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Nokia Lumia 1520 Cameraphone Review

The Nokia Lumia 1520 is a large 6inch phablet / smartphone with a 20 megapixel camera. We find out how it performs.

| Nokia Lumia 1520 in Camera Phones
BUY NOW NOKIA Lumia 1520

Nokia Lumia 1520 Cameraphone Review: Nokia Lumia 1520 Pureview White (1)

The Nokia Lumia 1520 is Nokia's largest mobile phone (a.k.a phablet*) to date with a large 6inch screen, and on the rear is a 20.7 megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss f/2.4 lens and built in optical image stabilisation. Running the latest version of Windows phone, the Nokia Lumia 1520 is available for £529.
* phablet meaning half phone, half tablet.

Nokia Lumia 1520 Features

Nokia Lumia 1520 Cameraphone Review: Nokia Lumia 1520 Pureview White (5)

The camera uses a 20 megapixel sensor and combines pixels for better image quality (by creating smaller 5 megapixel images), as well as providing 2-3x zoom, this can be used for photos and videos. The camera saves both the high resolution 20 megapixel images as well as the 5 megapixel resized image, making it easy to share the smaller 5 megapixel images straight to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Unlike the Nokia Lumia 1020, the 1520 does not feature a Xenon flash, instead it features a dual-LED flash, an f/2.4 Carl Zeiss lens equivalent to 26mm, and optical image stabilisation for improved low light performance. A dedicated two-step shutter release button lets you pre-focus and then take the shot with a full press. You can also use this to unlock the phone and go straight into the camera mode, without having to unlock the phone and then start the camera app.

The camera comes with Nokia's latest version of the Pro camera app The Nokia Pro Camera App lets you take both full resolution photos and lower resolution photos, letting you zoom into the photos afterwards. You also can use the zoom, adjust exposure compensation, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, as well as use manual focus. Full HD video records with stereo sound, and 3x zoom can be used without loss of quality.

Nokia Lumia 1520 Cameraphone Review: Nokia Lumia 1520 Pureview White (2)

Key Features

  • 20 megapixel 1/2.5inch BSI sensor
  • Carl Zeiss Tessar f/2.4 lens, 26mm equivalent
  • 2x high resolution zoom
  • Optical Image Stabilisation
  • Dual LED flash, AF assist light
  • Full HD Video, stereo sound
  • 6inch full HD 16:9 touchscreen
  • Quad-core 2.2 GHz processor
  • 3x zoom FullHD video without image quality loss
  • ISO100 to ISO4000
  • 10cm macro focus
  • Photo Geotagging, A-GPS, A-GLONASS
  • 32GB mass memory, 2GB ram
  • MicroSD expansion slot
  • Available in black, white and red

Nokia Lumia 1520 Handling

Nokia Lumia 1520 Cameraphone Review: Nokia Lumia 1520 Pureview White (6)

If you thought some of the 4.5inch and 5inch phones were big, such as the Nokia Lumia 1020 and Sony Xperia Z, then wait till you use the Nokia Lumia 1520 - it is huge! It is dominated by the large 6inch screen, but unlike most Samsung Galaxy smartphones, it isn't as thin as it could be, and therefore feels quite chunky, and in our opinion is slightly too large to be treated as a normal smartphone. It weighs 209g (double that of a compact digital camera), however this does give it the feeling of a well built premium product, and with Gorilla Glass should be fairly resistant to damage and scratches. The Nokia Lumia 1520 doesn't weigh as much as some other phablets, for example the HTC One Max and Sony Xperia Z Ultra both weigh slightly more, at 217g and 212g respectively.

Focus can be set by simply using the touch screen and selecting the object that you want to take a photo of, and then you can press the photo button on the screen. The shutter release can be used to
pre-focus and then take the shot. Along the top of the screen, when holding the camera in landscape orientation and using the Nokia Pro app, are the main camera controls with options to set the flash, ISO,
shutter speed, white balance, exposure compensation and manual focus.

