Nokia Lumia 1520 assessment: the most effective Home windows Telephone system but

Nokia Lumia 1520 review: the best Windows Phone device yet

Home windows Telephone has by no means seemed this good. The newest replace to Microsoft’s cellular working system, often known as Replace three, added help for 1080p shows, giant smartphone screens and state-of-the-artwork processors. And now, these options are lastly displaying up on precise hardware. The primary system to tick off all these bins is the Nokia Lumia 1520, a 6-inch flagship with all the trimmings we have been ready to see on a Home windows Telephone gadget for 3 years now.

As a result of excessive-finish Home windows Telephones have been restricted to no matter specs Microsoft formally helps, we have felt that Nokia’s flagships did not differ sufficient in specs from the bottom-finish Lumias to justify the big worth distinction. A minimum of, they did not till now. The Lumia 1520 is the primary prime-of-the-line Home windows Telephone gadget that brings the absolute best elements. So, what’s WP8 like on hardware that is not behind the occasions? Let’s discover out.

Gallery | seventy three Pictures
Nokia Lumia 1520

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Nokia

Lumia 1520

Execs

  • Vibrant show
  • Prime-of-the-line hardware
  • Nice imaging expertise
  • Strong construct high quality

Cons

  • Might be uncomfortable to carry
  • 6-inch show could also be too massive for some

Abstract

The Lumia 1520 presents a Home windows Telephone expertise in contrast to any we have seen earlier than. With its prime-notch hardware, incredible imaging and continually enhancing firmware, that is by far our favourite WP8 system.

Hardware

The design language of the Nokia Lumia collection has modified little because the introduction of the primary gadget, the Lumia 800, greater than two years in the past. The 1520 has the identical sort of construct as most different Lumia flagships (one exception being the 925), which is to say it is customary out of unibody polycarbonate plastic. Identical to lots of its predecessors, it is an extremely strong gadget, and that is much more essential with the 1520 than with earlier fashions.

Why? As a result of it is a 6-inch beast of a telephone, and in the event you’re not cautious, you may drop it. At 162.eight x eighty five.four x eight.7mm, it is thinner than the 5.9-inch HTC One Max, which makes the 1520 a bit extra snug to carry. Nonetheless, it is wider, taller and a hair thicker than the 5.7-inch Galaxy Word three — to not point out heavier, at 7.27 ounces (206g). Because of the 1520’s skinny, curved sides, you will get an honest grip on the telephone just by wrapping your fingers across the gadget, however this has an unlucky aspect impact. Whereas the Lumia 1020 has rounded edges, the 1520’s sides are sharper, making it troublesome for the information of your fingers to truly relaxation comfortably on them. That is particularly troublesome once you’re making an attempt to take footage with the 1520 and you are feeling like you don’t have anything to grip once you need a extra secure shot.

Nokia Lumia 1520 review: the best Windows Phone device yet

Our evaluation unit was a white AT&T mannequin, however you can too get it in black, yellow or purple. Except the shiny purple model, the Lumia 1520 sports activities a matte end fairly just like the white Nexus 5. It is clean on the again and sides and does not contain any particular materials or texture. Once more, that is nothing new for Nokia’s Lumia telephones, nevertheless it feels a bit extra slippery right here as a result of it is much less snug to carry.

Looking behind the telephone, you will see the 20-megapixel rear digital camera atop a hump that appears exactly just like the one on the Lumia 925. Above that may be a twin-LED flash module and a number of mics. A speaker grille and three silver pogo pins are on the underside of the again, the latter of which can come in useful for the non-compulsory wi-fi charging cowl that you’ll purchase individually.

Nokia Lumia 1520 review: the best Windows Phone device yet

Earlier than shifting on, let’s double again to at least one specific hardware function that hasn’t acquired a lot consideration: the a number of mics situated simply above the digital camera on the again of the 1520. Nokia’s included 4 microphones for directional stereo recordings. The thought right here is to do a greater job of capturing sound coming from objects in entrance of your digital camera — individuals, pets, maybe a band at a live performance — whereas rejecting noises picked up from different instructions. We’ll talk about extra about the way it fares within the part on video efficiency.

