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Nokia Lumia 1520 review

 Review: December 2013  

Rating: 5 stars

In a nutshell: While Android smartphones have been breaking the 5 inch and even 6 inch screen-size barriers for some time, Windows Phone devices have been stuck at the 4.5 inch mark. Not any more! The Nokia Lumia 1520 offers a 6 inch full HD screen, a 20 MP PureView camera and an ultrafast Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor too.

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Design & looks

The Lumia 1520 has the now familiar Lumia styling - rectangular with curved edges, heavy duty polycarbonate construction, touch sensitive buttons below the screen, and power/volume/camera buttons arranged along the right hand side. Everything is the same as other Lumia phones, except that it's super-sized. Can a polycarbonate phone feel premium? It can if it's made this well!

This is not a pocket-sized phone. Weighing in at just over 200g, but slim at under 9mm, the Lumia 1520 is similar in size and weight to the HTC One Max and Sony Xperia Z Ultra. It's big, it's heavy, get over it!

The payback for the size of the phone is of course the enormous display. Measuring 6 inches diagonally and with full 1080p HD resolution, it packs in a pixel density of 368 ppi, making it superbly detailed. Combining IPS LCD technology with Nokia's own ClearBlack tech, the display is bright, punchy and can be read in sunlight. It's not quite up to AMOLED standards, but isn't far behind. Nokia's Super Sensitive touch feature makes it possible to use wearing gloves, or if you have scaly, reptilian hands.

Bigger, faster!

Not only does the Lumia 1520 have the biggest and best screen on any Nokia, it also has the most processing power. The 1520 uses the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor first seen on the LG G2 and now the benchmark for flagship smartphones. This is a quad-core processor running at 2.2 GHz and can outperform the Samsung Galaxy S4. The processor has access to a full 2GB of RAM too.

When it comes to storage, the 1520 has more than ample memory available. There's a generous 32GB of onboard memory, and if that isn't enough, you can add a microSD card to supply an additional 64GB! On top of that you have access to 7GB of free cloud storage via Microsoft's SkyDrive. Few smartphones can match the 1520 for memory.

Windows 8

At S21, we're often found singing the praises of Windows Phone 8. It's a powerful OS with a wealth of built-in or pre-installed apps and functionality. You won't find the 100,000 apps that iOS or Android offer, but the essentials are here, and it's a highly customisable and user-friendly platform too. Social media and sharing are embedded in the OS. Nokia's own apps such as the outstanding HERE maps are highly polished. And everything runs amazingly fast and smooth, thanks to that SnapDragon CPU.

PureView camera

Nokia has equipped their first phablet with a worthy camera. With a 20 megapixel BSI sensor, Zeiss optics, autofocus and optical image stabilisation, the camera seems to give us everything we need. Image quality isn't quite as sharply detailed as Nokia's Lumia 1020 camera phone, but it's as good as rivals from Samsung or HTC. We particularly like Nokia's camera apps - Nokia Pro Cam and Nokia Smart Cam (Nokia Camera), Cinemagraph lens and Creative Studio.

The camera records video at full HD 1080p resolution and a front-facing camera can record at 720p HD and supports Skype.

Overall, photography is a clear strength of this phone.


The Lumia is a 4G phone and also supports 3G HSPA with data speeds up to a theoretical maximum of 42.2 Mbps (good luck with finding a network that fast.) It also supports Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, USB and has a 3.5mm headphone jack. With an NFC chip too, there's really nothing missing.

Battery life

A phone this big and powerful needs an exceptional battery, and the Lumia 1520 comes fitted with an industrial strength 3400mAh battery. That's more than double the capacity of the iPhone 5s and is the largest battery we've ever seen in a smartphone or phablet. Nokia quotes 13.6 hours of Wi-Fi browsing or an incredible 25 hours of 3G talktime. In practice, even heavy users should get 1.5 - 2 days out of this beast between charges.


