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Review Nokia Lumia 1520 Phablet

Daniel Schmidt (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 01/17/2014

6 inches made in Finland. Big screen, Full HD resolution, a powerful Snapdragon 800, and a high-resolution camera. Nokia has finally arrived in the premium division, and presents its first phablet based on Windows Phone 8 called Lumia 1520. Read how it fares against the Android competition in our test report.

For the original German review, see here.

Nokia introduces the, until now, largest device featuring Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 operating system dubbed Lumia 1520. It is also Nokia's only phablet besides the lower-priced Nokia Lumia 1320. Both have a screen size of 6.0 inches, but this new Windows Phone from the Finnish manufacturer features state-of-the-art hardware. In addition to a speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, it comes with a Full HD IPS screen. Like all premium devices from the Lumia line, the 1520 has a generously sized, 20 MP PureView camera that is to provide good results even in adverse light conditions. This is complemented by the so-called Update 3 (GDR3) for Windows Phone with many improvements, and innumerable proprietary apps. Nokia highlighted the application Storyteller among others during the presentation.

Competition is presently only found in the Android league. It starts with low-budget devices, such as Huawei's Ascend Mate (6.1 inches, from 277 Euros; ~$378), and Asus' Fonepad Note 6 FHD (6.0 inches, from 320 Euros; ~$436), and reaches into the premium division where devices, such as Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 (5.7 inches, from 498 Euros; ~$679), and Sony's Xperia Z Ultra (6.44 inches, from 461 Euros; ~$629) are found. The latter rely on the same high-end SoC as the Finnish manufacturer, and the Lumia 1520's price range (from 500 Euros; ~$684) emphasizes the premium class ambitions. Read in the following review whether that is justified.

Case

Our review sample is made of bright yellow polycarbonate.
Our review sample is made of bright yellow polycarbonate.
The slots can be opened easily with the appropriate tool.
The slots can be opened easily with the appropriate tool.

The casing of Nokia's Lumia 1520 is available in the colors yellow, white, and black. The phablet has a length of 162.8 millimeters, and a width of 85.4 millimeters (~6.4 x 3.4 inches). The body's height varies due to the protruding lens. Nokia thus specifies an average height of 8.7 millimeters (~0.34 inches). Like in both the Lumia 1020 and 920polycarbonate is again used.

The build is on an outstanding level. The gaps are even, and flush. We did not find any sharp edges or deep gaps. The three physical keys on the right are metal. The camera button slightly juts out of the casing, and thus stands out palpably from the other two buttons. Corning Gorilla Glass 2 protects the touchscreen. The phablet proves to be stiff; we could not produce a creaking noise from it. The pressure resistance is also very good. Only stronger pressure on the right or left display bezel causes a light wave formation on the screen. However, normal handling does not have an impact on the Lumia 1520.

The battery unfortunately cannot be removed. Both the SIM and the micro SD slot can be opened with either the included tools or a paper clip. A spring mechanism allows ejecting the corresponding tray easily, and it snaps back in place just as tightly.

Connectivity

There are not many ports on Nokia's Lumia 1520. The micro USB port is used for both recharging the phablet, as well as data sharing with a computer. However, neither an external storage device, nor an input device can be connected to it. It does not support video transmission (MHL) either. The port uses the 2.0 standard; USB 3.0 would have been appreciated in this case.

The memory card slot supports micro SD cards up to a maximum of 64 GB (SDXC). A nano-card SIM card is required. The device also supports wireless charging (Qi standard), and is fully compatible with the available charging devices from Nokia.

Top: Audio
Top: Audio
Left: SIM, micro SD
Left: SIM, micro SD
Bottom: Micro USB 2.0
Bottom: Micro USB 2.0
Right: Volume rocker, power, camera
Right: Volume rocker, power, camera

Software

Nokia's Lumia 1520 is the first device that is delivered with the latest version of Windows Phone 8 (Update 3). Besides that, the proprietary firmware Lumia Black is also pre-loaded. The updates include numerous innovations.

The app Application Folder now allows placing several applications in one tile on the home screen. Its size can be adapted, as usual. The tile displays the icons of the apps, but they are not live tiles. When a folder is opened, the programs are displayed in an alphabetical list that can be sorted as desired. Nokia thus seizes Samsung's app idea, whose App Folder has been exclusively available for the Ativ S for quite a while now.

The Application Folder app allows creating directories.
The Application Folder app allows creating directories.
The same app can be placed in multiple folders.
The same app can be placed in multiple folders.
The stored apps are listed in the directory, and can be sorted as desired.
The stored apps are listed in the directory, and can be sorted as desired.
The directories can be pinned on the home screen in different sizes.
The directories can be pinned on the home screen in different sizes.
Information can be displayed on the screen even in standby.
Information can be displayed on the screen even in standby.

The glance function (Glance Screen 2.0) has also been highly improved. Now not only the time is displayed on the lockscreen, but also new messages. Various display options can be selected, and it can simply be turned off should this feature be unwanted. An important innovation is the improved task manager. As usual, an overview of open apps can be displayed by keeping the back key pressed. However, now it is also possible to close single applications tapping the X in the upper right corner. This is sometimes necessary. For example, we could only open Dungeon Hunter 4 after closing the previously started game Asphalt 8 via the task manager.

