Nokia Lumia 1520 Review
Interface and Functionality
Thanks in part to its massive 6-inch 1080p display, the start screen is now able to accommodate up to six live tiles in a horizontal row – the smallest sized live tile option, that is. Besides that, the look and feel of the platform remains largely unchanged. It’s not a bad thing per se, seeing that the start screen continues to catch our attention with its animated presentation.
Out of all the mobile platforms out there, the Windows Phone 8 notification system is still messy – and that’s despite seeing a subtle enhancement here with the GDR3 update. Rather than having a centralized place where we can view them simultaneously, they’re largely handled by the start screen’s respective live tiles, which can be disorganizing as we’re trove through each one.
As for the multi-tasking experience, the GDR3 update now provides us with the ability to close apps by tapping on the “x” above each window in the multitasking view. However, it would’ve been better if there were an option to close several or all at the same time.
Don’t get us wrong, we are glad to see the most up-to-date version of Windows Phone here. Update 3 adds a lot of small improvements like custom notification tones, rotation lock, and a new Driving mode. To the untrained eye, though, it’s hard to see any difference between this latest version and earlier Windows Phone 8 versions. The more we look at it, we begin to see some of the platform’s limitations in comparison to its rivals. It’s flashy, animated, and has an appealing presentation, but it requires deeper functions with the core experience to appease power users.
Armed with that gigantic display, we’re greeted with the most spacious keyboard layout to ever hit a Windows Phone smartphone. In tow as always, is the responsiveness and killer auto-correct feature that’s always a staple with the keyboard. Alternatively, if you’re not about typing with your thumbs, its voice dictation service works rather well too.
Even with the updated experience, there’s nothing added to the email experience. Despite that, we can’t complain because it gets the job done by giving us a good balance between organization and productivity.
We like the selection of first-party apps on Windows Phone. Having mobile Office right out of the box is a huge plus. Since this is a Nokia phone, you also get some very neat applications that other Windows Phone handsets do not have. Nokia Drive with free offline turn-by-turn navigation and Nokia Music with its great free music streaming option are on board.
Basic functionality is also well covered with a phone app that integrates your social news circles (Facebook and Twitter) and contacts. Although its set of core organizer apps are more than usable, the platform is seriously lacking a contender in the digital personal assistance service category. Relying on its Bing service, it’s able to do basic things like making phone calls, sending text, opening apps, and much more. However, it lacks the smarter features of its rivals – like being able to perform calculations, conversions, and even answering who is the president of the US.
Processor and Memory
Finally!! Windows Phone ushers in a whole new era, as the Nokia Lumia 1520 is packing serious heat under the hood, to put it in the same light as its high-end Android counterparts. Sure to appease those specs conscious folks, the handset features a mighty quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC, featuring the Adreno 330 GPU, coupled with 2GB of RAM.
A constant staple of the platform, it doesn’t surprise us that the Lumia 1520 is snappy and responsive with its operations. Our initial experience is positive, as everything seems to move quicker, but upon closer inspection, the platform is able to “hide” its slowness by employing different transition effects to mask its load times. Animations as a whole, however, still take up way too long often times and compared with Android and iOS. But on the surface, it exhibits a very smooth performance.
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 31543
Sony Xperia Z Ultra 29732
HTC One max 26320
Nokia Lumia 1520 25799
GFXBench Egypt HD 2.5 onscreen (fps)
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 54
Sony Xperia Z Ultra 52
HTC One max 39
Nokia Lumia 1520 46
Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 599
Nokia Lumia 1520 551.2
Internet and Connectivity
Accessing the web on a Windows Phone device happens exclusively via Internet Explorer and the Lumia 1520 is no exception. We don’t like the lack of choice, but luckily mobile IE is a good browser on its own and with 4G LTE on board surfing the web is a pleasure. Best of all, that new 1080p screen is just icing to an otherwise typical looking cake for Windows Phone.
