Nokia's Lumia 1520 Windows Phablet: Some benefits worth the weight

Nokia's biggest Windows Phone yet, at six inches, offers some benefits for those not put off by a meatier form factor.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

As someone who's been a pretty vocal critic of Nokia's heavy and bulky Windows Phones, I have to admit, I didn't have high hopes for the Lumia 1520 phablet.


I figured a six-inch Nokia phone would likely be a six-pound dead weight in my hand/purse. Nonetheless, the idea of a near-mini-tablet-sized portable Windows device still intrigued me. 

Nokia loaned me a Lumia 1520 Windows Phone late in the day on November 15. I've used the device over the past 48-plus hours. My verdict: Nokia's is finally figuring out how to make their handsets -- even BAPs (big-ass phones) -- easier to hold and use. That's welcome news for this user, who opted for an HTC 8X over any Lumia device because I found Nokia's hardware unwieldy.

The Lumia 1520 has a 1080p full HD display. It includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor and a 20 MP camera. It ships with the Windows Phone 8 operating system with Update 3 and Lumia's "Black" update all preinstalled. Nokia's full spec sheet for the 1520 is here.

Without a cover, the 1520 weighs .45 pounds (206 grams). A Nokia-loaned, protective case didn't add a whole lot of extra weight and made the device more grippable. This isn't a light phone, but, to me, it feels less like a brick than many of the previous Lumia phones I've had a chance to try (including the Lumia 928 on Verizon, which actually weighs less (.36 pounds/162 grams). The half-pound of weight is well distributed.

The extra screen real estate on the 1520 is great when it comes to viewing PowerPoints, reading Kindle books, watching video and browsing the Web. (I haven't used any of my phones in the past for reading books because I felt the smaller screen sizes made page flipping too much of a chore.) Not having to squint to read lengthy emails and/or tweets is a nice side benefit, too, of a 6-inch device with a nice screen.

The camera, as one would expect from Nokia, is really good. Nokia's Pro Camera app is preinstalled and a variety of lenses, including the Refocus one, are available for the device.

Keep  in mind I am a casual photographer who doesn't know or care about things like aperture settings and white balance. I just pointed and shot this picture in low-light conditions (at a sushi bar, infront of a tip jar) with the 1520.

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Another (from a beer tasting this weekend):

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Not bad for a camera that's not 41 MP. Not bad at all.... 

I know the word is that the Lumia 1520 isn't a phone expected to take the U.S. market by storm. It's also supposedly a device, due to its size, that is perceived to appeal more to potentially purse-toting women than men. I say: Man up, guys and get a murse if you don't wear shirts or jeans with a pocket that can accommodate a 6-inch phone.

I think this phone is worth a look -- especially if you are contemplating using it in place of a mini-tablet.

The 1520 goes on sale on Friday, November 22. It will be carried by AT&T for $199 on two-year contract (or $99.99 if you grab it as part of a limited-time special offer deal). It's also available for $449 on a one-year contract.

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