Various display options can be selected
Various display options can be selected
The screen's brightness is dimmed in night mode.
The screen's brightness is dimmed in night mode.
The time frame for night mode can be set freely.
The time frame for night mode can be set freely.
Single apps can now be closed in the task manager.
Single apps can now be closed in the task manager.

Nokia launched its Storyteller app alongside the Lumia 1520. It is a digital photo album. Pictures that are on the phablet are put in chronological order, and sorted according to place and time. Thus, pictures taken within the same time frame are compiled to one album. The position can also be displayed on a map when the picture was tagged with GPS data. Single albums can be deleted, and multiple pictures can be grouped. It is also possible to label single albums. The app does not only access pictures and videos shot with the Lumia 1520, but the entire content of the Camera Roll folder on the device. Besides that, all picture files on the micro SD card are included. Thus, it is possible to quickly create a picture story about the owner. The only thing missing is a save feature, which would make relabeling and sorting on a new phone unnecessary. Otherwise, the app is quite recommendable for enthusiastic photographers.

Nokia's Storyteller was launched together with the Lumia 1520.
Nokia's Storyteller was launched together with the Lumia 1520.
Pictures are sorted according to place and time.
Pictures are sorted according to place and time.
Pictures can thus be searched for on a map.
Pictures can thus be searched for on a map.
Pictures can be viewed chronologically via the timeline.
Pictures can be viewed chronologically via the timeline.
The zoom-able local search feature offers a nice overview.
The zoom-able local search feature offers a nice overview.
Favorite places can be saved in favorites list.
Favorite places can be saved in favorites list.
Albums are automatically labeled according to the location, but can be renamed.
Albums are automatically labeled according to the location, but can be renamed.
Pictures in one album.
Pictures in one album.
Location in an album.
Location in an album.
Pictures can be labeled, and shared via all thinkable interfaces and networks.
Pictures can be labeled, and shared via all thinkable interfaces and networks.

The latest version of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 also offers many innovations alongside the Lumia Black update. There is now a Driving Mode that disables all notifications so that the driver is not distracted. Both the phone and SMS function can be deactivated. Callers then receive a reply text. It is possible to configure this feature so that it is automatically activated as soon as a Bluetooth connection with the car is built up.

Specific sounds for text messages, notifications, emails, and reminders can be set. Every contact can also be linked with a personal notification ring tone. Automatic screen rotation can be disabled in the settings as well. Microsoft Office 2013 Mobile is again installed.

The Windows Phone operating system continues to move consistently in the right direction, and the availability of apps is also progressing, but cannot yet compete with the Apple and Google stores. We still miss a notification center and file manager.

Communication & GPS 

The wireless interface equipment in Nokia's Lumia 1520 is state-of-the-art. The Wi-Fi module supports the IEEE 802.11 a/ac/b/g/n standards, and transmits in both the 2.4 and 5.0 GHz frequency bands. The components' range is also very good. We still had a good signal quality even 20 meters (~66 feet) away from the router (Frtiz!Box 6360).

The WWAN modem also has a wide bandwidth. In addition to quad-band GSM, the phablet supports UMTS/HSPA+, and high-speed LTE CAT 4 that enables a maximum download rate of up to 150 MBit/s.

Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC complete the wireless transmission technologies. The latter also supports Secure NFC for encrypted payment transactions.

The device can use both GPS and Glonass for localization, which works accurately and very fast even indoors. There is no reason for complaint outdoors either. Actually, the Lumia 1520 even beats our Garmin Edge 500 comparison device in terms of accuracy.

Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Nokia Lumia 1520
Nokia Lumia 1520
Nokia Lumia 1520
Nokia Lumia 1520
Nokia Lumia 1520
Nokia Lumia 1520

Telephony and Speech Quality

Nokia's Lumia 1520 can also be used as a phone despite its bulky dimensions. The phablet's speech quality is exceptional. Both the called person and the caller were understood perfectly. We did not notice a difference when holding the phablet to the cheek or using its speaker in a quiet surrounding. We were intelligible even when we held the Lumia 1520 an arm length away. The included headset does its purpose, but does not match the phablet's good communication properties. For example, a quiet noise was always audible when speaking in its microphone.

The phone app is the same one as in all other smartphones based on Windows Phone 8. Therefore, the large screen makes one-handed use impossible. The number pad's input fields are gigantic, but the thumb cannot quite reach them.

Pictures shot with the Lumia 1520's webcam
Pictures shot with the Lumia 1520's webcam

Cameras and Multimedia

The webcam in Nokia's Lumia 1520 has a resolution of 1.2 MP (1280x960 pixels), and is very suitable for video calls, providing there is enough light.

