There's a Nokia Lumia 1520 that is the best, it's just not from AT&T

There's a Nokia Lumia 1520 that is the best, it's just not from AT&T

Summary: Nokia made the Lumia 1520 as last fall's flagship, but AT&T took out some key features. There is an alternative available that has me bumping up my rating by two full points.

There's a Nokia Lumia 1520 that is the best, it's just not from AT&T
(Image: Nokia)

At the beginning of this month I wrote that I was back to using a Windows Phone as my daily driver with my SIM-unlocked AT&T Nokia Lumia 1020 running on T-Mobile. I've since found an even better Windows Phone and like my ZDNet colleague, Jason Perlow, I am now a huge fan of the Nokia Lumia 1520, just not the one from AT&T.

I previously evaluated and then rated the AT&T Nokia Lumia 1520 at just 7.5 due to unreasonable US carrier modifications. The Lumia 1520.3 (RM-938) I purchased on Swappa has all the benefits of Nokia innovation that makes this version of the Lumia 1520 currently the best Windows Phone available. Lumia 1520 owners outside the US have known this for quite some time, but it took me a while to figure it out. Given that the upcoming Lumia 930 doesn't have a microSD slot (it is a GSM version of the Nokia Lumia Icon on Verizon), this 1520 may retain that title for many folks too.

The Nokia Lumia 1520.3 has integrated Qi charging, 32GB of internal storage, a microSD expansion card slot, massive 3,400 mAh battery, 20 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics, 6-inch 1080 x 1920 ClearBlack LCD, and quad-core 2.2 GHz processor. It supports 3G and LTE on AT&T and T-Mobile in the USA, as well as other carriers throughout the world.

You can find the Lumia 1520.3 at various online retailers like Negri Electronics, NewEgg, and B&H, ranging in price from $570 to $658. It comes in white, yellow and black.

If I were to review this model of the Lumia 1520, then I would have rated it at 9.5 out of 10 instead of 7.5. It is a bit large, but has everything you could want in a Windows Phone device and is definitely one to consider.

Related Windows Phone coverage:

Topics: Mobility, Nokia, Smartphones, Windows Phone

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  • Good Phone

    That's the one I got, abroad, for the equivalent of 440 USD. I'm quite happy with it, but can't believe that even in WP 8.1 MS still didn't fix their contacts app to
    - allow custom phone number "names" ("IBM", and "NYT" instead of "Work" and "Work2")
    - not delete imported phone numbers from the address book that use custom number "names".
  • Supported on AT&T's network?

    I have a Lumia 1520 that I bought from AT&T when I lost my 920. I loved the 920's wireless Qi charging and am pretty bummed that AT&T forced Nokia to leave it off the 1520s they were selling because AT&T wanted to promote a different wireless charging standard. Is the Lumia 1520.3 mentioned in the article that can be bought from various online resellers supported on AT&T's network?
    Sir Name
    • 99% sure it works on AT&T as well as T-Mobile LTE

      I don't have an AT&T SIM to test it with, but from every site I researched they state that it supports both GSM networks in the USA for LTE. You may want to reach out to the folks at Negri Electronics directly to confirm since I don't want to lead anyone incorrectly.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
      • Yes it does

        My 920 started to have SIM error problems and I wanted the 1520, just not the AT&T handicapped one. I got my white 1520.3 from Newegg and it works flawlessly on AT&T. 32GB even if Newegg says 16gb, and Qi works! Running it as a developer with 8.1 on it and Cortona. Awesomeness!
  • Still waiting for the 920 successor

    Both the 1020 and the 1520 are great phones for certain people, but are not mainstream flagships. The Icon is closer (probably still a bit too big and heavy for most), but isn't coming to AT&T and doesn't offer any more storage than the 920. Even 32GB is pretty cramped, these days.

