Review: The Nokia Lumia 1520

| February 6, 2014 | 17 Replies

DSC05036The Nokia Lumia 1520 at 6 inches is Nokia’s first ever phablet, but it’s also a lot more than that; it’s the first time Nokia have pushed the envelope with their specs, upping their game to outspec almost every phone in the market so how good is it as a phone?

First off, I’ll spare you the long read; if you don’t like big screens then *spoiler alert* the Lumia 1520 isn’t for you, but if you’re not completely adverse to them then read on and maybe we can change your mind.


The Design:

DSC04961In terms of design the Lumia 1520 is most reminiscent of the beautiful Lumia 925, mainly due to the camera hump design, as well as the strong corners and over all very “premium” finish. Of course the Lumia 925 is in a class of its own when it comes to looks, but the Lumia 1520 carrying on its footsteps is definitely a good thing. The design of the 1520 is very polished, and hardly strays from perfection built by refining the Lumia design; in fact the only complaint I could find about the physical design (and no, being *too* big doesn’t count) is that the corners are a bit too sharp, and can be uncomfortable if pressed against the palms of your hand for too long.

Even though the Lumia 1520 has a massive 6″ screen (which is absolutely stunning, but more on that later); it isn’t much larger than it has to be, short of carrying just enough bezel to fit the windows keys and front facing camera the 1520 doesn’t have any “dead space” that needlessly enlarges the size of the phone. The available textures of the device also affect how it’ll feel in your hand; as going for a matte finish (such as the yellow or black) will go a ways to help increase your grip on the device, versus going with a glossy finish (like the red or white).

The Screen:



The main attraction of the Lumia 1520 is of course its amazing 6 inch 1080p full HD display, the highest resolution display ever on a Nokia phone (or Windows Phone). The display clocks in at 368 ppi which is more than enough to satisfy the beast inside; it’s only made better by being paired with an IPS LCD display and Nokia’s amazing clear black display technology, not to mention Gorilla Glass 2 and Super Sensitive touch. The increased display resolution leads to more tiles, which allows you to get more content out of almost everything on your screen, from more tiles to increased message/email previews and more albums in your library. Needless to say everything just looks so amazing.


Unfortunately though a downside to this higher resolution is that the finer parts of the UI elements in apps have to be up-scaled to match the resolution, something that not all apps have done yet;  namely Whatsapp. The result is a depressingly blurry icon that ruins the novelty of such a beautiful screen (notice the blurry paperclip image). Fix it!


The Camera:

DSC05038The Lumia 1520 has a pretty impressive 20 Mp camera, with an LED flash and optical image stabilization and the usual Nokia sorcery that produces impressive images, and the Lumia 1520 is no different. Images are nice and detailed (although everything looks pixelated and poor quality when you’ve gotten used to the 1020), and best of all there is no post processing yellow tint after the image is captured. However I’ve found that images can be occasionally grainy when shooting in dim (not dark) conditions, but nothing too horrible. I’ve found that the Lumia 1520 also is slightly flash-fire happy, letting the LED go off when it’s most certainly not needed, which can sometimes add a purplish hue to images.

For me though the Lumia 1520 makes up for what it lacks in detail by having very fast capture times and focus acquisition when compared to the 1020 (the 1520 can also focus on objects that are much closer to the lens than the 1020 can).


WP_20140130_13_28_45_Pro WP_20140130_20_54_33_Pro WP_20140131_12_37_45_Pro WP_20140131_15_11_13_Pro WP_20140201_17_48_04_Pro WP_20140201_20_56_40_ProThe Lumia 1520 also takes some pretty nifty videos, using 2X lossless zoom to get better results, however the stabilization isn’t as good as that of the 1020 (due to the lack of the ball-bearings I believe) and the quality is obviously not as detailed; but they still look nice; and the video capture is accompanied by some amazing audio recording thanks to the 4 mics and directional rich recording (which I found most effective when filming using the front facing camera, as if you’re V-logging).

Main Camera test-

Note the purple hue is actually because the sun is setting, there’s nothing wrong with the camera.

Front facing camera test-

The directional mics can be turned on from the settings, allowing you to either capture from all directions, or only those facing the camera; either way I think it does a VERY good job.

