly). That’s it. And unlike on Android, the keyboard does not offer drag/swipe options for one handing typing - you’ll need both hands free always to get anything done here.
That problem is just specific to the super size Lumia 1520. The more pressing problem with Windows Phone, sadly, is not. More than three years on from launch, Windows Phone still lacks a lot of big names apps, and the heavy hitters it does now boast - Vine and Instagram have arrived, at long last - took an epoch in doing so. If you’re upgrading from a Windows Phone and know what you’re getting into, go right ahead, but if you’re addicted to the latest releases on iPhone and Android, you’ll find switching to Windows Phone a tad like going on a diet. You’ll live, but you won’t feast like a king.