2013-10-22-10_opt

Nokia Lumia 520 Review

5.9

The Nokia Lumia 520 is just one of the now numerous Windows Pone 8 handset from the maker. It may also be at the bottom of its range, just below the Lumia 620. These two phones go head to head on the specs front, with the Lumia 620 edging out its sibling by a slim margin. However, it’s still a low-end device, proof that Windows Phone 8 is perfect for the low-end arena.

Design

THE PHONE IMPRESSES, LOOKING BETTER THAN ITS HIGHER END BROTHER THE 620.

The Lumia 520 keeps to Nokia tradition where it offers some relatively bright colors. Still on Nokia traditions, the Lumia 520 greatly borrows from the Lumia gene pool with the same plastic coating the back and sides of the phone. This so-called plastic shell will come in the usual black and white colors, then in addition, there shall be others; the yellow, blue and red for those who like their phone loudly colored.

This colorful feature has helped Nokia stand out from the crowd of phones, which tend to look similar every day. All in all a good-looking phone with its angular rectangular design, relating to its high-end sibling, the Nokia Lumia 920.

The phone is relatively slim and lighter too for that matter in relation to older brother the Lumia 620,  being 9.9mm thick and weighing in a mere 124g. Its other dimensions, 119.9 x 64mm ensure that it’s longer than the Lumia 620. I guess this is probably because it has a slightly larger screen.

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The designers went an extra mile to ensure the plastic casing feels great when held, not too rough and not to soft, just the right amount of smoothness that really sold this device too me. The down side to the phone would have to be the more or less pointy corners. They may tend to dig into your hand if held in a certain way, an issue that is corrected easily by adjusting the grip on the phone.

To skip a few trends the Lumia 520’s screen isn’t edge to edge. It has a black boarder around it, which is fairly narrow on the sides, but becomes larger at the top and bottom. At the top, it makes room for the earpiece and a Nokia logo, while at the bottom, where its widest there’s the start, back and search softkeys.

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The back of the handset has minimal features, housing a small Nokia logo at the center, a 5-megapixel camera lens near the top and a minute loudspeaker close to the bottom.

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A strange design move on the Lumia 520 is that its entire collection of physical buttons is on the right edge. The volume rocker is positioned at the top, the power button near the middle and finally the camera button near the bottom. This layout works quite well, with all the buttons being spaced enough to rule out any confusion. Thus leaving the left side plane, the smooth cover will not be broken here by ports, buttons or any feature of that sort.

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The top houses the 3.5mm headphone port to the left while the bottom has the micro USB port centrally placed, used for charging or connecting to your pc. The other feature is the cover, which is easy enough to take off. The cover is satisfyingly stable so there’s no chance of it snapping even if you keep on taking it off. Moving on, once the cover is off you have access to the 1430 mAh battery, and once you take that off you find two slots, one for a micro SIM card and one for a microSD card. The Lumia 520 is actually expandable up to 64GB, a feature that will come handy to those who will quickly fill up the internally available 8GB of memory.

At a first glance, the phone really impresses and may actually look better than its higher end brother the Lumia 620 may. However, there’s always a hidden reason behind it all, and for this case, the reasons do hold water. For starters, the Lumia 520 doesn’t have NFC. As that was not enough it doesn’t have a camera flash or a front facing camera all together.  The screen may be slightly larger than that on the Lumia 620 but it has the same resolution, thus resulting in a slightly lower ppi.

Display

The Nokia Lumia 520 gives a faire user experience. The various screens come off as smooth and responsive and to add to that the 4-inch display is large enough to work with under many situations. The 480 x 800-screen resolution is good enough to display tiles and menus with no blur effect.

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Well that having been said, it’s also important to note that the screen feels slightly unresponsive, compared to others.  The other thing is that the Lumia 520’s display is highly prone to smudges and fingerprints; the screen gets to a point where it just looks messy.