The 20 MP lens, with a focal length of 26 mm based on PureView technology, on the back is all the more exciting. In dual capture mode, the 1520 camera shoots two pictures at once, one in 16 MP and a second in 5MP (for easy sharing). The 16 MP image has a resolution of 4992x3744 pixels. It is also possible to save the larger image file as DNG (digital negative). This raw data format allows easy editing and loss-free corrections at a later point on a computer. Unlike most other manufacturers, the Finnish manufacturer does not use the RAW format, but relies on the advantages of DNG. Thus, additional files for saving the image's editing parameters do not have to be created. Principally, the Lumia 1520 is the first smartphone that supports raw data images. However, this is to be available in the Lumia 1020925, and 920 models with the launch of the Lumia Black update.

The Lumia's close-up properties are specified with a focal range of 10 centimeters (~4 inches). We shot the comparison photos using the Nokia Camera app (version 4.4.0.8). In practice, it was evident that the focus did not work flawlessly even at a bit more than 10 cm. This can be remedied by deleting the app, and reloading it from the Windows Phone Store. It worked impeccably after that.

The review sample cannot compete with the camera in Nokia's Lumia 1020 flagship outdoors. The pictures look slightly overexposed in landscape shots in bright sunlight. On the other hand, pictures of objects could use a bit more brightness, and details are not always razor-sharp. This is particularly visible when looking at the circle of the sculpture. The phablet cannot compete with an SLR or the 41 MP Lumia here. However, this was to be expected. The pictures are still very good for a smartphone, and the 1520 does not have to shy away from a comparison with the iPhone or Samsung's Galaxy S4. The major advantage for photo enthusiasts is that pictures taken with the Lumia 1520 are easy to edit due to DNG.

Canon EOS 450D (reference, 12 MP)
Canon EOS 450D (reference, 12 MP)
Nokia Lumia 1520 (20 MP)
Nokia Lumia 1520 (20 MP)
Nokia Lumia 1020 (41 MP)
Nokia Lumia 1020 (41 MP)
iPhone 4S (8 MP)
iPhone 4S (8 MP)
Samsung Galaxy S4 (12.8 MP)
Samsung Galaxy S4 (12.8 MP)
Canon EOS 450D (reference, 12 MP)
Canon EOS 450D (reference, 12 MP)
Nokia Lumia 1520 (20 MP)
Nokia Lumia 1520 (20 MP)
Nokia Lumia 1020 (41 MP)
Nokia Lumia 1020 (41 MP)
iPhone 4S (8 MP)
iPhone 4S (8 MP)
Samsung Galaxy S4 (12.8 MP)
Samsung Galaxy S4 (12.8 MP)
Canon EOS 450D (reference, 12 MP)
Canon EOS 450D (reference, 12 MP)
Nokia Lumia 1520 (20 MP)
Nokia Lumia 1520 (20 MP)
Nokia Lumia 1020 (41 MP)
Nokia Lumia 1020 (41 MP)
iPhone 4S (8 MP)
iPhone 4S (8 MP)
Samsung Galaxy S4 (12.8 MP)
Samsung Galaxy S4 (12.8 MP)
Canon EOS 450D (reference, 12 MP)
Canon EOS 450D (reference, 12 MP)
Nokia Lumia 1520 (20 MP)
Nokia Lumia 1520 (20 MP)
Nokia Lumia 1020 (41 MP)
Nokia Lumia 1020 (41 MP)
iPhone 4S (8 MP)
iPhone 4S (8 MP)
Samsung Galaxy S4 (12.8 MP)
Samsung Galaxy S4 (12.8 MP)
Canon EOS 450D (reference, 12 MP)
Canon EOS 450D (reference, 12 MP)
Nokia Lumia 1520 (20 MP)
Nokia Lumia 1520 (20 MP)
Nokia Lumia 1020 (41 MP)
Nokia Lumia 1020 (41 MP)
iPhone 4S (8 MP)
iPhone 4S (8 MP)
Samsung Galaxy S4 (12.8 MP)
Samsung Galaxy S4 (12.8 MP)

Compared with other devices, Nokia's Lumia 1520 exhibits a light reddish cast in outdoor shots. The automatic color correction apparently does not work properly. The rate was always slightly too high in the image data. However, this can be easily corrected on the computer by using the DNG format. Reloading the Nokia Camera app, however, resolves this issue.

Nokia Lumia 1520 (original, reddish cast)
Nokia Lumia 1520 (original, reddish cast)
Nokia Lumia 1520 (edited)
Nokia Lumia 1520 (edited)

The Lumia 1520 shows its strength in low-light situations. When necessary, a dual LED flash supports it. The aperture of f/2.4 is not quite as wide as, for example, in the Lumia 925 (f/2.0), but the brightness sensitivity can be set up to ISO 4000 manually. All in all, it provides good results that are better than those of its Samsung and Apple smartphone contenders. Only the Lumia 1020 is considerably better in this point.

