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Posted on February 27th, 2013 by Jonathan Bray

Nokia Lumia 520 review: first look

Nokia Lumia 520

The Nokia Lumia 520 is one of two low-cost Windows Phone 8 smartphones Nokia unveiled at its MWC press conference, and it really is cheap.

It’s set to cost around £120, and yet when we took our turn with it on the Nokia stand after the news conference, we found little evidence of cost-cutting.

Nokia design chief Marko Ahtisaari called the design “pillowy”, and we can see why he chose that word. Flip the Lumia 520 over in your hand and the rear panel does curve away to the edges.

Flowery design language aside, though, the important thing about the Lumia 520 is that it feels like a much more expensive phone when you pick it up and start to use it. Its removable plastic rear panel is thick and helps lend the phone a really solid feel, and a side benefit of the smooth, matte-finish is that it doesn’t pick up fingerprints like some glossy plastic handsets do.

Nokia Lumia 520

You might think, too, that spending only £120 on a smartphone would guarantee a bit of a lump in your pocket, but the Lumia 520 is a perfectly manageable 9.9mm from front to back, and weighs only 124g.

Up front, there’s nothing as sophisticated as the Lumia 720’s “sculpted” glass display, but the Lumia 520’s 4in screen gets an awful lot right. Although the resolution isn’t very high at 800 x 480, its IPS panel is very good indeed. Viewing angles are excellent, colours look spot on, and it sports Nokia’s “super sensitive touch” technology, allowing it to be operated with gloves on, or with fingernails.

We gave this a quick try, simulating gloved hands with a jumper sleeve, and found it worked perfectly. Now you can play Angry Birds on a chilly winter’s morning while waiting for a train without giving yourself frostbite. That has to be good news, not least in Nokia’s Finnish homeland!

Nokia Lumia 520

On the down side, the Lumia 520 only has a 1,430mAh battery, which is considerably down on capacity compared with the similar Huawei Ascend W1. That phone has a 1,950mAh battery. There’s no flash to accompany its 5-megapixel rear camera either.

What the Lumia does have, however, is the full range of Nokia’s excellent in-house apps, which add plenty of value. These include Nokia Music for listening to themed virtual radio streams, and the Here Maps suite of apps, which includes the Nokia’s Drive satnav software with its ability to download maps to local storage. For the record, the Lumia 520 has 8GB of internal flash memory and a microSD slot for expanding it by up to 64GB.

As with all Windows Phone 8 handsets, the Lumia 520 also feels perfectly responsive, despite having only a dual-core, 1GHz processor on board and 512MB of RAM. When it arrives in the UK later this year, we think it will sell by the truckload.

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11 Responses to “ Nokia Lumia 520 review: first look ”

  1. wyson9 Says:
    February 27th, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Surely the processor is dual core 1Ghz? The Lumia 920 has a dual 1.5Ghz snap dragon. How can the most basic Lumia have a processor almost as good as its top of the range brother , and better than the next phone up, the 620 which has a dual core 1ghz processor?

  2. Jonathan Bray Says:
    February 27th, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Good spot, wyson9. I’ve now corrected it.

    Jonathan Bray,
    Reviews editor,
    PC Pro.

  3. Nick Says:
    February 27th, 2013 at 11:35 am

    That looks exactly like the kind of thing that could re-establish Nokia in this market. I’m glad, I had nokia phones for 10 years before switching to Apple and whilst the iPhone is great, I have a soft spot for Nokia. Good luck to them.

  4. Andy Says:
    February 27th, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    @Nick: My experience and feelings exactly. Go Nokia!

  5. Shane Says:
    February 27th, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    I really think nokia are on to a winner with these budget phones. I’ve got the 920 and think they’ve managed to make these smaller phones look every bit as premium.

  6. Hari Says:
    February 28th, 2013 at 8:03 am

    When is this phone coming to India? Im eagerly looking forward to it

  7. saniyam Says:
    March 8th, 2013 at 6:20 am

    one of the reason for loss of nokia is not managing handset sell properly in developing markets. Now its been 4months since announcement of lumia 505 but still its not available in India and other companies have already developed better phones than lumia 505 so when lumia 505 comes in india at that time there will be no demand for it. I just want to say if nokia wants to gain its position then it shud make handset available as early as its annouced

  8. manoj kumar Says:
    May 19th, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    i really like nokia every model and every series leave n series and like now lumia family and i dont know that nokia have get no.1 position again and i think if samsung got adwantage from that the indian peoplesays impossible thats screen touch mobile like champ and corby when nokia not have done.

  9. Kilweza Says:
    February 10th, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    When I heard that Nokia were selling their head-office building in Finland, I nearly cried. It’s been my favourite phone ever since, and I’ll keep using it. I am sure they are not going anywhere since now it’s the battle of the biggest – apple & microsoft

  10. thomas Says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    nokia + android = common sense

  11. N I Singh Says:
    March 24th, 2014 at 11:31 am

    I think Nokia 520 is good. Now, Nokia X has come with Android.


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