Channel 5

Nokia Lumia 520

Wednesday 15 May 2013


Rating of 3

The basics

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?

Hands on with the Nokia Lumia 925 Windows Phone

The good

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.

The bad

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.

Nokia Lumia 925: Super camera Windows Phone unleashed!

The bottom line

The Nokia Lumia 520’s a corking phone for under £100. True, there are Android phones floating around at this point with many, many more apps on offer, but they lack the ease of use of Windows Phone and Nokia’s solid engineering. Our only advice? Shop around: the superior, £150 Nokia Lumia 620’s been subject to some big discounts recently which make the 520 all but irrelevant, and you’ll kick yourself if they happen again.

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Nokia Lumia 520 is tagged with Windows Phone, Windows Phone 8, Nokia and lumia 520. Select a tag (Windows Phone, for example) to find everything on The Gadget Show about the subject.

User comments (7)

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It will suffer the same issue as us Lumia 620 users are having - app creators are focusing on the 1Gig RAM devices (720 upwards). More and more often the app store returns a message that the app is not available for the 620 due to only having 512Meg RAM. I think budget phone users are assumed to be less likely to use demanding apps.

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