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Review: Nokia Lumia 1520 for AT&T

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Nov 21, 2013, 9:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia's latest Windows Phone is a spec monster. The Lumia 1520 has it all: a huge screen, zippy processor, powerful camera, and connectivity galore. What's not to like?

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Is It Your Type?

Nokia goes all-out with the Lumia 1520, a phablet in the truest sense of the word. If you don't mind using two hands with your device, and like what Nokia has done with Windows Phone, the 1520 could be the big-screened phone for you.


The Nokia Lumia 1520 is the biggest modern smartphone made by Nokia, and the largest Windows Phone device available. It has a 6-inch screen, which means it has near-tablet dimensions (6.41 x 3.36 inches). It dwarfs all of Nokia's other smartphones. When laid side-by-side with the (not-small) Lumia 1020, the 1020 looks like a toy. The 1520 is about the same dimensions as the competing Samsung Galaxy Mega and HTC One max. It's an over-sized phone, for sure. I took it out with me one evening and about half the people who noticed it asked "Is that a phone?" while the other half asked "Is that a tablet?" Yes.

The 1520 is perhaps the most attractive large-screen smartphone in the market. Nokia chose the styling cues perfectly. It is plain and simple, and that's exactly what makes the design work so well. We're reviewing the black version, but it is also available in white, red, and yellow (I wish it came in cyan!) Compared to the HTC One max, the 1520 simply comes off as classier and more elegant. There are no lines or panels or distracting design elements. Nokia is letting the size and display speak for themselves.

Like nearly all Lumia smartphones from Nokia, the 1520 is formed from solid polycarbonate. The black version has a matte finish that I particularly liked. The sides are gently rounded and comfortable, though the four corners are somewhat pointy. At 3.36 inches wide, it's difficult to get a handle on. For example, I can't wrap my fingers all the way around it. Thank goodness it is only 8.7mm thick. Its slim profile helps it slip easily into pockets, but the 1520 does not fit comfortably in small pockets or tight pants. You need a big pocket (or a purse/bag) to hold this big phone, and you'll know it is there when you walk around.


The front is nearly all glass. There's just a thin bezel where the glass meets the side edges as they curve away. The transition from the screen to the sides is smooth; there's no hard edge. When the display is off, the only thing visible in the jet-black glass is the slit for the earpiece. The Nokia logo vanishes, and the three capacitive buttons are invisible unless the screen is lit up. Again, the design emphasis is on simplicity.

Like the majority of Nokia's Lumia devices, all of the major controls are placed on the right edge of the phone. The volume toggle is closest to the top, with the screen lock in the middle, and the dedicated camera button towards the bottom. All three buttons share a slim profile. They can be somewhat hard to locate, and the volume toggle should be much further away from the screen lock button. Small nubs on the volume toggle might help. Each button has good travel and feedback, and the camera button has two well-defined stages for focusing and snapping shots.

Nokia hid the SIM card tray and the memory card slot in the left edge of the 1520. You need a tray tool or paper clip to eject the trays, which is sort of annoying. The memory card should be accessible without requiring a tool. The trays are flush with the surface, so they won't get snagged on anything. The headphone jack is on the top and the micro-USB port is on the bottom.

Since the 1520 is made from a unibody polycarbonate shell, there is no battery cover; the back is smooth, save for the camera module. You can't replace or pull the battery, which some might dislike, but the 1520 will charge wirelessly and there are contact pins plainly visible on the back for docking accessories. The camera module creates a little mound near the top, but it is nowhere as egregious as the Lumia 1020's bulge for its PureView imaging unit.

The 1520 is a massive device, but also quite possibly the best-ever from Nokia. The design, materials, colors, and manufacturing all come together in one excellent piece of hardware.

About the author, Eric M. Zeman:

Eric has been covering the mobile telecommunications industry for 17 years at various print and online publications. He studied at Rutgers Newark and University of Kentucky, and has a degree in writing. He likes playing guitar, attending concerts, listening to music, and driving sports cars.


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This forum is closed.

Riot Jr.

Nov 23, 2013, 5:02 PM

I'm surprised

Nobody commented how fast this phone is. I'd say above the Iphone, forget about Android android devices.
To be fair, the iPhone was surpased ages ago.

Nov 21, 2013, 11:59 AM

Wireless charging

The review mentions this device will charge wirelessly. Does it do that out of the box? What standard does it support? My 1020 and my son's Nokia 810 both have Qi charging backs. I'm hoping I do not have to buy an additional non-Qi charge plate to charge this when it arrives.
The international version supports Qi charging, but AT&T backs the opposing PMA standard, and thus had Nokia take it out (which is rather infuriating). Instead, you'll be able to buy a PMA wireless charging shell for the phone.
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