We've waited a while for Nokia to get to grip with making a genuinely big-screened smartphone, but now it's here we're not in any way disappointed. The Lumia 1520 has fabulous build quality and specs that match the very best Android phablets - the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. It's a big beastie and fatter than the deliciously slim Z Ultra, but a worthy alternative for anyone who fancies giving Windows Phone 8 a chance.

Nokia Lumia 1520 features include:

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Nokia Lumia 1520 user reviews

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Average rating from 7 reviews:

Reviewed by Anthony from Uk on 14th Aug 2014
Had this phone for about a week now and really cannot fault any thing about this handset even now a week after first using it.I still find my self picking up the nokia to do something on the internet rather than my ipad and that for me is a major noticeable thing.
The App Store is of a lesser choice but to my thinking that would mean less junk to have to look through as anything I've wanted I have found.
So overall I would 100 percent recommend the 1520 to any one.

Reviewed by Anonymous from UK on 22nd May 2014
I have had plenty of other phones before , androids, iPhones and others. I've used windows phones before briefly and was pretty impresses by them. Until now they lacked what i wanted. Then Nokia made the lumia 1520. I think this phone, phablet or whatever you want to call it is very impressive, almost perfect for my needs. The first day i had it it had less than 50% battery and i caned it solidly for about 8 hours or more and still had about 25 - 30% left before going to bed. Windows phone 8.1 has come a very long way since i first used it and its very cool.

this phone is big but its perfect.

Reviewed by maqsood from uk on 4th May 2014
Well what can i say about this phone other than its brilliant. having used android for a number of years i was very negative toward windows phones. Then last year my wife wanted me to buy her a Nokia windows phone (she missed the Nokia phones of passed years). At that point the 1520 had just been released so i reluctantly agreed and so as i helped to set it up for her I began to see the real potential of this operating system. Then in december last year i took the plunge and upgraded to the 1520 and i haven't looked back.

Ever since Stephen Elop took Nokia into the windows realm I hated hime for doing so. Now i realise why he did it! The windows Phone at first appears unusual and primitive. But once you start using it you grow to like it! Its simple yet elegant and yes it still has a long way to go compared to android and iOS, but i'm more than happy to wait. You just know when you use the phone that 99.99% of apps word seamlessly with windows and there are some very beautiful elegant touches like word, excel and powerpoint writing and editing ability.

recently i updated to the beta version of 8.1 and all i can say is before it had a buttery smooth flow to the operating system and now with 8.1 its even more fluid. With windows phone you feel nokia and microsoft really thought about an update before releasing to all windows phones. Nokia as a brand produces superb phones with second to non in call quality and to top it off the 20meg pix camera is sublime!

I will point out to those out there unsure about windows phones. If you are into your apps then windows may not be for you. But if you are into a silky smooth, buttery smooth and fluid interface with a company (Nokia) that knows how to make decent phones then you can't go wrong with the 1520! Yes its a big phone but then again you won't get a better wp phone to date!


Reviewed by den from uk surrey on 8th Apr 2014
I have been using the 1520 for 3 weeks now, and I have to say that this phone is awesome, yes its big, and I will admit that I do scan my wardrobe to choose which farms will house the phone with comfort for the day,but you simply cant get away from the fact that this is a lovely phone to use. When people complain about the windows app store, you have to simply ask yourself just one question: and the question is, how many active apps fo you have on your current phone(apps you use regularly or daily) then find out if those apps or something similar or not even better is available on the windows app store? Absolutely everything about the phone is lovely and the 8.1 update is coming just around the corner, so if you want the best phone and one of the biggest, then there is simply no choice but to buy this phone! Its a class act!

Reviewed by lm1980 from uk on 18th Feb 2014

having had the lumia 1520 for nearly 2 weeks i still stand by my first review, however the size is starting to become a negative in everyday use. There are some tasks at work that i would normally have phone in one hand whilst doing other things with my other hand. The size if the lumia at times prevents my multitasking duties and becomes a hindrance.

battery life is amazing. The os is fast and damn good. Maybe Nokia should have made it 5" instead of 6". Still giving it 5 stars.

