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Nokia Lumia 1520 review

Nokia goes big on specs, but can Windows Phone 8 keep up?

Our Verdict

This phone is more power than precision, and it's a mammoth beast - but with a scaled up core and more icons, we do like the direction its poking Windows Phone into.

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 32 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 20 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 1 Day
  • Screen Resolution : 1920 x 1080
  • Processor Core : Quad-core (4 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Great 1080p display
  • Fine camera
  • Solid build quality
  • Surprisingly slim

Against

  • Arguably too big
  • WP8 feels unoptimised
  • Lack of apps
  • Lack of video store
Ratings in depth

Design

Features

Features

Usability

Value

With the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the HTC One Max, the smartphone war appears to have moved on from processor cores and camera megapixels and into the realm of screen inches and pixel density.

It's not what your phone does, it's how at how large a scale it does it, and how sharply.

This trend towards the pocket-filling may run counter to the whole concept of a "mobile" phone, but that's to misunderstand what customers these days want from their phones (or at least think they want).

People have the taste for HD films, uncompromized web browsing and expansive gaming on the go. They don't want mobile phones, they want mobile tablets.

Android has several "phablet" champions, including the ones mentioned above. Now here's the Nokia Lumia 1520 to provide the first large-screen Windows Phone 8 flagship.

In fact, scratch that: the Nokia Lumia 1520 is the new Windows Phone 8 flagship, full stop.

Nokia Lumia 1520 review

It's evident in the spec sheet alone. This is the first Windows Phone 8 device with a Full HD 1080p display. It's also the first to run on a quad-core processor.

We're not just talking about any HD display either. We're talking about a 6-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS LCD screen (producing 367ppi) with Nokia's ClearBlack and super-sensitive technologies. The former means that you can see it better when outside, and the latter means you can use it with your gloves on - two immensely practical features that tend to get brushed over too quickly.

Nokia Lumia 1520 review

While we're at it, this isn't just any quad-core processor, either. This Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip, clocked at 2.2GHz and backed by a healthy 2GB of RAM, is the most powerful quad-core chip currently on the market. It's the same processor as can be found in the Galaxy Note 3 and the Google Nexus 5.

With these two components alone, Nokia has lifted the Windows Phone platform to specification parity with its Android rivals after three solid years of trailing firmly in its wake. It's quite a big achievement.

Nokia Lumia 1520 review

There's that word again. Big. The Nokia Lumia 1520 is big in every way. Opening the box drew a genuine gasp from this typically stony-faced writer, who moments before had been typing out an email on his teeny-tiny iPhone 5S.

Initially, the Nokia Lumia 1520 looks ridiculous next to Apple's stubbornly compact phone. After a few hours' company with the 1520, you might well find that the iPhone 5S looks and feels like a toy.

Nokia Lumia 1520 review

That's not to say that we prefer the Lumia 1520 as a day-to-day tool. Let's be straight - it's too big for most general users.

At 6.41 x 3.36in, it will slip into the back pocket of your jeans, but only if it's that pair you bought in preparation for the forthcoming festive pig-out. And there won't be space in there for anything else.

In fact, now might be the time to acquaint yourself with a good tailor, because you'll either need to reinforce those pockets or repair them. At 206g, this is one hefty piece of kit.

Nokia Lumia 1520 review

To place the Lumia 1520's size and weight in context, it's a good 40g heavier than the Galaxy Note 3 with its similarly sized 5.7-inch display, and is a whole centimeter taller. It's also 6mm wider.

Having said all that, the Nokia Lumia 1520 feels surprisingly sleek in the hand, and that's partly down to its 8.7mm thickness. Compared to other Lumia phones like the Nokia Lumia 1020 or the Nokia Lumia 925, it's proportionally flatter.

Nokia Lumia 1520 review

Even the 20MP PureView camera barely breaks the rear contour with its subtle blister shape, unlike the angry carbuncle on Nokia's last phone, the Lumia 1020.

Then there's Nokia's customary high-class build quality. We've said it before, but Nokia is the only other smartphone manufacturer out there capable of rivaling Apple for strong, distinctive design.

Nokia Lumia 1520 review

The Lumia 1520 continues Nokia's predilection for unibody polycarbonate designs. This means that it's essentially carved out of a single solid chunk of posh plastic. If you've never held a Nokia Lumia device before, then think of last year's HTC One X and you'll have an idea of how it feels.