The first Nokia phablet ticks all connectivity boxes: dual-channel Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 with LE support (courtesy of the Nokia Black update), NFC and GPS with Glonass. However, you should keep in mind that the Lumia 1520 is an AT&T exclusive in the US and it won’t support 4G LTE bands on other carriers.
1. DaHarder (Posts: 130; Member since: 10 Oct 2009)
Very Nice... though I do wish that it offered something outside of merely being a bigger version of a Windows Phone.
Samsung's efforts to differentiate the Galaxy Note with the addition of the S-PEN functions do this better than any manufacturer at this point... All while keeping the overall size to a minimum.
Really looking forward to Verizon's Lumia 929 as it places all of the really good things about this phone in a more manageable package.
10. PapaSmurf (Posts: 5842; Member since: 14 May 2012)
I'd take a Lumia 929 over the 1520 any day. The 1520 doesn't utilize the 6" screen. It's just WP8 blown up.
16. ihavenoname (Posts: 846; Member since: 18 Aug 2013)
If I had to choose a Windows Phone, definitely 929.But it's not coming to Finland, if I'm right.
18. papss (Posts: 2879; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)
No but at less cost you can get more screen so I would chose this beast.
23. cezarepc (Posts: 439; Member since: 23 Nov 2012)
I have the 925 and I'll only replace it with a 1020 :)
31. pookiewood (Posts: 465; Member since: 05 Mar 2012)
Holding onto my 920 until (if) the 929 comes to AT&T un-neutered.
41. Dastrix (Posts: 505; Member since: 23 Nov 2012)
What kind of abysmally retarded comment is that? To blow things up... Isn't that why you buy a 60" TV?
59. elitewolverine (Posts: 478; Member since: 28 Oct 2013)
uhhh yea because it doesn't offer UI enhancements that no other windows phone has like more tiles across....
The same could be said about the note 3...imo that is
2. ArtSim98 (Posts: 832; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)
In daylight the camera is a bit disappointing in my opinion. Great phone though!
28. _Bone_ (Posts: 1997; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)
Bad weather conditions (late Fall). The sunny shots at the end still produce excellent quality, nothing overblown and stuff. Low light is stunning for a phone. Really nice amount of details and color reproduction. Very very impressive camera.
11. ihavenoname (Posts: 846; Member since: 18 Aug 2013)
9.5 hardware, software 7. Winboys, please don't attack me. I love Nokia but I'm disapointed very badly by WP and M$.
17. taikucing (unregistered)
Same here. I only love Nokia, not M$.
Ok, M$, you should stay with your desktop OS with its 1 million viruses & trojans. You're not good at mobile, server, embedded & supercomputer OS.
26. papss (Posts: 2879; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)
So no viruses on android? That's what happens with an open platform.
33. Dastrix (Posts: 505; Member since: 23 Nov 2012)
Ok Google, you should stay with your open source OS with its 1 million viruses & trojans. You're not good at desktop, server, embedded & supercomputer OS.
74. PolishHitta (Posts: 11; Member since: 25 Nov 2012)
haha okay.. So you're telling me that Android OS has no viruses? I see people downloading antivirus apps onto their GS4 because they would get caught with a potential threat by downloading an app from "secure" Google Play. It's more of Android you should be worried about with viruses than WP8
60. elitewolverine (Posts: 478; Member since: 28 Oct 2013)
I would take M$ over Scroogle any day of the week.
You know how many Win8 devices I have to reset each week? Next to none and exchanging devices for defects same ratio.
I however, daily reset Droid devices, and from multiple makers.
Sure they sell more so there will be more problems, but the % should be in their favor because of saturation, this is not the case.
8. Reality_Check (Posts: 204; Member since: 15 Aug 2013)
In the WP8 world ;) Kidding aside, this is a great device.
