Nokia Lumia 1520 review

The best Windows Phone on the market, but there are still a few quirks Tested at £0

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The best Windows Phone on the market, but there are still a few quirks


  • +

    Great screen

  • +

    Beautiful OS

  • +

    Superb camera

  • +

    Good video performance


  • -

    Windows Phone still lacks apps

  • -

    File compatibility

  • -

    Music repro could be stronger

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The Nokia Lumia 1520 is a Windows Phone of firsts.

For a start, its sizeable 6in screen means it’s the first Windows Phone ‘phablet’ to hit the market and, more importantly, it’s also the first to pack a quad-core processor and a Full HD screen, putting it up there with the competition on core specs.


It’s also a great example of how plastic can be used in a phone without making it feel cheap – the soft-touch finish helps give the 1520 a very premium feel.

On board, you’re looking at the latest iteration of Windows Phone 8. The Windows Phone operating system comes with its quirks, not least because it looks unique.

That may work for or against you but, either way, it certainly takes a bit of exploring to get used to.

Not that that’s much of a chore – it’s nothing short of gorgeous to look at. Even transitions between menus are showy and full of flourish – although they can slow things down a bit.

App availability continues to be an Achilles’ heel for Windows Phone handsets. While the situation is getting better, with over 200,000 apps now available, WP is still way behind iOS and Android, particularly when it comes to the most recent apps and games.


But onto the good stuff, and there is plenty of it. This is easily the best Windows Phone to date, and holds its own at every turn on performance.

If you’re big on photos on the go, then the 1520 is seriously worth considering – its camera is up there as one of the best in its class.

Not only does it take sharp, accurate, well-balanced photos with its 20MP lens, its camera UI is about as in-depth as mobile camera apps get. There’s also a hugely capable 1080p video mode.

The full HD, 368ppi screen puts itself to great use when it comes to video content, which looks sharp, well judged and packed with fine detail.

Colours are beautifully handled, looking natural and never overdone, while blacks are inky deep with a good level of shadow detail.

The 1520’s musical ability sits just on the right side of rich and full-bodied, but can tip towards sounding a touch bassy, particularly if used with the bundled earbuds.

Format compatibility is a little limited too – while most other devices in its category can handle better-quality files like WAV and FLAC, the 1520 is limited to MP3, WMA and AAC.

Other nice features include a decent built-in navigation service from Nokia’s Here Maps and Microsoft Office included as standard, as well as 4G compatibility, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity.

When it comes to battery life, we found it to be of average performance, dropping 20 per cent during a two-hour movie with wi-fi on and at medium brightness. We’d expect it to last a solid day with average usage.


While there’s no denying the Lumia 1520 has its flaws, if you’ve ever been curious about Windows Phone this could well be the handset that finally pushes you to make the jump.

There really is a lot to love about it. It’s just a shame that app availability still remains a disappointment.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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