Nokia Lumia 1520 hands-on


We have been listening to the buzz about a Nokia Lumia “phablet” for quite some time now. We were also tracking the buzz related to Windows Phone support for HD displays which would also lead to a third column of standard sized (what is now “medium” sized) tiles in the Windows Phone environment. The story is one of software and hardware. More (or arguably smaller) tiles would fuel the need for full HD display support. The software would benefit from more robust hardware.

The result is the Nokia Lumia 1520, a new flagship from Nokia that provides a new and larger display, legendary ZEISS optics, and the smooth Windows Phone experience with a sprinkle of Nokia enhancements that make for a really neat user experience.


The Lumia 1520 design is not a departure from Nokia’s formula for success and that is a good thing. The unibody design is comfortable to hold and the color selection is easy on the eyes too. The edges and corners are nicely rounded. The volume, power/lock and camera shutter buttons are just were they need to be. Frankly, Nokia makes the phablet segment look good using its tried and true Lumia design language on the 1520.

While visual beauty is in the eye of the beholder, what we find underneath is also very attractive. The quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor manages the Windows Phone operating system with ease as it is tuned to 2.2GHz. Feeding the CPU is a 3,400mAh battery. Wireless charging is baked in along with NFC.


The display on the Lumia 1520 is what you would expect of a HD panel, that is crisp and clear. The colors are more vivid given the Lumia’s ClearBlack technology. The screen is responsive and features super-sensitive touch capability allowing you to use it with gloves if you want.

The 1080p LCD display brings great color to the game and small text appears nice and clean. Windows Phone’s use of Live Tiles enhances the experience of seeing a lot of color all at once. Hardware-wise though, for a flagship, a display such as this is to be expected. Still, such displays sure are nice to look at.

The rest of the package is the Windows Phone experience with a side of Nokia experience applications that will make for a great overall collection.

Interface and Functionality

Coming straight with Windows Phone 8, the Lumia 1520 presents us with an almost identical user experience as any other WP handset, but there's a small, yet significant difference. Due to the larger screen size and extra resolution, the 1520 sports a third column for live tiles. This basically allows you to pin more stuff to your home screen, without having the need to scroll endlessly up and down. Aside from this, things are pretty much the same with regards to the functionality of the platform.

That said, Nokia has once again made sure to add a bunch of new stuff to Windows Phone and kind of make it seem like a more complete and appealing platform. Once such example is the Storyteller feature, which automatically places all of your photos onto a map, making it easier to relive the old memories from that trip last year.

Processor and Memory

The Lumia 1520 is a powerhouse. It's equipped with the ultra-powerful quad-core 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 800 chip, which guarantees epic performance even with the most demanding apps and games you can find in the Marketplace. Alongside it runs the Adreno 330 GPU, and guess what - it's all complemented by the healthy 2 GB of RAM. Seeing that the 1520 is shaping up to be quite the multimedia-centric device, it's also equipped with 32 GB of internal storage, which is expandable through a microSD card of up to 64 GB. Neat, huh?

Camera and Multimedia

It may not have a 41 MP sensor, but the 20.7 MP camera of the Lumia 1520 is quite ambitious as well. It still boasts a respectable sensor size of 1/2.5", along with an aperture of f/2.4 and focal length of 26 mm. We're also happy to report that the camera will feature optical image stabilization and 2x lossless zoom! On the software side, Nokia has once again reimagined its Camera application. You can now use a single app for all of your photography needs, as the app can give you both a simplified UI, as well as a more versatile interface, if you'd like to fine-tune your settings. An interesting feature of this camera is that it'll be able to snap raw DNG image files, which are not compressed and have sensor information intact.

As far as multimedia is concerned, you can imagine that the 6" IPS screen of the Lumia 1520 will be simply amazing for video playback or gaming (if you happen to find the games you want in the Marketplace). Of course, you'll also be able to take advantage of Nokia Music in the markets where it's available.

Price and release date

Nokia did not announce a formal release date or list any specific carriers that will sell the Lumia 1520. It did share the expected retail price though, $749. It is expected that at the very least, AT&T will support this device, though we have been seeing rumors that it may release on both AT&T and Verizon at about the same time.

