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Nokia Lumia 1520 hands-on: the weighty new flagship is here

Brad Molen
10.22.13
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Don't act like you didn't know this was coming. Nokia has finally removed the see-through shroud covering its latest high-end device, known as the Lumia 1520, at Nokia World in Abu Dhabi. Thing is, it's not like any Windows Phone you've gazed upon before -- it's a top of the line smartphone with Microsoft's third WP8 update and many of the best specs you can get. Not only is it the first 6-inch 1080p smartphone to run Windows Phone OS, it's also the first that's powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 SoC (a quad-core chipset clocked at 2.2GHz). Nokia aims to sell the flagship for $750 unsubsidized later this year and it comes in four color options: red, white, black and yellow. The first two are glossy, while the latter two come with a matte finish.

If you've used or seen most Lumia devices in the past, the phone's overall design will not come as a surprise; it's dressed in Nokia's traditional unibody polycarbonate, though it looks like a Lumia 920 that got flattened with a mallet. That's not a bad thing, since it's 8.6mm thick (with the exception of the 1520's camera bump, which reminds us of the 925), but thanks to its 85.4mm-wide chassis, you'll need the phone to be as thin as possible to even think of using this as a one-handed device; it's three millimeters wider than the HTC One Max (and six millimeters wider than the Samsung Galaxy Note 3), which means the only reason it's even tolerable to hold with one hand is its thin profile and smooth curved edges. Check out our gallery of hands-on pictures and meet us after the break for more impressions and details.

Gallery: Nokia Lumia 1520 hands-on | 12 Photos

The 1520 comes with a 20MP BSI F/2.4 PureView camera with OIS and Carl Zeiss lens, which numberwise isn't technically quite up to par with the 41MP sensor photography enthusiasts enjoy on the 1020, but we believe it will be more than enough for most power users. The real story with the new Lumia isn't its resolution or detail this time around, however -- it's the software capabilities of the phone. Thankfully, Nokia has combined the Pro and Smart camera lenses, which makes it much easier to switch back and forth between your preferences. There's also something Nokia calls the Refocus Lens, which is a fruit of the company's Scalado acquisition; this lens is like a software-based version of Lytro, which uses "clever algorithms" to let you change the focus of your photo after it's taken. (This lens will debut on the 1520 and eventually make it to older Lumia devices, such as the 900 series.)

It's hard not to like the rest of the 1520's spec sheet: it's capable of Qi wireless charging, has a 3,400mAh battery, 32GB of internal storage, microSD expansion up to 64GB, 2GB of RAM, four mics that simulates surround sound, a 1.2MP front-facing cam and even a dual LED flash to go along with the rear camera. Given the similar plastic matt finish and build quality, the phone feels very much like the Lumia 920 but in a similar shape as the metallic Lumia 925. Like the 1320, this phone is also just as slim for a 6-inch phone, but it's just ever so slightly heavier which is likely due to the built-in wireless charging. As the new flagship device, its top notch 1080p display is well worth the extra money over the lesser 1320.

Richard Lai contributed to this report.

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