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Here's why the Lumia 1520 is still my favorite Windows Phone

Eight months on and the Lumia 1520 is still my daily Windows Phone and that's weird

There is little doubt that I live a abnormal life when it comes to smartphones and mobile technology. At last count, I have over 50 smartphones dating back to 2006 and every Windows Phone made in the last three years. Combined with the rapid release of Lumias – with occasional releases from Samsung – and I have plenty of choices to use every day.

That is why it is surprising (to myself at least) that eight months after its release I am still using the Lumia 1520 as my daily driver. To put it another way, this is my longest streak in using a single Windows Phone since probably the original Samsung Focus. Although for regular folks, using a phone for eight months uninterrupted is the norm, for me, it is the exception. For that reason, here is why I still love the Lumia 1520.

I have touched upon some of these reasons before in my article ' Living with the biggest Windows Phone, the Lumia 1520' from last December. That article was addressing some common questions from potential buyers who were skeptical – even nervous – about the sheer size of Nokia's latest phone. This time, I explain why I still like it more than any other device out on the market.

Bigger is better

The display on the Lumia 1520 is still one of the best I have used on any device. I was reminded of this when using it at the beach the other day, as I was able to read email and choose my music under the glare of the 90-degree sun. Thanks to Nokia's sunlight readability mode, the Lumia 1520 works anywhere, anytime.

However, the Lumia 1520 does even more with the astonishing Assertive Display technology from Apical, which adjusts the colour and brightness of each pixel for more accurate results. It is awesome stuff, and I hope to see it in more Lumias in the future.

The 6-inch 1080P HD LCD display's colors are some of the best I have seen. Don't get me wrong, I like AMOLED too like on the Lumia Icon, but if I had to choose I'd go with the 1520's LCD.

Finally, there is just plain doing stuff on the phone, whether it is games, reading email or showing off photos, it is a better experience on the 1520's massive display.

20 MP Camera is enough

The Lumia 1020 may get the award for most megapixels in a camera-phone, but the Lumia 1520's shooter is good enough for the majority of photos I take. I still can shoot in RAW/DNG when I need to for high-quality photo editing, and I can re-frame with the Nokia Camera app to zoom and crop to get the perfect photo, just like the Lumia 1020.

However, here is where the Lumia 1520 is better: its Quad-core 2.2GHz processor. As a result, the Lumia 1520's camera feels zippier to launch and use.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, the majority of my photos are with the Lumia 1520. Moreover, I cannot wait to see how Lumia Cyan improves upon it with those new algorithms.

2.2GHz of speed

I already mentioned how the Snapdragon 800 Quad-core processor improves upon the PureView camera, but that speed applies to all aspects of the phone and the operating system. Whether it is gaming, editing, or opening apps it is all a faster experience. Although Windows Phone is in many ways "fast enough," the plain truth is once you use a Windows Phone with a 2.2GHz processor, you do not want to go back.

Qi Wireless charging

Wireless charging is still a big deal today as when it originally shipped with the Lumia 920. The ability to plop down your phone and pickup a quick charge is not just cool, but super useful as well.

Okay, AT&T were jerks in removing it, but at least there is technically a way to get it back. Although I would not recommend such a drastic option for a novice, if you know someone with some skills it is doable (hat tip to Lance McCarthy for helping me).

Expandable storage feels infinite

Windows Phone 8.1 lets users install apps and games to their micro SD card, assuming their Windows Phone has the option. The lack of expandable storage has been a sore spot for many on Windows Phone as many of the high-end devices do not have it. Due to its sheer size the Lumia 1520 has plenty of space for the micro SD. In fact, I showed how you could use a 128 GB card to maximize your storage. When combined with the 16 GB of internal memory, the Lumia 1520 can hold what feels like a boundless amount of music, apps, games, and videos. If you are lucky enough to have a Lumia 1520 with 32 GB of internal memory, well, even better.

Conversation starter

Okay, this may seem a little out there but I often get inquiring people asking about my Lumia 1520 in public. The first question from curious onlookers usually is "Is that a….phone?" as people react to the sheer awesomeness of the 1520. Although many folks initially think it is a Samsung, more people are aware of 'Lumia' and 'Windows Phone' today than a year ago. Regardless, it is a fun way to get a conversation going on mobile technology, something that almost everyone has an opinion on these days.

Best GPS phone ever

I noted once before that the Lumia 1520 makes an excellent GPS navigator for the car and months later, that has not changed. The six-inch display makes it feel like a built in car navigation system and if you want to sneak a peek at your notifications, well, you can do that too without squinting.

Battery Life

The Lumia 1520 packs a 3400 mAh battery, and when combined with the efficient Snapdragon 800, you get a powerful phone that also lasts all day (and then some). The ability to use a phone this size for so long just makes it that much more fun.

