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Nokia Lumia 520 Review

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The Windows Phone 8 madness hasn’t really reached our shores yet but we’ve decided to take the jump to give you guys our perspective on this platform. We’ve purchased the most affordable Windows Phone 8 smartphone to date, the Nokia Lumia 520 and we’ll be sharing our thoughts on this WP device.

The Nokia Lumia 520 is cheaper than the Nokia Lumia 620 (read our review) because of some let downs that Nokia figured to be optional for some people. They have opted to remove the front facing camera, flash, and NFC which I believe is fair enough considering the low price point of this handset.

At Php7,999, you can now buy decent quad-core android phones and the popularity of the trend is continuously growing here in the country. But if you’re one of those who want to be different, then might as well look at Windows Phone. Should you buy the Lumia 520 instead of other low-end android phones? Let’s find out on our full review.

What’s in the box?

  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Charger
  • Manuals
  • Warranty Card

Design

The Nokia Lumia 520 strongly resembles other high-end Lumias in terms of looks and it’s not really a bad thing. In fact, I like it that way as the curvy edges and fairly large bezels on the Lumia 620 turned me off.

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From the first time I held the device, the colorful and intuitive design made me interested immediately. I really liked the curved back and the fact that it’s easily swappable to different colors in just a few clicks is a really great feature. It can blend to your attire on any given day as it’s available in several colors. However, you need to buy the swappable back cases separately.

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The body of the Nokia Lumia 520 is mostly made up of plastic but that doesn’t mean it looks cheap. In fact, the overall design is way better than other smartphones within the same price range. As you can see, I have the Cyan version because both yellow and white are more prone to dirt – that’s why I’m left with either red or cyan.

Back-of-Lumia-520

Even though the 4-inches display is relatively small on paper, I was glad that it didn’t really annoyed me by its size. It’s just right and it feels great in the hand due to its sturdy build. It’s quite bulky at 11mm, but that’s not really a bad thing unless you’re used to slim smartphones. But for me, it’s okay as it’s nice to carry around.

Performance

When it comes to speed, there’s no budget device that comes close to the Nokia Lumia 520. It’s ridiculously fast and it doesn’t stutter on all tasks thrown at it. It does occasionally show a loading page though but that’s so rare and it’s just a half a second.

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The Nokia Lumia 520 is powered by a 1GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor paired with 512MB of RAM. That combination might look average to you, but it’s amazingly fast nonetheless. It’s because of the optimized Windows Phone platform and it’s evident even from the Windows Phone 7 OS as it doesn’t lag even with just a single core processor.

I love Lumia 520 and Windows Phone 8 as a phone. It performs well just the way I like it but as I’ve said – as a phone. Normal phone duties such as texting, calling, and some internet surfing works well, but it’s indeed limited. I really admire how well WP8 integrate and sync emails but for everything else, it’s pretty much complex and/or limited.

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The Windows Phone 8 mobile operating systems handles all the job giving you fewer options for customizations unlike in Android where you can tinker almost anything about your device (and even break it in the process). It’s both a good thing and bad thing actually and personal preference will surely play an important role.

Before trying out Windows Phone, I expected the worst to prevent myself from being too disappointed. It turned out to be the opposite. I fell in love with the Live Tiles and smoothness of the device despite being the most affordable Windows Phone 8 handset to date. The animations are just too beautiful and pleasing to the eye.

If you’ll ask me, the performance and functionality of Windows Phone at this point is more likely targeted towards businessmen and casual users. It does a wonderful job doing things that this kind of people need, but false short for power users like me. I thought of using it as an everyday phone, but I figured that I can’t live with the shortcomings of this smartphone. Well, I bring two phones everyday so I guess that’s almost the same. :-)

Apps and Games

If you’re fond of installing tons of apps on your device, you can do so. After all, there are already more than 160,000 apps in the Windows Phone store and almost 64% of the top 100 apps from the iOS platform has landed for Windows Phone 8.

Angry Birds for Windows Phone gets 100 new levels and support for 256MB smartphones

This argument is commonly used on mobile OS fanboys wars and it’s truly valid. This same thing was used on Android before, but as soon as it hit those large numbers, they began to fade. For me, what really matters is the popular and top apps. What I’m concerned with is Microsoft is doing a horrible job handling the apps. Skype and Facebook are both slow and buggy. Come one, Microsoft.

Entertainment

As a portable multimedia player, Lumia 520 can’t really do much. It sure can play your videos, movies, and favorite music, but the speakers are weak to the point that you should use a pair of earphones to enjoy it. You can also connect it to an external speaker but the screen is too small for that.

What I really about this is the absence of an equalizer? I was like “What the hell?”. I’ll forgive it if the default configuration is good, but it just can’t deliver and satisfy my expectations. I barely use it to play my music, and that’s only when the battery of my dedicated music player runs out.

Messaging/Telephony

In terms texting and calling, the Nokia Lumia 520 is awesome to some extent. The initial impression I had was that it’s really cool especially with those funky and fluid animations presented. However, like every other portion of the device, it’s limited in customization.

