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.

What phone should I get?

Someone recently asked me:

A good pal in the pub asked what was the best phone apart from the iPhone. What do you think? James Whatley you know about these matters. What’s the best out there on balance?

My response?
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If you’re not looking for an iPhone. Then your choice is Windows Phone or Android. If you want amazing photos, look at the Lumia 925 or the Lumia 1020 (see yesterday’s post for more on that one). The latter outperforms the former in the photography stakes, however the 925 has a more aesthetically pleasing industrial design. 

If photography isn’t your number one reason for having a phone (oh and if, like me, you can’t get on with the Windows Phone 8 OS) then it’s a tie between the Samsung Galaxy S4 or the HTC One – I own and adore the latter.

Finally, if budget is an issue, I’d look at the Google Nexus 4. It is, at the time of writing, Google’s flagship device and is merely an astonishing £159 SIM free on Google Play.

That’s all I got.

Whatley on a phone
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Disagree with this? Let me know.

But while you’re at it, let me know which phones you recommend when people ask you this same question. Those of you that don’t reply with ‘Let me ask Whatley’, that is…

 

The Lumia 1020 does take GREAT photos

Captain Obvious I know, but still…

One of my favourite 1020 shots to date

I’ve got a full review percolating around my skull for this device (kindly lent to me by the guys at Nokia Connects) but if you’re a regular listener to my podcast, The Voicemail, you probably know where I’m at with it already.

But after spending a couple of days with the device and irrespective of how I feel about Windows Phone, you can’t deny how incredible the camera on the Lumia 1020 really is.

WP_20131005_13_22_14_Pro

Taking it with me on my recent Tough Mudder meant we had some fantastic photos to share when we got back. Good work.

If the only thing you’re looking for in a phone is a decent camera, you simply can’t look any further than the Lumia 1020. Full stop.


Kate Bevan’s piece on the Lumia 1020 in The Guardian
is also worth a look.

Print your own phone case… Wait, WHAT?!

Seriously, welcome to the future…

The Lumia 820: coming soon to a 3D printer near you

Yesterday, news landed in my inbox that Nokia were going to not only announce the availability of 3D-printed cases for the Lumia 820 but also – and here’s the killer – release the printing files for said cases too.

That’s. Just. Awesome.

Why?

Let’s review.

The Lumia 820 is Nokia’s next best flagship Windows Phone 8 device after the Lumia 920. One key point of difference between the two is that the former has, like old-skool Nokias of the past, a hot-swappable back cover; allowing 820-owners to personalise their devices to the colour of their choosing. Well, from the available range (above) at least anyway…

That last part – the limited choice – all changed yesterday.

With the introduction of (and then the public releasing of the files for), 3D printed covers anyone with a 3D printer can create their own Lumia 820 back cover.

Yesterday was stacked and I’ve only now got the time to write this up. Since the announcement, the news has appeared everywhere; from Wired through to the BBC. However – leading Indian mobile tech blog, Unleash the Phones, managed to get the scoop on them all by laying their hands on the first images of what these 3D printed covers look like –

Lumia 820 3D-printed cover

Snug fit!

These were made, in about an hour, with Makerbot. Amazing.

Yes, the technology is expensive. But so were 2D printers when they first launched. With today’s yesterday’s announcement Nokia have given us a glimpse of the future and, dare I say it, earned [back] a whole lot of geek/cool points in doing so.

Good job.

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Here’s the news from Nokia’s blog,
(including said files!)

Releasing the 3D printing files for Lumia 920:

Nokia’s 3D printing community project is a simple concept with exciting potential. Our Lumia 820 has a removable shell that users can replace with Nokia-made shells in different colors, special ruggedized shells with extra shock and dust protection, and shells that add wireless charging capabilities found in the high-end Lumia 920 to the mid-range 820. Those are fantastic cases, and a great option for the vast majority of Nokia’s Lumia 820 customers. But in addition to that, we are going to release 3D templates, case specs, recommended materials and best practices—everything someone versed in 3D printing needs to print their own custom Lumia 820 case. We refer to these files and documents collectively as a 3D-printing Development Kit, or 3DK for short.

The links to the files needed are here, here and here.

In doing this, Nokia has become the first major phone company to begin embracing the 3D printing community and its incredible potential, and continue to be the leading phone company in this exciting field.