On the left aspect, you will discover a microSD reader, supporting playing cards as much as 64GB, in addition to a nano-SIM slot (this SIM is identical measurement because the Moto X and iPhone 5/5s, so it is smaller than the usual). To the correct is the Lumia-commonplace trio of quantity, energy and two-stage digital camera shutter buttons, all of that are troublesome to press as a result of they’re almost flush with the telephone’s physique. There’s additionally a three.5mm headphone jack on prime and a micro-USB port on the underside.

Nokia Lumia 1520 review: the best Windows Phone device yet

Now, onto the entrance. The standard suite of capacitive Home windows Telephone navigation keys strains the underside, whereas an earpiece, entrance-dealing with digital camera and service emblem (AT&T on this case) sit up prime. From a distance, the glass seems to be draped over the show in order that there is no interruption between it and the remainder of the telephone’s physique, however upon nearer inspection you will see that there is a small hole between the glass and the polycarbonate.

The hole itself is not such an enormous deal, however one thing else concerning the glass gave us pause: It is fitted with Gorilla Glass 2, the model of Corning’s scratch-resistant glass that got here out final yr. The Lumia 1020, then again, makes use of Gorilla Glass three, which does a significantly higher job defending the display. Whereas this would possibly not be a dealbreaker for many, we have already observed numerous scratches on the corners and edges of the display, and that is after just some days of use. Principally, because of this you will need to keep away from placing the gadget in your pocket or purse alongside pointy gadgets.

On the time of this writing, the Lumia 1520 has solely been introduced on one US service, nevertheless it’s extensively out there in different elements of the world. There are three totally different mannequin numbers, every providing compatibility with totally different networks. Every variant has quad-band GSM/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900) and no less than 4 HSPA+ bands (850/900/1900/2100), however AT&T’s mannequin (the RM-938) comes with a fifth band for AWS, technically making it suitable with T-Cellular’s HSPA+ community. Solely two of the fashions include LTE: the RM-937, which options compatibility with 5 bands (800/900/1800/2100/2600), and the RM-938, which provides help for a special set of 5 bands (2, four, 5, 7, 17). These primarily serve AT&T and T-Cellular within the US. (Replace: We did not clearly state one other pair of variations on the AT&T model versus the worldwide models. The AT&T choice solely comes with 16GB inner storage and wi-fi charging requires an optionally available cowl, whereas the worldwide fashions are 32GB and have the potential constructed-in.)

Show

Nokia Lumia 1520 review: the best Windows Phone device yet

Excessive-decision smartphone shows come a dime a dozen, however that is unchartered territory for Home windows Telephone units. Nokia’s current flagships have featured lovely ClearBlack screens, so we have been excited to see that the Lumia 1520 brings an identical panel, only one with extra pixels. The Lumia 1520 sports activities a 6-inch ClearBlack IPS LCD display with a decision of 1,920 x 1,080, which suggests you are taking a look at a pixel density of 368 pixels per inch. The 1520 nonetheless is not fairly as pixel-dense because the Galaxy Word three, which presents the identical decision in a display that is zero.three inch smaller, however let’s give attention to the precise high quality somewhat than minuscule variations in pixel density.

To chop straight to the purpose, we love the 1520’s show. It presents vibrant colours for an LCD and has brighter whites than the AMOLED panel on the Samsung Galaxy Observe three, though its darker shades aren’t fairly as deep. The viewing angles are higher than on virtually each different telephone. In truth, even when we weren’t impressed by anything on the show, we might nonetheless rave about how straightforward it’s to prepared in direct daylight.

Nonetheless, what in case your eyes have utterly totally different shade preferences from ours? Maybe you are a fan of hotter shows and maintain colder ones in full disdain, or perhaps you merely cannot stand colours so saturated that they appear cartoony. It is instances like these the place the excessive-finish Lumias include a aggressive benefit: You’ll be able to truly modify the colour profile your self by altering each the temperature and saturation. Because it occurs, we not often felt the necessity to make any changes, nevertheless it’s value noting there aren’t many smartphones providing this feature. As an apart, the 1520’s capacitive touchscreen can also be delicate sufficient that you need to use it with gloves on, however this has been included on the previous few Lumias and is nothing new with the 1520.

