Today, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 phablet stands as the world’s most popular phablet, that is a smartphone with the same screen size as a tablet. That being said, future successes aren’t guaranteed, and new rumors indicate Microsoft is preparing to launch the Lumia 1525, an updated version of the Lumia 1520 that it launched late last year to take on the Galaxy Note 3 and more.
News of the Lumia 1525 Windows Phone began circulating this past weekend when notoriously accurate leaker @Evleaks shared information about the rumored upcoming headset from Microsoft. If the publication’s description of the handset is correct than the Lumia 1525 will look familiar to anyone who’s using a Lumia 1520 today — reportedly, the two could look almost identical.
The difference will be in the details as the slightly updated name suggests. Today, the Lumia 1520 is only available to AT&T subscribers. That means that users of the United State’s other three-largest carriers can’t choose it over the Galaxy Note 3. Reportedly, the Lumia 1525 will be available on AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, finally giving users a Windows Phone option if they’re in the market for a phablet.
The other key deference is that the Lumia 1525 will include a more recent Snapdragon 801 processor, giving users a bit more horse power to play apps and games. The beefier processor might not do much to speed up Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft’s latest mobile operating system. However, it would put the Lumia 1525 in a position to compete with the Galaxy Note 3 on hardware alone. Today, it only includes the Snapdragon 800 processor. Windows Phone 8.1 is the operating system that adds some much-needed functionality to the Windows Phone experience. For example, it adds Cortana, the voice and text assistant that Microsoft included in developer versions of the operating system earlier this year.
How effective a Lumia 1525 with upgraded processor and wider availability will be at competing against one of the world’s most popular large-screened smartphones remains unclear. So far, unreliable rumors and speculation have pegged the Lumia 1525 for a release later this summer or early in the fall. If that’s true than Microsoft won’t have to worry about competing against the Galaxy Note 3. Sometime later this year Samsung is expected to announce the Galaxy Note 4. Information on that handset is hard to come by, but it’s hard not to imagine that the Galaxy Note 4 wouldn’t also include the Snapdragon 801 processor when it launches later this year too. If so, that’d neuter the Lumia 1525’s hardware advantage.
Creating a smartphone that can successfully compete with the Galaxy Note 3 is key because Windows Phone 8 has had a difficult time getting traction with users looking for a high-end smartphone. Microsoft and hardware partner Nokia have moved millions of low-end Windows Phones like the Lumia 520. In markets like the United States, high-end smartphones rank supreme, and they’re the devices that get all the attention from wireless carriers and accessory makers. Despite early signs that users didn’t want them, American buyers in particular have shown an appreciation for phablets. Mostly, because they can be used as a tablet for reading books and watching movies, but are small enough to still be portable. Bringing a big-screen experience to Windows Phone is key if Microsoft hopes to battle Google’s Android operating system for users. Today, Android is the only operating system hardware makers use if they want to create a smartphone with a screen size that’s around 6-inches, Windows Phone notwithstanding.
Of course, there’s still the Lumia 1520 for those who can’t wait for this new Windows Phone phablet to launch. Today, the Lumia 1520 with 16GB of on-board storage costs AT&T users $199 with a two-year contract. There’s also a second version that includes 32GB of on-board storage for $299. A used Lumia 1520 with 16GB of on-board storage is also available for free with a two-year contract. There’s still no word on when a Windows Phone might arrive to compete with the Galaxy Note 3 on Sprint.