[We] view this as the spiritual successor to the great granddaddy of customizable phones, the Nokia 5110 and its rainbow collection of removable faceplates. To think, it’s been 15 years since the 5110 launched! 

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At this point, one would normally write something like: ‘So, what do you think? Do you have a 3D printer? Will you be trying this out? Have Nokia done the right thing?’ – to help stimulate conversation in the comments etc..

But no. Not today. Instead I’m going to say this:

IF YOU HAVE A 3D PRINTER PLEASE CAN I COME AND PLAY WITH IT?

Thanks, you’re awesome.

 

Lumia 800 spotted in The Wolverine?

Yeah, I think so –

Wolverine 2, aka ‘The Wolverine‘, is coming / rising soon. Filming is underway right now and slowly but surely set photos are leaking their way onto the internet. So far, we’ve only seen snaps of our eponymous hero but today, we got a peek at the two main villains he’ll be facing up against: Silver Samurai and Viper.

The really interesting thing is that the latter of the two has been spotted sporting what seems to be the Nokia Lumia 800.

Take a look –

That certainly looks like a Cyan(?) Lumia 800 to me. The flash is in the wrong place to be anything else.

But why?

Nokia has previous when it comes to placement in superhero films (trust me, I know), and it works best when it’s actually part and parcel of the film’s storyline as opposed to being fudged in at the last minute. Fortunately it’s looking very much like the former here – which is ace.

However, all I’m left wondering is: why the Lumia 800 and not the Lumia 820, or the 920 for that matter?

If I were a bad-ass super villain, I don’t think I’d settle for WP7.8.

 

#justsayin

Why I love Instagram

I started writing this post last weekend, before the big Facebook sale was announced, as I wanted to talk about – in light of the recent Android-owners backlash – I use (and enjoy) Instagram. It’s funny now though how that very same backlash has not only continued but also now includes all things Facebook. Incredible. C’est la vie.

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I love Instagram. There, I said it.
I also don’t own an iPhone.

So how?

Anyone who’s been reading this blog for any amount of time knows that I am a Nokia fan. My current phone du jour is the Nokia Lumia 800 and before I now I have waxed lyrical about its predecessors the N8 and the N86. Similarly, regular readers will also know that I am an iPad-owner also. Of that too, I am also a fan.

I am a social media junkie; If something is new and shiny, I take a(n educated and measured) interest and, in all honesty, the lure of Instagram was too much.

The next logical step? Install Instagram onto the iPad.

2012-04-09-21-34-36_8106A5AB-D46E-4CE2-B9F9-4D03BB8B824B

While there isn’t an official Instagram iPad app, the iPhone version doubles up just fine. Problem solved, right? Well, yes but that’s not enough. I own an iPad 2 y’see and, while it does have an onboard camera, you may as well give a packet of crayons to a pack of blind monkeys for all the use it’ll do you. A decent image it produces, not.

The great thing about Nokia devices however, is that the top end bad boys tend to come packing high-end mobile camera technology. Which is great, and as 99% of the images I snap with my Lumia end up on my Flickr account – all I need is a method of getting those images into Instagram.

Well, that’s where Flickr Studio comes in –

2012-04-09-21-37-09_5A593C92-3E6B-4B95-806B-0C8E6D9C7006

I can browse my Flickr photostream and download the images I want/need onto my iPad (you can see where this is going can’t you) which closes the circle nicely –

Lumia – >; Flickr
Flickr – iPad
iPad – >; Instagram

Yes, it’s a lengthy process and yes it’s not exactly ideal either but like I said, I like the network and I like the people I follow there. I installed Instagram onto my Nexus S a couple of days ago and I’ve hardly used it. I prefer the iPad experience. Plus, my pictures are infinitely better.

Since the Android release last week it’s almost too funny how much the elitist iPhone-owners have spat back at the network [EDIT: even more so now after the sale]. Apparently some slighted iPhone-Instagrammers are even flocking to new services to escape the influx of ‘tasteless’ Android-ers. Hilarious.

I’ve enjoyed being a part of the Instagram community and have never uploaded an iPhone-created picture, ever. That makes me happy inside and that’s how I use (and why I love) Instagram.

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PS. As I said earlier this week, post-sale, Instagram will be fine

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