Nokia Lumia 1520 versus Nokia Lumia 930

In this post you'll find my translation of the review/comparison I just posted in The Netherlands for my Dutch site Smartpone-Review.nl. It's becoming quite impossible to maintain that site next to what I do here at the PureViewClub, but sometimes it's simply irresistable to write a review there - like when you're the first to get your hands on the Nokia Lumia 930 :-)

People have been asking me to write a Lumia 930 review here at the club as well, so I decided to share the same comparison. It's not as much about the PureView camera as you are used to read here (working on that one) - it's a general comparison of both Lumia smartphones. Here we go, I hope you'll enjoy it :-)

Nokia Lumia 1520 versus Nokia Lumia 930

Although Nokia's smarpthone area has now officially come to an end, we still see new smartphones appearing with the Nokia brand on them. It will take a while before we can expect the first smartphones by Microsoft Mobiles.

This review is about my experience with the two newest high-end smartphones from who we used to call "the Fins": the Nokia Lumia 1520 and the Lumia 930. The last one hasn't been launched officially, although the same device premiered in the US at operator Verizon as Nokia Lumia Icon.

It's quite a fascinating duo, since they look so different and yet have so much in common. The Lumia 1520 appeared a few months ago already and is - apart from its 20MP camera - the most advanced Windows Phone ever produced by Nokia.

Differences: size, weight, display, memory
Due tothe enormous 6 inch display the Nokia Lumia 1520 is also known as a "phablet". and most people who see the device for the first time will say it's "way too big".

That won't be the case with the Nokia Lumia 930. It's still a pretty big screen you're looking at, but we've all got used to its 5 inch size from so many other brands.

But the Lumia 930 isn't a smaller version of the 1520, on the contrary - both have a fundamentally different design. Apart from design there are a few other differences worth mentioning.

Weight. The Lumia 1520 is 209 grams which in fact is surprisingly light considering its size. The Lumia 930 weighs 167 gram and compared to other smartphones with a 5 inch screen, it's even a bit on the heavy side (the Galaxy S4 for instance is 130 grams). I don't mind that by the way - I do like the sturdy feeling that goes with a bit more weight.

Display. The Lumia 1520 has an IPS LCD display, the Lumia 930 has an AMOLED display. Since they offer the same full HD resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels), the pixel density is much higher on the Lumia 930: a whopping 441 PPI (pixels per inch) - that's the same density the Samsung Galaxy S4 offers by the way.

The Lumia 1520 has 367 PPI, which still offers an excellent quality (PPI is higher than the iPhone 5S with 326 PPI for instance). The image is so sharp you absolutely won't be able to see individual pixels.

Another difference in the display: the Lumia 930 doesn't support Nokia's much appreciated Glance technology, "to help you keep track of pertinent information without having to unlock your phone" as Nokia puts it.

That's because of the type of AMOLED screen used by Nokia, that lacks "display memory" ( source). Also, "double tap to wake" appears not to work on the Lumia 930. I'm pretty sure some people will miss those features on the Lumia 930.

You won't see more content in the larger screen of the Nokia Lumia 1520. Both devices show exactly the same content, only in a different size. You will notice a difference in colors though. The AMOLED screen of the Lumia 930 is brighter, white is more white contrast en color rendition is better.

It shows on the shot I included, although that doesn't really do the colors justice: this is specifically to show you get the same amount from a website or application in your screen.

Screenshot Lumia 930 1520With the third generation of Corning Gorilla Glass the Lumia 930's display is supposed to be stronger, but I didn't test that (I'm not the kind of reviewer that will use keys or knives to prove a new smartphone is scratchfree or not, moreover the most effective way to test it is to use sand).

Battery. Since the Lumia 1520 is so much bigger it has enough room for a bigger battery - its capacity is about 40% higher with 3400 mAh versus 2400 mAh. Mind you: a bigger display uses more energy.

Memory. The Lumia 930 has 32GB of internal memory, the Lumia 1520 comes in 16GB and 32GB versions.

Which brings me to the probably most discussed feature of the Lumia 930: it doesn't offer a micro-SD slot, like the Lumia 1520 does (up to 64GB). Why not? I understand diversification is important, but Nokia must have learnt from the Lumia 1020 (and the Icon) a micro-SD slot is something people really want - whether they actually use it or not.

