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Nokia Lumia 520 - Windows Mobile Smartphone

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A trailblazing handset that cements Nokia's position as king of the entry-level smartphones recommended

Nokia largely failed to stake out the smartphone high ground with the Lumia 920 (web ID: 377911), but it’s making a strong charge for the budget end of the market, first with the Lumia 620 (web ID: 380092) and now the Lumia 520, a fully-fledged smartphone, for less than $240.

Until now, that sort of money would have landed you a joyless Android handset with a fuzzy screen and the turn of pace of a three-legged corgi. With the 520, Nokia has delivered a responsive smartphone with more features than you’ve any right to expect at this price.

Inevitably, a smartphone priced at less than $240 involves compromises, but Nokia has made them in all the right places. The 4in display has a resolution of only 480 x 800, which is less sharp than the latest smartphone kingpins such as the Full HD HTC One (web ID: 380965), but not to the point where pixilation becomes distracting.

Nokia Lumia 520

Nokia Lumia 520

The measured brightness of 352cd/m2 certainly won’t have you reaching for the Ray-Bans, and is significantly dimmer than the LCD screen on the slightly pricier 620, but it’s sufficient in bright daylight. A contrast ratio of 838:1 adds punch to the bold colors on the Windows Phone 8 home screen.

Under that screen lies exactly the same core specification you’ll find in the 620: a 1GHz Snapdragon 4 processor, 512MB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage, which can be supplemented by up to 64GB via the phone’s microSD card slot.

You’ll find that slot by prizing off the 520’s interchangeable backplate, where you’ll also uncover a replaceable, old-school BL-5J battery. The 520’s bodywork is slightly more compact than the 620’s, and it’s a couple of grams lighter, too. Not surprisingly, the 520 lacks the luxurious finish of the 920, but there’s no hint of nastiness about the design.

You’ll find that slot by prizing off the 520’s interchangeable backplate, where you’ll also uncover a replaceable, old-school BL-5J battery

There’s nothing shameful about the 520’s performance, either. You can fling cars around the track in Asphalt 7: Heat without any discernible drop in frame rate, and the Windows Phone 8 menus never stutter beneath your fingers (even gloved fingers, thanks to “super-sensitive” touch-display technology). A score of 1,497ms in the SunSpider benchmark confirms the 520 is a capable performer, without troubling the higher echelon of handsets.

Avid photographers may want to look elsewhere, however. The sole rear-facing 5-megapixel camera doesn’t come with a flash (unlike the 620), and photo quality is middling, although the assortment of free photo apps that come with the 520 help rescue iffy shots. Indeed, it’s the strength of the software bundle that makes it hard to believe this is such a cheap phone: the tailored playlists of Nokia Music, the downloadable maps and turn-by-turn satnav of Nokia Drive, and the bundled Office apps make for an out-of-the-box package that even the iPhone can’t match.

With a battery that will just about get you through the day - it had 60% remaining on the gauge after our 24-hour test -there really is very little here to complain about

With a battery that will just about get you through the day -it had 60% remaining on the gauge after our 24-hour test -there really is very little here to complain about. The 520’s blend of understated design, capable performance and a generous software bundle makes it the best-value smartphone on the market. Welcome back, Nokia - you’ve been sorely missed.

Specifications

·         Dual-core 1 GHz Snapdragon 4 CPU

·         512MB RAM

·         8GB storage

·         4in 480 x 800 IPS LCD display

·         quad-band GSM GPRS/EDGE/3G/HSDPA

·         Bluetooth 3

·         802.1 lbgn Wi-Fi

·         5MP stills

·         720p video

·         1,430mAh Li-ion battery

·         Windows Phone 8

·         1yr RTB warranty

·         64 x 11.7 x 120mm (WDH)

·         122

 

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