It shares the following specs with the higher end Lumia 720: 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor; 512MB of RAM; 8GB of built-in storage; and a 800×480 screen resolution.
It has a 4-inch scratch-resistant capacitive screen, a 5-megapixel camera, records video in 720p HD, has HSDPA+ (speeds of up to 21.1Mbps), Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi and storage is expandable to up to 64GB (microSD). It has a 1430 mAh battery, and the handset takes a micro SIM card.
What this entry-level smartphone doesn’t have is a front-facing camera (sorry, no selfies); a compass, which means you can’t use the Nokia City Lens App; and NFC – features you can do without if you’re looking for a basic smartphone.
DESIGN + DISPLAY
The Lumia 520 is 119.9mm in height, 64mm wide, 9.9mm thin and weighs 124g. It comes in a range of brightly coloured plastic cases that are interchangeable, but I wouldn’t remove it unnecessarily. You need to have slightly long nails to remove the case. On the bright side (haha), if your case gets damaged, you can just buy another one.
The screen resolution is 800×480 pixels, and as I mentioned earlier, same as the 720. Windows Phone 8’s Live Tiles appear bright and vivid; quite impressive for an entry-level smartphone. It has a 4-inch sensitive capacitive touchscreen, which I found smooth and responsive when swiping and scrolling. For me this was a plus, because I’ve been playing with the R1999 Huawei Ascend G510 smartphone and swiping across the screen hasn’t been that great, and put a dampener on the experience. The size is ideal if you want to catch up on reading feeds, etc.
Like all other Lumia handsets I’ve used, design is minimal and similar. To the right hand side, you will find the volume up and down buttons, the power button, and a dedicated camera button. The micro-USB port sits on the top, while the 3.5mm audio jack at the bottom.
UNDER THE HOOD
The 520 is powered by a 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor with 512MB of RAM, like the 720, so it’s really great value. I didn’t find any sluggishness when launching apps (however, some apps took a few seconds to load), playing games and web pages loaded smoothly. The handset comes with 8GB of built-in storage, expandable up to 64GB by microSD.
WINDOWS PHONE 8
The Windows Phone 8 interface has really grown on me and I’ve enjoyed my experiences on previous Lumia devices. I love the customisation of Live Tiles, I prefer keeping the tiles small though, so I have quick access to everything at a glance. Some tiles are dynamic, example you can see the weather forecast on your homescreen without launching the app. If you want to kept up to date with what your contacts and connections are up to, The People Hub lets you view everything in one stream. Even if you log into all your social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc), you can opt to not have updates from, for example, LinkedIn, appear in your feed (you probably want to do that!). It’s weird seeing faces on the Live Tile from people you’ve worked with, or are just acquaintances.
Nokia exclusive apps need no introduction. The Lumia 520 comes with HERE Maps; HERE Drive (both previously called Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive); and Nokia Music. I remembered this time to download a voice and the South African map before using HERE Drive for navigation, while I’m about to drive off. The preloaded HERE Drive is still in beta though. Nokia Music really is the best Nokia app. You get to stream music for free, download playlists for offline play, and there’s no ads. Office also comes preloaded and lets you create, view and edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations, which can be saved to your SkyDrive or Office365 account, or shared via email.
The camera is 5-megapixels and features auto focus, touch to focus, ISO control, white balance presets, panorama, and geotagging. It records video in 720p at 30 fps. What it lacks is a flash and there is no front-facing camera. Unlike other Lumia cameras, there’s no Carl Zeiss optics, and no PureView camera. It really is basic, since it is an entry-level handset, but picture quality is decent, and much better outdoors:
The Lumia 520 is Nokia’s most affordable Windows Phone 8 handset. For the price you get some really decent specs and features, and some lacking. But it’s not like you really need NFC, and I didn’t miss the front-facing camera (I’m not big on Skype either). I did miss the compass because it meant no City Lens; and the camera flash. If you are looking for an entry level smartphone, the features that it lacks are features you aren’t going to need. I found the battery life to be quite decent, and standby time is good. You can essentially run your business off the phone with MS Exchange, Office and SkyDrive.
PRICE AND RATING
My rating: 8/10
Contact: Nokia www.nokia.co.za
For a complete list of specs, go here.
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 13 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. ✉️ firstname.lastname@example.org