    Any news on when the next 'mainstream' flagship will be coming to AT&T?
    x I'm tc
    • Still waiting for the 920 successor

      Funny you say that. Most people I know with the Lumia 920 are girls with small hands. I even know several girls with the 1520.
  • Lumia 1520

    I have held the firm belief that "not from AT&T" would make anything better. This just confirms it.
  • Lumia 1520.3

    The one on NewEgg only comes in Blanco/White and has a 30-day limited warranty parts and/or labor. B & H says 90 days (theirs, not mfg's).
  • I'm missing it

    What exactly were the unreasonable US carrier modifications?
    Buster Friendly
    • AT&T the breaker

      AT&T only offers the 1520 with 32gb in black. They removed the Qi charing (or had Nokia do it) and you then have to by a PMA charging pad and a snap on charging cover. Plus they cripple some Windows software like data sense (not part of the OS) and the best part is you do not have to wait for AT&T to approve, mangle and release the next update. Just get it straight from Nokia!
  • ATT Breaker

    I eventually broke down and upgraded to the 1520 because I broke the screen on my 920, replaced the screen but must have nicked a ribbon cable because I kept having problems with the physical buttons (camera, volume and power). The sucky thing about the ATT Store version not the online version is that it only has 16 GB internal in addition to the removal of Qi.
  • Someone please explain phone pricing...

    ....cuz I still don't get it.

    Why is a pocketable system with a smaller screen and a gimped processor so much more money than a much faster laptop? When you take into account the lesser price of a smaller LCD panel and a much cheaper CPU than a cheaper laptop would carry, why are unsubsidized phones carrying a 50-60% premium in price?

    The only thing I can fathom is that it's for the higher-end camera and mobile wireless radio. But are those 2 components really worth $200+?? Otherwise, margins on phones haven't been cut down to rock-bottom figures like they are on PC's. I wonder if phone prices will drop when we see more cross-platform compatibility between phones, tablets, and larger computers due to OS unification in the near future.
    • The panels

      The screen might be smaller but its also more expensive to make - at least based on the fact a replacement screen front panel (has the screen, and glass to replace the front panel and the cable that hooks it onto the motherboard) for the 1020 is like $120 on its own.

      Laptops used to be the same, you could take a say $2000 laptop and to replace the screen would be $1200 on its own. (mid 90s).
    • Quality of components

      It's usually based on the quality of components. The Surface Pro 3, Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro, and any other ultrabook are at least twice as expensive as a 500$ notebook, yet there are several 500$ notebooks that are faster than the ultrabooks, at least on some metrics. In the case of ultrabooks, the components are optimized for low power consumption, to allow a smaller battery, which is what keeps the weight down.

      It's exactly the same with phones. The processors are not "gimped". They are top of the line technology, optimized to use little enough power that they don't kill the phone's miniscule battery instantly - the 1520 lasts days with moderate to heavy use. And regarding the smaller, cheaper display, many 500$ laptops come with a terrible resolution - and a cheaper display than the one on this phone. Even among premium laptops there's a major player who still ships 1000+$ machines with a display that is lower resolution (in pixels) than the display of the Lumia 1520.

      Last but not least there's the sales channel. I got the Lumia 1520 for 440$ unlocked from a major retail shop during a promotion. In the same country, a carrier offered the same phone at the same time for 880$, with possible subsidies that get the price down to 400$ with a 150$/mo contract.
      • Camera

        Forgot to add: The camera is insanely good for a smartphone. Unlike the overhyped 920, the 1520 actually delivers on its promise. If someone thinks the iPhone makes better or even equal pictures, let them continue to think - they need the practice.
  • So you were the guy I saw on Sound Transit

    using the 1520? I've had my 1520.3 for a few months now and it is, by far, the best phone I've owned. The screen quality, even in daylight, is great. The camera is not as good in low light as the 1020 but is still very good and I think is even better than the 1020 in video capture. I was hesitant about the non-official version but had an investment in Qi wireless charging pads in my home and office and I wasn't about to change them out just because AT&T said so. Getting the extra memory and none of the AT&T crap apps is a nice bonus. Because this the 1520.3 is officially the Latin America version of the 1520, my phone arrived set to Spanish but if you know even a handful of Spanish words it is easy to re-set to English. And I get outstanding LTE coverage in the Puget Sound area. I recently took the phone to Texas and California and also saw no issues at all connecting to AT&T's network.