Canon 450D (no flash, ISO 800)
Canon 450D (no flash, ISO 800)
Canon 450D (with flash, ISO 400)
Canon 450D (with flash, ISO 400)
Canon 450D (with flash, ISO 400)
Canon 450D (with flash, ISO 400)
Lumia 1520 (with flash, ISO 200)
Lumia 1520 (with flash, ISO 200)
Lumia 1520 (no flash, ISO 1000)
Lumia 1520 (no flash, ISO 1000)
Lumia 1520 (no flash, ISO 800)
Lumia 1520 (no flash, ISO 800)
Lumia 1020 (no flash, ISO 1000)
Lumia 1020 (no flash, ISO 1000)
Lumia 1020 (no flash, ISO 1000)
Lumia 1020 (no flash, ISO 1000)
Lumia 1020 (no flash, ISO 1000)
Lumia 1020 (no flash, ISO 1000)
iPhone 4S (no flash, ISO 800)
iPhone 4S (no flash, ISO 800)
iPhone 4S (no flash, ISO 800)
iPhone 4S (no flash, ISO 800)
iPhone 4S (no flash, ISO 800)
iPhone 4S (no flash, ISO 800)
Galaxy S4 (with flash)
Galaxy S4 (with flash)
Galaxy S4 (no flash)
Galaxy S4 (no flash)
Galaxy S4 (no flash)
Galaxy S4 (no flash)
Lumia 1520 (at night, no flash)
Lumia 1520 (at night, no flash)
Lumia 1520 (at night, no flash)
Lumia 1520 (at night, no flash)
Lumia 1520 (at night, no flash)
Lumia 1520 (at night, no flash)
Lumia 1520 (at night, no flash)
Lumia 1520 (at night, no flash)

The Lumia 1520 can also shoot panorama photos. Nokia's proprietary app works impeccably throughout the Lumia lineup. It combines five single photos to one picture. However, we had the problem that the last picture was to be suddenly taken in the opposite direction with our review sample, which resulted in an erroneous picture. Another update is likely necessary here.

Generally, the contender's software seems more developed in this point. The handling of both the iPhone and S4 is much easier. The latter even allows an almost complete 360° panorama.

Nokia Lumia 1520 (five pictures, 9561 x 1293 pixels)
Nokia Lumia 1520 (five pictures, 9561 x 1293 pixels)
Nokia Lumia 1520 (four pictures, 7666 x 1451 pixels)
Nokia Lumia 1520 (four pictures, 7666 x 1451 pixels)
Nokia Lumia 1020 (8967 x 1584 pixels)
Nokia Lumia 1020 (8967 x 1584 pixels)
Apple iPhone 4S (10800 x 2410 pixels)
Apple iPhone 4S (10800 x 2410 pixels)
Samsung Galaxy S4 (19552 x 2672 pixels)
Samsung Galaxy S4 (19552 x 2672 pixels)

With the Nokia Camera app, the Lumia 1520 can also create exposure series based on three or five pictures. Thus, it is perfectly suitable for genuine HDR photography (High Dynamic Range). The example pictures are comprised of five single pictures, and without fine-tuning.

Lumia 1520 (HDR)
Lumia 1520 (HDR)
Lumia 1020 (HDR)
Lumia 1020 (HDR)
Lumia 1520 (HDR)
Lumia 1520 (HDR)
Lumia 1020 (HDR)
Lumia 1020 (HDR)
Lumia 920 (HDR)
Lumia 920 (HDR)

Nokia touts a 20 MP camera, but the pictures have a maximum size of 16 MP. That is because the other pixels are needed for a loss-free digital zoom. All in all, the Lumia 1520's primary camera is totally convincing. Although it cannot reach the level of the unit in the Lumia 1020, it is a good camera for a smartphone that definitely has snapshot qualities. The optional use of the DNG format, just like the optical image stabilizer, is a real added value.

Accessories

The included accessories are, as expected, limited. Besides a headset, there is a small tool for inserting the SIM and micro SD card. The USB cable is used for both data sharing with a computer and recharging the smartphone. The modular power supply with an output of 7.5 Watts (5 V, 1.5 A) can be used for this just like a correspondingly powered USB port. The power supply has both the TÜV (German Association for Technical Inspection) and the GS (certified safety symbol) seal, and proves to be particularly energy-efficient when left plugged into the outlet. Its power consumption is under 0.03 Watts in that case.

Nokia also has a wide range of optional accessories for its smartphones. We have to highlight the Cover CP-623 that not only protects the phablet but which can also be used as a stand. Besides that, there are universal smartphone accessories. A complete list can be found on Nokia's website.

Warranty

Nokia includes a 24-month warranty on the primary device for all its smartphones. The built-in battery and accessories are covered for 12 months, and the power supply for 6 months. The warranty cannot be expanded or upgraded. The buyer can decide whether repairs should be performed by one of Nokia's certified service partners, or if the device should be sent directly to the Finnish company. The user can easily find out whether the phablet's warranty period is still valid by entering the IMEI number on the official website.

Input Devices and Controls

The Lumia 1520's big 6-inch capacitive touchscreen supports up to ten inputs at the same time. Gliding was very smooth, and it worked accurately. Inputs were implemented immediately, and the only delays were the Windows Phone 8 animations.

The virtual keyboard is standard, and quite functional. Its implementation could have been better in landscape mode owing to the large screen and the thus available space. However, valuable space is wasted instead, and only a little content remains visible on the screen.

