The Nokia Lumia 1520 is a well designed phablet. Boasting a 6 inch screen, it’s larger than most smartphones but still smaller than a tablet. The device is 8.7 mm thick, 85.4 mm wide and 162.8 mm long. It’s made from a polycarbonate material and comes in four fun colors; white, black, red and my favorite, yellow. Surprisingly for a smartphone as large as the Lumia 1520, it’s design is sleek and it looks good.
The rectangular shaped device has the volume, power and camera shutter buttons along the right side. The Nano-SIM and Micro-SD slots are located on the left side. There are also ports for headphones and charging at the top and bottom of the phone, respectively. The back of the smartphone features a large camera lens with a flash positioned just above it. The placement of the camera is not purely functional. It has become an element of style for Nokia devices as they continue to offer the most powerful camera capabilities for a mobile device. The camera lens does protrude a bit which prevents it from lying flush on a surface. This aspect of the design almost guarantees more wear and tear and possibly damage to the lens. Keeping it in a protective case at all times was the only way I felt comfortable handling the phone.
I enjoyed the larger screen for basic computing. Everything from sending emails to typing tweets was easier on the larger keyboard. I found that I made fewer typos because the keys were larger on the keypad. However, the size does complicate some aspects of handling. I found that I needed two hands to do most things. The phone was also more difficult to store. The Lumia 1520 was too large for the mobile phone pocket built into all of my handbags. I also never adjusted to making a call with the larger phone. It felt awkward. [Skip to my video highlights]
The perfect complement to the 6 inch screen is a full HD display. This is definitely one of the aspects of the Lumia 1520 that wows. I loved the display. The colors were vivid and images were crisp and clear. The display has two advanced technologies; ClearBlack and super sensitive touch. ClearBlack technology allows for better viewing outdoors and in direct sunlight. Sensitive touch made using the device altogether better. The display felt smooth and didn’t require forceful pressing to manipulate controls. The screen is also coated with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 2 which adds a layer of scratch resistance.
The Lumia 1520 boasts a 20 MP, PureView rear camera with dual-LED flash. The device also features Nokia Camera, a utility that allows you to adjust white balance, ISO, shutter speed, focus and flash settings manually. For every photo taken, the camera automatically takes two images; One is a full resolution 19 MP image, and the other is a 5 MP image that can easily be shared over social media networks. In addition, the camera utility features editing software called Nokia Creative Studio. It allows you to adjust, fix, blur or play around with photos by adding a color pop or collage. Check out some of the photo effects below.
The camera is by far the feature I enjoyed the most. As a blogger, I often find myself juggling two devices; my smartphone to upload photos to social networks and a camera to capture web quality photos for posts. It was refreshing to rely on a single device to accomplish both tasks. I took the best photo I’ve ever taken with a smartphone using the Lumia 1520. It captured every detail about the subject including steam. Take a look at the stunning photo below.
The Lumia 1520 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, Quad-core 2.2 GHz processor. As expected, processing was good and there were no lags. I was able to seamlessly transition between screens, update social media and stream music and videos.
The Lumia 1520 runs Windows Phone 8. It comes with standard Office apps (Excel, Word, Powerpoint, OneNote) and supports PDF and Word document formats. Nokia proprietary software and apps add some nice functionality. Check out highlights from my top picks…
- Kid’s Corner – Kids Corner allows you to set up a separate lock screen for your children with restricted access to your phone. My toddler loves my smartphone and often times tweets or posts to Facebook on my behalf. He has called business contacts, deleted apps and a host of other undesirable things. With Kid’s Corner, I can give him access to only the games, music, videos and apps that I don’t mind him using.
- Nokia Mix Radio – Nokia Mix Radio with Play Me brings you free streamed mixes of music created to your personal taste. The app is intuitive and based on your ratings by giving a song ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’, it Mix Radio plays more of what you want to hear and less of what you don’t. Did I mention it’s FREE; No subscription and no advertising, just great music everyday. It allows you to skip a maximum of 6 songs per hour. To unlock the skip limit, users can subscribe to Nokia Music + for 15 AED per month.
- Nokia Storyteller – Nokia Storyteller organizes your photos into stories on an interactive HERE map by time and place. Cinemagraphs and smart photos play automatically. You can see points of interest around the photos taken and pull up contact info, call or email directly from Storyteller. Unfortunately, during the time of testing this feature was not available for the Lumia 1520. Update: The app was updated on 7 February and I was able to update and install the beta version.
- Nokia Screen Beamer – Nokia Beamer lets you share your screen with family, colleagues and friends by simply pointing your Nokia Lumia at any screen displaying the web address http://beam.nokia.com. I tried this with my husband who sat two feet away from me on the sofa. The screen was eventually shared on his device but with quite a delay. Also, the instructions given through the app require that the receiving screen display the aforementioned web address and that the sharer shake the phone to transfer. The shaking felt awkward and I’m certain that I wouldn’t do it in public. This was my least favorite of Nokia’s proprietary apps and I’m not clear that it’s purpose justifies having such an awkward app.
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I am a heavy social media user and noticed that apps like Twitter and Instagram were not storing my frequently used hashtags; a feature that’s included in those apps on Android and iOS. To have your frequently hashtags appear as options when you start typing them, they must be manually added to the Dictionary. Here’s how:
- Type the hashtag. For example, #TamTalksNokia
- Touch the tag to highlight it. The tag is now displayed in the predictive text bar with (+) in front of it.
- Touch the tag in the predictive text bar. The tag is now added to the dictionary.
Let’s face it, the main pain point of Windows phones is the perceived lack of apps. While the Microsoft store still trails the Mac App store and Google Play store, it does offer the basics to keep the average user functional and productive. I was able to download and use 90% of the apps I depend upon on my other devices. Check out my app run down below. Hover over red icons to see my notes about the Microsoft version of the app in a tooltip.
The Lumia 1520 has a massive 3400 mAh battery life for an estimated 25 hours talk time and 2GB of RAM. On a full day of regular use, which included taking a ton of pictures, frequent social media updates, email push notifications every 15 minutes and a few calls and texts, the phone yielded around 12 hours of juice with 20% battery life remaining. With less usage, I could go two days without having to charge the phone. Battery life for the Lumia 1520 beat my iPhone 5, which is a much smaller smartphone, by a long shot. I’m usually only able to get about 2 hours of heavy social media use and about 6 additional hours of life from the iPhone 5. The Lumia 1520 improved my life by simply lasting longer.