Editors Note: I tested the Nokia Lumia 920 for 14 days, 5 of those I used it as my daily driver. I tested the network on Three’s 3G network in Dorset.
The Nokia Lumia 520 is the baby of the Lumia family, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad device for the money.
The 520 looks similar to other Lumias with it’s bright colours and curvy sides. Unlike the high-end models, like the 920, you can take the back off of the 520 to access the battery, MicroSIM and MicroSD card slot. You can also interchange the back cover if you don’t like the one you originally went with.
It feels nice in the hand and fits perfectly. The back is slightly slippery however but it isn’t a huge issue. All of the ports and buttons are easy to get to and they are very tactile.
The 520 packs a 4-inch WVGA display, with a resolution of 800 x 480. It looks very sharp and produces colour well. It’s very bright even on the lowest setting, but it doesn’t work that well outdoors.
The touchscreen is responsive but feels very plastic.
The camera on the 520 works very well considering this is a low-end device. It’s a 5-megapixel sensor and has a large F2.4 aperture. The camera doesn’t use a Carl Zeiss lens however, but this isn’t an issue. There isn’t a flash, which can be a deal breaker.
The photos it takes look great and are perfect for sharing on social networks. The low-light performance of the camera is fine since it doesn’t have a flash, but if you are in total darkness then you will just get a black photo.
It shoots 720p video at 30fps so it’s perfect for those times when you need to record a precious moment. It has continuous autofocus which works very well.
The device however doesn’t have a front-facing camera so if you Skype a lot then that may be a problem.
As it’s a Lumia device, it runs Windows Phone. It comes with Windows Phone 8 which is fast and fluid and works well on devices with small resolution displays. Nokia’s apps are pre-installed and are a great because they are only available on Lumia devices. HERE Maps is a great mapping application as Windows Phone doesn’t come with one normally and Nokia Music is great if you like to listen
to music for free. The phone comes with all of Nokia’s bundled apps which is a great reason to get a Lumia, rather than other Windows Phone devices.
The app selection isn’t great, but with more and more popular apps coming to Windows Phone - like Vine – the Windows Store will look more appealing to new customers over time.
The phone runs very fast and the animations are smooth. Windows Phone is very light so it doesn’t put a massive load on the phone’s dual-core 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon™ S4 processor. It has 512MB of RAM and 8GBs of internal storage which is expandable via the MicroSD card slot.
I had no issues with the 520’s battery life. It easily handled the day (7am to 8pm) when using GPS, Mobile Data, Wi-Fi and calling. This does however vary day-to-day.
The phone’s call quality is okay. I could clearly hear the other person whilst using the Nokia Lumia 520, but that’s a different story when you are the other way around. Calls from the 520 sound tinny and almost like the other person is holding the phone 30 centimetres from their face. You can easily get used to it however.
If you’re looking for a cheap handset which is easy to use then go with the Nokia Lumia 520, or if you want to try Windows Phone without harming your wallet then it’s great for that too. To keep the cost down however, Nokia have ditched the flash and front-facing camera so that may be an issue for some people.
It’s difficult to criticise because of the price, but if you want a cheap phone that can handle most users needs then the Nokia Lumia 520 is for you.
You can get it on all major UK networks from £99 on Pay as you go, or on 24 month contracts starting at £11. You can also buy the phone unlocked from £120 on Amazon and other retailers.