Nokia has just made its Lumia 1520 official. With a 6-inch display it’s the biggest Windows Phone ever, and its 1080p resolution is a first for Microsoft’s mobile operating system. These changes will usher in a range of high resolution Windows Phone handsets over the coming year, with varying shapes and sizes. Nokia is the first Windows Phone maker with a 6-inch 1080p handset, but it might not be the last if this type of Windows Phone is successful. Here at Nokia World today in Abu Dhabi I finally got a chance to find out what this giant handset means for Windows Phone, how the UI adapts, and just how usable it is as a normal phone alongside its tablet-like capabilities.
At first glance the Lumia 1520 is almost comically huge. If you thought the 4.5-inch display on Nokia’s previous range of Lumia devices was large, then the 1520 dwarves it in comparison. Looking at a Lumia 1020 and 1520 side-by-side is more like comparing a phone to a tablet: it’s that big. Similar to Nokia’s existing Lumia range, the Lumia 1520 includes a polycarbonate body and is colored red, yellow, black, or white. It’s only 0.34 inches thick, but I found it understandably difficult to use it with one hand mainly because it’s 3.36 inches wide and 6.4 inches tall. It feels well balanced though, and it doesn’t feel heavy at 7.37 ounces.
A great looking 1080p display
The most noticeable part of the Lumia 1520 is the display and speed. Colors really pop and the viewing angles are great. On the black model it feels like it just melts into the polycarbonate body that surrounds it. Microsoft’s 1080p support here is the real change. It allows for three columns of Live Tiles on the Start Screen as well as improvements to built-in apps, allowing mail and others to use more of the screen. The changes are effective, but I’d like to see the same improvements on many of the popular third-party Windows Phone apps too. At this sort of display size it’s necessary so that apps don’t appear just stretched out.
Nokia’s Lumia 1520 is powered by Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, the same chip that’s also part of the company’s Lumia 2520 Windows RT tablet. Windows Phone feels super responsive because of it. It’s not noticeable initially, but when you start switching around apps the quad-core power is a lot more noticeable. Windows Phone has never been slow or laggy on devices, but it’s clear the latest processors offer a bump to performance, as you’d expect.
No stylus support for this tablet-like Windows Phone
One thing the Lumia 1520 is missing is stylus support. While Samsung popularized its Note devices with a pen, Nokia opted to keep a slim body for its device rather than accommodate a built-in stylus, but it’s disappointing not to have the option. While this is a mix of tablet and phone, Nokia is recognizing that somewhat with a flip cover for the 1520 that turns into a stand for the phone by rolling up very much like Apple’s iPad Smart Cover. Unlike Apple’s cover, Nokia’s version doesn’t power on the display when you open it. It’s a nice addition to protect the device though.
The final star of the show is Nokia’s 20-megapixel camera on the Lumia 1520. It might not be the same 41-megapixel sensor found on the Lumia 1020, but it provides optical image stabilization and the PureView zoom capabilities in a lower-resolution package. I tried a few test shots and it’s largely what you’d expect a PureView camera to be. The PureView zoom is 2x rather than the 3x on the Lumia 1020, but cropping photos is still impressive. Like the Lumia 1020, it takes a 5-megapixel shareable image and a 16-megapixel version that you can access by attaching the handset into a PC.