Nokia Lumia 1520 Preview
The 20-megapixel PureView auto-focus camera on the Lumia 1520 comes with a dual-LED flash (no Xenon here) and protrudes just slightly on the back - not so much as to be in the way, but enough to make it clear to passers-by that it’s a serious cameraphone you’re holding. It indeed is one of Nokia’s strongest camera efforts with a larger than usual 1/2.5” (25mm2) sensor, backside illumination and optical image stabilization. Still, the Nokia Lumia 1020 for instance features a more than twice as large 1/1.5-inch (58mm2) sensor, while the also 20-megapixel Sony Xperia Z1 has slightly larger 1/2.3” (28mm2) sensor.
As the Lumia 1020, you can choose to capture full-res images along with smaller 5-megapixel images for quick social sharing, or just the smaller 5MP version. These are no regular 5-megapixel photos, though. Instead, Nokia combines multiple pixels from the original full-res image to achieve superior single pixel quality in the final 5-megapixel image.
The 1520 ships with the Nokia Pro Cam application that we first saw on the Lumia 1020 and it’s the same neat interface with dials for easy adjustments for white balance, manual focus, ISO, shutter speed and exposure.
It’s worth underlining that the Lumia 1520 is one of very few smartphones to support zooming without hugely destroying the image quality. You can zoom in around 2x without real damage to the image, but you still lose the benefit of oversampling that you get when zoomed out. Nokia has also promised bringing RAW image support for this handset so you can really get serious with your photoediting.
You also have plentiful options for video capture as you can pick between 1080p and 720p and supported framerates of 30, 25 and 24fps. Quite neatly, you can zoom up to 2x times in 1080p video and up to 3x in 720p without losing much in detail. Traditional smartphones in contrast use digital zoom that is highly destructive for the video. Sound recording is superb on the Lumia 1520. The handset features four HAAC (High Amplitude Audio Capture) microphones that are able to record a higher sound amplitude. That should come particularly handy for club and concert goers as recordings there will turn out actually completely usable and much cleaner than on a regular smartphone that at high volumes records almost useless crackling sounds.
The phone also features a 1.2-megapixel camera for video conferencing and selfies.
Media is what phablets are made for and truly shine, and the 6-inch Lumia is just that - a multimedia powerhouse. With great codec support, we were able to play all video we threw at it with ease and the experience watching short clips or even longer movies is great on such a large display. It’s really a shame there is no YouTube application baked in and you need to take a trip to the Windows Phone Marketplace for a decent YouTube client like MetroTube.
There are two music apps on the Lumia 1520 - the Xbox Music + Videos app and Nokia Music. Both do a great job with organizing your music and doing it all in a visually pleasing way with large screen-wide album art, but we like Nokia Music better for its additional functionality. The ability to stream music free and even save online playlists for offline playback is great, and if you want to get rid of the limitations (you can skip only 6 songs in an hour), you can opt for the paid version of the service as well. For music output however we expect a bit more than a single loudspeaker on such a large phone. Still, that’s what you get. We’d abstain from a final judgment about the actual quality, though, as Nokia might improve it in the final unit.
Nokia Lumia 1520 is a shockingly large phone. There’s no going around that. This comes with the plus of a gigantic screen that’s awesome for watching videos, playing games and reading, but also with big compromises. For starters, it’s nearly impossible to use this device with a single hand and it’s just not fitting in all pockets and looks awkward in public. It is not the only hugely oversized device as the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is actually even bigger and the HTC One max matches it in size, but it would nonetheless be a shock for the average consumer.
If you can shake that shock off, you’d probably appreciate the overall performance and the camera, all of which left great initial impressions on us.
Still, right now, the Lumia 1520 looks like a niche product. Something for the gamers and the movie buffs, those on a long daily commute, but not really something that would appeal to a lot of people.
The first Nokia phablet is coming as an AT&T exclusive for $200 on a two-year contract. Both Microsoft and AT&T are trying to push this first of a kind device with freebies. Microsoft gives away a $70 of marketplace credit, a free copy of Halo: Spartan Assault, and a flip cover, while AT&T bundles it with $20 of marketplace credit, 50GB of free cloud storage, and also a copy of Halo.