Software program

With every new era of Home windows Telephone, the OS turns into increasingly engaging. An growing variety of main builders at the moment are beginning to give WP8 a better look, and consequently, the ecosystem is beginning to really feel extra mature. Corporations that have been as soon as hesitant to pour assets into Microsoft’s OS at the moment are leaping on board: Pandora, Instagram, Vine, Path, Tumblr and lots of different heavy hitters now both have apps within the Home windows Telephone Retailer or have no less than dedicated to releasing one thing within the close to future.

Along with providing help for 1080p shows, bigger smartphone screens and Snapdragon 800 chipsets, the third replace to Home windows Telephone eight got here with a couple of software program enhancements as properly. Included within the listing of latest options is Driving Mode, which retains distractions to a minimal when you’re on the street. The replace additionally brings the power to lock display orientation, in addition to assign ringtones to textual content messages and different notifications. It’s also possible to faucet on an open app within the app switcher to eliminate packages operating within the background.

As a means of doing its half to develop the Home windows Telephone ecosystem, Nokia bundles collectively its personal software program and firmware updates alongside Microsoft’s after which rolls them out to a number of Lumia fashions. (Nokia’s Amber replace, as an example, was first seen on the Lumia 1020 earlier this summer time and rolled out to different Lumias afterward.) The newest package deal, which comes pre-put in on the Lumia 1520, known as the Black replace.

Gallery | fifty one Photographs
Nokia Lumia 1520 pattern screenshots

What’s distinctive about this specific refresh? It builds on the Amber replace with a number of new options, lots of which might be discovered on the Look display. As you could recall, this display lets customers examine the time when the show is turned off, however that is about it. With Black, you will now have entry to the identical notifications which are discovered on the lock display, in addition to customized textual content and calendar information, pedometer help and pink, inexperienced and blue shade choices whereas the display is in Night time mode. The brand new hues are extraordinarily delicate in order that they should not be distracting (that might, in fact, defeat the aim of Night time mode).

Outdoors of Look, Black additionally delivers a number of extra imaging options, together with the Refocus Lens, help for the RAW image format within the 1020 and 1520 and some new digital camera algorithms for tone mapping and noise discount on the 1020. However wait, there’s extra: The Black replace additionally ensures that each one Lumia units can get the brand new Nokia Digital camera, which mixes the Professional Cam and Sensible Cam apps. We’ll go into rather more element on these new imaging options within the subsequent part.

Nokia Lumia 1520 review: the best Windows Phone device yet

Lastly, the replace additionally brings help for Bluetooth four.zero LE — a function that is turning into more and more widespread in health trackers just like the Nike FuelBand SE and the Jawbone Up24. Moreover, the replace provides one other new app referred to as Nokia Beamer, which “beams” multimedia out of your telephone to your TV, laptop computer or different smartphones. It isn’t a brand new idea within the cellular world, however we’ll fortunately welcome extra alternatives to share stuff to different units.

One other new function is Storyteller, which is being launched on each the 1520 and the 2520. Principally it is a intelligent interface that takes your geotagged photographs and allows you to group them into collections referred to as “tales.” For those who like, you possibly can group them by location, date or occasion — it is as much as you how you can current them. Moreover, you possibly can cut up tales up, merge them collectively or separate every particular person photograph. It is a good function, nevertheless it’s nothing greater than a flowery photograph album viewer which will confuse customers who’re accustomed to the usual Home windows Telephone viewer.

Nokia Lumia 1520 review: the best Windows Phone device yet

One constructive aspect impact of utilizing a Home windows Telephone with such a big display is a way more nice typing expertise. It is true that we have been spoiled during the last couple of years by fancy third-get together Android keyboards able to swipe gestures and phrase predictions, however we have all the time loved the Home windows Telephone keyboard because of its ease of use, bigger keys and sensible autocorrection. On a 6-inch show, that very same keyboard is even simpler to sort on — offered you are prepared to make use of each of your palms. Moreover, we observed that one-handed use is slightly simpler on a big Home windows Telephone than an Android system of the identical measurement, and it is primarily as a result of Reside Tiles may be a lot bigger than your typical Android app icon.

In some ways, Microsoft’s unique mantra of “Look and Go” is even simpler on a 6-inch show, because of an additional column of medium-sized Reside Tiles on the appropriate aspect. On smaller screens, we typically fear that the most important Reside Tiles will take up an excessive amount of of the obtainable actual property, however that is not the case on a panel this huge. There’s loads of room to customise the display as you see match, however we will consider no less than one draw back: A couple of screens, such because the app switcher or software listing, do not benefit from the additional area afforded to them on bigger shows. In these particular instances, then, a smaller show truly feels extra best.

