A smartphone running the latest version of a well-known operating system in the vicinity of Rs 10,000? Well, that is what Nokia’s recently released “budget” device, the Lumia 520, claims to offer. Priced at Rs 10, 499 (although it is being retailed already for Rs 9,999 at some stores), it comes with Windows Phone 8 and some very decent specifications.
Provided you remember to keep factoring the price into the equation. For, there is no getting around it — the real killer feature of the Lumia 520 is its price. There is no other “major” brand offering a dual core processor phone with a spanking new OS at this price. Of course, corners have been cut to achieve that price tag, but Nokia has managed to do so without hammering performance, which is quite an achievement.
In terms of appearance, the Lumia 520 is compact and solid. At 9.9 mm, it is on the thinner side and at 124 grams, not too heavy either. No, it will not turn heads or stop traffic but the colourful back covers (we got the funky red one — and yes, you can switch covers) and rounded edges do make it very easy on the eye and hand. Pull the cover off, however, and the thin plastic will give you an indication of just where money was saved.
The same goes for the display — yes, at 4 inches, it is large and comes with a respectable (for this segment) resolution of 800 x 480, but it really is a step down from the one we saw on the slightly more expensive Lumia 620. That said, it is decent enough for browsing the Web and viewing images, and can be used even with gloves, once you tweak screen sensitivity. Connectivity wise, you have 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. No NFC, though, although given its limited applicability, that’s hardly a deal-killer.
For the most part, Windows Phone 8 runs smoothly on the Lumia 520 — the tiled interface works fine, and you can switch between tasks with nary a lag, courtesy the 1 GHz dual core processor. Yes, it comes with only 512 MB RAM but that is sufficient for running most apps in the Windows Store.
You get the normal assortment of Nokia goodies including Maps, Drive and Music, which assume even greater importance at this price point. The 5.0-megapixel camera on the rear, however, is a mixed bag — decent in broad daylight, but very erratic as darkness descends. It comes with no flash, has no front-facing partner (no video chats, sorry) and while it does turn out good enough video, cannot get into full HD territory (720p is where it maxes out).
Call quality is however, very good, and a single charge can see you through a day and a half of calling, mailing and social networking. Use the camera or maps heavily, however, and you will get into a charge-a-day territory.
Viewed in isolation, the Lumia 520 comes across as a middle-path phone. Nokia has made a few compromises in keeping the price down — the build and camera are solid rather than spectacular, and you will face the odd lag if you try to tax it with too much work. But on the flip side, we can safely say that it offers way more than any Android device in the same price range. In fact, the only device that we think actually runs it close in terms of performance is Nokia’s own Lumia 510, which however runs on an older version of Windows Phone and comes with non-expandable storage. Yes, if you can stretch your budget by a few thousand, we would advocate spending a bit extra for the excellent Lumia 620 or the very decent Micromax Canvas HD, but if bucks are hard to come by and you can barely make it to the five figure territory, then the Lumia 520 is by far the best option out there.
Nokia lumia 520: 4 inch display, 1 GHz dual core processor, 512 MB RAM, 8 GB storage (expandable), 5.0-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, 3G
Price: Rs 10,499