Under the Radar

Go Really Big With the Lumia 1520 Phone


The Lumia 1520 Windows phone is a monster with a 6" screen and a 20 megapixel camera. It comes in red, yellow, green, black or white and never fails to start a conversation when you pull it out of your bag. It's probably not going to fit into your pocket. As Tiny Elvis would say, that’s a huge phone.

Frequent Delta fliers might recognize the device. The airline just started issuing the 1520 to flight attendants as new Windows mobile devices. I've already seen one of these in action on a cross-country flight this month.

IMG_1048 IMG_1049

The above photos are the Lumia 1520 next to an iPhone 6 Plus. It's gigantic. It feels more like a Nexus 7 table or an iPad mini than it does a phone. It's available from AT&T starting at $199 on contract ($100 less than an iPhone 6 Plus and you can expand storage on the Lumia in the future with an SD card).


So what are the selling points on this? The Windows operating system is beautiful and it's tile display with live updating on some apps is incredibly useful. The new version of the Windows phone software introduced Cortana, Microsoft's answer to Apple's Siri. It's really fantastic at answering natural questions like "What are some good restaurants around here?" or "What's the score in the NLDS?" It's a lot more forgiving than Siri if you don't phrase a question exactly the right way.


Microsoft Lumia 1520 photo taken in San Francisco 


The same location photographed with an iPhone 5s

Microsoft is making a big deal out of its 20MP camera with a Carl Zeiss lens. 20 is a lot more than the 8 megapixels you get from an iPhone but the photo quality isn't as dramatically different as the difference in pixel count might suggest.


Who's this phone for? If you want your phone to double as your personal computer, the Lumia 1520 can replace a laptop for a lot of people. You can pair it with a Bluetooth keyboard and use it for writing with no issues. It's great for browsing the web and fantastic for watching Netflix or Hulu Plus. All the major music services (Spotify, Pandora, Slacker, Beats) have made apps that are as good as the ones they offer on Android or iPhone. You can get Facebook, Yelp, Flixster, Amazon, Audible and the Weather Channel.

On the finance side, USAA and Bank of America have full-functioning apps but you're missing out on American Express, Discover and a lot of banks. You also don't get HBO Go, Comcast Xfinity, DirecTV or most of the network-specific viewing apps you're used to on other platforms.

The Lumia does offer Microsoft's OneDrive in lieu of Dropbox and the phone integrates really well with all of the Microsoft Office apps if you need that sort of thing. Google users are really out of luck. Unlike iPhone, where the search giant provides almost a full suite of apps, the Windows phone doesn't even get an official YouTube app. Bing is an outstanding search engine and the mobile version of Internet Explorer looks great on this device, but you're definitely working in a different ecosystem.

If you're going this route, you probably want to take phone calls via earbuds or a headset. It weighs almost 7.5 oz. and the body measures 6.4" tall x 3.4" wide. There's a built-in FM radio that reminds you just how hard it is to build a good radio. Unless you live in the heart of a major city, you're not going to have much luck with a signal.

Check this phone out in an AT&T store. You'll know right away if this is the device for you. If you're a Windows desktop user and want an all-in-one device to keep up with work, this could be the way to go. If app developers built a few of the missing apps, the Windows phone software makes a compelling alternative to the iPhone or Android. Let's hope they attract enough customers to keep investing in the platform.

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