We didn't dare put it to the test, but the Lumia 1520 feels like it would survive its share of drops, and certainly a little rough and tumble - although its sharply pointed corners are asking to be dinged, and it doesn't use the very latest version of toughened Gorilla Glass.

Nokia Lumia 1520 review

There's a slight ridge where the display meets the chassis. When Nokia introduced this design with the Nokia Lumia 800, its display melted into its body, which added an extra feel of class. It's a shame that's not been included here.

Curiously, after the flamboyant flourishes witnessed elsewhere (especially in the shocking yellow of our test model), the Nokia Lumia 1520's physical buttons seem almost coy. They're practically flush with the chassis along the right hand side - even the two-stage physical camera shutter button barely raises its head.

Nokia Lumia 1520 review

This helps with the ergonomics of this unwieldy device, but doesn't help when you're fumbling for the volume controls in the dark.

On the opposite side of the device you have the microSD card slot and the SIM slot. The former is in addition to the 32GB of internal memory, raising the possibility of a whopping 96GB of storage.

Nokia Lumia 1520 review

The latter accepts a nanoSIM, which is even smaller than the micro SIMs found in previous Nokia phones. It's the same standard used by Apple, and it serves to free up a few valuable millimeters of space for other internal components. Although we doubt that the Lumia 1520's innards are exactly struggling for air.

In summary, the Nokia Lumia 1520 is certainly striking, but we wouldn't want to be struck with one. You're getting a lot of phone here for your $749 (around £460 / AUS$775). An awful lot.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported64 GB
Built-in Memory32 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyLumia
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100, LTE 800, LTE 900, LTE 1800, LTE 2100, LTE 2600
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution20 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
ColourBlack
Operating SystemWindows Mobile
Brand NameNokia
Battery Talk Time1 Day
Product Model1520
Screen Size15.2 cm (6")
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)209 g
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityChina RoHS, EU RoHS, WEEE, REACH
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Operating System VersionWindows Phone 8
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
RealtoneYes
Radio Tuner TypeFM
Call FeaturesCall Log, Call Waiting, Call Forwarding, Conference Call
Pixel Density368 ppi
SIM Size SupportedNano
Height162.8 mm
Width85.4 mm
Depth8.7 mm
ManufacturerNokia
Product NameLumia 1520 Smartphone
Processor Speed2.20 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon 800
Product LineLumia
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Digital Compass, Ambient Light Sensor, Magnetometer
Manufacturer Part NumberA00015322
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.nokia.co.uk
Marketing InformationSee more
A six-inch, 1080p full HD display with excellent outdoor readability and redesigned start screen lets you make the most of the extra space.

Tell better stories
Tell your stories the way they're meant to be told with Nokia Storyteller, image editing tools and a 20 megapixel, PureView camera.

Your creative canvas
With a six-inch, super-sensitive, full HD display and great readability in sunlight, the Nokia Lumia 1520 Tablet Phone is the perfect canvas to tell your story on.

When you can't find the words
Take amazing photos with a 20 MP PureView camera and let Nokia Storyteller organise them into stories using interactive HERE maps.

Pick up where you left off
The Nokia Lumia 1520 smartphone is a powerhouse of productivity. Built-in Microsoft Office means you can view and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files without losing any original formatting. Save documents to SkyDrive and return to them whenever it suits you.

Fun with photos
Tell a different story by reframing and recropping high-resolution photos. Add captions and explore a whole range of creative effects and filters with exclusive photo editing tools.

Windows Phone 8 gets even bigger
The Nokia Lumia 1520 comes to the UK with all the exclusive features of Windows Phone 8, like Live Tiles and People Hub. And they're all optimised for the big screen, making your Windows Phone 8 experience even better.

Fit for business
The Nokia Lumia 1520 is a formidable business smartphone with built-in Microsoft Office, respected business applications like Microsoft Exchange, Office 365 and Lync, as well as enterprise-level security to give you peace of mind.
Package Contents
  • Lumia 1520 Smartphone
  • MicroUSB Charger
  • Charging and Data Cable
  • Headset
  • Quick Guide
  • SIM Door Key
Limited Warranty2 Year
Standard Memory2 GB