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I don’t mean to change anything about the look as it’s great as it is, but I fainted when I saw that the only option found there is the delete thread. Holy cow. I can’t add someone to my contacts list on our very own message thread! WTF! Anyway, it’s very good overall so I didn’t cared at all about it. The keyboard is also responsive and easy to use even though it’s relatively small.

When taking phone calls, I’m annoyed that I actually need to do a swipe first then the answer button to take it. I know it prevents unintended calls, but having a direct answer button right at the screen when it’s ringing is far more convenient.

Internet Connectivity

Nokia Lumia 520 comes with all the standard connectivity options that you would expect on any modern day smartphone. It also has HSPA+ support so that means you can get fast mobile data speeds whenever it’s available.

[two_fifth]Using this handset in browsing the web is okay, but I always find the Internet Explorer to be really slow. [/two_fifth]

It also has very less features when compared to other mobile web browsers. To make things worst, there are only few alternatives that are available in the Windows Phone marketplace. Even Opera Mini is nowhere to be found. The best thing I found is the UC Browser.

Aside from the ill performing IE10, this device also struggles with a buggy and ultra super mega slow Facebook app. The recent update didn’t helped for me and I kinda miss the old Metro UI which is different from the offerings on both Android and iOS. The new version closely resembles the other two but the functionality is not as good on iOS.

The Lumia 520 can be a good companion in web surfing but you need to keep in mind that you’ll meet a couple of limitations along the way. But if you’re not that familiar on how this works on the top two mobile platform, you’ll eventually like it.

Camera

The camera of the Lumia 520 is probably one of its downsides but considering its low price, it’s not an issue at all. Well, not unless you didn’t do your homework of looking up the specs and features before buying.

It has a 5-megapixel camera and lacks a front facing camera. The photos taken are quite above average in terms of quality, but it does lack some sharpness and better contrast. On good lighting conditions, the images taken are more than good enough for posting on the popular social networking sites.

One thing I really liked is the inclusion of a dedicated camera button which most android phones lack. It’s handy when you want to quickly launch the camera and snap a photo out of nowhere. You need to get used to it though, as it’s not that comfortable to press.

The only thing missing is the front camera. As a budget device as it is, I would commend Nokia for giving it a decent camera.

Camera-Sample-Lumia520 Lumia-520-Camera-low-light-shot Camera-of-Nokia-Lumia-520

Battery Life

The battery life of the Nokia Lumia 520 looks short based on paper because of its 1430mAh battery capacity, but it’s definitely the opposite in actual usage. Of course this section is still relative to each and everyone’s usage but generally it’s on the good side. Windows Phone 8 is battery friendly mobile operating system and the built-in power saving contributes a lot.

Aside from being long lasting, it’s important to note that it only takes 1 and a half to 2 hours before the battery gets fully-charged. Yes, you don’t need to wait too much – and that’s always a plus. It can surely give you a whole day of moderate to heavy usage without a problem even with constant mobile data and WiFi connection. I’m actually using it as a secondary phone and my average uptime is 2-4 days with typical calls & texts and some internet browsing.

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I have certain issues that there’s a fast battery drain while the phone heats up. During that situation, I usually turn off the phone and wait until it returns to its normal temperature. It’s not that often though as it only happened a couple of times since I used it (and that’s a long time now). I believe it’s a problem on WP8 and I hope it gets fixed when the Amber update comes.

Conclusion

Nokia Lumia 520 is definitely the best entry-level Windows Phone smartphone in the market right now and no one can argue with that. For only Php7,990, you’ll get a full-fledged Windows Phone 8 experience that’s powered by a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor and 512MB of RAM.

Nokia Lumia 520 Specs

  • Windows Phone 8

  • 4-inch IPS LCD display, WVGA resolution, 235 ppi

  • 1 GHz Dual-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor

  • Adreno 305

  • 512 MB RAM

  • 8 GB internal memory, microSD card up to 64GB

  • 5-megapixel autofocus camera, no flash

  • 720p video recording

  • HSDPA+, HSUPA

  • Wi-Fi

  • Bluetooth

  • GPS

  • Colors: Yellow, red, cyan, white and black

  • Dimensions: 119.9 x 64 x 9.9 mm

  • Weight:124g

  • Battery: 1430mAh

The screen might not be really enticing because of being quite small for today’s standards, but I can positively say that it’s fantastic and feels comfortable to hold. It’s well suitable for its purpose of being a laid back smartphone and/or business handset which will help you everyday.

I really like the Windows Phone platform and the only thing that prevents me from using it as my main phone is the absence of the apps I always use on Android. There are lots of other alternatives that’s for sure, but they’re nowhere near the quality of the apps on Android and iOS. To know more, you can check out Poch’s full review of the Windows Phone 8 mobile OS here.

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Windows Phone 8 has lots of potential and I’m excited to see what surprises it has in store for us in the coming future.

Nokia Lumia 520 has paved the way to the low-end market for Nokia and with this kind of product which screams value for money. Again, if you just want a fluid smartphone experience that would take care your ‘phone’ needs and you don’t need much apps, go get a Lumia. We should also note that the popular apps are also making its way to Windows Phone 8 so if you have faith on Microsoft’s mobile platform, make the jump. Believe me, it’s awesome.

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