Nokia Lumia 520 initial impressions – Review

Nokia Lumia 520 initial impressions   Review

The Nokia Lumia 520 is the latest in Nokia’s Windows Phone 8 range. It’s the budget baby of the range with most UK retailers knocking it out at around £150 on pay as you go. However, at the time of writing the Carphone Warehouse has it for £99.95 on O2 (plus a £10 top-up). This, I thought, has got to be worth a punt!

First Impressions


  • Price
  • Dedicated camera button
  • Responsive screen
  • Speedy, considering specs


  • No camera flash
  • No notification LED
  • Dull screen
  • Small battery
  • Would have liked some more RAM


  • Screen: 4 inches, IPS LCD, 800 x 600
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon S4, dual core, 1GHz
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • Storage: 8GB onboard, microSD card up to 64GB
  • Camera: 5 megapixels, no flash
  • Video recording: 720p, 30fps
  • Wi-fi: 802.11n/g/b
  • GPS: Yes
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Battery: 1430 mAh, removable

Out of the box

The Lumia 520 comes with a charger, a set of earphones/hands free kit and an extremely short micro USB cable.

Initial setup seemed to take ages, and at one point I thought the phone had hung, but once complete I was soon enjoying myself, playing around with the live tiles and installing software.

On the outside

The first thing I noticed about the Nokia Lumia 520 is that it’s angular. Seeing as I am used to the rather rounded corners of my Nexus 4 I thought it may be uncomfortable in the hand. The back is nicely sculpted though and I am very impressed at how nice it is to hold.

I bought myself a white phone (mainly because my local Carphone Warehouse only had white in stock) but there is a choice of black, yellow and cyan as well. It’s only the back shell that is coloured, and just like the rest of the Lumia range extras can be bought separately so you can colour code your phone to your outfit, if that’s your thing.


Considering this has been my first exposure to Windows Phone 8 I have been very impressed with the operating system. I know from the comments of others that it’s a very efficient OS, even so, I have been amazed at how well the 520’s 1GHz S4 processor has coped. When doing system tasks it is speedy and I haven’t had any of the frustrating lag that a similar spec’ed Android handset would exhibit. When running apps, however, I do feel the lack of RAM may be inhibiting it rather.

Reception has also been exceptional. I visited my parents yesterday, who live in what seems to be a bubble of dead air for mobiles on any network. The Nokia picked up signal where no other phone I tried could manage. Something well worth considering if you’re out in the sticks.

Overall my first 36 hours with the Lumia 520 has been very positive. I am looking forward to seeing how our relationship develops; I will, of course, keep you informed of all our intimate details. In the mean time, if you have any questions about it then feel free to ask them in the comments section below.

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  • Martin

    Nice little review Ronnie, the battery does seem a little bit stingy, how does it fare in real terms though? Having an SD card slot is a bonus, no LED, a bit strange that one :(
    I use the LED on my phone as a torch a fair bit and find it extremely useful. I really want to update my old phone and would like to give Windows a go again. For £110 it is a pretty damn good price. Being CPW is it fully unlocked?

    • Guest

      Battery life isn’t great, but I’m monitoring it and will include my findings in the full review after a good few charges. It is indeed fully unlocked. The O2 SIM came out within minutes of me leaving the shop!

    • Battery life isn’t great, but I’m monitoring it and will include my findings in the full review after a good few charges. It is indeed fully unlocked. The O2 SIM came out within minutes of me leaving the shop!

  • paul

    So in summary it’s not quite as good as 620, and for the extra few quid, the 620 would be recommended instead

  • nemov

    I was smitten by the new 720, especially with its camera, but it’s £300…and a little tall for my liking. The 520 seems like a real bargain and just the right size :) Only thing I am worried about is the battery! Can you share how good the battery life is Ronnie? Thanks for the review by the way – great stuff!

    • I’ll be covering battery life in my full review, but up until now I’ve not been too impressed. Maybe it’ll improve over the next week…

  • nemov

    btw.. on another post on this website, I saw that the £99 O2 version of the 520 is indeed locked – if true would be great :)

    • The handset is fully unlocked with no network branding.

  • Jebe

    Interesting to see you nagging about the RAM… its a low end device after all… And I would like to have a V8 engine in a Lada…

  • nemov

    Well I went and bought one too – Got mine from carphonewarehouse but with an Orange SIM, that I will use for 2 for 1 cinema tickets in the UK :) … brilliant phone, I’m really pleased with it. Brilliant for £109. I got a day out of the battery on the first day, but have now switched the Battery Saver option to “Always On”… and it is lasting longer. Looking forward to seeing what other think of it. WP8 is a work in progress, but most of what I need is there… very slick and Nokia apps are great.