Build & Design: The 1520 is a big phone. The black variant comes with a matte finish that is good to hold. The phone doesnt slip off the palm easily, which is crucial considering how big it is. The size makes it nearly impossible to use with one hand, so does its weight (209 g). It fit in the front pocket of only one of the five trousers I wore while reviewing the device, and even then, taking the phone out to take calls was tedious. This is the first Lumia phone to require a nano-SIM card, also found on iPhone 5 and 5S. The nano-SIM is smaller than micro-SIM cards and most telecom operators let users swap SIM cards for a nominal fee.
Like most Lumia phones, the design of the 1520 is immaculate and the touchscreen is very responsive. Buttons for volume, power and camera are on the right hand side of the device. There is no marking to indicate which button does what, so you will have to figure that out initially. This phone supports expandable memory via microSD cards in case you want more storage.
The display on this phone is excellent. Whether you are reading outdoors or in a dark room, it will not disappoint. Blacks are prominent and colours are vivid on the screen. This is a great phone for watching films.
Software & Performance: In our review of Windows Phone 8 last year, we had said that it is a refreshing take on a smartphone OS. It has several good features but is lacking in some basic areas. While testing the Lumia 1520, we noticed a few major shortcomings in the software. The first is the lack of a good notification centre. In Android and iOS, you can check your messages, email and other updates by swiping down from the top of the screen. In Windows Phone, these notifications disappear after a couple of seconds. If you miss a notification, there is no way to find it. In this operating system, notifications appear on the apps arrayed on the home screen referred to as live tiles. Not all apps support live tiles, which underlines the need for a notification centre. Lets hope it comes to the platform soon.
A minor problem was the inability to sync the Google calender and contacts. A Nokia spokesperson told us that this is a known issue with the operating system, so perhaps a fix is on the way. In the meantime, Nokia ships the phone with an excellent app called Transfer My Data, which uses Bluetooth to copy contacts from another phone. It worked perfectly with an iPhone.
Having said that, it is imperative to highlight how much the app store has evolved in the past year. Many of the better apps from Android and iOS are available on Windows Phone now, including Instagram, Vine, Path, Temple Run, Kindle and more. There are unofficial apps for some services such as Google Hangouts and Dropbox, so you wont miss much, should you buy this phone. A large number of apps look much better on smaller Lumia phones, but that may be a simple case of developers not optimising apps for six-inch devices. WhatsApp users will be disappointed with the Windows Phone version as messages often reach late and the app often fails to notify about incoming messages.
Nokia must be praised for equipping yet another phone with a great camera. The 1520s 20.7-MP camera performs well in most conditions. It did not perform well during thick fog at night, unlike the 1020 which is still far better than any camera Nokia has made.
This phone performed very well when handling heavy tasks such as gaming and watching films simultaneously. The battery takes a long time to charge, but lasts over a day on heavy use.
Should You Buy It If you are comfortable with the size and dont overly-depend on Google services, the Lumia 1520 is a recommended purchase. Good apps, a great camera and exceptional battery life make it worth buying.