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Nokia Lumia 520 review

The 520 has new software, but is even cheaper

Our Verdict

The Lumia 520 looks good, it's got a decent screen, it rarely stutters or slows down, it's great for calls and messaging and might it just be the best entry level Windows Phone handset you can buy.

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 8 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 5 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 14.80 Hour
  • Screen Resolution : 800 x 480
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Super cheap
  • Large, expansive screen
  • Loads of innovation

Against

  • No front-facing camera
  • Average battery
  • No NFC or compass

The Nokia Lumia 520 features a Qualcomm MSM8227 dual-core processor running a 1GHz and backed by 512MB of RAM.

Although looking a little dated on paper by now, it keeps the Windows Phone 8 OS running smoothly during day-to-day usage. However, occasionally the loading times can get a little frustrating.

There's an Adreno 305 GPU on board that will handle 3D games downloaded from the Xbox section of the Windows Store with passable results.

Nokia Lumia 520 review

The Nokia Lumia 520 comes with Wi-Fi and 3G as you'd expect and being a Windows Phone 8 handset your web browser choices are Internet Explorer and, er, Internet Explorer.

Still, it's optimised for HTML 5 and isn't the worst mobile browser we've ever used, so that's not the end of the world.

The 4-inch screen on the Nokia Lumia 520 is big and clear enough, so sites are fairly readable and images are reasonably sharp. However, if you're viewing a desktop site you might need to zoom in quite a long way.

The Wi-Fi and 3G performance could be better unfortunately. Using the TechRadar homepage as an example it took seven seconds to load the mobile version over Wi-Fi, which isn't bad but isn't exactly super-fast, while the desktop version took a whopping 24 seconds.

3G, as you can imagine, was even slower, exceeding 30 seconds for the desktop version of TechRadar.com.

Of course for under £100 you can't expect top-tier performance, and it's generally not too much of a problem if you stick to mobile sites. It's also roughly on a par with the performance of the more expensive Nokia Lumia 620 and the Huawei Ascend W1.

Battery life

The Nokia Lumia 520 has a 1430mAh battery to keep it going. That's a slight boost over the 1300mAh battery found in the Nokia Lumia 620, but some way short of the 1950mAh battery packed into the Ascend W1.

Battery

The slight bump in battery size equated to a slight bump in performance over the Lumia 620, but it's an important improvement. While the Lumia 620 would sometimes struggle to make it through a day, the Lumia 520 generally seemed fine – though you'd still normally need to charge it overnight.

After TechRadar's patented battery test – running a 90-minute video from a fully charged handset with Wi-Fi on, social networks and emails set to push notifications and the screen turned up to full brightness – we saw the battery drop to 66% by the end.

Nokia Lumia 520 review

That's not brilliant performance, but when used in other ways – for example phone calls, playing music, sending texts and so on, the Nokia Lumia 520 performed a lot better and unless you're watching a lot of videos you should easily get a day's use out of it.

Nokia rates the Lumia 520 for up to 360 hours of standby time over 3G, 14.8 hours of talk time over 3G, 9.6 hours of talk time over 2G or 61 hours of music playback, which sounds fair, though it notably doesn't post figures on video time.

If the battery doesn't live up to your expectations there is a battery saver, which prevents apps from syncing in the background. You can also invest in a spare battery, since it's easily removable if you just pop the back off the phone.

However if you'd rather not do that then the Huawei Ascend W1 might be a better bet, as that is one of the few Windows Phone 8 handsets to actually sport good battery life.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported64 GB
Built-in Memory8 GB
Built-in FlashNo
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA
SAR Value1.09 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationNo
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyLumia
Cellular Generation3G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 2100
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraNo
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
ColourBlack
Operating SystemWindows Mobile
Brand NameNokia
Battery Talk Time14.80 Hour
Product Model520
Screen Size10.2 cm (4")
Screen Resolution800 x 480
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)124 g
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityChina RoHS, EU RoHS, REACH, WEEE
Maximum Video Resolution1280 x 720
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11b/g/n
Operating System VersionWindows Phone 8
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
RealtoneYes
Call FeaturesCall Log, Call Waiting, Call Forwarding, Conference Call
Pixel Density235 ppi
Height119.9 mm
Width64 mm
Depth9.9 mm
Radio TunerNo
ManufacturerNokia
Product NameLumia 520 Smartphone
Processor Speed1 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon S4
Product LineLumia
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Proximity Sensor, Orientation Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor
Manufacturer Part NumberA00010451
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.nokia.co.uk
Marketing InformationPowered by Windows Phone 8, the Nokia Lumia 520 comes with exclusive digital lenses, a 1GHz dual core processor, and a touchscreen that even works with long finger nails or gloves.

Add magic to your photos.
The Nokia Lumia 520 comes with digital lenses built in - exclusive to Nokia and guaranteed to wow your friends. Add motion to your images with Cinemagraph. Take multiple photos with a single click using Smart Shoot, and edit effortlessly to make the perfect shot.

Super senstive screen - keep your gloves on.
The 4-inch touchscreen on the Nokia Lumia 520 is so sensitive that you can even use it when wearing gloves or with your fingernails. So typing, chatting and surfing are easier and more convenient than ever.

Nokia mix radio.
Nokia Mix Radio fills your day with free music. Choose from over 150 mixes or generate your own playlists. Take your favourite mixes offline and listen when you're not connected. Share them with friends through your social networks, email or via SMS. (Data transfer charges may apply. Check with your provider)

Free HERE Maps. Destinations uncovered.
Type in a destination and HERE Maps will get you there quickly. If you're driving, HERE Drive gives you turn-by-turn directions. And if you need to get across town on public transport, HERE Transit plots the quickest route, including departure times and walking distances. (HERE Drive on the Lumia 520 offers free drive navigation for a single country or region. Additional service upgrade to be introduced later.)

Windows Phone 8. See your world at a glance.
Stay on top of things with Live Tiles which update in real time on your start screen. Get 7GB of storage on Microsoft SkyDrive, so you can sync your phone and computer. And pre-installed Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint mean you can work on the go, hassle-free.
Package Contents
  • Lumia 520 Smartphone
  • High Efficiency Charger
  • Battery
  • Charging and Data Cable
  • Stereo Headset
  • Quick Guide
Limited Warranty2 Year