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Digital Life

Nokia Lumia 1520: A better Windows Phone 8 offering

Published on Apr 15, 2014 3:34 AM
Nokia Lumia 1520

Attempts by handset makers to differentiate themselves have brought about innovative features in the newer smartphones, from multitasking (Samsung) to waterproofing (Sony).

Very few brands have focused on the operating system (OS) - the brands are rarely the creators of the OS and the experience tends to be similar across different hardware.

This works in Nokia's favour, as the Windows Phone (WP) 8 platform still exhibits some limitations when compared with the more powerful Android and iOS systems.

This has led Nokia to create niftier hardware and software offerings, which has made the Lumia 1520 the first WP 8 device that I would actually consider using.

The biggest draw here is the 6-inch screen size that allows users to fit more WP 8 tiles onto the main screen. As WP 8's first 6-inch phablet, the 1520 is slightly bigger and bulkier than the 6-inch G Flex from LG, but that is the price to pay for a glorious display.

The second draw is the 20-megapixel camera which proved to be a gem when I took it with me to Disneyland in the United States recently.

Shots in the day were vibrant and colourful, and my photos captured the richness of the theme park and its accompanying characters.

But it was the night shots that won me over, with images that were less grainy under the darkened sky. In low light, the phone managed to capture several detailed shots of my family with Mickey and Minnie Mouse and other Disney mascots.

Unlike the Lumia 1020 with its 41-megapixel lens, there is no unsightly bulge on the back of the 1520.

To complement the high-resolution images, Nokia has several photo apps that help users manage the photos. They include Nokia Storyteller, which turns a library of images into a scrapbook.

Another must-have for travellers is the Here mapping app, which works even when you are offline. Once the maps were preloaded, the phone was instantaneous in determining my location. What makes it work better is that it contains a long list of locations that few offline maps would have.

I could search for restaurants and locations by name, as well as drive to popular stores such as Target, Walmart and CVS with great ease, in Las Vegas or Los Angeles.

One night, I used the app to search for "Korean BBQ" and it showed me several listings which were closest to my location.

With the inclusion of popular apps, such as Instagram, the WP platform is improving. The only question is how long it will take to catch up with the other great hardware and software already on the market.

  • The choice users have to make is whether they can get past some of the rough edges of WP 8. If they can, they might get to some of the great things that Nokia has started to add to its smartphones.

This story was originally published in Digital Life on Jan 29, 2014. 

Background story


Price: $899

Processor: 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800

Display: 6-inch IPS LCD full high-definition 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

Operating system: Windows Phone 8

Camera: 20-megapixel PureView (rear), 1.2 megapixel (front)

Battery: 3,400mAh


Features: 5/5

Design: 3/5

Performance: 4/5

Battery life: 4/5

Overall: 4/5