Colors. To conclude - but no less striking: apart from the black and white versions you can get the Lumia 1520 in bright red and matte yellow. The Lumia 930 comes in bright green and a close to blinding, neon kind of orange .

Other than this, you'll get the same specs in a completely different design - and generally speaking, these specs are top of the bill for Windows Phone.

Similiraties: processor, 20MP Camera
The Nokia Lumia 1520 was the first with a Qualcomm MSM8974 Snapdragon 800 processor (Quad-core 2.2 GHz Krait 400) . De Lumia 930 has the exact same processor. It's simply the best way to work with Windows Phone at this moment: very fast and smooth.

Than - of course - the camera, of key importance in high-end Nokia Lumia smartphones. Although the sensor looks smaller from the outside of the Lumia 930, it's the same as the one on the Lumia 1520. My guess is it's because the Lumia 1520 is a bit thinner than the 930 (8.7 versus 9.8 mm), so there's simply not enough space for the sensor. Hence the light hump on the back.

Both offer the same 1/2.5'' sensor with a 20MP resolution - also the pixel size is the same (1.12 µm). Both have OIS (optical image stabilization) and a dual-LED flash (no Xenon flash like on the Lumia 1020).

So what's the difference in daily life? I admit I still have to make quite a few shots with both the 1520 and 930 to compare the results, but seen their camera specifications it's highly unlikely there will be noticeble differences.

In daily use however, the Lumia 1520 isn't the ideal mobile camera. It's both large as pretty thin and quite slippery when you own the black or yellow "matte" version. Chances are you'll drop it while making a shot. Moreover, the camera button on top of the Lumia 1520 isn't easy to control.

The Lumia 930 is easier to hold. It's noticably thicker (9.8 mm) and with its straight edges it simply offers more grip. Also, the camera button is a bit more compact and therefore easier to use.

Since the update of the Nokia Camera application both devices are capable of capturing photos in the Raw .DNG format. That means the device will capture exactly what the sensor sees and you'll be able to work with the result with software like Lightroom or Photoshop.

The Nokia Lumia 1520 was the first with this possibility and up until now Nokia/Microsoft Mobiles is the only producer offering Raw .DNG format on their smartphones.

Below you'll see one shot I recently captured with the Nokia Lumia 930 - click on the shot to see the 5MP version, the high-res resultaat (16MP) is here on Flickr.

Wireless charging, nano sim
Another similarity - and something the Lumia 1020 doesn't offer without the extra cover - is wireless charging. You can put both devices on one of those nifty charging pads to charge the battery.

Also important: both devices work with the nano simcard, the new standard. That means you'll have to get your simcard replaced or simply cut it. I've done the cutting a few times without any trouble, but I can't garantuee it will always work.

It still is a bit of a mystery to me why Nokia even chose the nano format for the huge Lumia 1520. Maybe just to introduce the new standard, maybe to make it easier to #switchtolumia for the many iPhone owners in the US.

Design
Looks like the Lumia 1520 is the last in a series Nokia started with the Lumia 800 and followed with a range of high-end models: the Lumia 900, 920, 1020 and now (finally?) the Lumia 1520.

Characteristic of their design is the rounded polycarbonate casing - you won't find any sharp corners in it. The Lumia 925 might be considered a predecessor of the Lumia 930, with its aluminium sides and plastic (not removable) back cover.

But with the Lumia 930, the sides are straight, not rounded. It's funny to admit it, but I've never seen a Nokia design that reminded me of an iPhone  this much. Maybe this also, is to reach out to the Apple users ready to #switchtolumia.

Which has the "best" design is impossible to say of course. Personally I do like the thin polycarbonate casing and the enormous display from the Lumia 1520, but I love the aluminium sides and cool feel of the Lumia 930 as well.

I do think the Lumia 930 looks more "contemporary" than the 1520. It's quite hard to choose in fact - luckily I don't have to. My guess is many people will simply choose the smaller design.

Tough choice
Since there are so many similiarities in the specifications it's a tough choice anyway - unless the possibility to use a micro-sd slot and/or a stronger battery lets you make up your mind quite easy.

