The Great Lumia Showdown

I’m a Windows Phone user and, at the moment, quite happy to stay that way. The problem is that my contract is up in the next few months and, to replace my longstanding 800, I need to decide on the right phone. Having reviewed a Windows Phone 8 handset and seen where the platform has progressed from the days of 7.x, I’m convinced that, for my use case, Windows Phone is the ideal platform.

What I use my phone for isn’t incredibly demanding. Predominantly, there’s chronic Twitter consumption throughout the day, consulting other social feeds (and Gmail and Google Calendar), streaming of media from Spotify, Netflix and YouTube and my phone is also the only camera I ever carry, so the imaging system is of high importance. I don’t really have a clue when it comes to using cameras and what all the things do, but I’d like to learn. As long as a phone can do these things and do them well, I’m happy. Also, my hands aren’t as small as they were two years ago, so I want bigger – and that should bring the battery to keep me going all day and all night.

That’s what made the Lumia 1020 a near-certainty for victory in the battlefield. Nokia’s design team seemingly never fails to impress (hell, they even made me take a second look at Windows RT with the 2520) and the phone, which I have played around with in a couple of stores, feels terrific. I can tolerate the camera hump when holding the phone, and the 4.5″ PureMotion HD+ ClearBlack AMOLED display, while a serious contender for the worst name of the year, looks splendid and feels to be around the optimal size for my hands.

My obsession with the 1020 spiralled out of control up to the point that I was one day away from going to my carrier store and upgrading there and then, but Nokia decided to throw a curveball at me all the way from Abu Dhabi by announcing the 1520. What shocked me was not that this was going to be a thing, as you could physically see it from a mile off, but because this is only the second phablet I have ever looked at and not immediately laughed at. (The first was the Xperia Z Ultra. As soon as I got my hands on one, I laughed at it. It crosses far too many lines to be considered a remotely practical device, whatever Sony wants it to be.)

The 1520 is exactly what you’d expect from a 2013 flagship on paper, which is a feat pretty much unmatched by every other Windows Phone ever. There’s a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800. There’s 2GB of RAM. There’s a 1080p display. There’s a 3400mAh battery. But things aren’t all perfect. The screen measures 6″ diagonally. I was disgusted by the original Galaxy Note, and now I’m seriously considering something larger than a Note 3? I really must be insane.

To compare the two, there’s only one real and fair way to do things, and that is rather tabular. Info here comes from GSMArena, Nokia and various other sources. I’ve thrown in the 800 as well, just to emphasise what I’m used to and how big the jump will be. Apologies for the crappiness of the table. WordPress really doesn’t like them, for some reason.

Lumia 1020

Lumia 1520

Lumia 800


4.5” 1280 x 768 PureMotion ClearBlack AMOLED

6.0” 1920 x 1080 ClearBlack IPS LCD

3.7” 800 x 480 Pentile ClearBlack AMOLED


Gorilla Glass 3

Gorilla Glass 2

Gorilla Glass






32GB internal

No expandability

32GB internal

Up to 64GB microSD

16GB internal

No expandability


1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Plus (x2, MSM8960)

2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 (x4, MSM8974)

1.4GHz Snapdragon S2 (x1, MSM8255)


Adreno 225

Adreno 330

Adreno 205





Rear camera

41MP PureView w/ Zeiss, 1/1.5” sensor, xenon + LED flash, OIS

20.7MP PureView w/ Zeiss, 1/2.5” sensor, 2x LED flash, OIS

8MP w/ Zeiss, 2x LED flash

Battery capacity




Quoted 3G talk time





Up to 42.2 HSDPA

Support for 3’s LTE

Up to 42.2 HSDPA

Support for 3’s LTE

Up to 14.4 HSDPA


130.4 x 71.4 x 10.4mm

162.8 x 85.4 x 8.7mm

116.5 x 61.2 x 12.1mm













Wireless charging

With case



Of course there’s only so much deliberating that can be done without getting grubby paws all over everything, but there’s different reasons to love each one. The 1520 is the powerhouse, with everything thrown in to keep things flying. Windows Phone is physically incapable of being sluggish, but having that extra oomph from day one would probably make it more bearable if I were to keep it for the duration of my two year contract.

The 1020, however, has the advantage of being something far more appropriately sized. Having handled a One Max recently, an Android handset that’s around the size of the 1520, I struggled to reach some areas of the screen. The 1020 also has a beautiful AMOLED display, which I tend to prefer over LCD panels, and, while no conclusive tests have been done with the 1520 camera as yet, the camera on the 1020 is so damn impressive that it’s going to be pretty difficult for anything to top it.

I plan to get my hands on both before I make a firm decision, but this is the point where I hand things over to you, dear internet. I trust you when it comes to balanced decisions and debates about technology, so if you could help me come to a conclusion between these two fine pieces of technology I would be most grateful. Through Twitter or in the comments below are probably the best ways to reach me and if you think that, knowing my use case, I’d be better with something else, let me know. I’m not averse to trying new things and don’t want to make any silly purchasing decisions.



Author: Xavier Voigt-Hill

I write words.

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