Review: Nokia Lumia 520 (and Windows Phone 8)

I got myself another phone just two weeks ago. A Nokia Lumia 520.
Because it's been almost two years since the last post on Windows Phone I've thought it's time to see what has changed in the meantime and whether Windows Phone gets a better mark than last time.

First a few words on the phone itself.
Nokia is known for making good quality and especially very stable phones. I haven't dropped mine so far but I can say that the phone feels very worthy of the price.
While holding it in the palm of your hand you wouldn't be able to tell that it costs less than CHF 100! There are phones by a big Korean company (I don't want to mention the name) which cost a lot more and feel cheaper.
It's not only the enclosure which is very well made it's also the rest of the phone.
The phone features very good specs. It's powered by a Snapdragon S4 processor, has 512MB of RAM, 8GB of built-in storage (which is expandable with a microSD card), a 5MP rear-side camera (which doesn't have a flash though), a high-sensitivity touchscreen (which means you can use the screen with some pens or while wearing gloves), and a lot more.
So far the phone is a steal, there are a few cons though. The capacitive buttons aren't back-lit, the phone doesn't have NFC, a camera flash, or a front-facing camera.

But these are minor details compared to what the phone has.
If you decide to get a Lumia 520 you also get the latest and greatest operating system (Lumia Amber, which is based on Windows Phone 8 GDR2) and an almost lag-less experience!
Very very nice!

Now let's see whether Microsoft has improved its Windows Phone system.

Two years ago I criticized the notification system.
Unfortunately it's still the same. It was and still is pretty much useless.

On the other side I liked the music player and I still do.
It also is pretty much the same (though it plays FM radio now). A few design improvements. Still very good, except for the imho very annoying Xbox ads everywhere. Google does the same with their Play Services on the other side, so it was to expect that they'll be offering some "value-adding" service.

The picture gallery was pretty well-made already two years ago and it has also advanced a bit.
You don't get your Facebook feed on the first page anymore which is a good thing if you ask me, but instead you have access to your pictures (which was probably what you wanted) with just one tap.
Nokia has also developed a very very good camera app called "Nokia Pro Cam". Officially it's not available for the 520 but you can still get it installed if you really want to.

A thing I really hated two years ago was the browser. It wasn't able to display a single webpage properly, but fortunately this has changed.
IE still is not my preferred browser, but I have to say that IE 10 Mobile is definitely useable. It gets almost everything right.
So a huge step in the right direction here. Great work Microsoft.

Buying advice?
Definitely, if you're looking for a reasonably priced device and you don't need an endless collection of apps.
The main thing that's stopping Windows Phone enjoying huge success is the app collection. While you can get most apps you need, you just can't get them all.
If you're ready to relinquish some apps, you get a very good device for what you pay.
"Bang for the buck" is definitely there.

written by: Takashi Yoshi
Tags: opinion, Review, Windows Phone