Review: Nokia Lumia 1520

Can you guess how this turns out?

About a month ago, those kind ladies and gents at Nokia Connects sent yours truly a loaner Nokia Lumia 1520 to review. I quite like that they did as, thanks to a ridiculous SIM card issue, I’d previously implied that didn’t really want one [to review].

I can count on one hand the amount of devices that require the uber-tiny and utterly ridiculous nano SIM (why one of the biggest phones known to man needs to have a smaller SIM card than say, I don’t know, the Galaxy S4 Mini, I’ve no idea but still) and I don’t own one of them.

I’m not about to go chopping up my existing SIM card (micro, like most people) and then have to use an adaptor for the rest of my mobile life either. The net result was that I had Lumia 1520 to review that I couldn’t actually use as a phone.

Perhaps sending me the device was an attempt at winning me over. On first impressions, this humongous phone very nearly did.

There is no denying it: the Lumia 1520 is gorgeous. The matte black colour that my device came in only further exaggerates the smooth contours of the design and it is a delight to hold. Throughout the three week trial period, I actually caught myself either just staring at it or on occasion, just stroking its smooth soft finish.

Read into that what you will but as soon as you have a 1520 in your hand, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Something else you’ll notice when you have a 1520 in your hand: you might need more than one hand: this phone is massive.

That’s a full-size 3rd gen iPad on the right, by the way. Not an iPad mini.

I’m not a huge fan of the half phone/half tablet, or ‘Phablet’ (blergh), form factor. My podcast colleague, Stefan Constantinescu, swears by them but I remain unconvinced.

What I will say is however is that, after a particularly long afternoon where all I used the 1520 for was gaming (the 6″ screen is fantastic and Temple Run 2 was a particular highlight), going back to my not-exactly-small HTC One seemed weird.

Sticking with the hardware aspects of the device it almost goes without saying with flagship Nokia devices: the camera on the 1520 is excellent.

I’ve used it to take myriad photos. Several of which made it into my Empty Underground project – having a kick-ass camera for this made me very happy indeed. Also, the feature set of the camera is pretty darn good too.

Very. Cool. Feature. Indeed.

And then we come to Windows Phone…

I’ve tried with Windows Phone. Really I have. From the first time I played with Windows Phone 7 all the way through to the latest Lumia devices such as the staggeringly impressive [camera on the] 1020 (WP8 with the very latest update).

The OS has come a long way since the early days and the 1520 benefits from that. Windows Phone 8 is a little more malleable and the options presented to the user are better than ever before (and 8.1 isn’t far away either, bringing things like customisable wallpaper, for example), they’re still not great though.

The best thing I can report is that nearly all of the major apps that have been missing in the past are present and correct (albeit only ‘beta’ in some iterations) and some of the more unique-to-windows-phone apps are quite fun too.

If you didn’t have to navigate the clunky windows UI (beautiful to look at, difficult to use when you actually want to get things done) and if Google apps were to make an appearance, the 1520 would be close to perfect, and a clear leader in the phablet market.

But they aren’t, so it isn’t.

Saying that, I know some people who actually quite like Windows Phone. If you’re one of those people (if you are, you’re 1 in 10 of UK smartphone owners) and you’re looking for a bigger-screened upgrade, the 1520 is absolutely for you.

But if you’re like the rest of the smartphone-buying-nation, this review (and many others like it) can be summed up in a single tweet:

So say we all.

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Author: James Whatley

Chief Strategy Officer in adland. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x

4 thoughts on “Review: Nokia Lumia 1520”

  1. Nice review, which I basically agree with. The presence of Windows Phone, especially for geeks, is the deciding factor at the moment. That said, I do think Windows Phone might suit non-geeks better, but it’s open to debate how much of a factor that is on a hgih end phone.

    Personally, I like the Windows Phone UI a lot and don’t find it clunky. I find it quicker to get things done than Android (guess I’m the 1 in 10). However, I think a lot depends on what you’re familiar with, what ecosystem of service you live in / use, and a certain about of subjective preference.

    Oh and the screen was too big for me personally!

    James Whatley Reply:

    Rafe Blandford and James Whatley in agreement shocker! – I’ve always said you’re one in a million, Rafe. But one in ten will do for now 😉

    Joking aside, Thanks for the comment (and thanks for the correction re WP8.1 vs WP8 w/ Update 3), I think you might be right. Especially down in the mid-to-lower end market. The Lumia range now ticks all the boxes along the price-range spectrum, and coming in at feature phone level, as you say, as non-geeks might, it might make sense to them. In fact, there’s another comment here that supports that!

    You might’ve seen the amount of stick I came under on Twitter for this review, but I don’t actually think the phone comes off that badly at all. It has a great camera and the screen is amazing. If you don’t mind WP8 and you want a phablet device, the 1520 is the one. How is that bad?

  2. Perhaps interestingly, both Mrs C (decidedly non-geek, and just wanting a ‘phone that “can do facebook, and a running app”) and my eldest (a budding computer programmer, raspberry pi hacker &c) are on Windows Phone (Nokia 620s) and both like it very much.

    The key may be that both came to it “fresh” from feature ‘phones, (although my eldest briefly used my old Nokia N97 Mini) so there was no hankering for lost features in Android &c from my eldest.

    My own Symbian (since the N82) and Android (since the Galaxy S2) history means that I don’t see windows phone as a realistic option as my own main device yet – but in playing with the 620s, I’ve been pretty impressed by how well it runs, and Nokia specific features like Here Maps. .

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