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Software

The baseline is similar to any windows phone out there. The initial thing is the lockscreen, which will display the time and date along with a summary of your latest email (also reminders from Facebook or your calendar). Behind the screen, you have your wallpaper or alternatively you may have Facebook display random images from your account.

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Get out of the lockscreen by swiping up and your now on the start screen. This is your main area of operation, with tiles for favorite apps and menus that you can scroll through vertically.

The tiles have a feature where if you long press one then you can move it, unpin it from the screen, and resize it. There’s even more, if you look into the settings menu you will find that you can change the color. Those are probably the only few features that you can actually customize, since there’s no custom wallpaper or widgets to mess around. The result is that the interface remains simple and intuitive but others may argue that this is limiting it.

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Moving on, swiping left from the start screen takes you to the list of all the apps, in alphabetical order.  This is where you can scroll vertically up or down to explore the list. Long press an app on this screen to move it to the start screen or to delete it.

The settings screen is up next, where you have numerous options like changing ringtones among other sounds, altering the start screen theme or even setting up Wi-Fi networks.

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The soft touch buttons at the bottom of the screen are standard save for the extra functions given to the back and start buttons. Long press the back button and you get an overview of recent apps and screens; this will enable you to tap one to move to it. Long press the start button and this will bring up a voice search box. The voice search feature will be able to send texts, search the web among other functions. The feature works quite well too, as long as you speak clearly.

Performance

What I’ll say about the Lumia 520 is that it gives a consistent performance. It may be low end and priced, but it delivers reasonably well.

The phone Runs a mean dual-core 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8227 CPU and has 512MB of RAM. Not bad for its price, matching spec for spec with the Lumia 720, as I said, not too shabby.

That having been said though, there was some reasonable slowdown when it came to playing games. Therefore, if gaming is a key feature for your phone then your phone may not be the Lumia 520, a disadvantage allied to Windows Phone 8.

And another thing, if you are an avid app user, then a Windows Phone is probably not your cup of tea. This phone in particular has limited number of apps and they take too long before they are updated, so be warned.

Internet

The Nokia Lumia 520 comes with both Wi-Fi and 3G, which is standard enough. To add to this, since it’s a Windows Phone, then the only browser you get is the ‘much loved’ Internet Explorer. A great browser by all standards, so it should not be a cause of panic if you might want to switch to a Windows phone.

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The browser has a search bar, which also doubles as an address bar located at the bottom of the screen. Also on the bar, there’s an icon to refresh the page. On the right side of the bar, there’re three little dots, which launch the other options like changing tabs, viewing your favorites, adding pages to favorites, pinning a page to the start screen and accessing the settings.

The tab screen is simple enough to use. It shows thumbnails of all your open tabs, allowing you to tap one to switch to it or close it by tapping the cross. You may also open new tabs from this screen by taping the plus button at the bottom of the screen.

The favorite screen is a little different. Here instead of thumbnails you get a black-and-white text list. You tap a favorite to open it, or instead you can long press it for an option to remove it or edit it.

The search default is Bing, but there’s an option to change it to the one that suits you in the settings. Also on the settings screen you can change which button appears on the left of the search bar, with the choice of a refresh button, favorites or tabs. The other option on the settings screen is turning the location services on or off in addition to controlling a number of other items from the same screen.

The 4-inch display on the Lumia 520 is clear and big enough, thus you should have no problems viewing sites, since text and images are respectably crisp. Nevertheless, the crispness only extends to sites altered to be viewed on the phone; desktop sites will need some lengthy zoom in to get any clear content.

Camera

The Nokia Lumia 520 comes with a decent 5-megapixel camera at the back, notably lacking a flash and a front facing camera to go with it. This automatically rules out video calls or any decent self-portraits.

Well still on the missing front camera, the feature will be greatly missed mostly because Skype calling will be a big feature on Windows Phone 8, so if you want a cheaper phone for video calling, then the Lumia 620 is the phone for you.

