Nokia Lumia 1520 review:

This enormous phone has a great display and plenty of power

Autoplay: ON Autoplay: OFF
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Compare These

CNET Editors' Rating

18 user reviews

The Good Great high-definition screen; Attractive, sturdy design; Powerful processor; Good battery life; Decent camera.

The Bad Enormous size won't be to everyone's taste; Windows Phone app store is still very poorly stocked.

The Bottom Line The Nokia Lumia 1520 has a gorgeous, high-definition screen, a powerful core, solid battery life and a good camera. It's monstrously big though, which won't suit everyone and there are very few apps to choose from in the Windows Phone store.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.3 Overall

Not happy with pumping out the best camera phone in the business in the form of the Lumia 1020, Nokia now wants to show it can still play a blinder on the specs front too. A recent update to Windows Phone brought support for Full HD displays and quad-core processors, allowing Nokia to finally stuff the most cutting-edge tech into its phones.

The Lumia 1520 is the first of Nokia's phones to take advantage of the update, packing a whopping 6-inch Full HD display, a 2.2GHz quad-core processor, 4G and a 20-megapixel camera -- making it the most technologically advanced phone Nokia has made to date.

Nokia will be announcing the price and release date of this super-phone on Monday, but it's expected to set you back around £500, SIM-free. Meanwhile, Carphone Warehouse has started preorders -- you can get it free from £38 per month on a two-year Vodafone contract.

Should I buy the Nokia Lumia 1520?

The Nokia Lumia 1520's bold, Full HD display makes the phone a great choice for movies on the move. Its processor is powerful, its battery puts up a good fight and the camera isn't at all bad either. Oh, and it looks nice. At 6 inches however, the 1520 is a giant beast of a mobile that really won't suit you if you're just looking for a good all-round phone.

Nokia Lumia 1520 front
The Lumia 1520 looks good, and has a huge 6-inch Full HD display.

If you're looking for a more pocketable Windows Phone mobile, check out the metal-edged Nokia Lumia 925 or the Lumia 1020 with its phenomenal camera. Bear in mind too that while Windows Phone looks good and is fun to use, it has a pitiful app store compared to Android.

If you're keen on big screens and want a host of apps to display on them, Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 is a solid choice. It too packs a Full HD display and a potent chip, but also comes with a stylus for handwriting your own notes.

Design and build quality

The Lumia 1520 is Nokia's biggest smart phone to date, measuring 163mm long, 85mm wide and 8.7mm thick. By using small bezels, Nokia hasn't wasted any space around the screen, but even so, the phone is an absolute goliath.

The 5-inch Samsung Galaxy S4 measures 136mm long and even that is too big for some. It's very difficult to use with one hand -- I found it almost impossible to stretch my thumb to the far corners when holding it as I would a phone. I'm not going to say it's "too big" as that is of course subjective and depends on what you're looking for in a device. What I will say, however, is that if you just want a regular phone, the 1520 almost certainly isn't going to suit. Instead, check out Nokia's Lumia 925.

Nokia Lumia 1520 back
This huge phone is Nokia's biggest yet.

It makes sense that the Note 3 is so huge as its included stylus lets you use the phone as a notebook, turning it into a valuable work tool. The Lumia 1520's skills instead lie more in displaying videos.

The 1520 shares most of the design cues with other phones in Nokia's Lumia range. Its body is made up of a single piece of polycarbonate, which, although plastic, has a very solid construction. It feels very sturdy to hold and there's no unpleasant flex or creaking in the chassis. It looks good too, with its bright colours and rounded edges, standing out from the usual black and grey shades found on other phones.

On the edges you'll find a nano-SIM tray (the extra-small SIM card you'll find on the iPhone 5), a 3.5mm headphone jack, power and volume buttons and a dedicated camera shutter button. There's a generous 32GB of storage, which you can expand with a microSD card.


The 1520 is the first Windows Phone device to boast a Full HD display, thanks to a recent update to the software that supports higher resolutions. Spread over its 6-inch display, the display has a density of 367 pixels per inch, slightly beating the 334ppi of the Lumia 1020.

It results in a screen that's very sharp, with crisp edges on the large, colourful homescreen tiles and very clear text in Web pages. High definition photos and videos look great and the resolution is particularly useful if you're working with Excel spreadsheets in the Microsoft Office app.

Nokia Lumia 1520 display
The display is sharp and crisp with great colours.

It has great colours too, thanks to deep black levels, which provide rich contrast. The colours remain punchy, without looking oversaturated -- something the similarly-sized Galaxy Note 3 can suffer from at times. Mix in the good viewing angles and its low reflectivity (making it easier to view under bright lights), and the 1520's display is one of the best you'll find on a big phone.

Software and processor

The Lumia 1520 comes with the latest version of Windows Phone. The first thing you'll notice about the software is the extra column of icons on the homescreen. It allows for more apps and information from live tiles to be displayed at once, which makes sense on a phone this size.

Elsewhere, the interface is much the same as it is on any of Nokia's other Lumias. The homescreen tiles are clear and easy to read and a swipe to the left takes you into the app list to browse your collection, listed alphabetically. You can resize the homescreen icons and move them around to make sure that your most crucial tools are right where you need them, and the extra column lets you sit up to six app icons across one row.

Nokia Lumia 1520
The homescreen can show three columns of tiles, in order to make full use of that whopping screen.

Best phones of 2017 See All

  • Google Pixel Phone

    4.5 stars

    With the help of an Assistant, Google's first in-house designed Pixel phone makes a kickass...

  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus

    Starting at: £47.00
    4.5 stars

    Apple's larger iPhone has a few distinct advantages, and its dual cameras can pull off...

  • Samsung Galaxy S7

    Starting at: £35.00
    4.5 stars

    We reviewed the new Samsung Galaxy S7 in London, Berlin, San Francisco and Sydney. It's...

  • OnePlus 3T

    4.5 stars

    Our favorite mid-price phone gets revamped with a faster processor and a bigger battery.


Discuss: Nokia Lumia 1520

Conversation powered by Livefyre