Big. This is the one word that best describes the Nokia Lumia 1520. Everything about it is big. Big screen, big body, big processor, big camera, and big impact. Windows Phone users have been begging for a “phablet,” and with the Lumia 1520 they have it (exclusively on AT&T for now). How big is too big? Will it matter to you? And is there more to the 1520 than just size? Let’s find out.
Lumia 1520 Design
As a phablet the Lumia 1520 is in direct competition with the Samsung Galaxy Note. With each incarnation Samsung has bumped up the screen size slightly (now at 5.7-inches). This probably led to Nokia going with the 6-inch size in order to stay ahead of the game. Thankfully, like Samsung, Nokia did a nice job at minimizing the bezel. This phone could have been a lot bigger.
The body of the Lumia 1520 can best be described as a stretched out Lumia 925 without the metal. The button placement is standard for a Nokia device, which is especially important on this phone. A phone this large must have the power button on the side. For the size of this device it doesn’t feel too bad in the hand. That is thanks to the thin body and light weight.
Lumia 1520 Display
Besides being big, the display is also beautiful. The Lumia 1520 is the first Windows Phone device with a 1080p display. Everything looks amazing at this high-resolution. The live tiles almost pop right off the screen, and all the sharp corners and text in the Windows Phone UI is crystal clear. This might be the best display Nokia has ever made. Even apps that haven’t been updated in ages look great at 1080p.
The 1080p display also allowed Microsoft to do some new things with the software. Most noticeable is the Start Screen has an extra column of live tiles. This might seem like a small feature, but it’s actually one of our favorite things. After using the 1080p Start Screen for a while we found ourselves noticing all the extra scrolling on 720p displays.
Some of the stock apps, like the Photo Hub, have also been updated to take advantage of the extra screen real estate. Unfortunately, the vast majority of your time is spent using blown up apps. This means you won’t be able to see any more information than you would on a 720p display. If Microsoft and Nokia are serious about phablets they need to add more features to take advantage of the big screen, and hope developers do the same.
Lumia 1520 Performance
The Lumia 1520 is the first Windows Phone device with a quad-core processor. With most Windows Phone devices the processor isn’t very important. The OS works extremely well on even low-powered devices. In the case of the Lumia 1520 we did see a difference in performance from the quad-core processor.
The main areas you’ll see the processor make a difference is launching apps and installing apps and updates from the Store. Games run great, of course, but that’s because very few even need a dual-core processor.
Battery life has been great on the Lumia 1520 thanks in large part to the 3400 mAh battery. That’s another benefit of having such a giant phone: more room for battery. I had no trouble getting through a day of normal use with the display on auto brightness. I was really impressed by how long the last 10% of battery seem to last.
Lumia 1520 Camera
The camera on the Lumia 1520 suffers from being surrounded by great cameras. Logic says photos from the 20MP camera should be about half as awesome as the photos from the 41MP Lumia 1020. In my testing I found the photos to be more in line with an 8MP camera. This is certainly not a bad thing as most Lumia cameras are great, but we were expecting more.
What you get is excellent photos in daylight and lowlight photos better than most smartphones on the market. Like the Lumia 1020 the 1520 takes two photos at once, 5MP and 16MP. The 5MP photo can be used for sharing and editing on the phone, but you’ll need to connect to a PC to get the 16MP photo.
Other than the changes Microsoft made for the 1080p display mentioned above this is your basic Windows Phone 8 setup. It’s running Lumia Black, which has some new features for the Glance screen and RAW camera support. Of course you will also find a plethora of Nokia apps to download. We recommend the camera and HERE mapping apps. If you’ve used a Windows Phone before you know what to expect.
- Gorgeous display
- Blazing fast
- Extra room on Start Screen
- Not enough phablet apps
For most people the deciding factor when buying this phone will be the size. I chose not to list the size as a pro or a con because that depends greatly on the person. At first I found it unruly and obnoxious to use, but over time it started to feel better. Windows Phone users wanted a phablet and Nokia delivered the Lumia 1520. This is a beast of a phone that can make even an Android fan jealous. Big is not always better, but in this case it works.