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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  • Crono - Thursday, October 24, 2013 - link

    Once you go Black... you realize that Nokia has done a good job with their software as well as their hardware, and has provided an overall polished experience on their phones and now tablets. Also, you don't go back. :D Reply
  • FwFred - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    Would have loved to see 8.1 x86 rather than RT. Microsoft is already making a good (for RT) tablet. I think a top tier HW maker like Nokia would clean up with a Z3770. Reply
  • Laxaa - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    I'm guessing this was to far into development to switch over to x86. I'm also guessing development started a bit before the MS deal. But a Bay Trail version would have been nice. Reply
  • Visual - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    There will be plenty of Bay Trail options from other brands, while RT is nowhere to be seen. So I'm glad they are adding competition where there was none.
    You call MS's RT good, but it is not good at least in terms of pricing. Even less so in terms of accessory pricing. There needs to be a RT option that is priced below the Bay Trail alternatives. Unfortunately now that Nokia is MS's bitch, I doubt their pricing will differ...
    Reply
  • crispbp04 - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    I have a surface 2 and surface 2 pro on my desk right now. RT has a bright future.

    RT 8.1 provides the most synonymous experience to the existing Lumia line, and it is not subject to the same risks as full windows 8.1

    8.1 bridges the gap and makes RT the perfect device for *most* consumers. Full Office with outlook, fully "managed" with no exposure risk to malware, Performance that is surprisingly great (given that snapdragon 800 will be on par with Tegra 4) and the likely future of a fully portable app ecosystem from tablet=>pc=>console=>phone
    Reply
  • BMNify - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    Very late article and that too a small one from Anandtech whereas the Apple event got slavish coverage with many articles and thorough analysis.

    Had to follow the news about this launch on Engadget and WPcentral which provided good coverage including hands-on videos.
    Reply
  • Deelron - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    Of course the Apple event had more coverage, Anandtech was actually invited to it, they were not invited to the Nokia one (as And noted in the comments of the Apple event). Naturally actually going to an event is going to generate more content before any other outside considerations. Reply
  • BMNify - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    Even without attending the event they could have posted few articles on the products announced like other websites, besides Anandtech has not reviewed Nokia phones in the past eventhough they receive the review samples. The main problem is that the senior smartphone editor of Anandtech that is Brian is a PROUD windows hater.

    Brian constantly mocks windows phone on twitter and podcasts. He did not review the Lumia 920 even after receiving the review sample, the same thing is happening with Lumia 1020 whereas the other devices like iphones and many Android devices get in-depth coverage.

    Brian has himself admitted that he has not used Surface devices and even then he was sent to cover Surface 2 events, why can't Anandtech give objective reviews of the Windows ecosystem? There are other people in the team like Vivek and Ganesh, give them chance to write reviews of the windows phone devices as they seem quite objective in their writing and are not biased enough to constantly mock, trash the third ecosystem and put the review samples to some good use.
    Reply
  • Laxaa - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    I think maybe hater is a strong word, but the Windows coverage has been severely lacking from AT lately.

    I do think Windows Phone has many problems and is behind it's competitors in some areas, but Nokia does many things right when it comes to it's phones. Both directional stereo sound/rich recording and RAW(DNG) support are a big deal to me.
    Reply
  • Doh! - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    I'm sure once Windows phone become a significant player in the market, they will receive the same treatment as the other major competitors. But Windows phone barely has a 3% market share in the industry. Why can't you just read the reviews at sites more dedicated for Windows phones? Reply

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