Nokia Lumia 1520 Review
Globally announced back in November during our coverage in Abu Dhabi, the Nokia Lumia 1520 is set to arrive in the Philippines on January 2014. Check out our full review of the Nokia Lumia 1520 after the jump.
The Lumia 1520 is Nokia’s biggest and most ambitious Windows Phone ever. It’s already considered to be in the phablet category already due to its large 6-inch display. It also incorporated the latest hardware configuration and the PureView technology.
From the design and hardware perspective, the Lumia 1520 is already a beast of a smartphone. Nokia has pretty much addressed all the hardware-related complaints about their flagship Lumia devices with the 1520. What remains to convince users is the mobile operating system.
Design and Construction
The Lumia 1520 did not depart much from the usual design signature of the Nokia Lumia line. It’s very close to the likes of the Lumia 925, minus the aluminum chassis. The body is very glossy and has a piano-type finish.
It still maintains a very slim profile, at just 8.7mm which is pretty close to the 8.3mm thin Galaxy Note 3 and the 8.5mm Lumia 925. And yes, it feels really slippery especially when you have sweaty hands. The device is definitely huge but can still be held with one hand with some level of comfort. Sending text messages though will really require both hands to operate.
The volume controls are on the right side, along with the dedicated camera button that flanks the power button in the middle. The micro SIM card slot is tucked away on the left side together with the microSD card slot. The 3.5mm audio port is up top and the microUSB is down below.
At the back is the 20-megapixel PureView camera with the dual LED flash and the four high-performance digital mics for directional stereo recording (that’s the 4 pinholes lined up just above the LED flash). We’ve never seen so many microphones tucked in a single smartphone ever.
The device looks stunning in red against the black contrast of the Gorilla Glass display at the front. The design is really simple yet very elegant, giving more focus to the large display than anything else.
With the Lumia 1520, Nokia went all out on their display using a full HD ClearBlack Display protected by a Gorilla Glass 2. While we’ve seen a lot of full HD displays already with most flagship handsets, the compact pixel density is much more appreciated with large display sizes like the Lumia 1520.
The handset offers dark & rich colors, crisp images and great viewing angles when watching movies or videos. Outdoor visibility is also very good, as long as you crank up the brightness level to high.
The glass panel is slightly embossed with a thin strip of rubber protecting it. The three WP soft buttons are found at the bottom corner (Back, Home and Find). Having a full HD 1080p resolution on a Windows Phone does give it a boost even if the UI is mostly flat colors.
OS, Apps and UI
Nothing much has changed in the UI of the platform, except perhaps for the addition of re-sizable tiles from the last update. They now have 3 different tile sizes from a small square to medium square, right up to a large rectangular Live Tile.
Nokia added a lot of proprietary apps into their Lumia phones to make it more useful and productive. The Nokia Pro Cam is probably the best native camera app on any phone running any mobile OS. The Here Maps and Here Drive+ gives you access to local map information, turn by turn navigation even if you’re offline or do not have any data connection.
There were a lot of new updates, games and apps introduced during the announcement of the Lumia 1520 back in October. Among them is the much-awaited Instagram app, Vine, WhatsApp, Waze, WeChat, Viber, KakaoTalk.
Granted that it’s not as extensive as the Play Store and iTunes Store, the Windows Phone Store still has most of the usual ones you’d look to download on the first time you set up your smartphone.
Multimedia and Camera
Nokia did a lot of hard work to make the Lumia 1520 the best multimedia device they ever had. They started with a large, 6-inch full HD display which is great for browsing, reading and especially watching movies. Add to that the great battery life.
Then, they followed it up with high quality audio recording using 4 microphones, giving you directional stereo recording. The result is well-balanced audio that captures the full range of hearing. Sound is not distorted even the environment is too noisy.
The powerful Snapdragon 800 chip can chomp thru any games you download from the WP Store. I think the only drawback we noticed with the 1080p display is that games and apps looked a bit pixelated since they were optimized for 720p only.
Then, there’s that PureView camera. We’ve seen it perform with the Lumia 920, Lumia 925 and Lumia 1020. The Lumia 1520 is no exception. Here are several sample shots taken with the 1520:
[fancygallery id=”64″ album=”67″]
Here’s a clip from YouTube of the video recording:
You will notice that the Lumia 1520 has great imaging capabilities, but it’s not evident all the time.
The Pro Camera app is certainly the best native app on any smartphone we’ve used. It’s simple yet intuitive and gives you manual controls of the critical settings of the camera right away.
Performance and Benchmarks
The hardware on the Lumia 1520 is the most powerful set ever made for Nokia. It’s a huge jump from the previous generation, even with the Lumia 1020 (except perhaps for the camera). As such, the boost in performance is very noticeable — from running apps and games, to multitasking and media, and especially with the benchmarks.
We were able to run WP Bench and the new Antutu Benchmark that’ recently became available in the WP Store. The Lumia 1520 scored 25,052 which is already pretty high (not sure if we can compared it with other Snapdragon 800 chips like in the G2 which got a higher score of 34k).
Nevertheless, the hardware configuration of the Lumia 1520 already matches those of other Android flagship devices.
Call Quality, Connectivity and Battery Life
We’ve had no problems with the handset when using it for basic functions such as making voice calls or SMS. Reception is loud and clear, text messages are sent and received in a timely manner.
As for battery life, we were very impressed with the idle time as well as its dexterity with normal use. We reckon we can do more than a day or close to two days when using it for calls, SMS, mobile internet and a few social accounts like Twitter, FB and Instagram.
With our standard battery bench, we were able to pull off about 11.5 hours of movie playback on a single full charge at medium brightness and 0% volume (we assumed medium brightness is at 50%).
As for connectivity, the 1520 has got it all — LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and NFC. We managed to get as high as 25Mbps over Globe LTE in our area here in Makati which is pretty much the range when we LTE tests with other devices.
And, as a bonus, there’s also Qi wireless charging built into the device. We were able to use it together with the portable wireless charging powerbank that we got from Nokia.
No doubt that the Lumia 1520 is the best and most exciting Lumia phone Nokia has ever built. It’s got all the hardware, design and multimedia capabilities that consumers are looking for when picking a new phone.
The Windows Phone ecosystem is also slowly catching up and this is evident with the release of more popular and download-worthy apps in the WP Store.
The Nokia Lumia 1520 is set to be released in the Philippines some time in January so we don’t know the suggested retail price yet. We’re hoping it will not be as expensive as the Lumia 1020 when it first arrived in the country a couple of months ago.
Nokia Lumia 1520 specs:
6-inch ClearBlack Display @ full HD 1920×1080 pixels
Gorilla Glass 2
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.2GHz quad-core processor
Adreno 330 Graphics
32GB internal storage
64GB via microSD
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, ac
LTE 150/50 mbps, DC-HSPA 42mbps
Bluetooth 4.0 LE
GPS w/ aGPS, GLONASS
20MP PureView rear camera, dual LED flash
1.2MP front-facing camera
Li-Ion 3,400mAh battery
Windows Phone 8
162.8 x 85.4 x 8.7mm (dimensions)
209 grams (weight)
What we liked about it:
* Impressive performance
* Great, slim design & solid construction
* Wireless charging
* Large battery capacity
* Fast LTE connectivity
* Stunning display quality
* Impressive camera performance
What we did not like:
* Slightly heavy-set
* Slippery on the hands
* Still lacking App Store