I’ve been using the Lumia 520, the super-low-end Windows Phone made by the Finnish manufacturer Nokia, for more than a week now as my primary device (OK, I admit: I used my 920 sometimes, but only for smaller things like posting a tweet or writing longer texts because of the bigger keyboard or I took it to school because I didn’t want to take a trial device out).
First of all what I think about the 520 as a primary device: For €200 you get a solid device with nice features and as many High-End features as possible. The 520 is really fun to use because the operating system runs smoothly and fast and without a big difference compared to a High-End device.
But there is also a thing that annoys me: The screen. It’s nicely sharp and colors are acccurate, but it’s too dark and the reflections gets really annoying, especially outside. The Lumia 620’s screen is much better but the device is only slightly more expensive. Also the missing NFC feature is a pity, but acceptable for a €200 device.
So, here’s the good:
Performance and usability
As previously mentioned, the device runs smoothly and fast. The whole OS did not lag once in my whole testing time and apps open fast. Windows Phone runs stable and almost all apps are available, except HD games. But who wants to play HD games on a 200 Euro device?
So, with the 520 you get a full features operating system without cuts in performance, apps or usability. The OS is just optimized for Low-End devices and therefore a difference between the 520 and the high-end Lumia 920 is only noticeable in a direct comparison, which is great.
The battery life is actually not special. The time between unplugging your phone and needing to plug it in again is normal. But normal means good in this case, since most Low-End devices have a pretty bad battery life. Not the Lumia 520. On heavy usage I get almost the same battery life as on my Lumia 920, which means I need to plug it in at the end of the day with a bit of reserve power available. Also the battery is removable, so in case you want to use a more powerful battery you simply need to swap it.
Build quality and design
I really love how sleek and light the 520 is. Sure, it’s only slightly thinner than the 920, but somehow the form makes it feel much thinner actually. The device feels very nice in the hand and you do not notice it when carrying it in your pocket.
Also, the built quality is amazing, just as expected of Nokia. Normally this affordable devices look and feel cheap and break easily when dropping them, not so the 520. I didn’t drop it of course, but I don’t thing there will be much damage. The whole body is absolutely stable, nothing crunches or jiggles and the buttons have a nearly perfect pressure point.
Of course not everything is good. There are also some neutral or bad things. First the neutral one:
Voice and speaker quality
The voice quality is normal. You can hear the opposite party clearly and your talking partner does so too, but the sound isn’t natural enough and sounds a bit distorted.
Additionally the speaker is not loud enough and also sounds kind of distorted.
And now the bad:
Sure, downgrades are needed to make a device that affordable, but a better screen IS possible even for a €200 device. The Lumia 620 in my family has a really great screen and is only slightly more expensive, so why does the 520 have a that bad screen? I doesn’t need to be as good as the 620’s, but it could have at least a better quality panel. A true black doesn’t exists, it’s more like a dark grey mirror. Also it’s too dark and can’t be used outside. Ok, it has Supersensitive touch, which is a great feature, but that doesn’t make the screen any better.
The 520 has 8gb of internal memory which can be expanded with a microSD card. Everything except apps can be stored on the card (map data only with Nokia’s memory check app), but 8gb just is not enough, at least for me. I managed to get all available 7.2 gb almost full, with only 400mb left. Some of you may actually use less, but some of you are probably also using more than I am.
I am not saying that the Lumia 520 needs more internal storage. 8 gig is a lot for a low-end device, but Microsoft HAS to add the option to install apps on the SD card.