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nokia lumia 1520 review 1

It’s Nokia’s swansong before it becomes part of Microsoft, but is the huge 6-inch Lumia 1520 a fitting tribute to the former giant of the mobile world? Or just a big letdown?

First impressions and design

Let’s get this out of the way straightaway – this phone is huge. At 6 inches across, it’s the biggest blower Nokia has ever made. And the largest ever Windows Phone handset as well.

It makes the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 look manageable by comparison.

While some people will love the larger size, others will find it unwieldy. You can use it in one hand, but it’s not exactly easy to do so.

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So if you’re thinking about buying it, it’s worth trying it for yourself before you sign up to a lengthy contract.

Like Nokia’s other Lumia handsets, it comes with a brightly-coloured back – in this case, yellow. It’s really distinctive, and helps it stand out from all the muted handsets out there.

Build quality is great; the phone feels sturdy in your hand and it’s solid enough to withstand a few knocks.

While it may be huge it’s still very slim, which means it’s not that noticeable when it’s in your pocket.

Software

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The Lumia 1520 runs the Windows Phone 8 operating system, so if you’ve recently used one of Nokia’s previous Lumias you’ll know what to expect.

There is one difference, though. The larger display lets you fit an extra column of icons on the home screen, so you can cram on more apps.

Windows Phone still doesn’t have anywhere near as many apps as iOS or Android, which is a shame.

Some big names are still missing, too. There’s no Gmail or Citymapper, and it’s only just added Flipboard, Vine and Instagram.

It’s getting better, but Windows Phone still isn’t the place to get new apps first.

Perhaps in a bid to make up for this, Nokia has preloaded some of its own apps.

Nokia Here Drive is a very good satnav – especially using the 1520’s big screen – while Nokia Storyteller groups your photos based on when and where they were taken.

They’re fun, but no replacement for a properly-stocked third-party app store.

Features

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As you’d expect from a big blower, the 1520 is a bit of a powerhouse. The screen is full HD and looks fantastic.

Inside is a monster 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor and it’s 4G for speedy browsing and downloading on the go.

As we’ve come to expect from Nokia’s smarties, this handset is no slouch in the camera department, either.

On the back is a 20-megapixel snapper and Nokia’s own imaging apps come as standard.

So, all sounds good on paper. But how does it stack up?

Usability

Like all handsets of this ilk, the 1520’s size is its biggest strength and its biggest weakness.

Movies and photos look fantastic on the huge screen, but it will just be too big for most people.

Unlike the Galaxy Note 3, there’s no stylus. That means you have to use it one-handed, which is a bit unwieldy.

The camera is very good, though the results weren’t quite as stunning the 41-megapixel effort on the Nokia Lumia 1020.

Windows Phone 8 remains an acquired taste, though.

It looks fantastic, with live tiles giving you info without having to open the app, and it’s playful too, with icons dropping into place.

But it’s not quite as user-friendly as iOS or Android.

And while the app store is getting better, it remains a poor fourth choice behind Google Play, Apple’s App Store and BlackBerry World.

Verdict

The Lumia 1520 is a great smartphone, with plenty of power and a fantastic screen.

If you like a bigger handset, and don’t mind Windows Phone 8’s shortcomings, add at least another point to the score.

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