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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  • Myrandex - Saturday, October 26, 2013 - link

    Count me in as well. The HTC 8X seemed to be the only real review here and while it wasn't bad, it does seem to be rather sparse compared to other smart phones that were reviewed here.

    Jason Cook
    Reply
  • B3an - Saturday, October 26, 2013 - link

    I also agree we need more Windows/WP related coverage.

    Theres not many sites that do great detailed coverage like Anandtech does, and i think theres also a big user base opening because a lot of people like us want this coverage, but theres few options for us. A shame AT can't do it. Here in the UK, WP now has around 12% market. Hope AT hire someone new for this stuff.
    Reply
  • heron_kusanagi - Saturday, October 26, 2013 - link

    Agreed. I love AT, but I am a Windows Phone user frustrated by the amazing lack of reviews from Anandtech on Windows Phone ever since the L920 launch. If AT can come up with the indepth review of the A7 and give it so much lavish praise, then I am sure that even with the OS, you can write much about the software experience. Reply
  • Booty - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    Add me to the list of those sick of all the iPhone and Android love. There's obviously a bias. If you want to write in-depth reviews of phones in excruciating detail, at least make that the template for all phones you cover. I personally skip most of the crazy detail anyway, but I'd like it to be available if I ever want that level of detail. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    About the same here. I quickly glance at over new hardware features, and check the summary for key improvements in software. But apart from that it's more like "oh good, not another iWhatever" or another "me too 'droid". Reply
  • SeannyB - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    I seem to recall Bryan In a podcast saying that he won't bother reviewing a Windows phone until Microsoft gets serious about their OS. I would like to see an AnandTech review a Windows phone though, even if the whole review just eviscerates the thing. I don't have a good sense of the WP ecosystem etc. as compared to its competitors as of now. Reply
  • Wolfpup - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    I don't understand what he's talking about. He seemed to be refering to updates, but Microsoft's updating at least as fast, probably faster than iOS or Android. And that's not even relevant IMO, given Windows sometimes goes years without updates and still remains IMO the best designed OS on Earth (and certainly is at worst competitive). In other words, frequency of updates doesn't necessarily mean anything, though they ARE getting them frequently. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    Agreed - what matters is the result, not the frequency of updates. Reply
  • VengenceIsMineX - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    I regretfully have to concur with the general sentiment being voiced here. I've been an AnandTech reader since the late 90's so I am disappointed that AnandTech has become too biased to be taken as seriously as it thinks it should. Of course Nokia didn't bother to invite you if you can't be bothered to review their products that they send you, some of which are very innovative and worth of your attention, ie the Lumia 1020. Brian's passed the rubicon of preferring a platform for technical reasons into outright bias and Brian's protests to the contrary are simply drowned out by his large volume of sarcastic barbs thrown at Windows Phone and Microsoft in general leaving an unavoidable perception of bias. Anand isn't much better, since his job consists of email, IM word processing, light photography work and posting to websites, all admirably supported by Apple products, he consistently over rates the importance of these features and underrates other platform features and capabilities.

    While I highly respect Brian's energy and technical ability, he's clearly immature and unprofessional. His utter disinterest in the Surface event was quite apparent. Why on earth was he sent when he clearly isn't interested in the product or the platform? Anandtech's competition all managed hands on time and video reviews of that experience the day of the event, Verge, Engadget, Gizmodo, Tom's etc. Does anyone think Brian was actually trying to get hands on time or was he sitting in his seat messing with whatever phone project he was currently working on? I'd love to see a poll on that. Don't get me wrong, Brian is the best Android & ARM platform reviewer bar none, but he clearly should be focusing on that since his passion for that platform outweighs his professionalism. Intelligence doesn't lead to professionalism, if it did SemiAccurate would be much more worthwhile than it is.

    If this keeps up into 2014, I'll regretfully be dropping Anandtech from my podcasts and weekly must read list because if it's just going to be a more technical spin factory like the Verge, then it no longer merits the lofty place it has had in my sources of information.
    Reply
  • Myrandex - Saturday, October 26, 2013 - link

    Yea long time reader here too, since old Socket 7 chipset motherboard reviews and everything :) Reply

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