As expected, with the release of Windows Phone 8 GDR3, OEMs are releasing phones to go with the update. Nokia, the leader in Windows Phone, announced two phablets, a tablet, and some neat new software features coming with GDR3 updates for Nokia phones.

As always, specs.

 

Lumia 1520

Lumia 1320

Lumia 2520

OS

Windows Phone 8 GDR3

Windows Phone 8 GDR3

Windows RT 8.1

SoC

MSM8974, 2.2 GHz

MSM8930AB, 1.7 GHz

MSM8974, 2.2 GHz

Battery

12.92 WHr, 3400 mAh

12.92 WHr, 3400 mAh

30.4 WHr, 8000 mAh

Rear Camera

F/2.4, 20MP

5MP

6.7MP, F/1.9

Front Camera

1.2MP

.3MP

2MP

RAM

2 GB

1GB

2 GB

Display

6” 1080p LCD

6” 720p LCD

10.1” 1080p, LCD, AH-IPS

Storage

32GB internal, microSD

8GB internal, microSD

32GB internal, microSD

Nokia’s answer to phones like the Xperia Z Ultra and Note 3 is the Lumia 1520. The industrial design, as with all Lumia devices, remains an evolution of the Nokia N9. It appears that this time, Nokia went with LCD, likely because Samsung seems to only allow other OEMs to use its n-1 generation panels, and reasons such as reduced power consumption under high APL conditions, higher overall brightness for better outdoor visibility (although reflectance also plays a major role), and fewer idiosyncrasies such as calibration shift over display lifespan. It also seems that the camera is most likely to have 1.1 micron pixels, as a reduction in sensor size would reduce z-height and BOM (Bill Of Materials) to fit within the phone’s monetary and design constraints, and more pixels allows for greater oversampling. The SoC is also the lower 2.2 GHz bin to reduce BOM. Overall though, the 1520 looks to be a solid phone, and should compete well against the phablet competition. However, outside of the camera experience, which should be second only to the Lumia 1020, the rest of the phone is mostly identical when compared against similar, ~6” display, Snapdragon 800 phones.

The Lumia 1320 is a bit different, although very much the same. In order to fit a midrange price, the specs have been drastically reduced. In specs, it’s almost a dead ringer for a Galaxy Mega 6.3, so it seems that this phone is directly targeted at the APAC region (China, India, etc…), as large phones are much more popular, with much greater pricing pressures.

While phones have been the main focus of Nokia, their tablet is especially interesting in its market position. It’s a Windows RT tablet that almost reads exactly like the Surface 2 in core specifications, but with a few key exceptions. The biggest would be the inclusion of Snapdragon 800 (MSM8974) rather than Tegra 4, which is could make up any battery deficit that the Lumia 2520 has compared to Surface 2. MSM8974 also includes the MDM9x25 modem block, so the 2520 supports LTE out of the box.The power keyboard, which seems to be launching with the 2520, is also likely to make it last noticeably longer than the Surface 2. For people that find a burning urge to take photos with a ~10” tablet will undoubtedly find the Lumia 2520 to have a better camera, as the camera module in the 2520 seems to have the same module as the Lumia 720. The Lumia 2520 also has a specific emphasis on outdoor display visibility, something that the Surface 2 is mostly likely to be worse at due to its display being clamped to ~350 nits. Of course, Nokia’s tablet has the traditional Lumia industrial design, while Surface continues the VaporMg chassis design. Which is better is up to personal opinion.

For Nokia’s GDR3 update, codenamed Black, the notable features essentially boil down to improved camera and a new Storyteller application. On the camera side, Smart Camera and Pro Camera are now unified, allowing both manual control and burst shot-based camera features in a single application, along with the zoom and reframe features that have been the focus of Nokia’s Pureview advertising and a new Lytro-esque feature that takes multiple exposures at varying focus distances to allow refocusing in postprocessing. Nokia also introduced RAW image saving in DNG format, so WP8 extends its lead in this department, especially as both Android and iOS are focused upon auto-everything, while WP8 has some of the best aftermarket camera applications that I’ve seen in any reasonably modern smartphone OS. Storyteller is an application that essentially uses the Nokia maps application to display photos and videos in a story format, and leverages the Lumia 1520’s four microphones to deliver positional audio for greater immersion. It may prove to be popular, but for now it appears to mostly be an afterthought compared to other features.

