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Nokia Lumia 520 Review

Nokia Lumia 520 hands-on
  • On November 20, 2013

Review Overview



Pros: neat design, excellent value / price ratio Cons: reflective screen, no flash

Nokia Lumia 520 is the most affordable and popular Windows Phone 8 model at the time of writing. It has a 4-inch display, a dual-core processor ticking over at 1 GHz backed by 512 MB of RAM, 8 GB built-in storage and a 5 MP camera. Currently, the phone costs around £95 or $153 off contract which is a great price for the value it offers.


Lumia 520 is definitely an entry level smartphone, which surprisingly doesn’t look and feel as cheap as alternative Android models within the same price range. The phone has a plastic battery backplate covering the whole phone apart from the display giving it a more premium look. Lumia 520 is offered in a range of different colorful casings. Moreover, these cases are removable so you can easily change the color according to your personal preferences.

For the price it has, this model looks like a classy product with a nice ergonomic design. It sits comfortably in the hand while the textured finish adds some extra grip. This model includes three physical buttons on the right side – power, volume and camera shutter. The left side is without any buttons or ports. The micro USB port is positioned at the bottom; the 3.5 mm audio jack is found at the top and the micro SD slot is hidden behind the battery.

Nokia Lumia 520 front and back image


Lumia 520 has a 4-inch screen with an average pixel density of 233ppi (480 x 800 pixels). These four inches are perfect for a budget device since many alternative products cost more and have smaller displays – like Galaxy Ace 2 and Xperia E. Of course, the display is pretty basic which results in limited performance, a narrow viewing angle and insufficient outdoor readability. The sharpness is a way below other high-end models on the market, but again bear in mind it is a budget offering. As a plus, Nokia has added the ability to use the display with gloves, which really helps in cold weather.


Lumia 520 backside and camera

Nokia impresses much with its PureView cameras available in the Lumia 1020, 925 and 920. If you expect something near these heights in Lumia 520 you should be disappointed. Nokia Lumia 520 has a basic 5 MP shooter at the back and no front-facing camera at all. The 5MP camera captures limited details, but the focusing is relatively fast. Most of the photos are pretty grainy even in good lighting conditions, while in low-light the camera produces not so adequate results – it has no flash at all. On the other hand, the camera delivers relatively good images compared with other cheap alternatives. There’s a dedicated camera button which is not so carefully designed like in the high-end Lumias. From the software side, Nokia provides some really good photo and camera apps which make the overall offering stand out from the competition.

Performance and Software

Nokia Lumia 520 runs Windows Phone 8, an OS leaving quite the same feeling on low-end and high-end hardware. The OS shows a consistent performance, it is flawless even on a low-end model like the Lumia 520. The processor is a dual-core Snapdragon at 1 GHz with 512 MB, or the phone has exactly the same innards as the Lumia 720 which is considered as a mid-range device. The phone shows great day-to-day performance. If you play games you will probably notice some slow-downs, but the Lumia 520 is not designed for gaming.

Lumia 520 apps list

The battery has a capacity of 1430 mAh which is more than the Lumia 620, but it compensates the larger display. However, if you are moderate user the battery should last at least one day.  The call quality is pretty good since the Lumia 520 uses a secondary microphone to reduce the ambient noise. No call signal issues were noticed during our test.


Nokia Lumia 520 is a great budget-oriented Windows Phone 8 device. It has an operating system that performs consistently well and features available in more expensive models. Overall, this phone is a top performer for its price.