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A fantastic phablet: Nokia’s Lumia 1520 reviewed

By Leigh D. Stark | 1:07 pm 05/02/2014

If there’s one company that hasn’t made much of a deal about the whole tablet-sized phone area called “phablets,” it’s Nokia, which has been pretty resistant, at least until now. Enter the Lumia 1520, a 6 inch Windows-based phone that brings a whole lot of promise in a phone made for big hands.

Features

The first phablet from the maker of the most Windows-based smartphones, the Lumia 1520 represents more than just one first for the company, as it also includes new processor choices and a higher resolution screen for the Nokia smartphones.

You won’t find the same specifications from the Lumia 920, 925, or 1020 used here, with the dual-core Snapdragon chip from those three phones replaced with the Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor clocked at 2.2GHz, the same chip used in so many other flagship Android smartphones released at the end of 2013.

That chip also changes the graphics chip, moving it from the Adreno 225 to the 330, though the RAM and storage doesn’t change much with it, with 2GB RAM and 32GB storage. In a first for a Nokia flagship, though, there is a microSD slot to expand the storage considerably.

The inclusion of a microSD slot will likely come in extra handy in the Lumia 1520 because the camera features a whopping 20 megapixel sensor, and can even take RAW photos in Adobe’s Digital Negative (DNG) format, or just full-size JPEGs if that’s what you’re after. The front camera is less impressive but very standard for Nokia, with a 1.2 megapixel shooter capable of 720p video capture.

Mobile connections are all pretty high on the Lumia 1520, with 4G LTE supported on both Category 3 and 4 networks, the latter of which requires a Cat4-compliant network and can then theoretically achieve as high as 150Mbps downloads.

Outside of mobile 4G performance, you’ll find 802.11 a/b/g/n and even the 802.11ac connections supported, as well as Bluetooth 4.0, Near-Field Communication (NFC), GPS, and of course a wired microUSB connection which sits at the bottom of the handset.

All of this sits under a 6 inch screen showing Full HD 1920×1080 resolution, which is also a first for Nokia handsets. With this resolution, a pixel clarity of 367 pixels per inch is being shown, which is higher than the iPhone 5’s Retina-grade resolution (330ppi).

The screen is protected by Corning’s second generation of Gorilla Glass (Gorilla Glass 2), and the soft buttons are all the standard Windows Phone soft buttons sitting under the screen, including back, home, and search.

Just like the other phones, however, the Lumia 1520 follows the physical button template, with the inclusion of three buttons on the right edge, including volume rocker, power, and the camera shutter and activation button.

Ports on the Lumia 1520 are few and far between, with a microUSB port at the very bottom, and the 3.5mm headset jack up top. Two slots can also be found on the left side, covered by plastic and only accessible when a pin ejector tool has been inserted in, but these cover up the nanoSIM and microSD slots.

A 3400mAh battery powers the Nokia Lumia 1520 and is not removable, though can be charged through a wireless charging station.

Performance

The Lumia 1520 may well be Nokia’s first big big smartphone, but it keeps up with the design language we’ve seen from the company for the past couple of years, refining it ever so slightly, and keeping the emphasis on solid plastic phones that feel soft to the touch, and are comfortable in the hand.

In this handset, there’s more of the polycarbonate that Nokia has used on the Lumia 1020, lacking the gloss of the older phones and now less slippery than ever, which on a big handset, makes for a big deal.

The inclusion of buttons on the right edge also makes the phone feel comfortable in the hand, though your fingers may find the slight extrusion of the camera lens a little distracting.

In our hands, the phone feels excellent, revealing a solid build that also looks excellent, too. It can be seen as a touch big, mind you, thanks to the 6 inch screen, but we liked it, and it grew on us quickly.

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Price (RRP)

$899

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Fast system performance; Excellent 4G; Solid battery life, with as much as two days going into a third day; Fantastic camera; Expandable memory; Bigger screen size allows for an extra column of icons, which means you can generally fit all the icons you need on one page; Wireless charging built in, though you will need the Nokia wireless charger;

Product Cons

A little on the heavy side; Takes nanoSIM, so previous Windows Phone users will need to get a new SIM card;

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Performance

Ease of Use

Design

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