Even with those announcements still pending, the price point is not a surprise. After subsidies are applied, seeing an introductory price of $299 with a contract does not seem off the mark.  Keep checking back here for more news about the Nokia Lumia 1520!



1. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

The only reason I probably won't buy this is the size. Since I always carry my phone in my pocket, this is just simply too big. Great phone otherwise! No complains!

7. dexter_jdr

Posts: 1163; Member since: Jun 28, 2012

well yeah, they are made for phablet users.

13. DFranch

Posts: 555; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

Agreed on the size, 6" is not pocketable. The 929 coming to Verizon is supposed to me a 5" with the same specs. That's what I have my eye on.

14. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

Agreed. People are gaga over the specs of the 1520, but I would never buy one. It's a full inch taller than the S4/G2/Droid, and those are big phones already. I can't believe there are that many people who want a "phone" that can't fit comfortably in a pocket or hand.

15. DaHarder

Posts: 177; Member since: Oct 10, 2009

FACT: Your hands/pockets are NOT the standard by which all others are measured. With that typed... Since I already have a Note 3 (absolutely fantastic device) I'll be replacing my Nokia 928 (excellent device I bought to try out WP8) with a Nokia 929 as soon as it's released.

18. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

I have average hands and average pockets. And in my opinion the push for bigger and bigger phones is getting out of hand. Where does it end? What was wrong with being able to hold your phone in one hand, fit it in a jeans pocket, and comfortably hold it up to your head? I just wonder how many people (outside the phablet-happy ROK) are actually buying phablets, or if all these companies are rushing to crowd a small niche.

26. DaHarder

Posts: 177; Member since: Oct 10, 2009

The greater questions are: Why... Do You Even Care If You Have No Desire To By A Larger Smart-device ? Why... Are You (rather narcissistically) Against People Having Choices? FACT: Your particular needs/desires are NOT a reflection of the entire populace.

27. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

My main beef is why Nokia would pump out two phablets and nothing "normal" sized. I have nothing against Nokia or anyone else marketing a top-notch phablet. But it's been almost a year since the Lumia 920 arrived, and since then we've only seen incremental improvements from them in the 4.5-5" space. (Yes, I'm calling the 1020 incremental.) Where are the new PHONES?

30. Gemmol

Posts: 793; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

I see you samsung since the phone got annouce you and some other guy been on here adding yall negative two was only yall 2, cause everyone else was in love with the device.....I think you was waiting for a post something bad which you got with someone saying screen size....I am guessing you a verizon user like the other person.....but yeah I do not blame you if anything your doing damage control you do not want no one see the beautiful light of 1520 but you have nothing to worry people still love note 3

31. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

Hollon yo, I gotta run dat thru Google translator. I'm no fan of Samsung. I *want* Nokia/MS to succeed and challenge the Apple-Samsung duopoly... which is why I want to see something new from Nokia in the 5" space, since that's the size my peers are buying. Bigger isn't always better... although in the case of the 1520, it is very good.

32. Gemmol

Posts: 793; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

trolls always say that to be consider on good side but I like the compliments you gave for the 1520 on the bottom.....I have respect for you

37. oldhamletman

Posts: 72; Member since: Sep 03, 2011

it fits in my pockets no problem... but it is about the max size you would want to put in a pocket

38. lord_vanski

Posts: 4; Member since: May 17, 2014

Exactly right.....That is the only reason why I went for Galaxy S3....Sure it's got bells & whistles, but dang.......the phone is way too BIG to fit in your pocket.

2. ddeath

Posts: 170; Member since: Apr 14, 2012

I should say it looks pretty good! The tiles seems to look better on it.

22. Rorschach

Posts: 83; Member since: Apr 26, 2013

Micro SD expansion?! Finally!

3. itsdeepak4u2000

Posts: 3718; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

The live tiles are looking better and better day by day on this lovely all round device...

4. Derekjeter

Posts: 1515; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

Here's something the can learn from Apple and Samsung........ Give us the release date. Why is so hard to have that ready on the day you announce it. That's one thing that Apple has on every other company.

5. Diego!

Posts: 876; Member since: Jun 15, 2009

It's gorgeous!!! I want one ASAP! Do you know when is it going to be released internationally?

