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Windows Phone 8 gets a price warrior!

Windows Phone 8 has been with us for a few months now, but for the most part, it has been seen on very high-end devices such as the Nokia Lumia 920 and 820, and the HTC 8X. The lowest priced of the WP8 crowd was the HTC 8C, which cost about Rs 18,990. Those are high prices, when one considers the army of Android devices available at lower prices. However, Nokia has now upped the price ante by introducing the first WP8 device that can be said to be budget friendly — the Lumia 620.

Nokia Lumia 620

Let’s make no bones about it — the biggest attraction of the Lumia 620 is its Rs 14,999 price tag. Some might claim that even at that price it is more expensive than the budget and mid-segment Android players (the Micromax Canvas HD is available at Rs 13,990), but unlike those worthies, the Lumia 620 comes with the latest version of its operating system (Windows Phone 8, whereas most Android devices are stuck at Android 4.0 and 4.1) and specs that are good enough to deliver a decent performance from it. No, it is no Lumia 920, which still for us delivers the ultimate WP8 experience, but it is no slouch either.

For starters, the Lumia 620 definitely does not look like a low-cost device. The front is dominated by a 3.8 inch touchscreen with a 800 x 480 resolution, with three touch buttons beneath it. The colour of the back cover can be changed as per your preference, as in the Lumia 820. We got the blue one and thought it was very easy on the eye. At 11 mm, the handset is not the thinnest in an increasingly anorexic market, but it has a wonderfully curvy, funky look to it and looks a lot more solid than the HTC 8S as well as the Android crowd. Yes, you won’t mind putting this phone down on the table. It won’t stop traffic, but attractive it is.

The Lumia 620 also does reasonably well in the hardware department. The ClearBlack display has a pixel density of 246 PPI which is not bad at all at this price point. RAM stands at 512 MB, which might strike some as being on the low side, but did not slow down the performance of our unit, and powering the phone is a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1 GHz dual core processor. Connectivity options include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G and GPS and storage stands at a very respectable 8GB, with support for a 64GB microSD card, if that does not suffice. The back sports a 5.0-megapixel camera with LED flash, capable of recording 720p video, while the front has a VGA camera for video calls.

Running on top of all this is Windows Phone 8, and it runs very well indeed. The tiled interface moved smoothly and we never faced any significant lags in performance — the only time it seemed to stall was when we tried to zoom into maps, when the pauses got uncomfortably long at times. And this being Windows Phone, one gets social network and mail connectivity out of the box, as well as Internet Explorer for browsing the Web and a mobile version of MS Office for viewing, editing and creating documents and spreadsheets. It has Maps and unlimited music for a year, and the Lumia 620 starts looking like a very good proposition for a sub-Rs 15,000 handset.

A very pleasant surprise is the main camera. Most cameras in this price segment suffer from what is best described as a shades of grey complex, with washed out colours and low light performance that is close to invisible. The 620 however performed very well not just in good lighting, where it rendered images with very good colours, but even managed to surprise us with some reasonably good low-light photographs. And it comes with features like Cinemagraph (which adds motion to still images), Smart Shoot (which lets you create a perfect group shot by picking the best expressions of people from a series of images) and Panorama, all of which work very smoothly.

With 3G running, we found ourselves struggling to last through a day of hefty usage, but more conservative users should see out a day. Multi-tasking is also not really in the Android class and apps remain limited, but those are WP8 rather than handset shortcomings.

It performs. And a price that is closer to the Earth than the stratosphere. All of which makes the Lumia 620 perhaps the best option for all those wanting a modern smartphone experience without spending a bomb.

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