Review: Nokia Lumia 520
3.9Overall Score
Price (RRP): $179 / $229, price different depending on if bought through carrier or unlocked Manufacturer: Nokia

Once the domain of Nokia, the budget phone space hasn’t exactly been populated by smartphones supporting its current operating system, Windows Phone. Instead, inexpensive smartphones are now occupied by a very Android-based landscape, but that could change soon with a new Lumia for under $200.

Features

Barring one, we’ve played with every Lumia released in Australia this year, and while the handsets generally fill the mid-to-high-end price range, the Lumia 520 is the first time we’ve seen Nokia stretch to the bottom end.

And that’s perfectly fine with us, admirable even, because everyone should be able to afford a decent phone, which is precisely what Nokia is attempting in the Lumia 520.

In this handset, Nokia has dropped back on processor, memory, and screen resolution in an attempt to make something affordable.

You’ll find a 4 inch In-Plane Switching touchscreen in the Lumia 520, supporting the older resolution of 480×800, the resolution used on most of Nokia’s other handsets, and the resolution of choice back in 2010 and 2011 for Android devices.

Under the hood, there’s a dual-core 1GHz processor from Qualcomm, 512MB RAM, 8GB storage, and a microSD slot. Windows Phone 8 is the operating system of choice, with mobile broadband catered for by 3G.

Other connections are handled by WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, GSPS, and microUSB to charge and move data to and from the device. Interestingly, there is no Near-Field Communication on this handset.

As with all smartphones, a camera is supported, though in this device, there’s only one, with a 5 megapixel shooter with auto-focus on the back, albeit one without a flash. There is no front-facing camera.

Windows Phones generally have a few physical buttons, and this one is no different, supporting the volume rocker, power button, and camera shutter button, all along the right side, while the Windows Phone buttons are soft and sit on the front, acting for back, home, and search.

A 3.5mm headset jack sits up top, while a microUSB is at the bottom.

The back cover can be removed, although it hangs on very tightly (we found it was best to push against the camera lens at the back), revealing the microSD slot, microSIM slot, and the battery, which is rated for 1430mAh.

Performance

Nokia has released a few handsets this year, and in the Lumia 520, we’re seeing the most budget friendly Windows Phone we’ve seen to date.