When it comes to the camera app, there aren’t many options. Those that are there include the ISO adjustment, white balance, aspect ratio and exposure value, not forgetting about the choice between several scene modes, but that’s all you will get.

Past the points mentioned above, the camera is just point and shoot, save for the tap to focus feature and the ‘smart shoot’ choice that takes a few photos and lets you select the ones you like. This is a neat feature mind you, since your initial capture may be off, some closed eyes or something like that.

Seeing the Lumia 520 is a Windows phone, and then it has a dedicated camera button. A feature, which simplifies taking pictures by a great deal, and allowing one to launch the camera app from any screen.

The photos captured are quite decent, nothing to write home about but still more than I’d expect on such low priced device. Well it’s a shame that it doesn’t have the flash but I guess this is the sacrifice you make to save money.

TAKE A LOOK AT HOW THE 520 CAMERA PERFORMS.

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Battery Life

The Nokia Lumia 520 packs a 1430 mAh battery that keeps it pumping. This comes as a slight lift from its toughest rival, the Lumia 620. However, looking at competitors outside the maker, then the 520 still falls short of the mark.

The upgrade in battery life for the Lumia 520 means that the phone will probably last through the whole day, no questions asked. However, you will probably need to charge it overnight.

According to Nokia’s own rating of the Lumia 520, it has up to 360 hours of standby time over 3G, 14.8 hours of talk time, 9.6 hours of talk time over 2G or 61 hours of music playback. Strategically leaving out information on video time.

Well if the battery doesn’t meet your daily demands, then there is a power saver, which serves to prevent apps from synchronizing in the background. The other option is to buy a second battery, since replacing the already used up one is simple enough.

Data Speeds

This phone comes with an array of connectivity choices, key among them the HSUPA at 5.76 Mbps and dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, HSDPA at 21.1 Mbps. The other worth mentioning is the Bluetooth 3.0 and GPS, however, there’s no NFC or inbuilt compass found on the Lumia 620.

Configuring the connections should not give you any problems, I found it straight forward enough. The downside to this is that you will always have to dig deep into the settings to get them.

Another feather on its cap is the ease with which you can move data to and from it. All you have to do is plug it in to the comp using the provided USB cable, wait for it to be mounted onto your PC and there you have it. You will now be able to look through its folders, drag and drop items.

The micro SD slot will come in handy since the 8GB of allowed memory may get a bit scarce. Therefore, an expansion of up to 72GB, including the 8GB internal, could do you no harm.

UPSHOT

A JACK OF ALL TRADES AND A MASTER OF NONE!

The Nokia Lumia 520, much like its big brother the Nokia Lumia 620, is a jack of all trades and a master of none – although manages to make a good fist of nearly all it tries, for the price.

It looks good, it’s got a decent screen both in terms of size and resolution, it rarely stutters or slows down, it’s great for calls and messaging, reasonable for media and okay for photos.

To achieve a lower price point than the Lumia 620 it has had to strip away a few things – there’s no NFC, compass, camera flash or front facing camera here.

But on the other hand it’s also got a bigger screen, a larger battery, a sleeker, slimmer, lighter build and the same processor and RAM as the Nokia Lumia 620, so in many ways it’s actually better.

Combine that with a lower price tag and we reckon that this just might be the best entry level Windows Phone 8 handset that you can buy and certainly the best value.

Budding photographers might find the lack of a flash prohibitive and if you’re a power user you might want to consider the Huawei Ascend W1 for its superior battery life, but for everyone else the Nokia Lumia 520 comes heartily recommended.

 All images courtesy of techpurge.com

 

 

Good Things

  • Remarkably cheap
  • Large bright screen
  • Innovative design

Bad Things

  • No front camera
  • Mediocre battery life
  • Lack of NFC

The Breakdown


Design
8
Display
5
Performance
6
Camera
5
Software
5
Battery Life
6
Call Quality
6