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Yesterday (12 February) in Johannesburg, at its first showcase for the year, Nokia SA revealed four new smartphones now available to South African consumers: the entry level Nokia Asha 500, 502 and 503, and their first smartphone-meets-tablet (‘phablet’), the 6-inch Nokia Lumia 1520.

What’s interesting is that more Nokias are sold in South Africa than any other brand of phone, and this is largely due to the success of the affordable Asha range of smartphones. The cheapest is the Asha 500, which should retail for around R899. The Ashas have had a makeover with an eye-catching frosted casing, but it’s the Lumia 1520 that had everyone talking. We had a chance to get our hands on it for a few minutes.

First impressions

Make no mistake, the Lumia 1520 is big, even when placed alongside other phablet devices such as the Galaxy Note 3. Yet it still feels rather lightweight in your hand, with that trademark sleek casing that Nokia has pioneered in its Lumia range.

You are immediately dazzled by the quality of the 1080p Full HD screen: bright, with rich colours and crisp text, making it ideal for tasks you’d usually do on your tablet, like reading a digital magazine or watching movies. You’ll also notice that there is space for an extra row of live tiles on the homescreen.

What about the PureView camera? At 20-megapixels it is a bit more restrained than the infamous 41-megapixels of its predecessor, the Lumia 1020. But you get the feeling some of the functionality and modes have also been refined in the Nokia Camera app. When we have the 1520 for an extended review period, we are keen to try out the Nokia Storyteller feature which combines your photos, geo-tagging and more to capture and showcase your life events.

The Nokia Lumia 1520 is available in black, yellow and white.

What it means

Nokia’s Lumia business doubled from 2012 to 2013, and you can expect the brand to keep up this momentum, driven by its new relationship with Microsoft. Windows Phone is also currently the fastest-growing mobile operating system in the world. 

Last year Nokia put out its flagship device, the 41MP Lumia 1020, which was a loud and clear announcement to the market that they meant business. 

The new Lumia 1520 is another rock-solid, high-end, exquisitely designed smartphone packed with the best of Lumia’s features. It paves the way for the much-anticipated full-size 10.1-inch Nokia 2520 tablet that launches soon.

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