Nokia Lumia 1520 review

Nokia goes big on specs, but can Windows Phone 8 keep up?

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The Nokia Lumia 1520 continues Nokia's recent strong work on the mobile photography front. It's no Lumia 1020, but its 20MP snapper learns a few lessons from that beast while reverting to the rather more wieldy form of the Nokia Lumia 925.

In particular, Nokia has applied the same oversampling techniques found in the Lumia 1020 here. This means that it uses that 20MP image sensor to produce sharper, cleaner 5MP images.

In fact, the Lumia 1520 will automatically save both a 16MP and a 5MP image each time you take a snap, giving you a general image that's great for speedy sharing and a larger one for cropping and enhancing at your leisure.

Nokia Lumia 1520 review

There's also RAW support - which Nokia calls DNG - allowing you to take completely pure, uncompressed snaps. These tend to be pretty sizeable though, so better invest in that 64GB microSD card.

Of course, you'll still need to be smart with your mobile photography. While the Lumia 1520's 1/2.5 image sensor is larger than average, it's still a fair bit smaller than the Lumia 1020's and loads smaller than a leading point-and-shoot camera.

You can get some really detailed and natural-looking shots with the right lighting conditions, however. While there's a certain amount of that bleached-out effect when photographing bright skies behind darker scenery, it's much less pronounced than most smartphones manage.

Nokia Lumia 1520 review

Low-light shots without the flash tend to be grainy, too, even though they're generally brighter and clearer than you might be used to from a mobile phone.

As we saw with the Lumia 925 and the Lumia 920 before it, Nokia's OIS (optical image stabilisation) technology along with some clever algorithms ensure much better night time shots than most of its rivals. As long as the subject remains fairly still, you can get the kind of bright low-light snaps that would be impossible on most non-Nokia devices.

Nokia has packed a bewildering amount of settings and options into the Nokia Lumia 1520's software, but at least it's amalgamated some of those features into a single Nokia Pro Camera app. Nokia Smart Camera is now part of the package, which adds things like action shots and best shot to the mix.

Nokia Lumia 1520 review

Again, you can jump to the Nokia Lumia 1520's camera interface with a press of the physical shutter key - another reason we wish it was a standard feature on smartphones, besides the two-stage focus and shoot capabilities. It still isn't the fastest camera app to boot up, but you'll save a second or so by being able to initiate it without having to look at the screen.

In use, the Lumia 1520's camera UI is pretty intuitive despite its myriad options. You have a neat radial common menu to the right that rotates between a default (and somewhat superfluous) shutter command, video, and Smart mode (for burst photography).

You can tap to focus anywhere on the screen, with those Carl Zeiss optics duly obliging.

At the top left you have a thumbnail of your last shot, which can be tapped to reframe, delete, or share. Alongside this is your gallery button, allowing you to swipe back through all of your snaps.

Nokia Lumia 1520 review

Along the top of the camera UI is where the real magic happens, however. Here you have ever-present toggles for flash (a nice and bright dual-LED example, incidentally), white balance, focus, ISO (100-4000), shutter speed, and brightness.

The Lumia 1520 camera UI has everything a mobile photographer would need, and all to hand rather than tucked away in awkward menus like most of its rivals.

Indeed, it renders the default Camera app redundant, and even a little confusing. Elsewhere you get camera-related apps like Bing Vision (for QR and barcode scanning) and Cinemagraph, which lets you combine stills and video to create little animated snippets.

Once you've finished with your images you can edit them in the Creative Studio app. This lets you alter the focus or introduce blur to your images, play with colors to make certain ones "pop," create collages and apply filters. It's a great tool, and incredibly easy to get strong results from it.

Nokia Lumia 1520 review
Slight bleaching of the cloud and house in the background, but overall the shade, sky and autumn colours are picked up well

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Nokia Lumia 1520 review
Taken from a shady area - note how well the bird is picked out

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Nokia Lumia 1520 review
The flash bleaches out, as expected, but the natural colour of the subject is maintained

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Nokia Lumia 1520 review
Here the depth of field effect is shown in full effect, with fine detail on the foreground object

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Nokia Lumia 1520 review
With the previous foreground element removed

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Nokia Lumia 1520 review
More fine foreground detail and pleasantly blurry background - this time in a more natural setting.

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Nokia Lumia 1520 review
The detail in the log and text on the sign remain sharp

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Nokia Lumia 1520 review
Bright but blurry indoors with low amount of artificial light

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Nokia Lumia 1520 review
The Lumia does relatively well with dark shots, but comes unstuck when they contain motion

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Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
Wireless LANYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported64 GB
Built-in Memory32 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyLumia
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100, LTE 800, LTE 900, LTE 1800, LTE 2100, LTE 2600
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution20 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
Operating SystemWindows Mobile
Brand NameNokia
Battery Talk Time1 Day
Product Model1520
Screen Size15.2 cm (6")
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)209 g
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityChina RoHS, EU RoHS, WEEE, REACH
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Operating System VersionWindows Phone 8
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Pixel Density368 ppi
Front Camera Resolution1.2 Megapixel
SIM Size SupportedNano
Height162.8 mm
Width85.4 mm
Depth8.7 mm
Battery Standby Time768 Hour
Product NameLumia 1520 Smartphone
Processor Speed2.20 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon 800
Product LineLumia
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Digital Compass, Ambient Light Sensor, Magnetometer
Manufacturer Part NumberA00015322
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing InformationSee more
A six-inch, 1080p full HD display with excellent outdoor readability and redesigned start screen lets you make the most of the extra space.

Tell better stories
Tell your stories the way they're meant to be told with Nokia Storyteller, image editing tools and a 20 megapixel, PureView camera.

Your creative canvas
With a six-inch, super-sensitive, full HD display and great readability in sunlight, the Nokia Lumia 1520 Tablet Phone is the perfect canvas to tell your story on.

When you can't find the words
Take amazing photos with a 20 MP PureView camera and let Nokia Storyteller organise them into stories using interactive HERE maps.

Pick up where you left off
The Nokia Lumia 1520 smartphone is a powerhouse of productivity. Built-in Microsoft Office means you can view and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files without losing any original formatting. Save documents to SkyDrive and return to them whenever it suits you.

Fun with photos
Tell a different story by reframing and recropping high-resolution photos. Add captions and explore a whole range of creative effects and filters with exclusive photo editing tools.

Windows Phone 8 gets even bigger
The Nokia Lumia 1520 comes to the UK with all the exclusive features of Windows Phone 8, like Live Tiles and People Hub. And they're all optimised for the big screen, making your Windows Phone 8 experience even better.

Fit for business
The Nokia Lumia 1520 is a formidable business smartphone with built-in Microsoft Office, respected business applications like Microsoft Exchange, Office 365 and Lync, as well as enterprise-level security to give you peace of mind.
Package Contents
  • Lumia 1520 Smartphone
  • MicroUSB Charger
  • Charging and Data Cable
  • Headset
  • Quick Guide
  • SIM Door Key
Limited Warranty2 Year
Standard Memory2 GB