Keyboard in portrait mode
Keyboard in portrait mode
Keyboard in landscape mode
Keyboard in landscape mode

Display

Like in the Lumia 920, Nokia again relies on an IPS screen for its Lumia 1520. The last two premium Windows phones, Lumia 925 and 1020, both feature an AMOLED. The screen has a diagonal of 6 inches, and the device has a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels (Full HD), which adds up to a pixel density of 367 ppi. Thus, displayed content is razor-sharp.

The average brightness is just below 399 cd/m², which is on a good level. The illumination of 86% is also good, but could be a bit better considering the category in which the Lumia 1520 is placed. Strangely, other premium devices, such as the Xperia Z Ultra (442 cd/m², 81%) and the Galaxy Note 3 (342 cd/m2, 81%), are no better. The lower-priced Huawei Ascend Mate (470 cd/m², 89%) has better rates. Subjectively, there is no reason for complaint, especially since neither clouding nor bleeding are visible on the screen.

420
cd/m²
408
cd/m²
362
cd/m²
418
cd/m²
421
cd/m²
371
cd/m²
401
cd/m²
414
cd/m²
375
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 421 cd/m²
Average: 398.9 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 86 %
Center on Battery: 421 cd/m²
Black: 0.48 cd/m²
Contrast: 877:1
Color accuracy (sRGB)
Color accuracy (sRGB)

The Lumia 1520's black level of 0.46 cd/m² is relatively good. The contrast ratio of 877:1 is also very decent.

The color saturation and temperature can be adjusted in the phablet's settings; each has nine levels. The most natural result is achieved when the saturation is reduced to minimum, and the temperature is set to level 6. The grayscale then reaches a DeltaE of 2, and the mixed colors a rate of 3, which are quite good rates.

Mixed colors (sRGB, min. saturation)
Mixed colors (sRGB, min. saturation)
Mixed colors (sRGB, default)
Mixed colors (sRGB, default)
Mixed colors (AdobeRGB, default)
Mixed colors (AdobeRGB, default)
Mixed colors (sRGB, max. saturation)
Mixed colors (sRGB, max. saturation)
Grayscale (sRGB, color temperature lvl. 1)
Grayscale (sRGB, color temperature lvl. 1)
Grayscale (sRGB, color temperature lvl. 3)
Grayscale (sRGB, color temperature lvl. 3)
Grayscale (sRGB, color temperature lvl. 5 / default)
Grayscale (sRGB, color temperature lvl. 5 / default)
Grayscale (sRGB, color temperature lvl. 7 / default)
Grayscale (sRGB, color temperature lvl. 7 / default)
Grayscale (sRGB, color temperature lvl. 9 / default)
Grayscale (sRGB, color temperature lvl. 9 / default)
Color saturation (sRGB, min.)
Color saturation (sRGB, min.)
Color saturation (sRGB, default)
Color saturation (sRGB, default)
Color saturation (sRGB, max.)
Color saturation (sRGB, max.)

Nokia does not rely only on the screen's good contrast ratio and decent brightness to ensure good readability even in sunlight. The known ClearBlack technology and special software algorithms are additionally used. The latter is particularly visible in direct, intense sunlight. The surface then makes an extremely high-contrast impression, and the depths in images look like they have been subjected to exposure compensation. Although the color accuracy is no longer given, even texts can be read easily. Outdoor use is thus well possible.

The glossy screen does not allow acute viewing angles in sunlight.
The glossy screen does not allow acute viewing angles in sunlight.
The restrictions are minor when viewed directly.
The restrictions are minor when viewed directly.

The viewing angle stability of Nokia's Lumia 1520 is very good owing to the underlying IPS technology. A slight loss in brightness is only noticed in viewing angles beyond approximately 40°. Otherwise, the image remains visible even in extremely flat angles providing that the glossy screen does not ruin the fun beforehand in bright surroundings.

Viewing angles: Nokia Lumia 1520
Viewing angles: Nokia Lumia 1520

Performance

Nokia's Lumia 1520 sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, which is presently one of the speediest SoCs on the market. The quad-core processor clocks with up to 2.2 GHz per core, and it is supported by 2 GB of working memory. The swift Adreno 330 is available as the graphic unit. The bundle promises abundant power.

The on-screen rates in GFXBench (25 fps) confirm a swift GPU performance. In return, the off-screen rate of only 13 fps is below the expectations. The phablet also proves that it can keep up with identically equipped devices in Linpack (944,656 MFLOPS), and that it has enormous CPU power. Only Sony's Xperia Z Ultra (958,028 MFLOPS) and Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 (986,355 MFLOPS) defeat it marginally.

The review sample achieved a score of 24,513 points in the AnTuTu benchmark. This rate cannot be used for direct comparison with the Android contenders because the app on the Windows Phone has not been updated for a long time, and also still has the Beta status. The tool, however, also ascertains the flash storage's linear read and write rates. They are extraordinarily high with 313 MB/s (read) and 532 MB/s (write). The storage has a capacity of 32 GB, and approximately 27 GB are available after initiation.

The browser benchmarks show the typical picture for devices based on a mobile Windows version. Internet Explorer 10 cannot keep up in many of these comparisons, and only surpasses contenders using a weaker SoC. The Lumia 1520 only scores quite well in the Sunspider 1.0 Java benchmark. However, there is nothing wrong with the browsing speed subjectively.

GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Nokia Lumia 1520
13 fps ∼1%
Nokia Lumia 1020
3.1 fps ∼0% -76%
Nokia Lumia 925
3.3 fps ∼0% -75%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
8.9 fps ∼1% -32%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
15 fps ∼2% +15%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
21 fps ∼2% +62%
Huawei Ascend Mate
22 fps ∼2% +69%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
24 fps ∼3% +85%
Apple iPhone 5S
25 fps ∼3% +92%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Nokia Lumia 1520
25 fps ∼7%
Nokia Lumia 1020
5.9 fps ∼2% -76%
Nokia Lumia 925
6.3 fps ∼2% -75%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
9.2 fps ∼3% -63%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
15 fps ∼4% -40%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
22 fps ∼6% -12%
Huawei Ascend Mate
35 fps ∼10% +40%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
25 fps ∼7% 0%
Apple iPhone 5S
37 fps ∼10% +48%
Linpack Android / IOS
Single Thread (sort by value)
Nokia Lumia 1520
236.164 MFLOPS ∼23%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
136.536 MFLOPS ∼13% -42%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
304.848 MFLOPS ∼30% +29%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
441.228 MFLOPS ∼43% +87%
Huawei Ascend Mate
46.73 MFLOPS ∼5% -80%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
438.918 MFLOPS ∼43% +86%
Apple iPhone 5S
518.44 MFLOPS ∼51% +120%
Multi Thread (sort by value)
Nokia Lumia 1520
944.656 MFLOPS ∼39%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
281.111 MFLOPS ∼12% -70%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
617.879 MFLOPS ∼25% -35%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
958.028 MFLOPS ∼39% +1%
Huawei Ascend Mate
117.211 MFLOPS ∼5% -88%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
986.355 MFLOPS ∼41% +4%
Apple iPhone 5S
931.38 MFLOPS ∼38% -1%
Peacekeeper - --- (sort by value)
Nokia Lumia 1520
515 Points ∼8%
Nokia Lumia 1020
331 Points ∼5% -36%
Nokia Lumia 925
335 Points ∼5% -35%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
734 Points ∼12% +43%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
555 Points ∼9% +8%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
828 Points ∼13% +61%
Huawei Ascend Mate
495 Points ∼8% -4%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
731 Points ∼12% +42%
Apple iPhone 5S
1775 Points ∼29% +245%
Octane V1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Nokia Lumia 1520
1004 Points ∼5%
Nokia Lumia 1020
612 Points ∼3% -39%
Nokia Lumia 925
593 Points ∼3% -41%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
3546 Points ∼17% +253%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
2290 Points ∼11% +128%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
4105 Points ∼20% +309%
Huawei Ascend Mate
1373 Points ∼7% +37%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
3743 Points ∼18% +273%
Apple iPhone 5S
5561 Points ∼26% +454%
Sunspider - 1.0 Total Score (sort by value)
Nokia Lumia 1520
545.2 ms * ∼14%
Nokia Lumia 1020
905.9 ms * ∼22% -66%
Nokia Lumia 925
905.1 ms * ∼22% -66%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
857.1 ms * ∼21% -57%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
1168.2 ms * ∼29% -114%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
763.9 ms * ∼19% -40%
Huawei Ascend Mate
1610.3 ms * ∼40% -195%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
1003 ms * ∼25% -84%
Apple iPhone 5S
413.1 ms * ∼10% +24%
Browsermark - --- (sort by value)
Nokia Lumia 1520
2098 points ∼29%
Nokia Lumia 1020
597 points ∼8% -72%
Nokia Lumia 925
1721 points ∼24% -18%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
2157 points ∼30% +3%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
2502 points ∼35% +19%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
2989 points ∼42% +42%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
2977 points ∼41% +42%
Apple iPhone 5S
3365 points ∼47% +60%

Legend

 
Nokia Lumia 1520 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Nokia Lumia 1020 Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus MSM8960, Qualcomm Adreno 225, 32 GB SSD
 
Nokia Lumia 925 Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus MSM8960, Qualcomm Adreno 225, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG Intel Atom Z2580, PowerVR SGX544MP2, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505 Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064T, Qualcomm Adreno 320, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
Sony Xperia Z Ultra Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB SSD
 
Huawei Ascend Mate HiSilicon k3v2 Hi3620, Vivante GC4000, 8 GB SSD
 
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 32 GB SSD
 
Apple iPhone 5S Apple A7, PowerVR G6430, 16 GB iNAND Flash

* ... smaller is better

Games

Owing to Qualcomm Adreno 330, the Lumia 1520 has ample performance reserves even for future games. It does not matter if classic games, such as Solitaire, or more sophisticated games are to be played - the GPU does not come close to its limits in any of the games available in the Windows Phone Store. The games that we tested, i.e. Asphalt 8 and Dungeon Hunter 4, all ran swiftly and smoothly.

The excellent touchscreen, and the impeccably functioning sensors, round off the gaming fun successfully.The excellent touchscreen, and the impeccably functioning sensors round off the gaming fun successfully.

