Nokia Lumia 520
Nokia’s been incredibly busy of late, outing new feature phones and top of the line metal smartphones day after day, so it’s not surprising if you missed the Nokia Lumia 520 in all the hubbub. Do so at your peril though: it’s a smartphone with a big, juicy four-inch screen and dual-core 1GHz processor, running full fat Windows Phone 8 that costs under £100 on pay as you go tariffs. Is this the bargain bin blower for you?
There’s not a great deal to say about the Nokia Lumia 520 hardware, good or bad. It’s just a block. But it’s a smooth block with few pointless edges and seams, that houses a five megapixel camera and a superb four-inch 480x800 resolution screen that looks great and is easy to read on and watch videos, now that there’s finally a proper YouTube app for Windows Phone.
That’s more than enough to stand out at the low end though, and that’s before you take Windows Phone 8 into account. As we’ve said before, many of its problems, like the strange way it handles multitasking and the weaknesses in Internet Explorer, melt away at this end, where more shoppers are likely to be less demanding. What you’re left with is a smooth performing, fluid and easy to use OS - and there’s a good chance that that’s all you want.
That’s especially true for the price. For under a ton upfront, the Nokia Lumia 520 represents phenomenal value. With all the same clever Nokia apps and services (like the essential Nokia Drive and Music) of its bigger, more expensive brothers, plus a spacious screen, there’s only a few low price Android phones that compete - and they’re ugly beasts you need to put some effort in to make the most of - the opposite of Windows Phone, in other words.
We’ll largely skip over the software issues we have with all Windows Phones. You probably know what they are by now: fewer apps. The only unusual software issue we ran into was that as with the Nokia Lumia 720, the Lumia 520 inexplicably lacks Nokia Drive+, so while you can use your phone as a free satnav in the UK, you can’t download maps for other countries when you’re travelling abroad, as you can on almost all other Nokia Lumias.
Our reservations are entirely down to the hardware: there’s no flash on the camera, so good luck taking photos indoors, and the plastic back covers are thin and flimsy. All of which wouldn’t be so bad, if the frankly incredible Nokia Lumia 620 (with a flash) wasn’t within price reach. Simply put, if you get a chance to compare both phones side by side, you’ll almost certainly come away willing to pay the £50 extra for its bigger brother.