Outdoors of what Nokia has added on the software program aspect, Home windows Telephone feels the identical because it ever did. The ecosystem is getting rather more thrilling, however in any other case any points you could have had with WP8 units will not magically go away with Replace three. (One such grievance is the shortage of a strong notification middle, however we acknowledge that many customers’ wants are met with Reside Tiles and toast notifications.)

Digital camera

Nokia Lumia 1520 review: the best Windows Phone device yet

The Nokia Lumia 1020 made waves with its forty one-megapixel digital camera, which featured some new imaging applied sciences that even put some level-and-shoots to disgrace. After such a unbelievable introduction, what’s the easiest way to comply with up? Properly, one thing tells us that the actual comply with-as much as the 1020 is but to return, because the 1520’s shooter is definitely a downgrade. However we will not actually blame Nokia for this: It clearly needed to minimize some corners in an effort to make room for a few of the 1520’s different new options talked about earlier, and if a 20-megapixel digital camera counts as “chopping corners,” you understand that Nokia’s definitely doing one thing proper.

We cannot do one other recap of how Nokia’s PureView know-how works — we spent a substantial period of time discussing the nitty-gritty particulars in our evaluate of the Lumia 1020, so add that to your important studying record — however let’s dig into what makes this specific model of the PureView particular. Identical to the 1020, the 1520 provides oversampling choices, however because of the decrease decision, you will get a excessive-res picture taken at 19 megapixels together with a 5MP decrease-res shot, which can come in useful for importing your pictures to Instagram, Fb or no matter service you need. By the best way, the upper-res picture can be taken in RAW format, which you’ll be able to change to within the settings (Nokia refers to it as DNG, or digital destructive). Nokia additionally claims that because the 1020 got here out, it is improved most of the imaging-seize algorithms concerned in snapping photographs.

The 1520’s lens makes use of an aperture of f/2.four, in comparison with the 1020’s f/2.2; it has a sensor measurement of half.5 inch, which is considerably smaller than the 1020’s 1/1.5; it options optical picture stabilization (OIS) and provides a focal size of 26mm, which is identical on each. Lastly, the 1520 matches the 1020 with a max ISO of 4000.

Nokia Digital camera and Refocus Lens

Nokia Lumia 1520 review: the best Windows Phone device yet

Once we reviewed the Lumia 1020 this previous summer time, we famous that the brand new Nokia Professional Digital camera app was probably the greatest — if not one of the best — we have ever had the pleasure of utilizing, however there was one factor lacking: integration with its different intelligent imaging app, Nokia Sensible Digital camera. A disgrace, because it presents cool choices like motion shot, eraser mode, greatest shot and movement blur. These have been extremely helpful instruments for imaging lovers, however the truth that they have been contained in a separate app felt inefficient. Luckily, Nokia discovered a approach to merge the 2, and is looking the ultimate product “Nokia Digital camera.” To entry the Sensible Digital camera options, simply slide up on the toggle change to the proper — the one which beforehand solely allow you to change between video and photograph mode. It is quicker to make use of it this manner, and also you stand a a lot better probability of choosing the suitable sort of image you need to absorb a cut up second.

The consumer interface continues to be principally the identical because it was on the 1020, however the row of icons on the highest could be reworked right into a a lot easier “auto mode.” This consists of two switches: one for the flash, and the opposite to vary to sport mode and night time mode (apparently the results of one other algorithm Nokia is utilizing to make for higher low-mild photographs.

Nokia’s added one other lens to the telephone, and this one’s a doozy: It is referred to as Refocus Lens, and in lots of respects, it is Nokia’s reply to the Lytro, which may change an image’s depth of subject after the very fact. Press the shutter button and the Lens will take a number of seconds to do its magic. As soon as it is able to go, you possibly can select any a part of the picture and alter the main target to the world you chose. We discovered that this function works greatest when your image features a shut-up object and one other object within the distance. The colour pop function can also be now included as a part of this Lens, so hold that in thoughts should you plan to experiment with colour. The Lens is a number of enjoyable to play with, however when you’ve got a essential second that must be captured in a brief time period, we would not advocate going this route — it is nonetheless a separate app for now.