Room for improvement

The Lumia 1520 is to date my favorite Windows Phone, having said that there are things that do bother me. For instance, the infamous bug where the display picks up a scroll gesture as a tap, often launching an app or selecting a contact when you did not intend for that action. Another complaint is now and then I turn on the display only to have it be too dim. Quickly toggling the display on and off fixes it, as does waiting 15 seconds for the ambient light sensor to recalibrate, but it is still bothersome. My hope is the forthcoming Lumia Cyan firmware update finally straightens out those quirks, which to me seem like calibration issues, and nothing dire.

Wrapping it up

That is my story. Eight months on and I am still using the Lumia 1520 with no plans on updating anytime soon, at least not until Microsoft puts out another high-end phablet device. I do use the Lumia Icon, Lumia 925, Lumia 1020 and even Samsung ATIV SE as well, as I have a few phone lines, but the Lumia 1520 is my main phone, whereas the others are my sidekicks – phones that I really like, but can leave home if I can only take one.

I still think that for many the Lumia 920 is their defining phone for Windows Phone 8. Indeed, part of me would have liked to see that same phone but with the Lumia 930's internals (chipset, camera). However, once you commit to something like the Lumia 1520 it is hard to go back to something smaller. My only hope is that Microsoft can come out with a solid followup to this amazing phone.

Do you love your Lumia 1520 or are you still considering one? What is your iconic Windows Phone? Let us know in comments.