Solitaire
Solitaire
Asphalt 8
Asphalt 8
Dungeon Hunter 4
Dungeon Hunter 4

Emissions

Temperature

The surface temperatures climbed to a maximum of 30.3 °C (86.54 °F) in idle mode, which is harmless. The temperatures skyrocket during steady load, and reach the highest rate in the comparison field with 49 °C (120.2 °F). Only the Ascend Mate (max. 47 °C; 116.6 °F) achieves a similar temperature; all other devices stay clearly below that. This rate is, however, not critical and will only be achieved in longer gaming sessions at best.

 28.4 °C26.5 °C25.1 °C 
 30.2 °C27.0 °C25.2 °C 
 29.7 °C26.8 °C25.0 °C 
Maximum: 30.2 °C
Average: 27.1 °C
25.1 °C26.2 °C27.0 °C
25.0 °C26.4 °C29.6 °C
25.1 °C27.1 °C30.3 °C
Maximum: 30.3 °C
Average: 26.9 °C
Power Supply (max.)  30.9 °C | Room Temperature 21.0 °C | Voltcraft IR-350

Speakers

The rear-sided speaker conveys a decent sound quality. The trebles are rendered quite authentically, but could be a bit clearer. The mids are not noticeable, and although bass is plainly audible, it is a bit muddy. The sound is, however, free of other distortions and can maintain the level even in maximum volume, which is really loud. Thus, this component makes an overall good impression. Its positioning is a bit unfavorable when the phablet is held in landscape mode because it is then very likely that the speaker will be covered with a hand.

The included headset is very bass-heavy, but does its purpose for occasional use. The included equalizer, and support for Dolby headphones are practical.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The power consumption of Nokia's Lumia 1520 ranges in the expected field, and compared with the contenders is only marginally higher. It consumes between 1.2 and 2.1 Watts when idling, and the consumption rate climbs up to 6.9 Watts during load. The comparison field is also very close here; only the Ascend Mate (max. 10.7 W) deviates a bit. The Z Ultra is the most economical device (max. 6.1 W).

The slightly higher standby rate was ascertained with the blink function permanently activated.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.0 / 0.4 Watt
Idle 1.2 / 1.8 / 2.1 Watt
Load 2.9 / 6.8 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

Nokia's Lumia 1520 sports a non-removable battery with a power of 3400 mAh. It allows the phablet to reach decent runtimes. We ascertain the maximum runtime using the screen's minimum brightness and only Wi-Fi enabled. Reading a text is simulated via an online script. The review sample reached a runtime of over 24 hours in this scenario.

In the opposite scenario, we ascertain the minimum runtime using the screen's maximum brightness, and all power consumers enabled via the battery test from the WP Bench app. The phablet shut down after just over three hours.

The Wi-Fi and video test are more real-life, and both are usually performed using a standardized screen brightness of 150 cd/m². However, since the Windows Phone only has three manual brightness settings, we had to use the medium setting of 201 cd/m² because it comes closest to the test conditions. The Lumia 1520 achieved good runtimes in both areas, and thus a day with one battery charge should be easily possible.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
24h 15min
WiFi Surfing
9h 42min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
14h 33min
Load (maximum brightness)
3h 14min

Verdict

In review: Nokia Lumia 1520. Review sample courtesy of Nokia Germany.
In review: Nokia Lumia 1520. Review sample courtesy of Nokia Germany.

Nokia has successfully entered the phablet sector with its Lumia 1520. It convinces with its excellent build, and its very good screen. The camera also belongs to the better ones in the smartphone division, and stands out with its diverse functions and raw data support. Another highlight is the good GPS receiver that is exceptionally precise.

There is not much criticism for the 6 inch phablet. One port that supports video transmission would have been welcome though. It is also too bad that the Finnish manufacturer still use USB 2.0, considering that the current 3.0 standard would allow faster recharging, and speedier data sharing. Besides that, the RRP is fairly steep even if the price has fallen considerably since its market launch.

Nokia offers a device that merges into every life situation of its user, and is simply fun to use. Owners of a compact camera will soon leave it in the cupboard even if the picture quality cannot compete with that of the Lumia 1020. It is a good companion for athletes, at work, and on trips. Users who value an IP certification in a phablet should look closer at Sony's Xperia Z Ultra. Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 and Asus' Fonepad Note 6 are warmly recommended for fans of stylus inputting.

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In Review: Nokia Lumia 1520. Review sample courtesy of Nokia Germany.
In Review: Nokia Lumia 1520. Review sample courtesy of Nokia Germany.

