October 2015. Step 1 of mod, find the parts. At Amazon, eBay, wherever. Since I was also going to the USA in November, so I could get it delivered locally in the US and carry it home when I return!
Searching for "Dell 7520 keyboard backlit" gave me two part numbers - G46TH and V7JCY. More searching, the V7JCY the US version while the G46TH was the international version. I went with the international version, which was ~25$ on Amazon USA.
Searching for 15.6 Full HD on Dell gave me a lot of results. The most prominent was a Samsung LTN156HL02 panel. Then I also came across other part numbers such as LP156WF1 [LG Display], LP156WFC [LG Display], B156HW02 [AUOptronics]. The warning on the sites "please choose correct part to order" was a bit scary. What was the difference in all these panels? And how was their pinout different from the 768p display I currently have in my laptop [identified via EDID to be a AUOptronics B156XTN02]?
I managed to retrieve the datasheet for all these LCDs. Surprisingly they have the same connector layout - 40pin I.PEX connector. The 768p panel is Single channel LVDS (4 pairs) and the 1080p panels are dual channel LVDS (8 pairs, one for odd pixels and one for even pixels). So in theory it should be possible to swap out the display for a full HD variant. Convinced that I could make it work out, I placed an order. This was $74 on US Amazon with shipping.
The first idea was to use a mSATA SSD as it was offered as a configuration option. But I later learnt that the USB+LAN Daughtercard part which is responsible for 2 USB ports to the right of the laptop was a different SKU with the mSATA slot not populated.
SKU # MRDMM = no mSATA port. SKU # N7JHH = with mSATA port.
The boards are the same for both, but the mSATA port and the SATA controller chip and some companion parts are not populated on the MRDMM part. So just soldering a mSATA connector is not enough. This board was 30$ on Aliexpress and I decided, no, it isn't worth it.
Plan B - a 2nd hard drive caddy:
I could slip in an SSD in this and replace my optical drive. Win. Ordered from local (India) eBay for (roughly) $10.