Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Nokia Lumia 1520


WhistleOut
25 October 2013

Nokia’s recent Lumia 1520 announcement has seen Nokia finally catch up in terms of raw hardware. It’s impressive that its first entry in to the phablet market rivals the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with its powerful Snapdragon 800 processor, 1080p display and large battery.

The question to be asked now is how the two giant devices compare. Will the Lumia 1520 have what it takes to successfully launch the Windows Phone platform in to the phablet market, or is the leading Note 3 too much for this upstart to handle?

Phablety stuff

A bigger screen means that you can do more stuff with your device. Samsung has taken advantage of this with its S-Pen, while Nokia has jammed in an extra column of live tiles to its start menu.

Samsung’s S-Pen has to be experienced to be truly understood. It’s more than just a gimmicky stylus; it’s a well thought out and solid addition to the smartphone. In fact, we’d like to start seeing it on smaller devices like the GS4.

It takes notes; makes taking screenshots, editing them and sending them off super easy; allows you to open a small secondary window for things like Facebook or YouTube; and makes scrapbooking things for later very simple. It’s one of those inventions that you never realised you needed until you get used to it.

The Lumia 1520’s extra row of columns should provide an easier WP8 experience for its users, but Nokia hasn’t done much else with the larger screen size. Granted, the trade-off of space within the handset seems to have been made to enhance the camera, which we think is a pretty good deal.

Lumia 1520 vs Galaxy Note 3 specs comparison

Nokia Lumia 1520
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
OS Windows Phone 8 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
Display size 6 inches 5.7 inches
Resolution 1080p (1080x1920) 1080p (1080x1920)
Dimensions 85.4 x 162.8 x 8.7mm 79.2 x 151.2 x 8.3mm
CPU Quad-core 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 Quad-core 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800
Storage 32GB 32GB / 64GB
MicroSD Yes Yes
Camera 20MP PureView 13MP
Front Camera 1.2MP 2MP
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
USB 2.0 3.0
Battery 3400 mAh 3200 mAh
RAM 2GB 3GB

Camera

The Lumia 1520 is the clear winner in the camera department. Its 20MP PureView camera is based on the 41MP shooter in the Lumia 1020. We found the 1020 to offer an astounding photo experience and the Lumia 1520 should be no different apart from a few less post-capture options and only 2x zoom instead of 3x. It also rocks dual-LED flash, which can be either beneficial or detrimental depending on how it’s handled.

The Note 3’s 13MP shooter is no slouch; but it’ll probably have a tough time keeping up with the 1520’s PureView images. The Note 3 still has one of the best cameras we’ve seen on the market and it will almost definitely rock a much faster shutter speed, as well as quicker autofocus than the Lumia.

Design

The Galaxy Note 3 finds elegance in simplicity. Its straight edges and only slight rounded corners work well with the 8.3mm profile and lightweight build. At just 168g it’s somehow lighter and smaller than its predecessor – the Note 2 – while still sporting a larger screen.

The bezels are incredibly thin, the area under the screen where the buttons are located is tiny and the faux-leather (read: mottle plastic) rear plate is surprisingly comfortable and attractive.

The Lumia 1520 takes a completely different route. It’s brightly coloured, large and quite heavy. The vibrantly coloured Lumia design has been a long-time favourite of ours. It’s fun, different and almost makes up for the generally bulky shape of Nokia’s flagships. Unfortunately not everyone wants a bright yellow phone, and when you throw a white or black coating on a big device its size tends to show. At almost 6mm wider, 11mm taller and .5mm thicker than the Note 3, the Lumia 1520 is definitely not for the small of hand.

Of course, the Lumia has a bigger screen than the Note 3, so device size isn’t a perfect way to compare. That being said, Nokia hasn’t been able to match Samsung’s incredibly thin Note 3 bezels or lightweight design. Weighing in at 209g you’ll definitely feel that phablet’s presence.

Display

The Lumia 1520 will rock a massive 6-inch 1080p display, giving in 368ppi (pixels per inch). It’s an IPS LCD technology panel, running Nokia’s ClearBlack technology. We’re not sure how the colours on the IPS panel will show up, but you can be sure that anything Nokia slaps “ClearBlack” on will have some of the truest blacks on the market.

The Note 3’s 5.7 inch Super AMOLED display is a bit smaller, but still rocks a 1080p display giving it 386ppi. Samsung’s Super AMOLED tech has always offered super-vibrant colours and quite good blacks, but it tends to lend a bluish tinge to whites.

Power

Both the Note 3 and Lumia 1520 rock the same quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor. Nokia puts its CPU cores at 2.2GHz, while Samsung says 2.3GHz. Seeing as the Snapdragon 800 is usually seen as being 2.26GHz we’ll chalk this up to some rough rounding on the part of these two manufacturers.

Where the Note 3 has the advantage is with its 3GB of RAM, compared to the 1520’s 2GB. It’s tempting here to give this section to the Note 3, but it’s important to remember that the Windows Phone ecosystem allows for more efficiency in its devices. The Note 3 is probably still going to get better use of its RAM, but the Lumia 1520 wouldn’t be as far behind as you may think.

Verdict

On paper, we still prefer the Note 3. Android is a fast-evolving ecosystem while Windows 8 has stagnated for a good year now. We also feel like the Note 3 is probably as large as we’d like to go with an every-day phone and the prospect of lugging around the heavy 209g Lumia isn’t too appealing, either.

In the Lumia’s defence it’s powerful, should be incredibly fast and still quite attractive despite its physical size. The 20MP camera might even be enough to change our minds once we get our hands on it for review. We’re also super keen to try out Windows Phone with a three-column layout, rather than the standard two.

Ultimately, the Note is lighter, more compact and offers a unique experience with the S-Pen. It looks like Samsung is still the phablet king, but judging by Nokia’s first entry the Korean giant will have to stay on its toes if it wants to keep it that way.


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