Well, it’s official. Phablets aren’t Android-only territory any longer! And it’s a testament to this new classification’s market viability. While still technically a niche market, its popularity has been steadily growing, so much so that other platforms have taken notice. While Apple is rumored to still be contemplating on the concept, Microsoft went ahead and made what is arguably one of the best phablets in the market today.
As an ardent supporter of the smartphone classification, Nokia’s announcement of their phablets not too long ago got me psyched. Nokia have generously provided us with a review unit of the higher end of the two phablets: the Nokia Lumia 1520. While the specs are uber good, its SRP of PHP 34,990.00 could polarize some, especially those uncommitted to the platform. So, is it worth a look?
Nokia Lumia 1520 Specs
- Windows Phone 8 “Black”
- 6″ IPS LCD 1080p resolution (1080 × 1920), ~367ppi
- 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 MSM8974 processor with Adreno 330 GPU
- 2GB RAM, 32GB internal storage; expandable via microSD support up to 64GB
- 20-megapixel rear camera, with autofocus, OIS, and dual LED flash
- 1.2MP front camera
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 3G, HSDPA, LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, A-GPS
- 3400mAh non-removable battery; wireless charging support
Right off the bat, you can see that it’s some pretty hefty specs, exuding premium quality in every way. It can go toe-to-toe with the best of them. And unlike my previous Nokia favorite, the Nokia Lumia 1020, this phone has microSD support! Nokia, please, do this for all your phones!
Packaging and Accessories
Nokia’s packaging is standard on every phone they’ve made, so if you’ve seen one, they’ve seen them all. I have no complaints with Nokia’s packaging, and is one of my favorite ones, to be honest.
As I found out, the phone comes with the usual accessories, such as charger and cable, and earphones. My Nokia Lumia 1520 review unit came with a supplied wireless charger and a snap-on flip cover. At first, I though that this comes as a standard package with the phone, the same way an outer camera casing came supplied with the Lumia 1020. Unfortunately, such wasn’t the case. If it did, it would’ve made the price much more palatable, especially since the supplied snap-on flip cover would sure to wow anyone. If you plan to buy this phablet, I highly recommend this OEM cover.
Design and Build
I know I’ve said it before and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired saying it: Nokia produces some of the best-looking phones ever. Some may say that the aesthetic gets tired, seeing that it’s similar to their high-end phones like the Lumia 920. Personally, that’s not such a bad comparison. In fact, it’s such classy-looking that it doesn’t get old. Or at least that’s my take on it. Your mileage may vary. Side-by-side with my Sony Xperia Z Ultra, I can say that they have different, but equally appreciable beauty.
At over 8mm thick, it’s thicker than my Z Ultra, but not by much. My take on this is if someone would be anal about that about 2mm difference, then that someone has some disturbing mental problems. Besides, with a higher battery capacity, which I’m guessing is why it’s thicker, I kinda wished my Z Ultra was the same.
As like the aforementioned Lumia 920, the Lumia 1520 is encased in a unibody, polycorbonate shell. Most of the front is taken up by that massive 6″ Corning Gorilla Glass 2 screen, meaning it’s sturdy enough but I would still suggest that you put a screen protector on it. As opposed to a seeming trend on phablets nowadays, the Lumia 1520 doesn’t seem to support stylus of any kind, but I think it’s a non-issue for most. Beneath the screen are the soft touch buttons that are the hallmarks of the platform. The top of the screen has the sensors and the front camera. The rear of the Lumia 1520 houses the phone’s main 20MP camera and the double LED flash.
Like all other phones with non-removable batteries, much of the ports are found at the phone’s sides. The left side has the microSD port and the nano SIM port accessible via a pin key. Yes, it uses nano SIM, so take note of that if you plan to buy it and use it right away. The right side is a Lumia standard: the volume rocker, power button, and the dedicated camera button. The top has the 3.5mm jack for your earphones and such, and the bottom has the microUSB port.
Overall, the phone’s design is what you’d expect out of Nokia: elegant, beautiful, and such an eye candy. It feels good in the hand, and upon touch, you’re assured that the materials used are high quality.
Display and Touchscreen
You would appreciate the high resolution and large screen regardless of what you’re doing. Watching movies and playing games is great on this phone, and even reading publications and web pages is all good. The screen is bright and colors are beautifully rendered.
Touchscreen controls are smooth and responsive, and I haven’t encountered any problems using it. As a gaming platform, though, the platform is severely lacking, which is a crying shame. Thankfully, the slick and tight touchscreen controls also translate to other activities. It’s accurate enough that you won’t have problems typing. The size does mean that you’re required to use the phone with two hands, but if you’re accustomed to using phablets, then this isn’t news to you.
[three_fifth]Just as it’s a looker, it’s also a powerhouse, thanks to its beastly internals.[/three_fifth]
At least on paper, this is the most powerful Windows Phone yet. Using it won’t disappoint. The generous amount of RAM and speedy processor ensures a lag-free experience. Then again, I’ve never experienced lag in a Windows Phone before, since the OS is tailor-made for a standard specification that Microsoft imposes on partner manufacturers.
