Lumia 1520: Is That a Phablet in Your Pocket, Or ...

Lumia 1520: Is That a Phablet in Your Pocket, Or ...

It really is the Humvee of smart phones

It's been interesting to watch the reactions that the Nokia Lumia 1520 gets out in the world. Universally, people find its immense size quite humorous, and many have questioned the usability of such a massive phone. It's a good question. While I've long wondered about, and hoped for, a Windows Phone-based tablet, the Lumia 1520 pushes a lot of boundaries. And I'm not quite sure what to think about the size.

I've established that I have gorilla hands, so one might assume that the bigger the better when it comes to smart phones. Certainly, I've often derided the tiny size of Apple's iPhones, and while the purposefully clueless have tried to make my quip about the size of these devices—"perfect for women and children"—sound misogynistic, it is of course nothing of the sort. iPhones are small, and their screens are like postage stamps compared to many other popular smart phones.

Coincidentally, I observed something about iPhones owners on the MBTA subway system in Boston over the week: They tend to hold their devices much closer to their faces than do users of larger-screened Android phones. So it wouldn't surprise me if Apple finally delivered a truly larger iPhone—an extra row of icons does not count, sorry—next year.

Three devices: Apple iPhone 5S, Nokia Lumia 1520, Google Nexus 7

But enough about the iPhone. With my oven mitt-sized hands, I've generally preferred larger phones overall, though I did think that some devices, like the Lumia 920, which adds bulk to its size, were a bit much. No more: The Lumia 1520 makes the 920, and other similarly-sized devices like the Lumia 1020, look like welterweights by comparison. Because now, suddenly, they are.

But I don't know about the Lumia 1520 as a daily driver.

Certainly, the large screen is awesome for some things, such as video playback—which will be more meaningful when Xbox Video shows up. (Soon, people, soon.) For now, you can copy your own videos to the device, though I suspect few have the massive video libraries I do. For testing, I copied over some massive 1080p HD Blu-Ray rips as well as the more common standard definition DVD rips. And both look amazing on the device, as expected.

HD movie: "Paris"

SD movie: "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith"

Likewise, reading on the device is superb, and many could give up dedicated e-book readers or larger tablets for this purpose. The Kindle app isn't optimized for 1080p, I don't think, but it renders text clearly and at large sizes it's particularly crisp. This is a wonderful device for those with vision problems.

Likewise, apps with great presentations look even better on the big screen. Bing News is a great example, but any news or RSS aggregator app should benefit from this screen.

And dare I mention video games? For all the complaints about the Windows Phone ecosystem, the one place in which this platform actually performs quite well is games. No surprise here, but the 1520 is an ideal size for video games.

(That said, you can really feel the device heat up while you're gaming. The area near the camera in the back does get very warm.)

Of course, these entertainment-related options are sort of besides the point. When I think about a daily driver phone, I think productivity apps—email and calendar, for example—and those, too, work quite well. But with the 1520, a new wrinkle emerges, one that was never really an issue, even with those phones (like the 920) that I previously found to be large and heavy.

This is one gigantic phone.

In her own non-reviewer's review, Mary Jo Foley noted that while the Lumia 1520 is ostensibly designed only for purse-toting women, that shouldn't turn off the men in the audience. "I say: Man up, guys and get a murse if you don't wear shirts or jeans with a pocket that can accommodate a 6-inch phone."

Hm. I'm not sure about carrying around another thing just so I can carry around this thing, but the point is fair: If you really are taken by the size and capabilities of the Lumia 1520, maybe a small bag or whatever is required. Or painter pants. Or something.

I will say this: While the 1520 does barely fit—and I mean barely—in the pocket of the Carhartt shirts I typically wear, I would never cart it around that way since it would just stretch out the pocket. And while it certainly "fits" in the front pocket of my jeans, it's very uncomfortable. I have a hard time getting out of my car when the phone is in there, and it often catches on the door opening as I exit.

Did I mention this was a gigantic phone?

Ultimately, the humongous size of this device is what will ultimately need to be the deciding factor for me. The rest of it is aligning as expected, and in testing, the camera is much better than I had expected, as noted in Lumia 1520: Camera Comparison. I just don't know if I can surmount the massive size of this thing. I think it may simply be too big.

More soon. 

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