Nokia Lumia 1520 review: Finnish fable

Finnish fable

GSMArena team, 20 December 2013.

Unboxing the Nokia Lumia 1520

The Nokia Lumia 1520's retail package is the standard blue box that has become a signature feature of the Lumia line. Other than that you get the standard set of accessories: a charger with a detachable microUSB cable, a SIM ejector tool, some printed manuals and a single-piece headset of in-ear design.

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The Lumia 1520 in Nokia's recognizable box • box contents

360-degree spin

The Nokia Lumia 1520 is, inevitably, a large slab, the 6" screen alone is huge for a pocketable device. At 162.8 x 85.4 x 8.7mm, it's actually reasonably sized for a phablet. Its weight however is not, the Lumia 1520 weighs good 209g, which is almost the same as the aluminum-clad 5.9-inch HTC One Max (217g), which even has a wider footprint and a thicker profile going against it.

Design and handling

The Lumia design has been pretty much set in stone but not without some variations. The Nokia Lumia 1520 is actually very similar to the Lumia 925. The difference to the Lumia 1020, for instance, is that the top and bottom edges are rounded rather than flat. Other than that, the rectangular look and beveled sides are an unmistakable trait of the Lumia line since its inception.

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Familiar Lumia design

Phablets are pushing the limits of what can be considered pocketable and comfortable for one-handed use. That said, the Lumia 1520 is not the biggest around - as we said, the HTC One Max is a tad taller and heavier, while the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 is tangibly bigger.

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Size comparison: Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Nokia Lumia 1520, HTC One Max

Those have some software features to help with one-handed use tough, which mostly amount to squishing keyboards (i.e. the on-screen QWERTY and the dialer) in the corner so you can reach buttons with your thumb. Windows Phone lacks such options and the Lumia 1520's large screen will have people permanently constrained to two-thumb typing.

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The Lumia 1520 feels big in the hand

The phablet maintains the capacitive Back, Home and Search buttons just like other phablets (One Max, Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Mega 6.3). Above the screen is a 1.2MP/720p front-facing camera along with an array of sensors. The front of the phablet is almost entirely coated with Gorilla Glass 2, which covers the screen, the capacitive keys and front camera.

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Capacitive keys below the screen • front-facing camera and sensors above the screen

The basic layout of the other hardware controls is unchanged - all the buttons are on the right side, starting with the volume rocker on top, the power key and finally the two stage shutter key. Those keys have been moved down so they are easy to reach with your thumb (though volume up is a bit of a stretch).

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Hardware keys on the right side

The left side of the Lumia 1520 holds the nanoSIM card compartment and the microSD card slot. Those have to be opened with a dedicated tool, which might be a hindrance if you swap memory cards often. Still, we're always glad to see expandable storage, especially on devices with high resolution screens and high megapixel cameras.

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nanoSIM and microSD card slots on the left

The bottom of the phablet features a regular microUSB 2.0 port, while the 3.5mm audio jack is smack in the middle on top.

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3.5mm audio jack • microUSB 2.0 port

It's the back of the Nokia Lumia 1520 that's quite interesting. The 20MP PureView camera with ZEISS lens and optical image stabilization protrudes slightly from the back, but less so than the Lumia 1020's camera. Keep in mind that the 1520 is 1.7mm thinner than the 1020 too, using a smaller sensor has really helped Nokia keep that unsightly hump in check.

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The back of the Nokia Lumia 1520 • PureView camera with ZEISS lens and dual-LED flash

Aside from the sensor size - a smaller 1/2.5" vs. a bigger 1/1.5" - there has been another concession made, there is no xenon flash but a dual-LED light instead. Still, the sensor is relatively big (around 45% bigger than the common 1/3" sensors), which combined with OIS should still make for some great low-light shots.

The Nokia Lumia 1520 phablet has a whopping four microphones, a pair on the front and another two on the back. At the front, there's one below the screen and one near the earpiece. On the back, there's one above the LED and one inside the loudspeaker grille. The mics in each pair are sufficiently wide apart, so you can expect great stereo sound capture from both the back and the front camera. The mics also include Nokia's proprietary HDR tech and Bass filter option and also allow for noise suppression of ambient noise when for instance, you are recording a person talking in front of the camera.

Reader comments

  • Neldon
  • 17 Mar 2022
  • IJE

The Nokia 1520 is the best phone ever made. * Privacy is hard to find. * The Nokia 1520 is ‘app less’ * This is wonderful !

Why are you replying to me. I don't care if you want this outdated phone with a new battery.

  • Anonymous
  • 30 Aug 2020
  • rRT

I wish Nokia would reissue the Nokia Lumia 1520 with a 5000 mha battery. The same hardware and software for the Camera and run it on Android 20. With that same black bar style. Greatest phone I've ever had. Even with the Windows system and i...