Imaging Efficiency

Nokia Lumia 1520 review: the best Windows Phone device yet

An unmistakable benefit the PureView-branded Lumias have over another smartphone is the massive variety of guide settings: ISO, shutter velocity, white stability and publicity are among the many choices you possibly can tweak to make the image do what you need it to, fairly than having it go the opposite means round. Positive, you are not going to get as many particulars within the 19-megapixel stills as you’d within the 38MP pictures that have been taken by the Lumia 1020, however what you get within the 1520 digital camera nonetheless far surpasses anything available on the market in the present day. In different phrases, you’ll have to sacrifice only a small quantity of the standard you’ll be able to take pleasure in on the 1020, however we now have a sense it will not matter to the overwhelming majority of customers — particularly should you aren’t making an attempt to switch your level-and-shoot. The colours are principally correct, though we observed that the white stability was typically off in dimmer capturing circumstances. Relying on the angle, some pics taken in direct daylight would look barely washed out, however these sorts of issues are straightforward sufficient to deal with by tinkering with the settings.

Lowlight efficiency is one other space of intense focus for Nokia. Few different corporations can match the newest PureView units, with the 1520 being simply the newest triumph. I used to be elated once I was capable of take a Night time Mode image of my youngsters in an almost pitch-black room and nonetheless simply decide them out. As anticipated, there’s nonetheless slightly little bit of blur for those who maintain the shutter velocity too low, and there is additionally greater than sufficient noise to go round once you attempt to exhibit your newest triumph.

Gallery | seventy three Pictures
Nokia Lumia 1520 pattern pics

With video efficiency, you’ve got a selection of both 1080p or 720p, and you may report these movies at 24, 25 or 30fps (the default setting is 1080p at 30fps). Shifting objects look extremely clean in our check footage, which was recorded at a 19Mbps Bit price. The film-making expertise was just about the identical as on the Lumia 1020; the digital camera’s optical picture stabilization stored shakiness to a minimal, and the 4 directional mics made a somewhat giant distinction in audio readability. In a single pattern, for example, the mics could not decide up my voice very nicely as a result of I used to be on the entrance aspect of the Lumia, however I might completely hear the track enjoying out of the audio system not too distant from the place I used to be standing. As I panned away from the massive audio system, although, I observed that the sound from the identical place all of the sudden turned distant.

Efficiency and battery life

Nokia Lumia 1520 review: the best Windows Phone device yet

For a very long time, Microsoft insisted that it did not have to help absolutely the quickest processors as a way to present a clean Home windows Telephone expertise — particularly since these extra strong chips typically put a dent in battery life. Certainly, when it got here to on a regular basis use, the corporate had some extent. Nevertheless, quicker chipsets typically make it potential so as to add new options that slower processors merely cannot deal with. These typically embrace new alternatives for higher picture sign processors (clearly an enormous deal for Nokia), stereoscopic 3D, UHD video seize/playback, USB three.zero and issues like 802.11ac WiFi, which is now included on the 1520.

With the newest replace, WP8 now helps quicker chips just like the quad-core Snapdragon 800, and Nokia did not waste any time tossing it into the Lumia 1520. The silicon, which is also referred to as the MSM8974, comes with 4 Krait four hundred cores clocked at 2.2GHz and a quad-core Adreno 330 GPU, and Nokia topped it off with 2GB of RAM. Certainly, that is the primary time we have been capable of say a Nokia flagship comes with the newest and biggest processor.

As a lot as we might like to make use of the standard buzzwords like “buttery clean,” our first expertise with Snapdragon 800 on a Home windows Telephone did not show to be that a lot better than what we have seen on an S4 Plus gadget just like the Lumia 1020. In aspect-by-aspect comparisons with the 1020, the 1520 loaded packages solely barely quicker (the one exception being the digital camera). In the meantime, transitions, animations and on a regular basis duties all felt the identical as ever. Two teams of individuals will possible have extra to profit from the Snapdragon 800 on Home windows Telephone than anybody else: there are those that need help for extra performance on the aspect, as we briefly mentioned earlier, and improved gaming efficiency.