To use zoom you simply slide your finger up the screen to zoom in, and to zoom out slide your finger down the screen. You can also pinch to zoom if you prefer. You can switch from Nokia Pro Cam to view
the last photo, letting you crop, zoom and rotate the photo.

The Lumia 1520 runs the Windows smartphone operating system that is neatly designed, and quick to respond, with access to all the major social networks, letting you upload photos straight to Facebook, Twitter and other sites. While Windows doesn't yet have as much app support as Android and iOS, it is a modern and easy to use system that is quite easy to get used to, and app support is growing.

Nokia Lumia 1520 Cameraphone Review: Nokia Lumia 1520 Pureview White (7)

Battery capacity is 3400mAh (BV-4BW), however, as this is a smartphone with a variety of uses, your battery life is likely to vary depending on how you use it, as well as how much you use it. If you regularly use your phone for internet browsing, sat-nav and additional power hungry uses, then daily charging is likely to be needed (as is the case with most smartphones).

Nokia Lumia 1520 Cameraphone Review: Nokia Lumia 1520 Screen (3) Nokia Lumia 1520 Cameraphone Review: Nokia Lumia 1520 Screen (2) Nokia Lumia 1520 Cameraphone Review: Nokia Lumia 1520 Screen (1)
Nokia Lumia 1520 Intro Nokia Lumia 1520 Pro Cam  Nokia Lumia 1520 Photo options

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

  Nokia Lumia 1520
Shutter Response 0.1
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.9
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo / Unlock 36s / 4.5s
Shot to Shot without Flash (both 5mp, 19mp) 1.5s
Shot to Shot with Flash (both 5mp, 19mp) 1.8s
Continuous Shooting - JPEG (both 5mp, 19mp) 1.5s 

Continuous shooting is the same speed whether shooting with just 5mp selected, or both 5mp + 19mp selected. 

Nokia Lumia 1520 Cameraphone Review: Nokia Lumia 1520 Pureview White (8)

Nokia Lumia 1520 Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Nokia Lumia 1520 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - The dual LED flash does a decent job of lighting the subject in our test portrait shot. The camera has a reasonably good macro focus distance of 10cm meaning close up photos can be good. Exposure and detail is generally good, with a good level of detail shown in the full size images (click the RAW links to view the full size images). Colour is good and images will look good shared on social network website. One of the most noticeable issues is shooting with a bright light source in the image, such as the shots above, where strong lens flare becomes an issue. Re-composing the image with the light source out of the frame resolves this. 

Nokia Lumia 1520 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - Noise performance is particularly good at the lower (5mp) resolution, with good results up to ISO800. Above this the electronic shutter causes some issues with our test setup. When viewing the full size images, which are available when you click the "RAW" links above, noise is more visible, although images still should produce good results up to ISO800. 

Nokia Lumia 1520 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well whether shooting in tungsten or fluorescent lighting. Using the presets gives identical results. 

Photo apps - Pressing the left/right arrow on screen lets you switch to another photo app, such as
Nokia Cinemagraph, Nokia Pro Cam, the standard Camera, and Bing Vision. You can also search for more, where you'll be able to find Nokia Refocus, and Nokia Panorama.

Nokia Lumia 1520 Cameraphone Review: Panorama | 1/510 sec | f/2.4 | ISO 100
Panorama | 1/510 sec | f/2.4 | ISO 100

The Nokia Panorama app needs to be added before you can take panoramic photos. The panoramic mode isn't as simple to use as other panoramic sweep modes on other smartphones and cameras, instead you press the screen to start, then line up a dot as you pan the camera, when the dot is lined up, you hold the phone still while it takes a photo and then continue panning. Once complete the phone stitches the photos together. Results are reasonable although not always perfectly stitched.

Nokia Lumia 1520 Scene modes

Nokia Refocus lets you choose the focus points after you've taken the photos much like the Lytro camera, you can also save an "all-in-focus" photo, as well as create a colour pop version. 

