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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 camera on the Nokia Lumia 520 is pretty basic, you get a 5MP sensor on the back, but it doesn't have any flash and there's no front facing camera at all – so video chats and self portraits are out.

It also nixes the chance of Skype calling, which is a big feature of the Windows Phone 8, and therefore could be seen as a big miss. But if you want a phone for video calling, the similar Lumia 620 is your friend.

There are limited options on the Lumia 520; you can adjust the ISO, white balance, aspect ratio and exposure value, as well as choose between several scene modes such as close-up, night or sports.

Lens

Beyond that the camera is basically just point and shoot, though you can tap to focus on specific things and there is a 'smart shoot' option, which takes a handful of rapid-fire pictures and lets you pick which ones to keep. It's a handy feature, since the first photo you take might come out blurred or someone's eyes might be closed.

Now the Lumia Black update has appeared, Nokia has effectively blended the Smart Camera app into the regular camera, letting you access ISO, White Balance and Scene Selection from a small bar at the top of the screen. It saves you having to switch apps and means you're going to be quicker when taking snaps.

Snaps

Unfortunately, because of the Lumia 520's budget cred, you don't get access to the Nokia Refocus app that is available to updated handsets. The app shoots several pictures simultaneously with different focal points – letting you adjust them later.

Being a Windows Phone handset, there's also a dedicated camera button, which is a lot better for taking photos than trying to use an on-screen button. It also gives you quick access to your camera, as pressing it from any other screen will launch the camera app.

Camera

The camera isn't bad at all for a budget handset, though it unsurprisingly can't compete with the snappers on pricier phones.

The video camera on the Nokia Lumia 520 is similarly basic. It shoots in 720p at 30fps (which is the same as the Nokia Lumia 620), and the performance is similar to that of its big brother too.

The options for the video camera are even more limited than when shooting stills. You can adjust the white balance, turn continuous focus on or off and adjust the quality, though you can only choose between 720p and WVGA.

You can either press the shutter button or tap on the screen to start shooting, then do the same to stop. That's all there is to it really.

Since there's no flash there's also no video lamp, so its performance isn't great in poorly lit places, but if you stick to daylight the performance isn't too bad for such a wallet-friendly handset.

When staying fairly still the quality is reasonable. However it struggled a bit with the ripples in the water. Close-ups aren't handled too badly either. If you move too close in or move too quickly then it will struggle to focus, but for static medium close-ups it produces useable footage.

Fast moving traffic comes out a little blurred. The camera also fails to bring out details in the background.

Closeup

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Night shot

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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