13. Lucas_kim (Posts: 13; Member since: 17 Nov 2013)
if it runs android.. it will also beats note 3.. i guarantee .. it will smoother than note 3 that with 3gb of ram
24. rd_nest (Posts: 553; Member since: 06 Jun 2010)
Smoothness is not measured by RAM. Just think for a while what exactly is smoothness and why do you want to relate it with RAM.
More RAM helps you to keep more amount of background processes in memory. Multitasking is more related to RAM.
Smoothness is more like a measure of standard deviation of screen refresh rate and animation fps.
29. _Bone_ (Posts: 1997; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)
The Note 3 is smooth and it offers something no other large phone maker figured out: the phablet experience. It's not too large or heavy, just pocketable and onehandable, and it's packed with useful large-screen features and goodies. The One Max, the 1520, the Ultra, the Mate or Sammy's own Mega, these are all oversized less comfortable phones that do nothing special with the size.
Don't get me wrong, the 1520 is a special device on it's own right, gorgeous screen, impressive camera, promising battery life and great price point on contract, so good I might even try it out, but it's not special as a phablet, at least not to the point of dethroning the Note 3.
53. snowgator (Posts: 3149; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)
That is fair. The Note series is still a tad more comfy to use, and the "S" pen gives it something no other phablet offers.
This, however, might be able to make a run for the #2 position of Phablets. I do wish they had aimed a hair smaller, maybe a 5.3"-5.7" which would have made this devices a tad less wide. But overall, Nokia has made a great device here.
61. elitewolverine (Posts: 478; Member since: 28 Oct 2013)
Many reviewers would count the idea of note 3's one handedness not very high. There are a few reviews that specifically mention how much easier the 1520 is to use with one hand vs a note 3 or sony.
75. PolishHitta (Posts: 11; Member since: 25 Nov 2012)
You're right. I'm not an Android fan by any means but Nokia did sacrifice the size purely for its 920 style. I love the look but bezel could have been a bit smaller. This is exactly why I'm buying the 929 when it comes out for Verizon. 5" screen is plenty enough when you consider Nokia's bulky yet extremely durable styling. Samsung Note is a beautiful device in design but I have to admit, it's getting really boring. The style has been kept since gs3 and it moves from their Note devices to their Tab lineup. And the lightness is pretty neat but comes at a cost. From the flimsy back cover to the thin screen, its very fragile. Samsung should invest their huge profits into aluminum devices. Make them feel high quality for Gods sake.
5. papss (Posts: 2879; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)
I want this phone in red..great review John. As a wp8 fan I'm glad you did the review. Seemed fair with little to no jabs
6. livyatan (Posts: 499; Member since: 19 Jun 2013)
This has to have thinner profit margin than the nexus 5.
Incredible price for those specs.. but I guess Microsoft can afford to go on dump the price like that in order to earn some spotlights for their products.
37. Dastrix (Posts: 505; Member since: 23 Nov 2012)
That's what dumping is for, right? Unfortunately, some OEMs can't afford to do that; they're too focused on making crappy, plastic, laggy devices just because people don't realize the OEMs are sh*tting on them.
9. ihavenoname (Posts: 846; Member since: 18 Aug 2013)
Very nice but what kills this device to me is WP. Such a shame it's not Android. Because of operating system and easier handling, I prefer Note 3. But no phone is the best.
38. Dastrix (Posts: 505; Member since: 23 Nov 2012)
+1 Well said papss. Me too, I prefer WP8 to Android!
12. Tuxedo (Posts: 91; Member since: 19 Mar 2013)
Wow... HW wise this is a great deal. My only concern is WP8.
21. emadshiny (Posts: 997; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)
Gorgeous phone and maybe my first WP device.
25. poping (unregistered)
the design is awesome... i like thin bezels and big screens...the side bezels still need trimming though...overall very good design... i may get this side by side with note 3 or sgs5...
27. jellmoo (Posts: 356; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)
I like Windows Phone, I really do, and I like the fact that they are now hitting high end specs in their devices. But this device baffles me. It's large for the sake of being large. It doesn't add any additional functionality, and doesn't provide any new options for the user other than a big screen.
