Nokia Lumia 1520: A User Review

By Rich W Woods

I’ve been using a Nokia Lumia 1520 for almost two weeks now. Having a 6″ screen, I was shocked at how much I fell in love with this phone.

Nokia Lumia 1520: The Screen

The Nokia Lumia 1520 has a 6″ AMOLED screen. Being an AMOLED screen, it looks much better than an LCD screen. On an AMOLED screen, certain pixels can actually be turned off making black colors a true black. Samsung also uses AMOLED screens on their phones making this a similar phone to the Galaxy Note 3, especially since they both have large screens and Snapdragon 800 processors.

Nokia Lumia 1520: The Body

There is something that you will notice about all Nokia phones: they are all made of plastic. There is another thing you will notice: no one ever give them a hard time about it. Many people hate Samsung’s Galaxy phones because they are plastic and they feel cheap. The same can be said for many of LG’s phones. No one says this about Nokia.

When Apple announced the iPhone 5C, they called it “unapologetically plastic”. Nokia doesn’t have to apologize for making plastic phones. That’s because Nokia phones are beautiful, and this one is no different. The Nokia Lumia 1520 comes in black, white, red, yellow, and now a beautiful green.

Nokia Lumia 1520: The Camera

The Nokia Lumia 1520 rocks a 20 MP camera that has three settings: 5 MP JPEG, 5 MP JPEG and 16 MP JPEG, and 5 MP JPEG and 16 MP DNG. That’s right. Nokia Windows Phones with 20 MP or higher camera support RAW photos. They are the only ones. If you are a professional photographer, this might be the phone for you.

One thing that I found disappointing is that if you choose the RAW settings for the camera, you have to use the low resolution file to zoom in on the photo.

This camera takes photos that look better than real life. If you are looking for a smart phone based on camera alone, Nokia is the way to go. It has more manual settings than any other phone.

Nokia Lumia 1020 vs Nokia Lumia 1520

I can’t do a full review of the Nokia Lumia 1520 without comparing it to the Nokia Lumia 1020. If you look at the specs of both phones compared with each other, it’s a trade-off. Faster processor or better camera? Here’s the specs side by side:

Nokia Lumia 1020

Nokia Lumia 1520


4.7″, 720p

6″, 1080p


41 MP, 1.2 MP Front

20 MP, 1.2 MP Front


Snapdragon S4 Pro

Snapdragon 800

Those three categories is where these two phones differ. The display is a matter of preference. 720p on a 4.7″ screen is around 337 ppi and 1080p on a 6″ screen is around 363 ppi. It’s not a huge difference.

The camera on the Nokia Lumia 1020 is 41 MP. Just as the camera on the Lumia 1520 has, it has three settings: 5 MP JPEG, 5 MP JPEG and 35 MP JPEG, and 5 MP JPEG and 35 MP DNG. Using the second setting, the Nokia Lumia 1020 promises 4x lossless zoom. Using that formula, we can assume that the Nokia Lumia 1520 gives us 2x lossless zoom

The Nokia Lumia 1520 uses a Snapdragon 800 processor while the Lumia 1020 uses a Snapdragon S4. The difference is noticeable. Using the camera on the Lumia 1020 is painfully slow. In my opinion, the gain in speed is worth the loss in camera MP on the Lumia 1520.

Just in case anybody from Nokia reads this, please give me a phone with a 41 MP Pureview camera and a Snapdragon 801 processor. I’ll pay any amount of money for it.

You will notice a difference in the lighting of the cameras. This is because of the camera improvements in Nokia’s firmware update that was bundled with Windows Phone 8.1, Lumia Cyan. Lumia Cyan is available for the Lumia 1520 and not the 1020 (yet). Focus on the resolution of the zoomed in photo.

Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Cyan

Lumia Cyan is the biggest update to Windows Phone 8 since Windows Phone 8. It brings tons of new features to the platform such as a voice assistant called Cortana, a notification center, and the ability to put a photo in the background of the start screen.

Windows Phone 8.1 has been available to the public under the guise of a developer preview since April and it is rolling out to all Windows Phones 8s over the next few weeks. Currently, the only phones to get it I the US so far are the Nokia Lumia 520, 625, 925, and 1520. The 1320 and 1020 have gotten Lumia Cyan in some other countries as well.

There are also camera improvements in Lumia Cyan. They are going to help with lighting conditions. As you can see with the Lumia 1020 photo above, the camera was letting in too much light. As you can see from the photo from the Lumia 1520, the lighting looks much better.

Nokia Lumia 1520: The Apps

If you have never owned a Windows Phone before, you may be a little nervous to switch. You may have heard of the “app gap”. It is true. The amount of apps on Windows Phone is a quarter of the apps on iOS.

Windows Phone hit a milestone last week. They now have 300,000 apps in their app store. It was a bit unnerving last year when Nokia would announce a new phone and they would announce five new apps that were super popular, a year before. Now, it seems like more developers are putting Windows Phone on their road maps.

Gone are the days where we have to wait for Nokia to announce a new phone so they can announce Temple Run 2 along with it. Apps like Zello and Despicable Me: Minion Rush are there already. Gameloft has promised that they will launch all of their products on Windows Phone, not later than their Android and iOS counterparts. At the same time.

There are no Google apps except for a Google Search app. There probably never will be unless Windows Phone becomes this dominating platform that they need to develop for. Google and Microsoft have competing search platforms. Don’t expect these guys to ever play nice.

80 million people use Windows Phones. That’s the same amount of people that use Mac OS. It is way too big for developers to ignore.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @rwoods716 and like us on Facebook at “For the Love of Tech” for all of the latest news, reviews, and product comparisons. I would love to hear from you. Tell me how we can make this site better by leaving a comment or posting on our Facebook page or sending a tweet. Got a tech question about how to fix your broken PC or smart phone? Just ask. Need help deciding which tablet is right for you? Happy to help. Drop me a line.

About the author
Rich Woods

Being a computer programmer wasn't enough to fulfill his love of technology. In 2013, Rich founded For the Love of Tech and has been writing about his love of tech ever since.

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