Before I get into it, there are a few things I should clear right away. I have been using Android devices for last few years, and this Nokia Lumia 520 is the first Windows Phone I ever bought or used. I am not going to run benchmark tests to check how this device performs, instead I am going to tell you about the experience I had using this device and Windows Phone 8 for last 20 days.
Nokia was the most successful mobile manufacturer about less than a decade ago. In fact, it almost had 50% share of all the mobile phones till the historic iPhone event.
“Nokia were so dominant. People didn’t talk about what brand, it was just about the number, 3210, or whatever you had. They took users on a journey.”
A few years and some strange decisions later, the market share of the company crumble down to 3%. But, after a long time, things have started changing, again. Let’s take a look at the device now.
Appearance and Display
Nokia Lumia 520 is an entry-level Windows Phone. At a price point of $95 off contract, the specification of the phone is really amazing. It almost stands head to head with Nokia Lumia 720, a premium Lumia device from the spec standpoint. So the question is, what does it lack?
Looks, essentially. The plastic back cover feels really cheap. The phone is quite bulky, although the curve design tries to hide it as much as possible.
It has a 4-inch display screen, with a resolution of 800×480. The display looks clear, and the overall experience is very neat. Personally I find 4-inch to be the soft-spot, it isn’t very big that one will find it uncomfortable to hold, neither it is very small that it hinders your experience.
Software and Ecosystem
Having used Android for so long, operating Windows Phone 8 isn’t really delightful. Emails in Windows Phone run fine, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The Live Tiles and Toast notifications are refreshingly good and come very handy. The Settings gives you enough things to tinker with and customize the phone. Security is another major plus point. Unlike the Android, OS, you never have to worry about malware on the Windows Phone.
But when you compare it generally, with Android, it is far behind. I mean, the Gingerbread OS (Android 2.3) which came out 2 years ago, offers more customizability. There is no proper app manager, or task killer, but the multi-tasking functionality does try to save the day.
The Store is the one stop for getting all the apps, music, games and podcasts. People often accuse Windows Phone Store for running short on apps, it is true too, but you might not even realize it. There is Adobe Reader, Facebook, Twitter, Gmail (which haven’t been updated for years, thanks, Google), Bing, Internet Explorer, Office, Skype, LinkedIn, Instagram, Vine, WhatsApp and WeChat. Then we have apps for Music, Photos, and amazing Nokia Camera apps. Isn’t that most of us want, anyway?
Music playback works quite well. And even from the lock screen you can very much control everything, a feature which took quite a while before arriving on Android.
But if you are even remotely into technology, there are just way too many pit holes in the app store. To begin with, Internet Explorer is a decent web browser. But I don’t like how when I open a link in a new tab, it pushes me to the new tab. The settings at best, lets you do basic stuff. When I went to the app store to find an alternative to IE, I couldn’t find Firefox, Chrome or Opera. There was UC Web, though. Similarly, there is no official, or even any full-fledged 3rd party clients for Quora and Reddit.
I use a lot of Feed readers on Android, sadly, none of the most popular ones is available on Windows Phone, just yet. Fusion works quite well, though. There is no decent save-it-for-later-viewing app either. Rest of the things are fine, I liked the Podcast option in the app store. I was able to locate almost all of the ones I follow there.
Just when you thought things can’t get any worse, there is no screen rotation lock. Good luck texting or browsing web at night. I have been told that this feature will be resolved post-GDR3 update, which will be arriving “soon”.
Another issue I came across was while charging my phone. By the way, this is not just an issue with Lumia 520, I speculate that this runs in the whole Lumia line of the series. The problem is, that you can’t charge your phone keeping the device powered-off. As soon as you plug-in the charger, the device switches on.
Built-in Voice Recognition
Windows Phone comes with a built-in Voice Commanding system. While it is not as functional as Siri, or Google Now, it does let you call, text and email people. There are many 3rd party apps which make good use of this functionality. For example, Voice Camera lets you take images by saying “take a picture”, or any other string of words you have set to trigger that command. Control Panel, another 3rd party app offers an option to open WiFi, Bluetooth and many connectivity options.
Maps work really fine, but I would blame my geographic location for the lack of complete details. Apps like Nokia Care can help you get quick assistance.
But again, changing the ringtone to a custom music file, requires an app.
Camera and Speaker
The phone boasts a 5 megapixel camera at the back. There is no camera in the front, or flash on either of sides. The image quality is reasonably good, and Nokia Camera apps really complement it very well. I can’t stress enough how good Nokia Camera apps are. They offer a plethora of options, something Android doesn’t offer.
There is one mono-speaker at the back, which tends to go harsh at high volume. The sound quality flutters and can get really annoying. The call quality does its job fine.
Performance and Battery
The phone works really smooth, and so far I haven’t faced any noticeable lagging. If you are into gaming, or even after a longer browsing, or IM session, the back of the device gets hot. Which is something really unpleasant. I wondered if it is a device fault, but unfortunately, this issue is a real thing for all Lumia 520 phones.
The 1430 mAh battery was enough to, at moderate level last an entire day. Full points there.
Windows Phone 8 doesn’t offer as much fluidity as Android. Let me put it this way, when you are using Android, you can boss around all places. The customizability that Android offers, and that its apps resonate is unmatchable. You can install custom ROMs on your device, flash to gain the administrative privilege. You can basically, change everything single thing. On Windows Phone there are boundaries everywhere on the things you can do and can’t do.
In short, there are many things that this phone does right, and there are enough things which needs to be thoroughly looked again.
Whether I would like to recommend this to you? Well, that depends. If you are into technology, then this might not be the phone you will want to have. Although there have been many updates recently, not many features have been brought to the device.
But, at the same time, this phone is perfect for those people who use their phone for just taking pictures, browse some web, and listen to music.
In my personal opinion, I want Windows Phone to bloom and shine. There are many things that this phone and the OS as a whole, does right. If it wants to reach where Android and iOS are, Windows Phone has a lot of catching up to do.