This is one thing that Samsung got right with the Note line. The devices are big, but that size has a purpose. The added functionality of the S-Pen gives it great productivity power. Devices like the 1520 and One Max simply don't offer that.
Take this handset and shrink it down an inch, and you have a great Windows Phone handset that is both pocketable and possible to use with one hand. I just can't see the point of a device this big without some extras to justify the size.
36. pookiewood (Posts: 465; Member since: 05 Mar 2012)
I suspect WinPhone8.1 will optimize the need for 1080. I think they should've aimed for that now but it's still a nice device.
30. sjoshi251 (Posts: 6; Member since: 06 Nov 2013)
does it support all videos like .mkv or .avi videos....
35. sjoshi251 (Posts: 6; Member since: 06 Nov 2013)
does it support all videos like .mkv, ac3 , .avi videos....
68. Popop971 (Posts: 1; Member since: 24 Nov 2013)
Sorry, but it's false. I have a Samsung ATIV S, and it doesnt support all videos. Maybe there is some changes in WP 8.1 that i'm not aware of. If i am wrong, feel free to provide some youtube videos or links.
Before buying the device, i think you should make some tests if a friend has a windows phone.
42. mobi_user (Posts: 62; Member since: 18 Jun 2013)
John v. not sure what is the criteria of reviewing phone. A phone through which one cannot hear properly, his voice cannot be heard nicely on the other side. which is not so comfortable to hold. And you are giving it a 9 rating.
pixels, processors these can be reviewed by anyone. Ever tried to notice how fast MS Word or IE opens on you laptop.
51. emadshiny (Posts: 997; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)
I would accept it if Note3 didn't exist...
45. yasir-921 (Posts: 74; Member since: 02 Oct 2012)
PhoneArena, what do you mean by better-than-average photos of the 1520?
Another thing, considering that among the Androids, the LG G2 is among the best shooter, how can both be compared in camera department only?
46. GeekMovement (Posts: 1494; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)
Aw a bit disappointing with the call quality. I expected better from Nokia.
47. orielwindow (Posts: 85; Member since: 23 Sep 2010)
I know the scaled down version for Verizon may be good but I'm really disappointed this size isn't coming to Verizon :(
48. momonm1 (Posts: 21; Member since: 30 May 2011)
Definitely my next OS after being with Nokia from 1999 - 2009 and iOS from 2010 - Present!
50. DONUT (Posts: 164; Member since: 27 Jun 2013)
great device but e only thing holding it back is the OS. it needs more apps, apps that many people are using, like Insta (which is coming), Tumblr, BBM, WeChat, Line and etc. imo tts e only thing holding this beast back
62. elitewolverine (Posts: 478; Member since: 28 Oct 2013)
Instagram has been available as a full app for a long time, called 6tag vine? 6sec...
64. DONUT (Posts: 164; Member since: 27 Jun 2013)
wow i didnt know WP8 had all that! i asked my friend who has a WP8 device and she told me it didnt have these apps. thanks for telling!
52. itsdeepak4u2000 (Posts: 1883; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)
Deserves more than 9 but still though it's a good review John.
54. GrosseFatigue (Posts: 57; Member since: 27 Jul 2011)
I found the Nokia 6" size perfectly manageable unlike for the Samsung Mega and the Sony Ultra. Those do look ridiculous, size wise. I think with 6" we reach the limit of what is practical in a cell phone therefore I cannot understand Sony ultra rating better than the 1520.
|Display||6.0 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (368 ppi) IPS LCD|
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Quad core, 2200 MHz, Krait 400 processor
2048 MB RAM
|Size||6.41 x 3.36 x 0.34 inches|
(162.8 x 85.4 x 8.7 mm)
7.37 oz (209 g)
|Battery||3400 mAh, 27.4 hours talk time|