• Full Review
  • Specifications

Full Review

The Lumia handsets from Nokia provide a colourful means of getting your hands on the Windows Phone 8 operating system. The handsets are packed with features and are a user-friendly alternative to the likes of iOS and Android.


The newest introduction is the Lumia 520, which is the most budget friendly option, coming in at just £160. It still manages to include lots of Nokia’s own features, even at this price, so it’s a nice option for anyone on a budget. But the Lumia 620 is only a few quid more – so if you’re new to the Lumia range, which should you choose? 


Neat body


Like the 620, the Lumia 520 has a neat, chunky chassis. Its rounded curves make it really comfortable to hold – and it’s great if you have small hands too. It’s also easy to use one-handed – so you can still bash out texts and surf the net if you’re standing on the train into work. The back is smooth plastic, while the front is covered in glass. But it feels quite solid and we think it would withstand a drop on the ground.


Pull off the back cover and you’ll see the SIM card slot, battery and memory card slot. The cover feels like it’s solidly in place – and if you fancy ringing the changes, you can change it for a different colour, such as black, blue or red.


Small screen


The four-inch display doesn’t quite match the brightness on the Lumia 720 – colours come out a tad murky in comparison, but it still proves responsive to swipes and prods. It will even work if you’re wearing gloves (which is more and more likely as summer fails to appear this year!). Compared with plenty of other handsets, four inches is rather small for a screen, but it’s actually 0.2 inches larger than the screen on the Lumia 620 – and exactly the same as the display on the Huawei Ascend W1.


Browsing the web is a slightly cramped experience, but it is still possible to zoom right in to see text – and mobile sites are fine. We also managed to play games and fiddle with apps with no problem. The dual-core chip under the hood means that games and apps ran smoothly, just as on the 620 and 720 models. A processor like this, along with 512MB of RAM, is impressive at this price.


We were able to watch HD movies too, and they were fine to view, even on the small display. They proved sharp enough, although we didn’t really get the full benefit of the HD images. Blacks are not truly black, but viewing angles are decent – not that you’ll be watching many films with a mate on that small display.


Storage space is always a little mean on the Lumia handsets – and the 520 doesn’t break the mould – there’s 5GB for you to store media and apps, but this can be expanded by up to 64GB with the Micro SD slot. Plus there’s 7GB of free cloud storage on offer too.



Battery life


The battery on the Lumia 520 is bigger than that placed in the 620, but does it actually improve battery life?

With screen brightness on maximum, Wi-Fi enabled and making moderate use of the phone, with calls, games, apps and a bit of web browsing, we saw the battery last more than 24 hours. Video streaming gave us just over five hours – which is about what we expect from modern smartphones these days.


Take a picture


There are some neat features on the five-megapixel snapper. The camera itself produces reasonable, sharp images, although we found our outdoor shots could be a bit dark if it wasn’t sunny, even after we’d fiddled with scene settings and ISO. They will be okay for posting on social media but don’t expect stunning results.


The handset has a physical shutter button, but we did find it hard to push – a bit of fiddling with the back panel of the phone and some pushing sorted that out though. If the phone is in hibernation mode, holding down the shutter key takes you straight to the camera app, so you’re ready to take a snap. A half-push gets your subject in focus – a full press takes the picture.


There are lots of add-ons to download to make the snapper more useful. Panorama mode is great for grabbing landscapes – it’s also smart enough to not let anyone wandering into your line of fire ruin the shot – while Cinemagraph lets the photographer take a neat live action snap, which sees part of the image animated while the rest is static. Take group shots using Smart Shot, which takes a number of photos so you can merge them together to get rid of any strange face-pulling or closed eyes. These bonus features certainly make the Nokia Lumia phones more attractive than the other Windows 8 handsets.


It’s a pity there’s no front-facing snapper on the 520, as it’s included on the Lumia 620, as it NFC support, which is also lacking on this budget handset. The lack of NFC means you can’t wirelessly charge the handset or connect to Nokia’s supported speaker range. While we can live without NFC, the missing front-facer will be a deal-breaker for Skype fans.




Nokia beats the likes of the Huawei Ascend W1 when it comes to apps and tools. Travellers and drivers have plenty to please them in the Here suite of apps – we particularly like the free sat nav, Here Drive, and the impressive Here Maps. Other treats on offer include the ebook service Nokia Reading, Nokia Music – a free music streaming feature – and Here City Lens, which is a neat augmented reality app.


Our conclusion


The Lumia 520 has most of the features seen in the Lumia 620 – apart from NFC support and the front-facing snapper. In fact it also boasts a larger screen and battery. The choice is yours, but unless you do a lot of Skyping and need that front-facing camera, we’d suggest the cheaper Lumia 520 is the better choice.



  • Dimensions

    • Height: 119.9 mm
    • Width: 64 mm
    • Thickness: 9.9 mm
    • Weight: 124 g
  • Display

    • Display size: 4 ''
    • Display technology: IPS 
    • Touch screen technology: Super-sensitive touch 
  • Photography

    • Main camera sensor: 5 MP 
  • Power management

    • Maximum 2G talk time: 14.8 h
    • Maximum 3G talk time: 9.6 h
    • Maximum 3G standby time: 360 h
    • Music playback time: 61 h

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