In fact, we’re not saying that each one the additional energy goes to waste — we’re simply not seeing as big a distinction as we have been anticipating. In distinction, Android units operating Snapdragon 800 are sometimes exponentially improved over older units, and you may often inform the distinction instantly. Our takeaway, then, is that Home windows Telephone was already fairly environment friendly; Microsoft’s accomplished an ideal job making certain decrease-specced units are capable of run in addition to the flagships.

Nokia Lumia 1520 Nokia Lumia 1020 Nokia Lumia 925 WPBench 466 223 216 Battery rundown three:30 2:12 three:fifty five SunSpider 1.zero (MS) 546 906.2 905.four AnTuTu (*GPU check off) 25,148 (22,275*) eleven,084 (9,874*) eleven,819* SunSpider: decrease scores are higher.

We solely run a handful of benchmarks on Home windows Telephone, however you possibly can definitely inform that Snapdragon 800 is killing it behind the scenes, even when we will not see it up entrance: The 1520 blows away another Home windows Telephone that is ever seen the sunshine of day. Nothing even comes shut. What this tells us is that when you won’t discover an enormous distinction on the day-to-day stuff, probably the most thrilling advantages of Snapdragon 800 are nonetheless forward of us.

New options like a quad-core processor and excessive-res show are incredible additions to Home windows Telephone, however what sort of influence does it have on battery life? Runtime on the 1520’s battery is about what we anticipated; this battery is among the largest in a telephone of its measurement, so our preconceived notions of its efficiency have been admittedly fairly excessive. On our first full day of normal use, which included taking fairly a couple of footage, downloading a number of apps, checking e mail and social media and some different normal smartphone actions, the telephone yielded round 12 hours of juice. This might be fairly good for many telephones, however an influence-environment friendly platform like Home windows Telephone ought to be capable of squeeze much more life out of a three,400mAh battery. On the second full day of normal use, nevertheless, its life appeared to bounce again after conducting numerous photograph periods and different actions. By the top of that thirteen-hour day, we nonetheless had roughly 30 % left. Due to the inconsistencies, we’re conducting some further exams. We’ll proceed to replace this assessment as these outcomes are available. (Replace: the WPBench battery drain check merited a time of three:30. That is simply shy of the Lumia 925’s time and considerably higher than the 1020.)

The competitors

Nokia Lumia 1520 review: the best Windows Phone device yet

The Lumia 1520 is popping out this Friday on AT&T, and might be out there for $199 on a two-yr contract (or $585 if you wish to buy it with no strings hooked up). This is identical on-contract worth because the Lumia 1020, which continues to be an excellent choice, particularly when you’re fascinated about getting a Home windows Telephone with a smaller display or if you need the absolute best imaging efficiency.

If measurement is of utmost significance, the one competitors you will discover on the market runs on Android. The Samsung Galaxy Word three, which is on the market on all 4 main nationwide networks, has a 5.7-inch show and is barely smaller in each dimension, and you will get to make use of the S Pen and Multi-window performance. In our opinion, it is also extra snug. There’s additionally the HTC One Max, which measures 5.9 inches and includes a fingerprint scanner, together with loads of different good options. When you’re trying to go much more excessive, you may need to take a look at the Sony Xperia Z Extremely and Huawei Ascend Mate, however every one has a show even bigger than the Lumia 1520’s.

Wrap-up

Nokia Lumia 1520 review: the best Windows Phone device yet

So how does Nokia look when its flagship smartphone has all of the newest and biggest hardware? Fairly darn good. The Lumia 1520 has a phenomenal 1080p show, quick Snapdragon 800 processor and a few of Espoo’s greatest imaging software program to go together with a 20-megapixel digital camera. As quickly because the 1520 was introduced, we had a sense this may be the most effective Home windows Telephone we have ever had the privilege of utilizing — and our time with the system has confirmed that.

In fact, there are going to be some individuals who don’t need this massive a display. Fortuitously for them, we strongly suspect Nokia will quickly put a 1080p show on a extra reasonably sized display. This brings us to maybe an much more necessary level, which is the impression Nokia has had and can proceed to have on Home windows Telephone itself: The ecosystem is rising like a weed, and now producers can lastly construct units with one of the best elements. These two elements alone are serving to Microsoft keep related in an more and more robust market. Now we simply have to attend and see how profitable Home windows Telephone could be with the correct instruments.

Edgar Alvarez contributed to this evaluate.

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