Reply by adrianeds from UK on 24th Feb 2014
lm1980, you've done this with the Sony Xperia Z1, got it liked it for a week or two then got rid and went back to your fantastic iphone 5s. And you posted a glowing first review of the Xperia Z1, then everything was wrong, watch out Nokia Lumia 1520, you'll be next to be tossed aside!!

Reply by MIghtyMax from UK on 3rd Mar 2014
Adrianeds - what's with your negative reply to lm1980's reviews.

I've read lm1980's Xperia z1 review and sounds like he had a few issues with 2 different handsets. Maybe he had bad luck. I personally haven't had an Xperia z1 or Lumia 1520 but was wondering from my point of view if a large handset is a viable option.

lm1980's review for the lumia 1520 is informative although brief by saying he/she struggles using the handset single handedly and it is becoming a problem. They state they think a 5" screen would be best suited (like the Xperia z1). I'm guessing they proffered the Xperia z1 size over the lumia 1520.

Just so you know lm1980 has quite a few reviews on here. Some make good reading.

I to have an iPhone 5s and at times find the 4" screen a little to small when you try similar tasks on a larger handset. But the iPhone (iOS) just works in a simple manner.

Reply by Adrianeds from UK on 7th Jun 2014
Mighty Max, sorry if you thought I was to negative, however, just check out the iphone 5s is user reviews. The second review, and hopefully you'll see what I mean. Though posted as Anon, you'll surely get what I am saying. Thanks.

Reply by LM1980 from UK on 6th Sep 2014
Adrianeds - I have a number of handsets. iPhone 5s, htc one m8, blackberry z30 and the lumia 1520. I frequently swap between them as they all have features that the others don't.
iPhone 5s - I got sucked into apples ecosystem and it's hard to escape. I have a large collection of movies. Normally use Apple TV for these but when out its handy to if I can watch one. I now take my iPad mini with me pretty much everywhere so don't use my iPhone so much.
Htc one m8 - great screen. Great sound but poor camera
BB Z30 - great communications device (BB hub). Great sound. Camera ok and quick at taking photos.
Lumia 1520 - great phone all round. WP8 is a great OS and fresh compared to android and iOS (IMHO). A little to big for every day use. If I could easily watch my apple movie purchases on this device it would be my primary device.
I'm not a massive fan of android - odd as it sounds but it's to customisable for me. I prefer iOS and WP. If the Nokia lumia 930 had a larger battery I would have got that when it came out. Battery life is really important to me. I spend a lot of time away from a power source.

Reviewed by lm1980 from UK on 14th Feb 2014
Bye bye iphone 5s, hello Nokia lumia 1520.

had the phone nearly a week and cant fault it.

big - yes, too big - no. Some say i look silly holding the phone to my face when making calls. So what. I cant see myself.

great handset and i am starting to really like windows phone more than ios.

Reviewed by nick from uk on 31st Dec 2013
i bought my partner one of these for xmas the screen is the best on any phone its super fast great for the web and videos the only draw back is its size its way to big for use as a daily phone its also a heavy beast, if nokia had done the samsung thing and reduced the bezel it would have made it a bit smaller. i found it uncomforable to hold in the hand my hand started to get a bit sore so its going back. also windows app store is very poor for popular apps. the windows operating software is really fast but not very feature rich no short cuts for wifi,mobile internet,bluetooth etc you can ofcourse download a third party app. one other thing i noticed is when you press on the screen you got the ripple effect which shouldnt be there as the glass covers the lcd and shouldnt touch the lcd it wasnt a bad ripple but it raises concerns as to the life of the screen, ive only ever seen the ripple effect on the htc one x i had last year any other lcd screen ive used it was never there. its more a tablet than a phone so my advise is to have a go on one in the shop before you buy.

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