Specifications

Nokia Lumia 1520

:: Processor
:: Memory
2048 MB
:: Graphics adapter
Qualcomm Adreno 330, Core: 450 MHz, OpenGL ES 3.0
:: Display
6.0 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, capacitive touchscreen, ten touch points, highly sensitive, Nokia Glance Display, IPS, ClearBlack, Corning Gorilla Glass 2, High Brightness Mode, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
32 GB eMMC Flash, 32 GB , 26 GB free
:: Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: combo headphone/microphone jack, Card Reader: Micro SD max. 64 GB (SDXC), Sensors: ambient light sensor, accelerometer, 3D position and proximity sensor, compass (magnetometer), NFC, A-GPS, Glonass, wireless charging standard: Qi
:: Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a b g n ac), 4.0 Bluetooth, GSM (850, 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz), UMTS/HSPA+ (850, 900, 1900 and 2100 MHz), LTE cat. 4 (bands: 1, 3, 7, 8, 20)
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 8.7 x 162.8 x 85.4
:: Weight
0.21 kg Power Supply: 0.052 kg
:: Battery
Lithium-Ion, 3400 mAh
Talk time 2G (according to manufacturer): 27 h, Talk time 3G (according to manufacturer): 25 h, Standby 2G (according to manufacturer): 32 h
:: Price
799 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows Phone 8
:: Additional features
Webcam: Rear: 20 MP (4992 x 3744), Front: 1.2 MP (1280 x 960), Speakers: one rear-sided speaker, Keyboard: virtual, power supply, data cable, headset, 20 Euro app coupon , Here Drive+, Here Maps, Nokia MixRadio, Nokia Storyteller, 24 Months Warranty

 

[+] compare
The box.
The box.
The Lumia 1520 has a size of 6 inches.
The Lumia 1520 has a size of 6 inches.
Left to right: Lumia 1520, Lumia 1020, Galaxy S4
Left to right: Lumia 1520, Lumia 1020, Galaxy S4
The webcam is sufficient for video calls.
The webcam is sufficient for video calls.
The SIM and micro SD cards are easy to remove.
The SIM and micro SD cards are easy to remove.
The screen has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.
The screen has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.
The three typical touch buttons from Windows Phone are below the screen.
The three typical touch buttons from Windows Phone are below the screen.
The polycarbonate casing is pleasant to hold.
The polycarbonate casing is pleasant to hold.
A dual LED flash supports the 20 MP camera.
A dual LED flash supports the 20 MP camera.
The speaker's position is a bit adverse.
The speaker's position is a bit adverse.
Box with accessories.
Box with accessories.
The modular power supply has an output of 7.5 Watts.
The modular power supply has an output of 7.5 Watts.
There's a lot of room on the Lumia 1520's home screen.
There's a lot of room on the Lumia 1520's home screen.
The automatic screen rotation can now be disabled.
The automatic screen rotation can now be disabled.
Customized ring tones can now be assigned to notifications.
Customized ring tones can now be assigned to notifications.
The device warns about the dangers of too high volumes.
The device warns about the dangers of too high volumes.
Equalizer
Equalizer
Sound enhancements
Sound enhancements
Google Octane V1
Google Octane V1
Peacekeeper
Peacekeeper
Mozilla Kraken 1.0
Mozilla Kraken 1.0
Mozilla Kraken 1.1
Mozilla Kraken 1.1
WebXPRT
WebXPRT
AnTuTu V 0.8
AnTuTu V 0.8
Browsermark 2.0
Browsermark 2.0
Sunspider 0.9.1
Sunspider 0.9.1
Sunspider 1.0.2
Sunspider 1.0.2

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» Sony Xperia Z3 Smartphone Review
Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, 5.2", 0.152 kg
» Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Smartphone Review
Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, 4.6", 0.129 kg
» LG G3 Smartphone and LG G Watch Review
Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, 5.5", 0.149 kg
» Nokia Lumia 930 Smartphone Review
Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, 5.0", 0.17 kg
» Review Samsung Galaxy S5 Smartphone
Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, 5.1", 0.145 kg

Links


Compare Prices

Pro

+Exceptional telephone acoustics
+Good screen
+Excellent build
+Decent battery runtimes
+Good camera featuring DNG format support
+Extensive additional software
+Very good localization
+Microsoft Office
+Micro SD slot
+LTE cat. 4
+ac Wi-Fi
 

Cons

-USB 2.0 only
-No video out
-Adverse one-handed usage
-Stylus inputting not possible

Shortcut

What we like

The screen looks good even without AMOLED, and is also convincing in sunlight. Besides that, the phablet's build quality is exceptional.

What we'd like to see

A USB 3.0 port would have been welcome, or at least an MHL-capable port. We also missed the option of stylus inputting.

What surprised us

Nokia does not sell many smartphones compared with the major smartphone manufacturers. This is difficult to understand when looking at devices such as the Lumia 1520.

The competition

The contenders are: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Mega 6.3, Asus Fonepad Note 6, Huawei Ascend Mate and Sony Xperia Z Ultra.

Rating

Nokia Lumia 1520
04/01/2014 v4
Daniel Schmidt

Chassis
94%
Keyboard
62 / 75 → 83%
Pointing Device
94%
Connectivity
48 / 60 → 80%
Weight
88%
Battery
94%
Display
88%
Games Performance
55 / 75 → 73%
Application Performance
41 / 65 → 63%
Temperature
84%
Noise
100%
Audio
64 / 91 → 70%
Camera
85%
Average
77%
86%
Smartphone *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Review Nokia Lumia 1520 Phablet
Author: Daniel Schmidt, 2014-01-17 (Update: 2014-01-24)