A fantastic phablet: Nokia’s Lumia 1520 reviewed

In case you haven’t heard how PureView works, essentially, Nokia has found a workaround to the issue of zooming in on a smartphone camera.

Traditional zoom requires a mechanical lens, usually one that’s motorised with several glass elements in place. When used, this allows the photographer to get closer, but also increases the thickness of the device the camera has been installed on, because there’s a working lens that will likely extrude from the device.

Nokia’s solution to this is to make the sensor bigger and have the frame crop in on the area you want to shoot, taking the Lumia 1520’s 20 megapixel sensor and bringing it down to 5 megapixels for every shot.

You can either shoot an image from far away at 5 megapixels, or have the camera “zoom” by cropping the sensor in that position.

Daylight shot at 5 megapixels.

It’s a neat idea, and in the Lumia 1020, it made a lot of sense, cropping the 40 megapixel sensor in that camera down and providing some reasonable “zooming,” even if the up-close images weren’t razor sharp when used in this mode.

In the Lumia 1520, the sensor size is smaller, pushed down to 20 megapixels, but the zoom mode still works in much the same way, providing some zoom that at least isn’t the digital zoom we expect out of another smartphone camera.

This method of zooming can get you closer, but really, it’s the performance of the camera in day and night that impresses us greatly.

When the sun is out, the Lumia 1520’s camera performs very well, with strong colours and excellent recreation, though sometimes you may find you need to select a better focus point to improve the light balance more accurately.

At night and in low-light, the camera still manages to handle itself, producing a respectable lack of noise in the darker spots, which can result in some excellent imagery, provided you hold still.

Night shot at 5 megapixels.

If there’s one thing that bugs us about the Lumia 1520, though, it’s the weight, and at 209 grams, this isn’t a light handset by a long shot.

Throw it in your pocket and you will notice the weight, because it drags your pants down. Inside a bag, you won’t be concerned, but the moment it hits your clothing, there’s no use in denying its presence, because it is severely obvious.

Interestingly, the weight doesn’t pose a problem in the hands, and the heft from this thing actually goes a long way to make it feel solid and strong, but only in your hands.

One other minor thing is the nanoSIM support, and this is the first Nokia we’ve seen that requires the SIM card style used in the iPhone 5, 5S, and 5C.

The only issue that this brings is that previous owners of a Windows Phone or pretty much any Android phone will need to make their way to a new SIM card, which either means a trip to the local arm of your telco, or risking cutting the microSIM down, which we don’t recommend.


We’ll happily give credit where credit is due, and it is certainly due here, as the Nokia Lumia 1520 isn’t just an excellent first phablet for Nokia, it’s an outstanding handset for the Finnish brand in general.

Some may criticise Windows Phone for its app ecosystem, and while it’s true that it’s still building itself, it is getting stronger, and it’s not technically the job of the phone manufacturer to improve this. In fact, the supply of apps is beginning to increase, and even includes Instagram, which took so long to appear on the platform.

Outside of the ecosystem, there is just so much to like about the Lumia 1520, from the speedy performance to the superb battery life, and even that gorgeous 6 inch Full HD screen and included wireless charging support. In fact, the only things you might hate the phone for is the weight, which you will notice in your pocket.

That said, if you’re after a top quality tablet-sized phone and aren’t against the Windows Phone ecosystem, you owe it to yourself to check out the Lumia 1520. Highly recommended.

Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Fast system performance; Excellent 4G; Solid battery life, with as much as two days going into a third day; Fantastic camera; Expandable memory; Bigger screen size allows for an extra column of icons, which means you can generally fit all the icons you need on one page; Wireless charging built in, though you will need the Nokia wireless charger;
A little on the heavy side; Takes nanoSIM, so previous Windows Phone users will need to get a new SIM card;