Nokia Lumia 520 review

The 520 has new software, and it's even cheaper

Nokia Lumia 520
The Lumia 520 is a great budget smartphone option

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The Nokia Lumia 520, much like its big brother the Lumia 620, is a jack of all trades and a master of none – although it manages to make a good fist of nearly all it tries, for the price.

It's now starting to really show its age, but another healthy price cut and boost to Windows Phone 8.1 means it's still worth considering if you're looking for a straightforward budget blower.

We liked

The incredibly low price is a huge selling point for the Nokia Lumia 520. It also looks like a more expensive handset than it is, with a decent-sized 4-inch screen and a stylish body which could almost lead someone to confuse it for the much more expensive Nokia Lumia 920.

It has also got a respectable amount of power hidden away inside, with a 1GHz dual-core processor ensuring that performance is generally pretty smooth.

The 5MP camera is good for the price and while it doesn't have much built-in storage it has a microSD card slot to make up for it.

It also gets decent phone signal and as with all Windows Phone 8 handsets the way contacts are integrated with social networks is excellent.

We disliked

The lack of a front-facing camera or for that matter a flash on the rear camera is a shame, somewhat muting its otherwise respectable photographic performance.

The screen tends to attract fingerprints and smudges more than most phones, which can leave it looking blurred and dirty after only a small amount of use.

I also found the battery life to be pretty average (though still slightly better than the Nokia Lumia 620) and the web browser was a little slow, particularly when browsing over 3G.


The Lumia 520 looks good, it's got a decent screen both in terms of size and resolution, it rarely stutters or slows down, it's great for calls and messaging, reasonable for media and okay for photos.

To achieve a lower price point than the Lumia 620 it has had to strip away a few things – there's no NFC, compass, camera flash or front facing camera here.

But on the other hand it's also got a bigger screen, a larger battery, a sleeker, slimmer, lighter build and the same processor and RAM as the Nokia Lumia 620, so in many ways it's actually better.

There's also an extra level of functionality that has arrived with Nokia's Lumia Black update. While it's true that there's nothing revolutionary included in the update, some of the features – like adding tiles together in a folder – are very useful.

Combine that with a lower price tag and I reckon that this is a decent entry level Windows Phone 8.1 handset, but the newer Nokia Lumia 530 offers a few key upgrades for not much more money.

First reviewed: April 2013

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.