Review by Andrew Kameka on Monday November 25, 2013.
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Nokia, and Windows Phone in general, watched as the dominant trends of the smartphone industry by its devices. The race to introduce quad-core chipsets, 1080p HD resolutions, and gigantic screens went so fast that no Lumia device operated in a way that was just short of what Android users enjoyed. While Apple has done the same, it had more signs of encouragement and millions of people deciding they neither wanted nor needed such splendor. Nokia found some success trumpeting its smartphone capabilities but it wasn't meeting the demand in other areas.
The Nokia Lumia 1520 meets those demands and more. It has the quad-core processor, the big display, and the HD resolution to go along with a strong camera. Nokia has finally built a Windows Phone phablet that checks off the core features that people have requested. It's the phone trying to be the biggest Lumia, literally and figuratively, to date. Let's see if they executed on the strategy.
This is the part of the review that I break out my thesaurus and look up as many synonyms for large that I can find. There's a huge chance that I'll have to run through them all in light of the colossal nature of this monumental phone that towers over its competitors thanks to a titanic stature and broad build. I'm saying the Lumia 1520 is really, really big in case that last sentence was too subtle.
The 1520 is wider and taller than the typical smartphone. It even stands taller and wider than other phones deemed too large, like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. As challenging as that may be, history has shown that there are smartphone buyer who believe bigger is better. Such buyers will be pleased to know that the Lumia 1520 has a gargantuan frame (6.4 x 3.36in, 162.8 x 85.4mm) but is only 0.33-inches thin (8.7mm). The design of the phone's edges slope to make it more comfortable.
Let's not pretend that this isn't a massive piece of hardware; don't even think about regularly using one hand for this device. Still, it may be worth the trouble. A pessimist might call it too big or an optimist might say it's a lot more of what you know and love. The back of the device has the same matte finish found on other Nokia handsets like the Lumia 925 (the red model is glossy). It naturally continues the tradition of three hardware buttons - Back, Home, and Search - and few ports. A 3.5mm headphone jack is at the top of the device and a microUSB port is on the bottom. Next to the nanoSIM slot at the top is a micro SD slot. Yes, a 64GB microSD slot is present, so your external storage dreams have come true.
On the back is a speaker that reaches a strong volume level but maintains clear audio quality. Build wise, there really isn't anything to complain about the Lumia 1520 - unless you're not among the group of people who can tolerate a phone this big.
The Lumia 1520 is the first Nokia LCD to include the 1080p HD resolution that makes a world of difference for such a large display. Looking over on my desk the past few days while watching locally stored videos, I've been very pleased with the quality. Nokia's requisite display tweaks make the Lumia 1520 have great colors, very high brightness levels, and Sunlight readability that makes it one of the best phones to have when outdoors. Though I still contend that Windows Phone needs to let users manually adjust brightness on a sliding scale, the Medium and High settings are still very good. The increased sensitivity of the touch panel is also a nice touch as temperatures are starting to dip in the northeast, and I like being able to continue using the phone without having to take off my gloves.
Windows Phone users clamoring for quad-core processors finally have one less thing to complain about. Windows Phone 8 was never really slow except for initial loading of apps, and that lag has been cut by a noticeable margin. The phone feels faster than other Windows handsets and it shaves a second or two from those loading screens. Navigation through the UI was always silky with a 2.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 and 2GB of RAM controlling things. Where this really should get people excited is the prospect of HD games that really elevate the gaming experience on Windows Phone.
Key Lumia 1520 Specs
- 2.2 GHz quad-core processor
- 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, 64GB microSD
- 6.40 x3.36 x 0.33in
- 3,400 mAh battery
- 20 megapixel camera, 1.2 megapixel front
- 4G LTE (Bands 2, 4, 5, 17), Dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 LE
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.