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Nokia Lumia 520 8GB Smartphone

£60.00
design
features
performance
compatibility

4.3

5

Overall

This is an entry-level smartphone, and a damn good one at that. The Nokia Lunia 520 successfully overturns the assumption that you need to spend big bucks to get great performance.

User Rating (4 votes)

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Nokia Lumia 520 Price History

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Sam Applegate

27th July 2014

By Sam Applegate

I like bacon sandwiches.


Once upon a time, Nokia were the mobile phone company to go to, bestriding the market like a telephonic colossus. Then Apple happened, Android and Samsung happened, and it seemed that all was lost. The Finnish company seemed on the road to oblivion.

The Nokia Lumia 520 is the company's attempt to reverse that, though in truth it's actually Microsoft's, as the American giant bought the Nokia mobile unit back at the beginning of this year. You might already have started rolling your eyes at the idea that Microsoft could innovate its way into the smartphone market. Still those restless sockets!

What It Isn't

Essentially Nokia/Microsoft have looked at the design assumptions of Apple's iPhone and aimed to do the precise opposite. Vast cost? Let's provide a phone for people who don't want to spend a huge chunk of money on something that's going to be outdated inside a year that gets damaged frighteningly easily. Understated style? Nokia have offered bright, eye-catching Lumia 520s that would never be confused for Apple's now rather passé style. Available in black, red, bright yellow, cyan and white, they're made from plastic rather than metal. As a consequence, they don't feel like they're pretending to offer the swanky style of wearing a businessman's high-end watch, but instead want to be fun, useful tools for speaking to friends and browsing the web. If you look at the marketing efforts, they show teens and twenty somethings using the Lumia, and it's easy to see why. It's somewhat ironic that Apple's once rebellious, vibrant image has actually been taken up by a Microsoft product.

The Nokia Lumia 520 simply takes a very different philosophical approach to that of the high end smartphones. Nokia know that most people won't use 90% of the functionality of an iPhone, so they've dispensed with it, whilst adding some good innovations. The screen, for example, still works even if you're wearing gloves; a feature that will be quite appealing for those in colder climates. On the downside, it does suffer from the typical touch screen problem of grubby finger grease quite extensively, so be prepared to wipe it down fairly often.

One more problematic issue with moving away from the big two mobile phone OS systems is that you won't find as many apps available for the Windows 8 system as you would for an IoS or Android phone. But you can get most of the big, well known ones, and the catalogue available is expanding as time goes on. They also throw in the Angry Birds Roost app as part of the welcoming the package if you feel like wasting some time!

Specifications and Features

The Nokia Lumia 520 has a respectably 4" screen size, with a 480×800 resolution and 235 PPI. That's pretty good, actually. Not the sharpest and most detailed display out there, but for the price that's quibbling. It's bright enough that you can see the screen clearly even when it's sunny outside, and on current performance the battery stands up very well to more expensive vampiric rivals that don't seem to be able to go a day without sucking up more electricity.

The phone has 8GB of memory and 512MB of RAM, enough to comfortably play most games and more demanding apps. You can add a micro SD card if you need extra memory using the slot they've built in for it. With a dual core GHz processor, it runs extremely smoothly and without discernible lag. It may be a cheap phone, but it doesn't act like it.

As previously mentioned, it runs the Windows 8 operating system, which is far more useful on a touch screen than it is on laptops and PCs. Most users will get used to it pretty quickly, and unlike other operating systems, you can extensively customise what's displayed, where and how. It makes it feel like it's your phone rather than something you've been given the privilege of possessing for a short period.

We've already covered the aesthetics, but it's worth noting that it's quite thick compared to today's skinnier smartphones, but that it also feels pretty well built and rugged. Of course, if you damage it irreparably, it won't cost the earth to replace, either.

There's a decent 5 megapixel camera on the back, but for some reason there's no integrated flash, which can make shooting in low light conditions problematic. You also have a shutter button on the side of the Lumia 520 which can be pressed to take pictures without having to unlock the phone, which is a nice feature when you want to capture something quickly. Unfortunately there's no front facing camera, meaning that Skype-style conversations are a bit trickier. But given the price of the Lumia and the value that it provides, it's to churlish complain.

Other than that, the Lumia 520 does normal things you'd expect from a modern phone. It plays music and video well. Although you can get a reasonable amount of volume out of those tiny speakers, the quality of the sound is still tinny and shallow, as with other phones on the market, so it's best to use headphones.

Take Me To...

One of the most impressive things about the Nokia Lumia 520 is that it has an offline map/GPS suite that will navigate without you needing to have a contract. You can even get it to give you verbal instructions if you're driving. Free. Whilst you may need to purchase additional maps through an app if you're going into less populated areas, this is a super feature. Effectively you're getting a Satnav when you buy your phone, and it costs you nothing extra. Superb.

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To read more on this model, check out the Nokia Lumia 520 homepage here (opens new window).

Images

  • Main camera sensor: 5 MP
  • Display size: 4''
  • Processor name: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ S4
  • Maximum talk time (3G): 9.7h
  • Maximum music playback time: 52h

Model

Screen Size (inches)

Storage (gb)

Processor

Operating System

Rating

Price

Apple iPhone 5s

4

16

Dual-core

IOS 8

£N/A

Motorola Moto G

4.5

8

Quad-core

Android Kitkat 4.4

£109.00

Nokia Lumia 520

4

8

Dual-core

Windows Phone Os

£60.00

Nokia Lumia 630

4.5

8

Quad-core

Windows Phone Os

£74.95

Nokia Lumia 635

4.5

8

Quad Core

Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1

£64.91

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

4.3

8

Dual Core 1.7 Ghz

4.2.2 Jellybean

£139.99

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

4.5

16

Exynos 3 Quad 3470

KitKat 4.4.2

£234.50

Sony Xperia M2

4.8

8

Quad-core 1.2 GHz

Android OS V4.3 (Jelly Bean)

£119.99


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