My first impressions of the Nokia Lumia 1520 - size does matter!

Since a few days, I've got a prototype of the new Nokia Lumia 1520, which is not available in Europe yet. Unfortunately, I didn't have as much time as I would have liked to work with it, so it's only now that I can share my first impressions with you. It's a pretty long blogpost, but I won't call it a "review" since I'm using a prototype.

Moreover (believe it or not), I'm not even familiar (yet) with software like Photoshop or Lightroom, so in this post you won't see any results from the raw .DNG files from the Lumia 1520. I've asked Pixel Peter to work on a few shots I sent him, and I hope to be able to share what he thinks of those soon.

In a next post, I'll share a few of my own first comparisons (using its 5MP results). These first impressions are mainly about my experience with the hardware of the Nokia Lumia 1520, but I'm quite sure you'll find some useful information here though :-) And of course, I've added some of the shots I made with it already.

A few surprises
My very first surprise was the fact that - despite its size! - for the Lumia 1520 Nokia found some reason to choose the new "nano" sim card standard. That's quite unpracticle for me, since up until now, I only use the previous standard ("micro" sim).

The only brand I know of using a nano sim card is Apple, and I've been very happy to be able to switch my current sim cards to whatever other brand or smartphone came along. And now this... why? It's not like there can't have been enough space otherwise, and I don't think any iPhone user will be tempted by the size of the Lumia 1520. Oh well, there's a reason for everything I guess.

Working without a sim card, my second surprise was I finally (!) could login with my Microsoft account using WiFi at the first start. This means that even without using a sim card, I could restore my own back-up on the Lumia 1520. Not only will that save you a considerable amount of time, it won't affect your dataplan! That's important if like me, you have almost 2GB of apps in your backup...

Size does matter
The third surprise wasn't a surprise in itself - I already knew the Lumia 1520 would be pretty big. The surprise was the amount of sites putting it down as being WAY too big. Well, I'm not so sure...

First: sure, it's big - but (since I have a Dutch site as well) I ha've been testing quite a few bigger devices already: the Samsung Galaxy Mega, the Huawei Mate and the Sony Xperia Z Ultra certainly are a lot bigger than the Lumia 1520. Those are the real "phablets" - I'm not even sure if I would consider the Lumia 1520 to be a "phablet" in fact.

Its size is somewhere between the Galaxy Note 3 and Xperia Z Ultra, as you will see below. In the first, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is on the left, followed by the Lumia 1520, Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and of course Lumia 1020.

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So yes, it's bigger than the Note 3, which is pushing it to the limits for quite a few people, and as you can see it's a lot bigger than the Lumia 1020. I'll share the same devices from another perspective (both shots were captured with the Nokia 808 PureView by the way).

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Objections
Now I read some objections about the size I'd like to argue with. First: the Lumia 1520 isn't "pocketable". That's true, but I never put my smartphone in my jeans pocket. Never ever. Maybe I'm the big exception here, but that's not the argument that would keep me away from it.

Where do I keep my phone then? Simple, in the inside pocket of my jacket. On holidays I just use a little bag - much smaller than the camera bags I see people carrying their DSLR in by the way :-)

Second argument: you can't use it with one hand. Sure you can't. So what? I know it was Steve Jobs who said you should be able to work with your smartphone with just one hand - but I simply don't agree.

Why shouldn't I be allowed to use my other hand as well? Like I didn't agree with his opinion that the screen size of the iPhone was "just perfect". No disrespect for Steve Jobs by the way - don't get me wrong. I just like larger displays.

I guess it was Samsung showing the way to the bigger screens. I'm not even sure when it started, but I remember the first Galaxy Note being laughed at by many critics (and Samsung crying all the way to the bank since). Now, the first Note even seems kind of small and many other companies are producing "phablets".

Moreover, talking about size, I remember using the Nokia Communicator series from the 9110 up to the E90 and E7, and I just loved their possibilities, where so many people where laughing at me about their size... Like if I would change my mind :-)

And it may be a quite ridiculous comparison, but here you'll see the Nokia Lumia 1520 and one of his very early ancestors, the Nokia 1011 - just to show how our concept of "big" is constantly changing...

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When we only used our cellphone for making phone calls we were thrilled by tiny devices like the Nokia 8210. But functionality changes, so size changes. Yes, size does matter. Big time.

