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November 7, 2013

Preorders begin for the $199 Nokia Lumia 1520 on AT&T; Phones arrive Nov. 22

Giant. Monster. Mammoth. Colossus. Reviewers have called Nokia’s new 6-inch Windows Phone lots of things in the weeks since its unveiling—including one of the best big smartphones you can buy.

Now you can. AT&T and the Microsoft Store just started taking preorders for the Lumia 1520 with Windows Phone 8. The device, which was first unveiled last month, costs $199.99 with a two-year contract and comes in four colors: matte black, matte yellow, matte white, and glossy red. It will be available exclusively on AT&T’s 4G LTE network starting Nov. 22.

For a limited time, the companies are also sweetening the deal:

  • AT&T is offering a $20 app voucher, a free copy of Halo: Spartan Assault, and 50 GB of free cloud storage on AT&T Locker to customers who buy and activate the phone (the fine print).
  • The Microsoft Store, meanwhile, is enticing buyers with $70 worth of app vouchers and free copy of Halo: Spartan Assault. Preorder customers also get a flip cover worth $40 (the fine print).

And speaking of apps, don’t forget Instagram, Vine, Flipboard, Mint, and many more are also on the way. To order the Lumia 1520, visit the AT&T or Microsoft Store website. (Not in the U.S.? The phone is also later headed to Hong Kong, Singapore, China, U.K., France, Germany, Finland, and other markets.)

Passing the pocket test

The Lumia 1520 represents a bunch of firsts for both Nokia and Microsoft. It’s our first “phablet”-sized smartphone; the first to ship with a new three-column Start screen and latest version of Windows Phone 8; the first powered by a speedy quad-core processor; and the first to sport a full 1080p high-definition screen.

But let’s start with the obvious: its size.

The Lumia 1520 is big by design. But Nokia designers worked hard to make sure the phone is still comfortable to use and passes the all-important pocket test—something most reviewers agree the 1/3-inch thick, 7.3 ounce phone does.

“The first thing you notice when laying eyes and hands on the 1520 colossus is that it’s a lot lighter, slimmer, and sexier” than many similar-sized Android smartphones, CNET’s Jessica Dolcourt wrote after her recent test drive.

The Lumia 1520 sports the largest screen on any Windows Phone—a 6-inch, 1920 x 1080 high-def display that also incorporates Nokia’s ClearBlack technology. “Colors really pop and the viewing angles are great,” The Verge’s Tom Warren found. Matthew Sparkes of The Telegraph, who tried it after Nokia’s recent UAE press event, agrees: “The six-inch screen is extremely bright and was readable even in the glare of the bright Abu Dhabi sun.”

The expansive HD screen also serves as a bigger canvas for taking, editing, and showing off pictures and videos—not to mention watching them. (I can’t wait to stream Netflix on this baby!) The plus-sized screen also makes the Lumia 1520 a great option for the office; just think of all that extra Excel data visible at a glance.

And as you’d expect, Nokia has paid a lot of attention to imaging. So the phone includes a 20 megapixel PureView camera that leverages many of the innovations found in the award-winning Lumia 1020—including optical image stabilization, oversampling technology to capture more detail, and lossless digital zoom. Four built-in microphones provide directional stereo recording capability and distortion-free audio on your movies. The Lumia 1520 has 16 GB of onboard storage, and supports microSD cards up to 64 GB. AT&T said today it was also planning to offer an expanded-memory Lumia 1520 with 32 GB of internal memory in the near future.

The software story

Early reviewers agree the Lumia 1520 offers, as Engadget put it, “many of the best specs you can get” on a big smartphone (see the full list). But they were also impressed by the software. Specifically I mean the Windows Phone operating system and Nokia’s new and improved photography apps.

Thanks to a new Windows Phone software update (full details), the 1520’s big HD display supports a jumbo-sized Start screen with three columns—room for as many as six small Live Tiles across.

“The large screen makes a big difference to the way Windows works,” found The Telegraph’s Sparkes. “A third column of Live Tiles provides so much more space for apps that you need less scrolling to find what you’re after,”

The Lumia 1520 also debuts alongside an impressive roster of new Nokia photo apps. The new Nokia Camera, for example, combines two of Nokia’s most powerful and popular stand-alone apps—Nokia Pro Camera and Nokia Smart Camera—and makes it easier to switch between camera modes and preview setting changes in real-time. For me, the other big highlight is Nokia Storyteller, which integrates your pictures with location info, then plots them on a map. But this short summary barely does it justice. You have to see it to appreciate how cool it is.

So who’s ordering this bad boy?