Some will prefer the Lumia 1520's huge display. It makes it so much easier to work with Office applications, and it's great reading content from websites on a 6 inch display - just like watching videos on YouTube, Netflix (or movie trailers like with the brilliant Nokia Trailers app).

To others, it's simply essential their smartphone fits their trouser pocket and it won't come as a surprise the Lumia 1520 is too big for that. I always carry my smartphone(s) in my breast pocket or jacket, so I even bought a (fake) leather cover for the 1520.

Not just because it will fit the inside pocket of my jacket anyway, but also since its size, weight and material make me fear I might drop it one day. The Lumia 930 makes me less afraid of that. It's just simpler and more comfortable to hold (although a good cover simply is a must have with expensive devices like these anyway).

Windows Phone 8.1 (preview)
Microsoft is catching up fast. Personally I can't think of any application still missing on Windows Phone, but no doubt there still are applications on Android or iOS you can't find in the Store. Guess I don't look for any of those I don't use or even know :-)

I've always been very enthusiastic about the applications Nokia brought to the Windows Phone platform, like Nokia Mix Radio and especially Nokia's HERE applications Maps, Drive and Transport. Nokia's HERE division has plans to bring their services to other platforms as well.

Others adore the enormous amount of games you can find in XBOX, but I'm not much of a gamer so there's not much I can write about that (sorry).

I installed the Preview for Developers on both devices to get acquainted with Windows Phone 8.1 that will be roling out quite soon.

In everything I've seen and read about it after the launch, most of the attention went to Cortana, Microsoft's personal assistent. But there are so many more aspects to enjoy.

The pulldown-menu for instance, with shortcuts and notifications (Microsoft calls it Action Center) was on of the first reasons for me to install the developers' Preview.

Also, you can finally choose your own shot as background: you'll see it behind several transparant tiles (check the shot on the right hand).

The possibility to seperately control the volume setings for "ringer and notifications" and for "media and apps" is more then welcome too.

Finally (again) I can "swype" my text input, known as Word Flow on Windows Phone. It works like a charm in several languages and boy, am I happy with that!

Also, the calendar has (finally once more) been dramatically improved and enables me to swype through the different days, weeks and months. Joe Belfiore recently even promised a File Manager for Windows Phone 8.1.

In other words, Windows Phone is maturing fast. It's getting better, more versatile and flexible.  Easier to personalize, more practicle and quite simply put: much easier and more fun to use.

To me, the Windows Phone user interface is more modern, interactive, playful and visually interesting than the other two leading platforms. The question remains whether Microsoft has been (way) too slow in developing Windows Phone, but the synergy with Nokia will speed up things even more, no doubt.

To summarize
Withthe Nokia Lumia 1520 you'll choose for a remarkably complete Windows Phone - a fast device with a large 6 inch quality display and the possibility to expand the memory with 64GB. It probably won't fit your trousers, but thanks to the large battery it will serve you for a long time.

The Nokia Lumia 930 is much more "handy" and "pocketable" with its 5 inch display with a slightly better quality (AMOLED) - but you might miss Nokia's Glance and Double Tap To Wake functionality. It has the same processor speed but its internal memory is limited to 32GB. Cameras of both devices appear to be identical.

Nokia emphasizes the Lumia 1520 is "big in  business", but the Lumia 930 offers all the same Office applications - it's just easier to read them on the Lumia 1520 (especially useful with Excel sheets for instance).

But also if you're not a business man or woman, you'll enjoy using the Lumia 1520. Not just reading web content, also if you like to watch videos or play games you may really consider the Lumia 1520 - although again the Lumia 930 can do exactly the same, be it on a smaller screen.

To put it simple: the Lumia 1520 is epic, de Lumia 930 is cool. The choice is yours.

The suggested retail price for the Lumia 1520 started at €679 in the Netherlands (including taxes), but you can buy one for way less now (€549). The suggested retail price for the Nokia Lumia 930 is still unknown, but my guess is it will start at €599.

For this review I used an official version of the Nokia Lumia 1520.1 and a protoype of the Nokia Lumia 930 which hasn't been launched yet. Pictures in this review have been captured with the Nokia 808 PureView and Nokia Lumia 1020.

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