Overall though, it seems that Nokia is extending their lead in their traditional strengths for camera experience and building on their prodigious software library for Windows Phone. The Lumia 2520 seems to take Nokia’s traditional strengths and industrial design into the Windows RT space, which is a bit strange as it could be easily argued that Microsoft’s Surface isn’t nearly as appealing as this tablet, which is effectively the same in design philosophy and price range. It just seems that the reasons to buy or not to buy into the Windows Phone ecosystem remain the same, especially when compared to the Lumia 920, which also had a notably good camera experience but not much else that really pushed it above the rest of the competition to drive Windows Phone sales. The same goes for Windows RT, as arguably, both the 2520 and Surface 2 have the same advantages and caveats as the original Surface.

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  • VengenceIsMineX - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    That argument would carry more weight if it wasn't obvious from other reviews that Brian spends significant time with the Nokia's to evaluate their cameras since that is a personal interest of his but he can't be bothered to follow through on a full review which is very disrespectful to Nokia, that they are providing hardware to someone who has no intention of reviewing it and that information gets used in reviews of other products but they aren't getting equivalent profile. If you have no intention of reviewing products because of personal preference, be upfront with your readers and manufacturers. Reply
  • Wolfpup - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    I love Brian in the podcasts, but yeah, lets see a review. I don't even really know from the podcasts what it is that he's missing from Windows Phone 8 that Android would give him.

    In my case I use iOS for one reason only-better podcast support. Otherwise I'd go with the massively cheaper, but still awesome Nokida Windows Phones. I've gotten Nokia 520s for relatives, and LOVE them. Love the software. No question I'd love these 6" models :-O

    Of the three platforms, Windows Phone has the best Office support, which is somewhat important to me, and seems competent in most everything else. I mean I prefer it no question to Android, and have no issues going back and forth between WP8 and iOS, it's just the worse podcast support everything else has next to iOS/iTunes that keeps me there...
    Reply
  • JoshHo - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    Unfortunately, as Deelron said, no one was on-site to cover Nokia World. Reply
  • JoshHo - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    I make it a point to avoid making lots of small articles if one, larger article will suffice. Makes things easier. :) Reply
  • Sm0kes - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    Anand stated clearly (in the comments section) that they were not invited to Nokia World. As a result, there wasn't the same level of coverage.

    Also, Windows Mobile is a tiny percentage of the overall market. Is anyone surprised this is reflected in their coverage? Calling Brian and Anand "haters" or "biased" is a bit silly.

    For the record, I was life long Nokia user (candy bars through N-series sliders) and the decision to go with Windows made me an iPhone convert. If only they adopted Android......
    Reply
  • Crono - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    Windows Mobile is a tiny percentage, but Windows Phone is an increasing percentage worldwide. Even if the percentage is around 5% globally, that's still an impressive raw number of phones. We're talking about tens of millions of handsets, and that number is only going to increase in the near future.

    Nokia didn't need to be just another Android manufacturer, there are plenty of those already.
    Reply
  • Laxaa - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    Nokia would probably have been burried as a Android manufacturer.

    The decision to go WP only was controversial, sure, but it at least gives Nokia the chance to create something unique. My next phone will probably be either the successor to the Lumia 1020 or the HTC One(HTC Two, perhaps) Bothe the 1020 and the One have hardware that I really want, like great industrial design and the ability to record distortion free audio. The One's camera is not up to par with my tastes yet, and I do HTC goes the iPhone 5s route on the next one, 8Mpix with slightly larger pixels and OiS

    But going back to your original argument, the Windows Phone marketshare is increasing worldwide. Nokia did sell 8 million Lumias last quarter, and while that might not be iPhone numbers, it's over twice the amount compared to the same quarter in 2012. And if the trend continues in 2014, I think it warrants more attention from sites like AT.
    Reply
  • Braumin - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    I think your logic is flawed here. People call them haters because:
    1. Nokia has sent them the last three flagship phones for review
    - None of the phones were ever reviewed and they've been mocked by the main smartphone guy at Anandtech on both the podcasts and twitter
    2. Windows Phone 8 has NEVER even been reviewed on this site
    3. Even Windows 8.1 got a pipeline story about it being a service pack

    Why would Nokia even bother inviting them? First of all, they wouldn't have went, and if they did we'd have gotten nothing out of them.

    Unfortunately everyone has biases but pros need to remove those biases for their jobs.
    Reply
  • superunknown98 - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    I agree. Being a Windows phone user, I would love to read in depth reviews of the hardware and software that is applicable to me from a site I trust more than any other. I also understand that any reviewer will have a personal preference for any product, maybe one they personally use, that they will have more knowledge of and updates will be more relevant to them. But that should never preclude proper coverage of other devices. Reply
  • maximumGPU - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    Add me to the list of windows phone users fed up with the lack of coverage at anandtech. Reply

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