Living with a Phablet: My Love Affair with the Nokia 1520


Last week I replaced my beloved Nokia 1020 with the massive 1520 and while I’ll miss the 41 megapixel camera (the 1520 has “only” 20 megapixels) I’m actually loving the massive screen, impressive battery life, and improved cellular range.    Overall though, while this larger form factor does take a little getting used to, my sense is that once you go big you’ll likely never go back and I could actually go a bit bigger now. 


If you were to go back 20 years and look at the first smartphone, the IBM Simon, it was substantially smaller than the other phones that had preceded it and substantially more capable.   Up until smartphones were reintroduced in mass around 5 years after the first IBM effort, the focus was on making tiny phones and thus the first smartphones were relatively small with screens in the 3” range.  They’ve slowly grown over time from 3” to 4” and now, 5” phones are relatively common. Yet some look at 6” phones and find them too large even if they have no issues with 5” phones which were also seen as too large a few short years ago.  I’ll bet most of these folks have wireless phones that are larger at home and do far less and have no issues with them.  

We are social creatures and often need to see others we admire using a new size or design before we accept them ourselves - unless we are the pioneering type or, more rare, we don’t care what anyone else is using (I unfortunately tend to reside in the latter category).   In short, I’ve wanted a bigger phone screen for some time and have carried some impressively large phones in the past.   For instance I was one of the very few people that used the HTC Shift which was thought to be massive (well it kind of was) and it had a 7” screen, weighed a ton for a phone, and had about 4 hours of battery use if you were lucky (I was rarely lucky).   These were called UMPCs and like earlier Windows Tablets the class never really took off.  

What a difference a few years makes.

Nokia 1520

This phone has massive battery life over 20 hours talk time and a massive 768 hours of standby time.   It also has more resolution than an iPhone at 368 ppi and a better camera as well.   In addition, this phone uses the Snapdragon 800 chipset/radio which means it drops fewer calls and connects better to cell towers all over the world.  

Image courtesy of AT&T.

If you belt mount it, which I do, you’ll want to go horizontal because it’ll get in the way vertically.   Version over version there has been a lot of improvement with regard to Bluetooth syncing and it connected flawlessly to my cars.  Out of the US it has built in inductive charging but AT&T wanted a different solution so you’ll need an accessory to get that to work here.   Inductive charging is a god send as you don’t have to find the damn plug anymore and you can just grab the phone and go without first having to unplug it.  This may not sound like much but trust me, at night when you get a late call or come home late and want to charge your phone not having to deal with a cable is amazing.  

While call quality is good,  AT&T is pretty saturated here in Silicon Valley, I’m going through T-Mobile withdrawals at the moment because that service actually worked better here.  

Where the phone really shines is with games, internet browsing, and email all of which are far better on a larger screen.   I’m getting a pretty big kick out of giving my wife grief about her iPhone which has more apps but is far harder to see and use for many things because of its comparatively small screen.  

One major aspect of all Windows phones that is working again now is the one button picture feature.   For some reason this got disabled a year or so ago and with the latest software patch it is working again.  You can now, by hitting the dedicated camera button, bring up the camera quickly without having to unlock the phone first and take pictures.  This could be a good thing if you wanted to take a picture fast or, in my own case, capture someone who was attacking you (long story).   This, I think, is the Windows Phone’s killer feature. 

Wrapping Up:  Bigger is Better

That big, old HTC Shift, which cost more than most laptops, was really too big and heavy but it did things no phone of its time could do.   The Nokia 1520 does much of what the HTC Shift did, it is a fraction of the price, has over 5x the battery life, and has an even better screen.   It’s amazing how far big phones have come.   You should check the 1520 out – I think you’ll find that whichever big phone you get, once you go big you’ll likely never go back.   

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group

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