The bigger picture
There are plenty of reasons for bigger screens. It's so much easier for reading online content for one thing - just watch how many people you'll see studying their smartphones close to their eyes. And it's way more fun to enjoy video content on your smartphone with a 6 inch screen. Install an application like VEVO with online videoclips and you'll see what I mean.

Interesting thing though, is that in general, you won't see more from the menu on your Lumia 1520 in comparison with the 1020. In fact, from websites and applications, you'll see exactly the same amount of content on your screen - just bigger: it's magnified. With the screen, also the keyboard has grown - keeping it in landscape, it's actually a lot easier to work on a document for instance.And it's a fantastic solution if you're vision isn't 20/20.

I guess I would have liked to see more web or app content in one screen, but for enjoying (and sharing) shots and videos, the bigger screen is so much more attractive!

Nokia Lumia 1520 - first shot small

Premieres
Talking about "premieres" - above is the first shot I made with the Lumia 1520. On its own screen, it looks fabulous, since the quality of the large Lumia 1520 is absolutely stunning.

I don't think I've ever seen anything like this before. It's a ClearBlack, IPS LCD to be precise. The Lumia 1020's AMOLED screen has a resolution of 1280 x 768, the Lumia 1520 premieres a Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) on a Nokia device.

Also, the Lumia 1520 is incredibly fast - no wonder, with a quadcore Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 with 2.2Ghz. It's the first time Nokia has chosen a fast quadcore processor and although Windows Phone has always struck me as fluent, now it's fluent and damn fast, too.

Yet another premiere on the Lumia 1520 is (finally) a micro-SD slot, which will support up to 64GB. That means you can have about 93GB at your disposal in the Lumia 1520 (the OS taking about 3GB).

And that amount of space is important for yet another premiere: the Nokia Lumia 1520 has the very first smartphone camera that supports raw .DNG ("digital negative") format.

I can't get over what a major step this is in the history of digital imaging. Nokia is leading me to professional photography in a pace I can hardly keep up with even (like I wrote, I still have to learn how to work with a program like Lightroom).

You might already find it interesting though, that the raw .DNG file in 16:9 format is 20.636 kB and in 4:3 format even 23.730 kB. So with the Nokia Lumia 1020 the raw .DNG files will be over 40MB even...

Not a premiere but noteworthy is that the Lumia 1520 has wireless charging incorporated in the hardware - I read that AT&T took out the Qi standard though, so all the nice Nokia accessories you might have bought won't work there (it would frustrate the hell out of me).

While I thought that wireless charging was one of the reasons making the Lumia 920 relatively heavy (185 grams), being so much bigger, the Lumia 1520 doesn't strike me as heavy at all: "only" 209 grams.

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Making pictures
Above, you see a nightshot I captured yesterday evening with the Nokia Lumia 1520 at the old train station in Haarlem. Now what is it like making pictures with this beast? Well, it's something to get used to.

For some reason, the shutter button seems easier to handle on the 1020 - it's like it's a bit thinner on the Lumia 1520. Keep in mind I'm using a prototype though. Framing your shot of course is easy on the Lumia 1520: you'll see what you're doing even better than on the 1020, let alone the 808 PureView.

But: the 1520 is larger and thinner by comparison. All of its edges are rounded (like on the 925), and it's made of the same soft polycarbonate as the 1020. So it's a more "slippery" device. All in all, although bigger, it's not per se easier to hold the Lumia 1520 when you're making photo's with it (or videos).

The anxious "oh my, I hope I won't drop this thing" feeling might even get worse when you're making portrait shots, although that partially depends on how you want to fire te shot - with the dedicated button, or with the on-screen one. It's simply something you'll have to get used to. It won't keep you from making great shots, I'm sure.

Well, that just about sums it up for now I guess. I've got much more shooting and comparing to do of course, although it's still impossible to compare its raw .DNG output with that of the Lumia 1020 - we'll have to wait for the Black update to see what that will bring us.

But there's more than enough left to do. Compare the 5MP shots and the high resolution shots from both. Compare those to output of the Nokia 808 PureView. And I have Lightroom to learn, to work with the raw .DNG output. So I really have to get going. Hope you've enjoyed these first impressions, pease don't hesitate to share what you think below!

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