Introduction

The transition from Symbian to Windows were one of the hard moments for many Nokia fans at that time. But it cannot be denied that the Lumia era was probably one of the better ones Nokia had.  It spearheaded many improvements in the display and imaging department. In fact, the metro UI and the simplicity of Windows phone has influenced the looks and feel of modern devices.

The Lumia 1520 is the only other 10xx series after the Lumia 1020 and the Lumia 1320.  Its monstrous in size, power and endurance. The glossy red caught my attention and at that time it was the most beautiful device on display. In a sea of monochrome devices, Lumia stood out with colorful and vibrant designs with a theme to match on.

In this retro review, let’s re-explore the Lumia 1520, launched in 2013.

The Hardware

One of the signature trademarks of Nokia has to be the fabula design, introduced with the Nokia N9 which in my honest opinion, the most optimal design for a mobile device.  The Lumia 1520 benefited from this, having a slimmer profile with a large display on top.  But Nokia enhanced this simple design and made it more premium. For one, the polycarbonate body isn’t just robust but also underwent treatment that allowed the colors to permeate through each layer. So, even deep scratches will retain the same color underneath. At the right side, the Lumia 1520 has buttons made up of Zirconium, one of the hardest compounds around which retains its glossy metallic look without scratches after all these years. On the left side it has ejectable sim and micro-SD tray. On the top, a 3.5 mm head jack port and on the bottom a micro usb charging port.

On the rear, a 20MP Pureview with OIS with dual LED flash and a front facing 1.2MP camera along with 4 microphones completes the imaging setup.

The 6-inch IPS display at 1080p is a game changing one. Nokia has always been in the fore front of great display quality and has one of the finest outdoor performances, thanks to their proprietary Clear Black Display technology. But with the Lumia 1520, they collaborated with Apical and introduced Assertive display technology in a mobile device. Right up to this moment, all other manufactures resorted to increasing background brightness to boost outdoor readability. This takes a toll to the battery life.  With Assertive display technology, the brightness of the device can be kept low and each individual pixel’s contrast tweaked to give better color and detail reproduction without impacting the battery life. These days, the technology in embedded in almost all mainstream chipsets.

The Assertive Display on the Lumia 1520 is game changer.

When it comes to performance, the SD800 coupled with 2GB of RAM coupled with a well optimized software allowed users to experience buttery smooth transition and interaction. The device also supports wireless charging, Glance screen, Nokia Maps with offline functionality and even Hey Cortana!

The Imaging

The sensor used on the Lumia 1520 while smaller than the 1020, has a good output. This is one device that showcased the depth of Pureview algorithm as you can experience the pre and post processing effects once and image is taken. It allows you to shoot at 5MP with 2X lossless zoom, and even capturing in DNG format. The OIS allows better low light performance and adds stability to video recording.  The SD800 allows the Lumia 1520 to capture in 4K at 30 FPS and the subsequent Windows 10 update adds in digital stabilization. The 4 microphones allow greater noise cancellation and enables Nokia Rich Recording capability. This is the basis of the OZO audio technology that currently is used in many Nokia and non- Nokia branded device.

Here are some samples of the Lumia 1520 camera compared to the Nokia G21. More samples and video performance in the link below.

Nokia G21 12.5MP
Lumia 1520 5MP

Conclusion

The Lumia 1520 is a device that was meant to showcase the beauty and capability of Windows mobile and Pureview technology. It has one fatal flaw though. The 16:9 aspect ratio on a large display was not pocket friendly. It led to stress on the display resulting to phantom touches and other display related issues.

I do hope readers and fans will be delighted with the camera and video comparison with the Nokia G21 as both these devices are endurance champions. The Nokia G21 lacks OIS and has a Quad Bayer 50MP camera with pixel binning technology while the Lumia 1520 has a standard 20 MP RGB sensor capable of ‘pixel binning’ for a 5MP Pureview image with 2X lossless zoom.  But the comparison here is to mainly highlight whether OIS is still relevant with modern technology.

Don’t forget to watch the video here and do stay tuned for the next Retro Review.