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Nokia Lumia 520 review

  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Lumia 520 outdoor test shot
  • Lumia 620 outdoor test shot
  • Lumia 520 indoor test shot
  • Lumia 620 indoor test shot


A good phone for the price, but we'd save up for the posher Lumia 620

Review Date: 18 Apr 2013

Price when reviewed: £150

Buy it now for: £92
(see more store prices)


Reviewed By: Chris Finnamore

Our Rating 4 stars out of 5

User Rating 4 stars out of 5

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The Lumia 520 is Nokia's cheapest Windows Phone 8 handset, and is a bit of a bargain all round. You can buy it for £150 SIM-free, £110 on prepay and it's free on a £7.50-per-month contract with 250MB data. This makes it comfortably cheaper than the next phone up in the range, the Lumia 620, which is £200 SIM-free and only comes free with a contract if you spend £14 a month.

Nokia Lumia 520

The Nokia Lumia 520 does definitely feel cheaper than the Lumia 620; the plastic on its rear is less soft-touch than the 620's cover, for example, and we much prefer the 620's rounded edges to the 520's sharper corners. Its screen has the same 480x800 resolution, but the 520's display has significantly less contrast and much less saturated colours. Like the 620's screen, the 520's is extremely sensitive, and can be operated with your fingernail or when wearing gloves.

Nokia Lumia 520

Nonetheless, the 520 still feels like a well-made phone for the price, and the bright snap-on covers add a dose of personality sadly missing from many cheap Android smartphones. It also has all the performance we’ve come to expect from Windows Phone 8. The dual-core 1GHz processor is certainly powerful enough to run the operating system smoothly, and a score of 1,473ms in the Sunspider JavaScript benchmark shows the Lumia 520 to be as quick as the Lumia 620 for web browsing and up there with all but the quickest Android handsets.

Nokia Lumia 520

As with the Lumia 620, though, one area where you do miss out is in battery life. The Lumia 520's 1,430mAh battery only gave it 6h 36m of continuous video playback, which while better than the 6h 16m we saw from the Lumia 620, is still on the mediocre side compared to the eight-hours-plus we’ve become used to seeing from Android phones.

Nokia Lumia 520

Being a Nokia Windows Phone 8 device, you also get Nokia's built-in navigation apps, now renamed HERE Maps for general mapping and HERE Drive for turn-by-turn navigation. A huge advantage of both is their support for offline mapping. In Maps, for example, you just need to go to Offline Maps in the menu and select the maps you want to download to the phone's internal storage, which will save you any worry about getting lost in low signal areas or racking up huge data costs when abroad. You'll probably want to supplement the phone's internal 8GB storage with a microSD card if you want to cover a great deal of the world, though.

Free professional-grade offline maps are a definite bonus, especially on a cheap handset, but the Lumia 520's big disadvantage over the 620 is its lack of a built-in compass, which may make orientating yourself a bit trickier.

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