Nokia Preps Lumia 1520, Windows Phone Posts Gains

Nokia's Lumia 1520 smartphone, which hits stores November 15, should help boost Windows Phone's market share.
8 Phablets To Watch
8 Phablets To Watch
(click image for larger view)
Windows Phone made gains against competing platforms during the third quarter of the year, but it is still far behind the industry leaders. Microsoft may see a bump in Windows Phone adoption during the fourth quarter, however, thanks to the Nokia Lumia 1520, which goes on sale November 15 for $200 with a new contract from AT&T.

The 1520 is the first Windows Phone "phablet" to reach the market. It features a 6-inch full HD display, the largest and most pixel-rich of any Windows Phone. It has enhanced outdoor viewability, Gorilla Glass 2, and can be used with gloves on. The larger screen is able to take full advantage of the new Windows Phone 8.1 operating system, which adds support for a third row of Live Tiles. This means users can stuff more content onto their home screen. The 1520 has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor under the hood, as well as 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage.

Nokia has been attempting to make a name for itself with respect to camera performance, and the 1520 is another step forward in that pursuit. The camera rates 20.1 megapixels and uses Zeiss optics. It offers lossless zoom and optical image stabilization and can capture wide-angle shots. Nokia has customized the software even more than the hardware: The 1520 will support RAW images and has a new camera app that combines the best features of its standard camera app with Nokia Camera Pro.

[ Is Windows Phone poised to gain market share? Read Nokia Smartphone Sales Improve, But Samsung Leads. ]

The phone is available for preorder directly from Microsoft's Web store. Customers who don't mind signing a new contract with AT&T can score the 1520 for $200, but Microsoft priced the device at just $549 without a contract. That's $200 less than Nokia first indicated the 1520 might cost. The 1520 comes in red, yellow, white, and black.

It's a compelling device because it breaks new ground for Windows Phone in terms of screen size. Before the 1520, the largest Windows Phone screen was just 4.8 inches, and no Windows Phone screen had full 1920 x 1080p resolution. Android smartphones have long broken the 5- and 6-inch barriers and have offered full HD resolution for about a year. If users were waiting to adopt Windows Phone because of the smaller, lower-res screens, well, they no longer have an excuse.

Windows Phone still has a long way to go. Windows Phone users make up just 3.3% of smartphone users in the U.S. That's up by 0.2 percentage points compared to the second quarter. BlackBerry users still outnumber Windows Phone users in the U.S., though. BlackBerry's handsets were used by 4.4% of smartphone owners during the second quarter, but that dropped to 3.8% during the third quarter.

Momentum has been building slowly, and Nokia has churned out a number of capable devices during the last few months. Perhaps the Lumia 1520 can give Windows Phone the sales oomph it needs to make gains against Android and iOS.

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing