Nokia’s Lumia 1520 is a phone with a 6-inch display, a high-end camera and accessories that seem intended for use as much as a tablet as a phone.
To put the device in perspective, it’s larger than the smaller models of Samsung’s Galaxy Note “phablets,” and its larger screen includes an extra row of live tiles, making it seem more tablet-like than Nokia’s smaller Lumia series of phones.
The larger size of the 1520 makes using the on-screen keyboard very easy, and the added screen real estate reduces the amount of scrolling that’s necessary to see the tiles you’re most likely to need. The phone is large enough that Nokia was able to put more of its Windows Phone 8 tiles on the screen at once, which means you can move the most important tiles to positions on the screen that best suit you.
The larger screen also makes the phone a little unwieldy to use as a phone. It’s too big to fit comfortably in a shirt pocket, for example. Nokia seems to have recognized this since it has included an optional integrated case and cover for the device that they sent with the review model. The cover seems identical to the cases Apple sells for the iPad Air and even includes the tri-fold hinges that allow it to be propped on its side for viewing videos.
The camera on the Nokia Lumia 1520 seems to be a primary focus. This phablet gets a 20-megapixel sensor with Carl Zeiss optics and a new camera app that promises to bring the flexibility of Nokia Pro Camera and the features of Nokia Smart Camera in a single app called Nokia Camera.
Nokia claims that the Lumia 1520 camera will record full-high-definition video, but this proved difficult to verify, since the Lumia 1520 lacks an HD video output. Presumably, you can capture your video to the internal Secure Digital (SD) card (the phone will handle cards up to 64GB), transfer it to another device, and connect that device to an HD television or monitor to view it. While I couldn’t tell for sure if the video the device captures is really HD, it does take nice photos and videos that benefit from the device’s optical stabilization feature.
As is the case with many Windows Phone 8 devices, the Lumia 1520 includes a mobile version of Microsoft Office that works with SkyDrive (also included) to let you view and edit documents. You can also create documents using the included on-screen keyboard, but despite the device’s size, it’s still too small to comfortably type large documents.
Nokia 1520 Camera, Video Best Features of This 6-Inch ‘Phablet’
Unlike some other phablets, Nokia does not include a stylus with the Lumia 1520, not even as an option, meaning that you’ll be doomed to thumb-typing, although the size of the screen does make that easier than it might be on another phone, such as an iPhone 5S.
Nokia takes advantage of the large size of the Lumia 1520 by filling as much space as possible with the device’s 3,400mAh battery. Wireless charging is also available as an option for this phone. Because of the large battery, the phone can run for several days on a single charge under the right conditions. Nokia says it has a standby time of 780 hours, and that seems accurate.
Using the Nokia 1520 is like using any other Windows Phone—writ large. When you hold it up to your ear to talk, it seems clumsy. But these days, it seems as if using smartphones to actually make phone calls is secondary to using them for other computing purposes, such as texting or viewing.
The large size makes it easy to use, and the screen is very clear and easy to read. The Lumia 1520 used for this review came in a white matte finish, and like other Nokia phones with that finish and perhaps with white phones in general, it picked up dirt quickly. You can also get the phone in yellow, black and gloss red.
The unit reviewed for this article works on the AT&T network. However, it contains radios that should work with other carriers, which would make sense since Nokia is releasing this device globally, with its release in France taking place a few hours before its release in the United States. Whether this device will be made available through T-Mobile or other U.S carriers is uncertain.
I found the Nokia Lumia 1520 to be a useful device in situations where its size doesn’t get in the way. It excels at tasks that use the keyboard, for example. The Lumia 1520 also excels at shooting and displaying videos, although some means of outputting the video to a larger monitor or an HD television, such as a High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) or DisplayPort outlet, would be appreciated if it’s to be used effectively as a video-capture device.
The phone takes very good photos for a phone camera, and the Nokia camera software provides excellent control and editing capabilities. Overall, this is a nice device, as long as the size meets your needs. The Nokia Lumia 1520 sells for $99 with a two-year contract.