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

608 Comments
  • Too too big for my hands. Still waiting for a 920 upgrade.
  • I am also on 920, since the day it was launched, and planning to upgrade to 930. The lack of Glance screen kinda prevents me, but other than that, it is a perfect replacement. I want built-in wireless charging so I don't see any other options.
  • I also can't comprehend "upgrading" from my 32gb 920 to a 32gb 930. Give me more space or SD expansion!
  • Well, for me, 32gb is enough, probably because I don't have a lot of music and videos stored on my phone. My phone memory is filled mostly with clicked photos, videos, some ebooks and apps. So, 930 is perfect deal for me. Wish they make it available here in the US.
  • +1
  • I was excited about the 930, until I noticed that it uses an OLED screen. I love using the light background on my Lumia 920's LCD screen and doing so on the 930 would trash the battery live, as I think OLED screens require more power to display lighter backgrounds.
  • OLED FTW!!!!!!!!!
  • IF by FTW you mean winning with screen image burn in then yes.... FTW is accurate. Every OLED phone I have owned has experienced obvious screen burn in. I use text messages a lot and the message bubbles on all my phones burned into the screen to a point where even friends pointed it out when I showed them something on screen. I should not have to keep turning my phone in an vain attempt to avoid this. I am very happy with my 920 with LCD and I am praying the new hero phone coming out this fall is neither a phablet or OLED phone. If it is then it looks like I will be sticking with my 920 for yet another year.
  • Even using the white/light themes, the 930 screen is going to very efficient.  The maximum difference you will find between a light/dark theme is around 1-2% of screen power consumption. Which is something you as an end user is not ever going to notice.   The 930 screen also has advantages over the 920's LCD. Color consistency, sunlight readability, pure blacks, etc.
  • I have the Lumia Icon, I really love the thing and don't miss glance nearly as much as I used to. The only real thing I miss about it from my 822 is being able to show off. The screen is so lush and beautiful that now I just show off that and the amazing camera.
  • I did some research,and amoled uses like 50% less energy when a pixel is black..however when a pixel is white it uses up to 200% more energy! Have fun counting black pixels on the interwebz my friend! Its a drain! (plus it gets really hot, something I like about the 1520 LCD is that it stays just cool!)
  • I turned off glance on my 920. The double tap is good enough for a quick view. I also have my device that I hear it or feel the vibration. I'm waiting to purchase an unlocked 930. Hopefully, I can have someone bring me one here in Israel.
  • Yeah, but without glance, WP doesn't have a missed call notification. You'd never know you missed a call, unless you woke your phone from the screen time-out looked at it......which is pointless.    Not everyone is 17 years old and looks at their smartphone screen every ten minutes.
  • Dog, you don't need to take personal digs. It's a damn forum.
  • Ah, apologies, but it wasn't meant as angry/personal, more tongue in cheek. But that get's lost when typing.
  • I think it creates a misperception when Microsoft says the 930 is "the best of Windows". Take the 1520, for instance. When it 1st launched it was truly the flagship phone everyone was waiting for (except for the actual size): 1080p screen, latest processor, microSD, built-in wireless charging, glance screen and so on. What Microsoft/Nokia have done to the 930 is cut out some of those features like Glance and the microSD, and that's no way to upgrade a proper flagship. I know the 930 isn't the 1520's successor, nor its replacement, but it sits right at the top of the list as THE flagship phones from Nokia. So how come one has all the features a phone can have, while the other - which is supposed to be in the same level - doesn't?
    I sure Microsoft makes it right with McLaren.
  • Me too. I'm waiting for the 1020 successor. The 930 doesn't seem worthy enough to replace my 920. I'm actually thinking of getting the HTC One M8...
  • If you value a phone's camera, don't. The M8 (well, all HTC phones actually) has the worst camera on a flagship phone. It's just embarassing.
  • 3D Touch for you, homeboy❕❕❕
  • I wasn't aware the M8 had that gimmick...are you sure you're not using the M9? ;)
  • M10❕❕❕❕❕❕❕
  • Yeah the camera on my 8X seriously sucks but then I don't particularly care about taking pictures much.
  • Really? I have the 8X as well and think the camera is great. Plenty of options to optimize based on lighting conditions, etc. Got me through my photography class that was supposed to use a "real" camera ;)
  • Ehhh I'm also thinking of jumping to the M8 but the camera is not a deterrent for me. My wife and are are talking about getting a real camera to take on trips with us and for out and about because using our phones is a big battery drain. Also I'm just not that impressed with my 920's photos. I really think my wife's GS4 photos look better. The M8 is a solid phone to jump to if your are tired of waiting on a 920 replacement like I have become. I really wanted the 930 on ATT and the 1520 is not for me. We'll see. I'll probably wait until the fall though because I refuse to get ATT Next.
  • Maybe wait until the early Fall for the iPhone 6 (end of September) or the LG G3 later this Summer. I'm with you on the photos.  I'm about to get a pocketable compact Sony RX100 camera, that has NFC tap to share, which would make the Nokia cameras redundant.   At that point I'd rather have a nice Android with NFC. I've enjoyed my 1020's camera abilities, but the lack of applications, and frankly the half-assed nature of media handling (I'm looking at YOU, Xbox Music) has become really old, really quickly.
  • I have the HTC m8 and love the butter smooth software and boom sound and for my camera phone that's what my 1020 is for
  • The 1030 is my bag.... But my GF has the M8. She loves it, and is loving the infra red blaster. Screen appears huge next to my 920.
  • Waiting on a 41MP successor, thinking of getting the One with the 4MP camera. Huh?
  • I will get both, lol. I know the M8's camera is meh, but I wont take many pictures on that compared to the 1030.
  • Here's what I did, I picked up an Eye-Fi card and stuck it in my Sony NEX-F3, then paired it with the wife's HTC One M7. Best photos anywhere, and sync directly to her phone. If you get an M8, you will always have options. As for my 1520, I'm not giving it up. I'm just burned out on waiting for apps to mature. I have an LG G2 but I don't want to go between phones and their respective calling/communications platforms. So I'm selling the G2 (which is a damn nice phone actually) and getting a Galaxy tab Pro 8.4 to tether with my 1520. Problems solved. At least until december anyway.
  • I am right there with you. I really want to dig the MS eco system, but find myself reading up on the latest android phones more and more. Apps are slow to mature, but it is not being able to sync my music to the cloud (I know, the locker service is coming... At some point..) that hurts the most. That, and the fact that the Windows mobile platform is completely ignored by companies like Sonos and similar. I just feel a little bit handicapped... I like my 925 a lot, it is the platform that is lacking in areas that I find critical to me. Posted via the WPC App for Android!