6. Beijendorf unregistered

Good heavens, look at me whining on every post about the Lumia 1520. Anyway, what happened to the perfectly slick SIM tray on the earlier Lumias? Was it impossible to manufacture due to the curvature or something? Because it looks like someone went nuts with play-doh and said to the designers "Do that, but in mass-quantities!". The devil is in the details.

8. freebee269

Posts: 542; Member since: Aug 10, 2012

you know. you could just not buy it instead of whine about it. all your whining isnt going to change anyones mind or persuade anyone. it's pointless.

12. Beijendorf unregistered

I take it you are in fact about 14 years old, have yet to find the shift-key on a keyboard and know very little about the consumer markets? Being vocal in your complaints is the only way consumer feedback can be resonated. Spreading thoughts and ideas through forums like this is the very basics of giving the complaint some momentum and force. I take it you're one of those people who don't think advertisements work on you either? Hint: They do. Just like how me pointing out a flaw can make others realise the same flaw too. That's basically what the reviews of devices do later on too, but en-masse.

17. freebee269

Posts: 542; Member since: Aug 10, 2012

i'm 38. i said you were whining because you yourself said you were whining. whining on phonearena articles for the sake of consumer feedback is not getting you anywhere. if you really wanted to give consumer feedback you'd be taking your concerns up with nokia. but that's not really what you want. that's evident with you doing it in comments that are falling on deaf ears. as i already said, it's pointless. the sim tray design is not a flaw, it's your opinion. big difference. i dont see any problem with the sim tray design.

21. Beijendorf unregistered

I see. Your age does make more sense now, since you don't seem to grasp how the internet works in the slightest. Voicing complains through social media and open websites is regarded as the most efficient way to make a company alter something. They care very little if one person sends in a complaint to one of their paper-shredders. They do however care if a complaint is spread via social media or commonly voiced on smartphone forums since this affects their image and sales. And having poorly matched edges is not something you can claim to be an intended high-quality design. It's poor workmanship or a cost-saving measure. Ever wonder why Rolex didn't make their watches look like a kid played with play-doh? Or why HTC One took a lot of flak when it was shipped with small gaps in the "unibody" design? People expect quality at this price. Those trays are a disruption to the otherwise beautiful unibody design, making it look cheap.

23. freebee269

Posts: 542; Member since: Aug 10, 2012

i've been involved with tech all my life. my age has no indication on anything. you trying to make that seem so is childish within itself. "Voicing complains through social media and open websites is regarded as the most efficient way to make a company alter something." that can be true. but your voice is very small when noone else is complaining about the sim tray and you're doing it on a blog that nokia doesnt give attention to. like i said, it's falling on deaf ears. "And having poorly matched edges is not something you can claim to be an intended high-quality design. It's poor workmanship or a cost-saving measure." opinion not fact. if you dont like it, take it up with nokia. they're not changing anything by you saying it here where they dont see it. "People expect quality at this price" you're right. and to me this is quality. this is nokia, they are known for quality devices. i havent had a chance to play with it yet, but based on the hands-on articles on here and on windows phone central, the article authors agree it's quality also.

9. Ikechukwu

Posts: 252; Member since: Oct 03, 2011

The whole phonearena site is just colorful thanks to these Lumias :)

10. twens

Posts: 1180; Member since: Feb 25, 2012

What is there to complain about this phone? Absolutely nothing. I own a note 3 but I don't see any cons with this phone. I think this phone would be the most smoothest and fastest phone on the planet simple because it runs WP...

11. chandancherry

Posts: 32; Member since: Jun 25, 2013

Beautiful design, Best camera with unique features, Crispy display, More Live tiles.... #Nokia #Respect A cool Stand too.

16. Shenoy

Posts: 22; Member since: Jun 16, 2013

Now that an amazing device with so much of style...i just cant wait for a Nokia Lumia 41 MP aluminium phablet now....just hoping to hear more about it soon...that gonna the king of all phablets

19. twens

Posts: 1180; Member since: Feb 25, 2012

Now picture if other OEM's were serious about windows phone. We would get better and more options in the windows arena. Samsung,LG and htc are focusing too much on Android. To me windows phone is not a bad OS at all.

20. iced_heroine

Posts: 29; Member since: Sep 09, 2012

is it me, or is the soft key colored yellow? ^^,

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.