With such a large battery, it really doesn’t come to a surprise that this phone has stellar battery life. I was able to take almost a couple of day’s worth of heavy use out of the phone, consisting of my standard always-on WiFi and NFC, heavy web surfing and YouTube watching, occasional gaming, and offline reading, and using my mobile data, heavy texting and calls. I was even able to get good battery performance with the Bluetooth on for an extended period, paired to my Cherry Mobile P1.
Speaking of connectivity, I had no problems connecting it to devices and WiFi. It’s also good to know that it supports the relatively new WiFi AC standard. While it’s true that the framework isn’t prevalent yet (heck, my router isn’t even AC yet), having support for it makes you feel a bit future proof.
With 32GB of internal storage, you’ll have more than enough space for your needs, not even counting the fact that there aren’t a lot of apps that can make use of that space. However, media and pictures are a different matter, so I’m really glad that Nokia opted to give this phone expandable memory via microSD.
The Nokia Lumia 1520 comes with the latest build of Windows Phone 8 – the GDR3 build, and other enhancements via Lumia Black. While I still have misgivings on the platform, I can say that it’s incrementally improving. Even the number of necessary apps has been gradually rising, with Instagram and Vine joining the platform recently. The latter is big news, especially since Nokia in intent on focusing and maintaining the excellent quality of photography of their phones.
The Build 3 update brought some nifty features outside screen size and processor support. For example, double-tapping the screen wakes the device, a new “Glance” notifications appear when you move the device if its screen is off which quickly shows you notifications like phone calls, messages, e-mail, calendar, etc., and further support for Bluetooth 4.0 features are there.
Other than that, everything is excellent out-of-the-box. I wish that Microsoft addressed a lot of the features lacking in the platform this time around, but they didn’t. This is a let-down, especially if the rumors that this will be the last major update for WP8 is true. After that, we’re in Windows 8.1 territory, and I’m hopeful that Microsoft doesn’t pull the rug under us the same way they did with the WP7-based phone users. Regardless, though, what we have currently is good, and I didn’t encounter any problems while using it. As with their previous phones, it’s very stable and smooth, and that’s enough for most people.
As a phone, it does very well. Audio clarity is great, provided you have good reception. Microphone also does well. I’ve also hadn’t encountered any difficulty sending text messages. The keyboard still leaves much to be desired, but I find texting on this larger screen a much more pleasurable experience than on my personal unit, the Lumia 620.
As an entertainment device, it’s two thumbs up. The large screen and resolution makes it a joy to play high-def videos, whether it be you’re watching video files offline, or when watching streaming media via YouTube, etc.
Gaming is as good as it gets on such a high-profile device, with graphics being crisp and clear, tight controls, and no lags whatsoever.
I played two high profile games on it for testing (since both aren’t my cup of tea), and both worked relatively good. Too bad the game I’m currently nuts about (Injustice: Gods Among Us) isn’t available on the platform. I hope that changes soon. With the platform currently supporting large screens and HD resolution, it really needs game support. I haven’t had the chance to try Halo: Spartan Wars yet, though, since I had very limited play time last week.
If there’s one aspect where this phone is very noteworthy is camera performance. That 20MP Carl Zeiss lens really delivers. It’s not to the same degree of excellence as the sublime Nokia Lumia 1020, but then again, that phone’s camera performance is in a different league. However, having PureView technology, it uses the same features as that of the Lumia 1020. The Nokia Camera is one of the best camera apps out there in any platform, and the Refocus app is still uber fun to use.
Another aspect with the increased screen size that I truly appreciated was when I used it as a GPS device. I’ve you’ve been reading my past reviews of Nokia Lumia phones, you’d know how I’m passionately in love with Nokia HERE, arguably the best offline navigation for mobile devices in any platform. On a large screen such as this, it’s multiplied ten-fold.
Overall, I have to say that using the phone was such a pleasant experience for me. You can chalk it up to my bias for phablets, but I honestly believe that it’s one of the best phones Nokia have produced. As a daily driver, it’ll give you stellar performance, both in battery stamina and smartphone functions, all encased in an aesthetics that will surely blow anyone away.
However, at PHP 34,990.00, it’s not something that everyone would jump on right away. With no defining features from regular sized smartphones, it’s more like a Lumia 920 overdosed with those Chinese growth balls (except for the better photography performance and resolution). It would have been great if Nokia opted to add, or even highlight, more differentiation in the way you’d use this phablet. Wanting this would depend on how committed you are to the Windows Phone 8 platform AND phablets. While I can’t really say that it’s worth the price, I can definitely say that it’s worth a look, and should you buy it, you won’t be disappointed.
At the start, I’d have thought that I could easily choose the Lumia 1020 over this if I had the cash to buy either. But after using this for a week, I’m no longer sure. I’d be just as happy with this phone. And yes, there’s enough space for this and my Sony Xperia Z Ultra in my pants, and I don’t mind carrying both at the same time. Camera performance isn’t shabby and the larger screen trumps the one in the Lumia 1020.
But, fret not if you think the asking price is too high. As stated earlier, Nokia came out with not one, but two phablets. I’m hoping that we can review the 1320 as well to see how it fares against this beast.