The Software:

DSC04848The Lumia 1520 runs the Windows Phone we’re all very familiar with, with the exception of having more live tiles on the start screen and a few other tweaks that were brought to us via GDR3/Lumia Black (closing apps, notifications on lock screen etc.); so instead of going over all that again, here’s what you need to know. The Lumia 1520 is BLAZING fast, you hardly ever see that “resuming…” screen at all on the Quadcore snapdragon 800 powered device, most actions are instantaneous and there isn’t really any waiting around; here’s a video showing off it’s performance + camera speed:

The Lumia 1520 also packs an Adreno 330 GPU, which makes a cakewalk of gaming on the device, if only there were more graphically intense games to challenge it though, but here’s a quick video test of its gaming capabilities:

Unfortunately though, Windows Phone is still behind; and until we get WP 8.1 we really can’t do much more on the 1520 than what we could do on the 520 a year ago. We need to see more updates with more essential features, and although 8.1 is rumored to be right around the corner it can’t get here fast enough (along with its notification center and Cortana).

The Conclusion:



If you’ve read this far then i assume the large size of the 1520 isn’t a deal breaker for you; and if that’s the case then this is most definitely the phone for you, period. The 1520 is without a doubt the best WP you can buy on the market today, and it’ll out-spec most of those androids as well, it has a pretty impressive camera and its performance is astounding. All I can say is if you really need every last pixel in your camera get the 1020, if you need every pixel to be in your screen, get the 1520.






Tags: , ,

Category: Lumia, Nokia, Video, Windows Phone

About the Author ()

Hey, my name's Ali- Currently a fifth (and final) year Dental Student from Chicago; studying in Jordan. I love all sorts of gadgets almost as much as I love my cookies! Be sure to follow my Twitter handle @AliQudsi and Subcribe to my Youtube for the latest videos - no pressure. Thanks.
  • alk

    to big for me… I’m realy waiting for the 925 replacement!

  • Sal

    Hey Ali, can you please tell me if you had issues with the phone cellular reception? i have one and the phone isn’t as good as lumia 925 or 920 when it comes to holding signal even in high speed 4g areas. Thanks

    • No real issues with reception, I generally have horrible reception in my house, my HTC one wouldn’t even ring if it was in ny room, but the 1520 usually at the very least has a signal. Not sure about 4G as Jordan barely supports 3G.

      • Sal

        I just found it strange that there a good number of people on Nokia discussions website complaining about the cellular reception on the 1520, Nokia didn’t answer any of them. Could be a hardware problem and Nokia doesn’t want people to now. Anyways i will try and chat with them ob twitter. Thanks

  • Vader_MIB

    Far too big unfortunately.


    yeah true the phone doesnt show full signals even im near the station.

    • Sal

      Really strange that not all Lumia 1520 users reported that. It cant be a hardware problem because they are all made with same antennas. It could be the lumia black update because there are other lumia users reporting that they have weak signal after the update.i am sure its Nokia firmware that causing this issue. You should contact them so they know about us.

  • D Harries

    The next product must be….. the 1520 with ball bearings and 41 Mpx camera, and the 1020 with 4 microphones. Grrr…

  • Ronald

    At first glance, I thought this beast is too big. But once I had the chance to play with one, it felt *very* comfortable. It’s heavy but the weight is very well balanced. The user won’t realise it.

    Also the 3 columns Live Tiles is nice. When I go back to my Lumia 820, I miss having 1 additional column. Dunno why.

    The pics on the Internet don’t do it justice. It’s the most beautiful smartphone out there.

    Only mysteriously missing feature is the cyan colour model.

  • Zipa

    I wouldn’t mind the size if WP would make a better use of all that gorgeous screen real estate. As it stands, I have a hard time getting very exited over an extra row if icons, which frankly, I think only clutters the home screen…

    • D Harries

      I thought that too, but it’s not that bad, and importantly you arrange the home screen the way it works best for you.

  • hakim

    Lumia 1520 price at Malaysia about 1999 MYR , lumia 1020 about 2199MYR.

    • Kavindu

      Are you sure? I hope to buy a red one and I might come to malaysia in the month of April. If it’s there from where can I buy? KL?

      • Izuan

        You can check out the Store Locator here

        That’s the link for Nokia stores around Kuala Lumpur. If you’re goibg to be somewhere else, just search for the State you are in for Nokia Stores near you, or other types of stores using the filter.

        • Izuan

          OK, the link didn’t come thru. Just search for “Nokia Malaysia Store Locator”.

  • Lumia 1520 has a 20-MegaPixal sensor paired with the fantastic Nokia Pro Camera app as same as iPhone’s. The Lumia 1520 is in the comfort zone with the broad daylight compared to Lumia 1020 and overall it stands out to be a clear winner.

  • Andreas

    Good review, thanks!
    However, the video from the 1520 is the worst 1080p quality video I have seen in a while! My 920 does a better job. That wobble kills me…are you trying out the OIS or what is up with that wobble?