A fantastic phablet: Nokia’s Lumia 1520 reviewed

Thanks to the combination of new parts, though, the Lumia 1520 is one of the better performing smartphones out there.

It’s the first Windows Phone we’ve seen in the past year to stray from the older Snapdragon chips, shifting from the dual-core processor used in other Lumia flagships and switching to the much newer Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor clocked at 2.26GHz, the same chip used in the LG G2, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Sony Xperia Z1, and Google’s Nexus 5.

This newer chip is exactly what the Lumia formula needed, and makes the menus run without any noticeable lag, allows apps to perform at the speeds they’re supposed to, with only the occasional hiccup depending on the software you might be running at the time.

Really, it’s the update we’d hoped Nokia would implement sooner, as it brings a Lumia into line with the other handsets coming out at the same time.

It probably helps that Windows Phone 8 has been kept up to date on this handset, with the latest version called “Black” available out of the box.

While most people won’t notice much about this update, it brings with it an enhanced glance screen when the phone is locked, easier wireless sharing through Nokia Beamer, RAW image shooting support in Adobe’s Digital Negative format (DNG), a better driving mode, Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) support, and folders in the Windows Phone 8 menus.

The 6 inch screen is also excellent, showcasing the first Nokia Windows Phone handset with a Full HD screen. Like in the other Lumias, there are solid blacks with excellent contrast, partly due to the operating system’s use of colours, while the other factor appears to be how Nokia makes and implements its screens.

In this one, the viewing angles are solid from pretty much any position, and the 367 pixel per inch level of clarity isn’t just greater than Apple’s Retina displays on the iPhones, but also very nice to read and easy on the eyes.

This bigger screen size also impacts the homescreen, and while all other Windows Phone 8 handsets have supported two main columns of icons (if you’re using big square icons, not the little ones), the 6 inch Lumia 1520 is the first WP8 smartphone to support the third column.

It might not seem like a big deal at first, but with three columns supported, you can fit more shortcuts and live tiles on the one screen, and this means that you’ll probably fit most — if not all — of your necessary icons on one page, which is excellent for speeding up phone operation and making things simple.

Beyond the screen and system performance, the mobile download performance is pretty top notch, producing speeds of around 40 to 86Mbps down, and while that was on a Category 3 LTE network, the support for Category 4 4G makes this capable of so much more.

The battery is equally impressive, producing typical life of around two days, even eating into the third day a little. That’s all from the 3400mAh battery underneath, and with us making phone calls, surfing the web, social networking, playing the odd game, and taking photos.

Heavy users may see less, and will probably want to charge it daily, but if you don’t use the phone every second of every day, two days is easily possible in this handset, which impresses us greatly.

We’re also big fans of the wireless charging, which is built directly into the Lumia 1520, even though other Nokia handsets such as the Lumia 1020 (the 40 megapixel phone) require an extra case to slip on the back to make this happen. While you will need the Nokia wireless charger to get the cordless battery charge going, at least you don’t need an extra case on the phone.

There’s also the camera, which of course has to be acknowledged.

While it’s not the 40 megapixel beast that Nokia equipped the Lumia 1020 with, the 20 megapixel camera used here not only takes the same PureView concept of zooming in on a big sensor, but it also sports some decent performance, to boot.