Nokia Lumia 520 review and latest prices

Reviews Paul Briden 16:51, 22 Apr 2013

We review the Nokia Lumia 520, the most affordable Windows Phone 8 handset to date

Typical Price: 
Excellent value for money, Great build quality and design, Good performance, Nice camera
Display has problems in bright light, No camera flash, Windows Phone 8 app ecosystem lacking
A very well rounded package for the price which goes well beyond other devices in this bracket. Ideal if you're looking for something simple, straightforward and affordable

The Nokia Lumia 520 is the company’s cheapest Windows Phone handset to date and at the same time is the most economic way of getting onto the latest Microsoft phone operating system: Windows Phone 8.

The phone costs as little as £99 on prepay or you can get it free as part of a £7 per month contract with major UK networks.

Nokia Lumia 520 review: Design

While it’s made a few gaffs over the years, in the broader scheme of things Nokia consistently comes up with the goods when it comes to exterior build and design.

The Lumia 520 adheres to Nokia’s earlier design language as seen on premium Lumia models and this works very well indeed.

We’d say it sticks to the higher-end Lumia aesthetic more closely than any other budget Lumia model to date with its highly angular corners and super-thin strip of bodywork around the fascia.

We would even go so far as to suggest it’s the best looking budget Windows Phone to date.

The curved back panel fits nicely in the hand and provides a nice contrast to the sharpness of the front panel. It’s a reasonably lightweight device at 124g and at 9.9mm thick it’s got a fairly average girth.

This is another of Nokia’s smartphones equipped with an interchangeable back panel, but Nokia’s got quite good at making these fit so snugly some might not notice it straight away.

The fit and finish is really very good for a phone at this price point - it’s not at flagship level but the plastic feels robust and has a pleasant matte texture. There’s no flexing or creaking anywhere to be found.

The swappable back covers mean you can buy as many as you like and change between white, red, yellow, black and cyan whenever you fancy something different, or if you want to compliment a certain Live Tile colour from the Windows Phone interface.

The phone’s exterior shell is extremely clean and futuristic. Nokia has kept all the physical keys on the right-hand side with a dedicated camera button at the bottom, power in the middle and a volume rocker towards the top. This makes it easy to use and ideal for either hand.

At the top there’s a 3.5mm headphone port and at the bottom is a microUSB charging and data port – meaning it’ll stand upright on charging docks.

Nokia Lumia 520 review: Screen

The display is a 4-inch IPS LCD touchscreen with an 800x480 pixel resolution at 233 pixels-per-inch (ppi).

It’s reasonably sharp and colour depth is good, excellent even, however, without Nokia’s ClearBlack technology blacks and dark tones show up as being fairly greyish compared to the surrounding bezel panel, while whites are also a bit off the mark.

Brightness is also somewhat lacking and the device has massive issues with smudges, reflections, viewing angles and outdoor use or in bright lighting conditions. In other words it's not very adaptable.

But, with that said, this is a low-cost model, and taking that into consideration the picture quality really is rather good. It’s just that the display, not being a premium setup, has its limitations.

It’s worth noting that text looks particularly good even when zoomed in closely on a browser page.


Length 119.9mm
Width 64mm
Thickness 9.9mm
Weight 124g
Screen Colours 16 million
Screen Size 4-inches
UK Launch April 2013
Phone Style Touchscreen
Typical Price £99
Designer Lens No
Camera Resolution 5-megapixels, 2592х1936 pixels
Video Resolution 720p
Flash No
Zoom Yes
Music Formats MP3/WAV/eAAC+/WMA
Music Player Yes
Song Storage Yes
Speaker Yes
Radio No


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