  • The 930 is definitely a worthy successor to the 920. Everything is much better (screen, speed and camera) with the exception of the loss of glance.
  • And design. Never forget that especially with Nokia devices
  • Yeah, I love that design. Super industrial.
  • But same storage, still fat and heavier than most phones, and no microSD? No thanks.
  • All flagships are quite heavy lately - they might not be as thick, but that's another conversation. The M8 and Z2 are practically the same weigh as the 930, the S5 is light because it uses the cheapest plastic around, and the G3 sits in between (very good build quality and somewhat heavy).
  • Then you have to buy an expensive case for it becuase it's so light that it defeats the purpose. I like a phone like the 920 that's pretty tough
  • And the colors. Played with one yesterday, orange my arse. Definitely more of a fluro peach.
  • Lol I never liked the orange to begin with. That green, though...
  • No phone camera can match the quality of a Pureview, or even any Nokia Lumia with Zeiss optics. Plus the Nokia exclusives you get with a Lumia are a deal!!
  • Don't believe the haters, I have had 2 M7's, and now own the M8, and the G3, actually sold my 1520 for the M8, and it takes fine pictures. The G3 is alot better in the photo department, but no phone I have ever owned comes close to my $150 Canon Elph PowerShot point and shoot. None, and I have owned alot of phones.
  • Thanks man. :)
  • 1020 upgrade please. With dedicated processor to allow FAST photos. I would upgrade in an instant.
  • Yes, me too. I love my 1020, but give me a 5" screen and faster processing and I'd be happy as a pig in...well you know.
  • ^ This!
  • this, an 801 or 805 and a 1080p 5" screen (if possible slightly slimmer) and i would buy it in a heartbeat.   the 1020 and my nexus 5 have been the two phones i've kept the longest in the last 4 years. finally gave up my 1020 and am awaiting a proper replacement for it. the 930 is nice but basically impossible to get and by the time i can get it in the states (not on verizon) it will be old news. hopefully the november devices will live up to the rumors.
  • Agreed. I was very disappointed with the 930.
  • My mother uses her  1520 as her daily driver and her hands are TINY. Sure, one hand use is impossible, but she's happy using two hands. Don't write it off just because of size :) That said, I can completely understand if you want to wait for McLaren. That's what I'm doing!
  • These guys are ackin like some bia, bia, biaches❕❕❕
  • Of course you should write it off on size. It's a phablet, not a phone.
  • So? It still kicks ass on any phone on the market.
  • I'm 6"5 and it's still too big for my rather large hands.
  • Same here! I'm 6'5'' and thought "This'll be perfect for my big hands!" Nope. I have gone into the AT&T store about four different times, thinking the result *might* be different, but each time, I have to leave disappointed, knowing that the phone is just too big. Even for me. The 930 is one of the most beautiful phones I've seen, but I'm on AT&T and I'd HATE to give up the glance screen that I love so much on my 920!
  • That's your problem. You only handled it for what, 10-15-20 minutes at the store?
    I actually thought about selling mine during the first 2-3 days I had it. Now no way I ever go to anything smaller. EVERYTHING looks so much better on the big screen. And not necessarily bigger, but you just see more.
  • My hands are quite small and I still would not trade my 1520 for anything. I slide the phone up and down if I absolutely have to use it one handed. I love this phone to bits
  • This phone is not big in two weeks it has started looking small frankly speaking, I'm used typing with one hand the only letter I cannot hit with one hand is letter Q and the first suggested word ...
  • Yeah, that's what people don't understand, you can't just look at it in a store (no matter how many times) and think... Ugh, this is just too big... You have to actually live with and use the phone to get used to it and appreciate it... Most phone stores, including AT&T, have a 14 day return policy...I guarantee that if you use it for two weeks, you won't be able to return it... Because, you will not only love it, but also any other phone in the store would be too small...I rarely use my phone with one hand, but for gaming and movies this isn't a problem, nor for typing an email or reading... All things that are better in landscape anyways... As for calling, I rarely put it to my head...I either use speaker or Bluetooth/headphones... But I did the same with my 920... So nothing has changed for me... Except that everything is just better when it is bigger... Games, movies, reading, typing... All are more enjoyable!
  • Well said. +1520
  • THIS^^ Best Windows Phone ever.  So easy to get comfortable with the size.  To me, the camera is amazing on this phone, although I never used the 1020.  I can't wait til everytime a new app comes out it will say: for iphone, android, and Windows Phone.  
  • Check. Check. Check!!! Everything else feels and looks small once you own a 1520.
  • I also have the 920, and it looks like I will have to keep it for another 6 months, since there is nothing worth upgrading to on ATT, 1520 is just too big and 1020 is not an enough of an upgrade at this point. I'm not sure what's stopping MS/Nokia from releasing 930/1030 on ATT.
  • The 1520 is NOT too big... Everything else is just too small
  • And I got chided for complaining that the Icon doesn't have expandable storage mostly by 1520 users here. Yet it's cited as one of their favorite features (besides the size).
  • i love my 1520. even have a three piece case on it. yes it is big, but so am i at 6'4" and a ring size of 12. i have other wp phones, 710,810,630 ,520 and htc 8x. they all now seem so tiny. the 1520 fits into my hirt pocket or pants pocket even with the case,
  • Glad u forgot the 's' and not the 'r' ;)
  • I'm a typical Filipino at 5'5" but I've been using my YELLOW 1520 for 6 months now.
    everything else becomes small once you own a 1520.
  • But does it fit in your pocket? Or do you carry around a wheeled computer case for your phone?
  • Mine fits just fine 5'9 160 and i wear slim fit jeans not skinny and have no problems I have plantronic gobeats headphones so I don't place it too my face which I the only time it feels big, extra space is great, only thing it need is qi I got the 32gb
  • Good to know it fits. You'd think Daniel would of let us know how he carries it unless I missed it. I doubt he's a girl so I don't think he puts it in his purse. Maybe he has one of those European Shoulder bags?
  • It will fit in most pants no problem. Especially if you're a professional who mostly wears suits, tailored slacks, or khakis. When I get home, I usually changing into cargo shorts, again - no problems. I think pocketability is only an issue for men if you're wearing some kind of pants you really shouldn't be - like some painted on Richard Simmons model gym shorts.
  • Good to know. I'll have to try it next time I stop by the Microsoft kiosk.