Nokia Lumia 1520 Digital filters

Digital Filters - There are a number of effects and creative colour options with the built in app called Nokia Creative Studio. This lets you alter the overall colour (using preset effects), as well as blur the background, colour pop, create a collage, radial and tilt shift, as well as adjust the colour balance, brightness, clarity and vibrance. There are additional options to correct for red-eye or crop and rotate the image.

Video - The camera records 1080p video (Full HD, 1920 x 1080), at 30fps, 25fps and 24fps. You can use
3x zoom without image quality loss simply by sliding your finger up and down the screen. Optical image
stabilisation helps keep the video stable. Continuous auto focus is available and audio is recorded in
stereo. Quality is good, and the ability to zoom in is impressive.

Value For Money

The Nokia Lumia 1520 is available for £529 from Amazon, and comes with a generous 32GB built in, as well as the highest resolution camera. It is the 3rd heaviest / lightest phablet out of the following phablets: (Price shown for sim-free version)

HTC One Max, 4mp, 5.9inch screen, 217g, 16GB, £555
Sony Xperia Z Ultra, 8mp, 6.4inch screen, 212g, Waterproof, 16GB, £469
Samsung Galaxy Mega, 8mp, 6.3inch screen, 199g, 8GB, £399
Samsung Galaxy Note 3, 13mp, 5.7inch screen, 168g, 32GB, £579
Nokia Lumia 1520, 20mp, 6inch screen, 209g, 32GB, £529

You may also want to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your cameraphone safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Nokia Lumia 1520 Verdict

The Nokia Lumia 1520 offers one of the highest specification cameras currently available phablet smartphone, and produces pleasing results, with some quite unique features including the ability to zoom into photos, as well as videos. 

If you are not commited to the Android operating system, then the Nokia Lumia 1520 would make a good choice, however we would recommend having a look at the device in person to see if the size is something you would be happy living with particularly if you intend to use it as your main phone, as more compact alternatives are available.


Nokia Lumia 1520 Pros

High resolution camera
Optical image stabilisation
Large high res 6inch screen
Full HD video with zoom
5mp stills photography with zoom
Large battery
Shutter release button
2 year warranty
Manual controls

Nokia Lumia 1520 Cons

Lacks Xenon flash
Slow focus speed
Soft in corners
Lens flare


Nokia Lumia 1520 Specifications

Front Camera
PixelsNo Data
Max ApertureNo Data
Smartphone Cameras
Smartphone Cameras
    Additional CamerasNo Data
    Max Aperturef/2.4
    35mm equivalent26mm
    Optical Zoom0x
    Image Sensor
    Pixels20Mp (Megapixels)
    Pixels (W)4992
    Pixels (H)3744
    Sensor TypeBack-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)
    Sensor Size1/2.5 inch
    Sensor Size (width)No Data
    Sensor Size (height)No Data
    Aspect Ratio
    • 4:3
    • 16:9
    LCD Monitor
    LCD Monitor6in
    Screen resolutionFull HD (1920 x 1080)
    Touch ScreenYes
    Focusing modes
    • Autofocus
    • Face Detection
    • Touch AF
    Exposure Control
    Shutter speeds shortestNo Data
    Shutter speeds longestNo Data
    ISO sensitivity100 - 4000
    Movie modeYes
    Video Resolution
    • 1920x1080 FullHD
    • 1280x720 HD 720p
    Video FPS30fps
    Stereo SoundYes
    Other Features
    Image StabilisationYes
    USBUSB 2
    Internal Memory32000MB
    Power Source
    Battery Type3400 mAh BV-4BW
    Box Contents
    Box ContentsNokia Lumia 1520, Nokia AC-60 MicroUSB Charger, Nokia Charging and Data Cable CA-190CD, Nokia Headset WH-208, Quick guide, SIM Door Key

    View Full Product Details


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