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Nokia Lumia 1520 Review

Nokia Lumia 1520

Posted: , by John V.



Interface and Functionality

It surely must be awesome being a Windows Phone with many first in its package. In the software side, the Nokia Lumia 1520 is running the most up-to-date version of Microsoft’s always evolving mobile platform – Windows Phone 8 with the GDR3 update. Now it doesn’t have the same drastic changes we see on other rival platforms of late (think iOS 7 and Android 4.4 KitKat), but regardless of that, it’s filled with a handful of new features and enhancements to make it seem that the platform is keeping a good pace with its development.

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.

Performance benchmarks

Higher is better
Nokia Lumia 1520 25799
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 31543
HTC One max 26320
Sony Xperia Z Ultra 29732
GFXBench Egypt HD 2.5 onscreen (fps)
Higher is better
Nokia Lumia 1520 46
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 54
HTC One max 39
Sony Xperia Z Ultra 52
Lower is better
Nokia Lumia 1520 551.2
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 599
View all

With our specific AT&T variant, it’s stuffed with 16GB of internal storage – whereas it’s a fairly generous 32GB one with the international model. Of course, we’re most pleased by the fact that it’s sporting a microSD card slot to supplement its internal capacity.

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.

  • Options

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 08:04 14

1. DaHarder (Posts: 177; 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.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 08:20 13

10. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; 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.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 08:36 2

16. ihavenoname (Posts: 1693; 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.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 08:41 3

18. papss (unregistered)

No but at less cost you can get more screen so I would chose this beast.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 09:03

23. cezarepc (Posts: 718; Member since: 23 Nov 2012)

I have the 925 and I'll only replace it with a 1020 :)

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 10:13 1

31. pookiewood (Posts: 631; Member since: 05 Mar 2012)

Holding onto my 920 until (if) the 929 comes to AT&T un-neutered.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 10:27 8

41. Dastrix (unregistered)

What kind of abysmally retarded comment is that? To blow things up... Isn't that why you buy a 60" TV?

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 17:33

59. elitewolverine (Posts: 5192; 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

posted on 01 Jun 2014, 18:05

77. oldhamletman (Posts: 72; Member since: 03 Sep 2011)

this article is full of errors as usual about windows phone... centralized messaging doesn't only happen on live tiles, you get numerous other browsers besides IE if you want them, you can choose default camera apps, and various other errors that always seem to be biased against windows phone because the reviewer doesn't know the OS... phone arena strikes again

posted on 29 Jun 2014, 16:26

79. oldhamletman (Posts: 72; Member since: 03 Sep 2011)

i got a 1520 and the additional size gets internet, mail, office document display up to sufficient size that I don't need a tablet or laptop on multi day business travel anymore.... it's a huge plus... and the phone still easily slips into the front pocket of any sort of pants or jeans... also the huge battery life is fantastic.

disappointed to see that reviewers still aren't aware of basic Windows phone features... for example there are alternative browsers, you don't have to use IE, although I still use IE because it's speed has gotten so high.

great product, wish the reviewers would show some basic knowledge about it by actually appearing to have used the OS, I had both Iphone and Android over the years and am really glad I switched to WP

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 08:07

2. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3535; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)

In daylight the camera is a bit disappointing in my opinion. Great phone though!

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 09:50 8

28. _Bone_ (Posts: 2155; 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.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 08:12 10

3. fouadqr (Posts: 326; Member since: 21 Nov 2012)

9/10 ..Good BUT ..it deserve 9.5 :D

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 08:19 5

7. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)

Because it has Nokia on it?

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 08:24 5

11. ihavenoname (Posts: 1693; 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$.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 08:39 5

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.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 08:47 5

20. ihavenoname (Posts: 1693; Member since: 18 Aug 2013)

Nokia FTW, Microsoft not.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 09:23 6

26. papss (unregistered)

So no viruses on android? That's what happens with an open platform.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 10:16 6

33. Dastrix (unregistered)

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.

posted on 04 Jan 2014, 01:10

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

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 17:40

60. elitewolverine (Posts: 5192; 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.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 10:15

32. pookiewood (Posts: 631; Member since: 05 Mar 2012)


posted on 18 Nov 2013, 08:14 7

4. Lucas_kim (Posts: 13; Member since: 17 Nov 2013)

the best phablet ever!!

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 08:20

8. Reality_Check (Posts: 277; Member since: 15 Aug 2013)

In the WP8 world ;) Kidding aside, this is a great device.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 08:29 1

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

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 09:12 2

24. rd_nest (Posts: 1656; 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.

Just saying...

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 09:59 4

29. _Bone_ (Posts: 2155; 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.

posted on 19 Nov 2013, 01:54

53. snowgator (Posts: 3604; 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.

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 17:41

61. elitewolverine (Posts: 5192; 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.

posted on 04 Jan 2014, 01:22

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.

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Nokia Lumia 1520

Nokia Lumia 1520

OS: Windows Phone 8.1 8
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
Display6.0 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (368 ppi) IPS LCD
Camera20 megapixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, Quad-core, 2200 MHz, Krait 400 processor
Size6.41 x 3.36 x 0.34 inches
(162.8 x 85.4 x 8.7 mm)
7.37 oz  (209 g)
Battery3400 mAh, 27.4 hours talk time

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