TomTom Go 520 review

TomTom impresses again with the Go 520

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Our Verdict

The TomTom Go 520 is a smart sat nav that may need a phone to unleash its full potential but it's packed with functionality and is achingly simple to use. The screen is clear and bright, the maps second to none. It's a shame about the battery but the rest of the package more than makes up for it.

For

  • Voice control
  • Fantastic maps

Against

  • Battery life is poor
  • Needs a phone for all the features

This is TechRadar’s review summary that gives you all the key information you need if you’re looking for quick buying advice in 30 seconds – our full, in-depth review follows.

The TomTom Go 520 is the mid-range general of the Go range. It's packed with high-end smarts but lacks the SIM functionality to make it truly premium. 

It offers slick mapping, is easily updatable and it's a cinch to set up and use. Then again, so is any phone packed with Google Maps. So, why would you want to buy a separate sat nav? 

Convenience for a start, having a separate device dedicated to guiding you where to go means you aren't reliant on fumbling through your phone - and its myriad message pop ups and other things to divert your attention - while in transit, as well as access to TomTom Maps which is still the best in the business. 

The Go 520 stops short of being a must buy, mainly because of its puny battery life and reliance on your phone's data for traffic updates. But these are small nitpicks compared to the features on offer.

Who's it for and should I buy it?

The TomTom Go 520 is for those who want a sat nav packed with functionality but aren't too fussed about it being 'always connected' and independent from your smartphone.

The Go 520 shares a number of similar features to its full-fat sibling, the TomTom Go 5200 but it does come without SIM functionality. This omission means the price drops significantly but it also means that you lose out on some notable extras, including real-time traffic reports. 

Tether it with a smartphone if you have one, though, and these features suddenly become available. 

So, if you have a smartphone, don't mind updating maps through Wi-Fi and fancy a good-looking sat nav in your vehicle this ticks all of those boxes.

Features and performance

The TomTom Go 520 retains the premium look and feel of the Go 5200. Gone is the fiddly mount of the more basic sat-nav range and in its place is a quick-release magnetic mount, that allows you to slip the sat nav out with ease. 

Setup was simple. We recommend you connect it to your home Wi-Fi straight away. This is to make sure that the maps on the device are completely updated. The bonus is you don't have to go anyway near computer, it's all done in-device, just head to Updates & New Items in the settings pane. 

Do make sure you give yourself enough time, however, as these updates can be chunky - around 7GB in our tests.

Using the sat nav will be easy for anyone who has touched a TomTom in recent years. There hasn't really been an update to the UI of note for a while, but there has also been no reason for one.

Everything is clear and concise. The main functions are available right away and not buried beneath needless menus. When you start a journey, relevant information is presented as a strip on the right-hand side of the screen.

A little note on the screen: it's capacitive (480x272), so much more like dealing with a phone screen than the resistive monstrosities of old, this makes zooming in and out of maps smoother and the ability to tap on a variety of icons much easier. 

This is the beauty of TomTom's UI, it all looks so simple, but most of the icons are hotspots for more information. Tap on them and you will be presented with contextual information about your journey. 

Obviously you can just not do this and simply follow the blue arrow to your destination but it's nice to have the choice.

Although hooking up to a phone for data won't be for everyone, TomTom has made it as simple as possible - no pesky apps to download, just connect via Bluetooth. 

There is another reason to connect a phone to the sat nav, too, and that is voice control and voice assistant. You get hands-free calling, which is pretty much standard now, but you can also summon whichever voice assistant you are using - whether it's Siri or Android's offering. 

There's a button on the screen you need to press, once done you can can control your voice assistant as you would on the phone. It's a great little feature that we used a lot in our tests.

And if you are happy to use your voice, there's also TomTom's own voice control functionality - summoned by saying Hello TomTom. It didn't work quite as well as we hoped - it took a number of times for it to understand the address we wanted - but it did eventually work in the end.

Final verdict

There is a lot to love about the TomTom Go 520, it's smart, well built and simple to use. With voice functionality, intelligent rerouting and some of the best maps around, it's a great sat-nav experience.

Its lack of connectivity while on the go will be an issue for some, though, but a simple hook-up to a smartphone should fix this. 

The battery, as is the case for most sat navs, is short. Up to an hour is quoted but we never really got past the 45-minute mark. But most will use the supplied charger, given that a sat nav is usually used on longer journeys.

So there are niggles, but the pros very much outweigh the cons.