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Nokia Lumia 520 review

Andrew Williams




  • Recommended by TR

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Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 520


Our Score:



  • Top performance for price
  • Neat design
  • Excellent value


  • Highly reflective screen
  • No camera flash
  • Misses a few hardware features
  • Rubbish physical shutter button

Key Features

  • 4-inch 480 x 800 pixel IPS screen
  • Windows Phone 8
  • 8GB internal memory, microSD
  • Dual-core 1GHz Snapdragon CPU
  • 5-megapixel main camera, no front camera
  • Manufacturer: Nokia
  • Review Price: £115.00

First reviewed: August 2013

What is the Nokia Lumia 520?

The Nokia Lumia 520 is Nokia’s most entry-level Windows Phone 8 mobile. You can get it free on even the cheapest contracts but it's also worth considering as a ouright purchase. You can find it for less than £100 and, if you shop around, you can get it for even less on a pay-as-you-go deal. While it lacks some of the neat touches you'll find on the more expensive Lumia 620, it proves that Windows Phone 8 is a great platform for budget phones.

Nokia Lumia 520 – Video Review

If you don't want to read the full review you can watch our video of the Nokia Lumia 520, with all its key features explored.

Nokia Lumia 520 – Design

Entry-level phones tend to feel cheap and, quite often, tacky. Less stylish and a good deal chunkier than mid or high-end phones, they also tend to suffer from build quality issues.

Nokia has managed to buck this with the Lumia 520. It is among the best phones in its class in this respect and while it uses a plastic battery cover, like virtually all budget phones, the backplate manages to cover the whole phone aside from the screen.

This gives the Lumia 520 a more unibody look that is comparable to high-end Nokia phones, even though this is certainly not a unibody mobile. The plastic cover is reasonably thick which helps it feel sturdy and tough. It also comes with a matt, textured finish which helps it avoid the pitfall of tacky glossy plastic that plagues many cheaper mobiles.

Nokia Lumia 520 6

While it's not as cute or pretty as the 620 the Nokia Lumia 520 manages to both look and feel like a classy phone. The 620's cover has a translucent layer that gives its finish an appearance of depth. On the 520 the plastic is quite basic and opaque.

From an ergonomics perspective it works very well, though. The textured finish means it's grippy and the carefully curved rear helps it sit in your hand comfortably.

You even get a few neat style touches. for example the Lumia-staple trio of physical buttons on the right edge of the phone are stark black to contrast punchily with the phone’s hue. There’s no labelling of what these buttons do either – another aesthetic blunder common to cheap phones. Nokia Lumia 520 5

These side buttons control the power, volume and camera shutter.

You get five colours to choose from; red, blue and yellow, as well as the more sober white and black. Both the microSD memory card slot and SIM slot live under the battery cover to help keep the Lumia 520’s exterior looking simple and slick.

Nokia Lumia 520 – Screen

The display on the Nokia Lumia 520 is a little bit bigger than on the Lumia 620. It is four inches across, which is quite generous for a phone priced this low. As well as being a shade larger than its more expensive brother, it’s also larger than the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2’s screen and Sony Xperia E’s display. And both of those tend to cost more.

However, it’s pretty basic in a number of different ways. Its viewing angles are fine, but the display quality is otherwise limited. There’s a reddish tint to the display, ensuring colour accuracy is average and the lack of any sort of reflection-battling layer reduces the impression of contrast. This means that the Lumia 520 a bit of a pain to use outdoors in sunlight — it's seriously reflective.

Nokia Lumia 520 7

The glass covering the display isn’t robustly toughened, either. It has some scratch resistance, but will flex under the pressure of a firm thumb prod. However, it’s far from the worst case we’ve seen, and any normal of pressure does not cause any screen distortion.

Screen resolution is 800 x 480 pixels, resulting in pixel density of 233ppi. Sharpness is well below the top phones out there, but for a low-end phone it’s perfectly good. Plus top brightness is impressively uncomfortable to gaze upon in most situation, and the screen size is large enough to happily read websites and play games on.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


April 17, 2013, 3:22 pm

Andrew, what about call quality on 520? My wife recently got lumia 620 and she is unhappy with the sound quality on phone calls. She has the same remarks as you do: muddy, boxy-sounding. Also the noise cancellation feature benefit is questionable because on the other side, her voice is not clear like on the old phone. If 520 (720) don't have such issues, she would go for a replacement.

Thirupati Rao

September 1, 2013, 12:44 pm

Excellent Mobile in the price range of 10,000/ and speed is good

anton ani

September 3, 2013, 7:50 pm

My lumia 520, why not lod picture in Google...


September 24, 2013, 4:00 am

Waste of money, definitely go for any android mobile phone. My nokia 520 is slowest in application accessing.


September 27, 2013, 3:42 pm

I was very reluctant to have any other phone than the leading brand but when my phone started to become faulty and I wasn't keen to spend £300 plus on a new one or have an expensive contract, I thought I would buy a Nokia 520. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and ability to do all the things my other phone done for a third of the price. Admittedly it took a little while to get used to the layout but for the cost of it, it is a good quality phone.

Manuell Labor

September 27, 2013, 5:09 pm

Initially pleased with the value of this phone; however....
In less than 5 days the screen cracked.

It was in my car so it could only come from a defective unit or from heat.

The phone has too much flex in its makeup so the thin screen seems vulnerable.
Compared with my other phones (Droid, Samsung) the 520 is too fragile. .
Naturally Nokia did not warrant such a phone for cracked screens, blaming the customer.

Saw on the web that other buyers have had a similar problem

I would not buy this phone even if it was cheaper.
Nokia brand image is no longer stellar. No wonder they sold themselves to Microsoft

Buy a more expensive phone and look for Gorilla glass. Skip the 520-900 nokia series.

Jonathan Peden

October 17, 2013, 4:36 pm

I just got my black 520 for £13 per month on Virgin Mobile. I have come from Android and after 1 week I don't miss my old phone at all. Windows 8 Mobile is a pleasure to use, and I love the handset. Yes it is bottom of the range but it does not look like it - all my friends (even those with iPhones) have all been excited to try it out. All comments have been good so far.


November 1, 2013, 12:18 pm

I just go my Nokia Lumia 520 Cyan for £95 at CarphoneWarehouse on pay as you go. Like Jonathan Peden I've also come from Android Galaxy s3 and to be honest with you this is a budget handset but its very responsive and doesn't give any negative sides off. Its very fast and doesn't lag its got the Snapdragon processor. Just a couple of little things missing E.G. No Flash, No Front Facing camera. But some people don't care about those things. Its people's choice. This is my first Windows Phone 8 and it didn't fail me and all of the comments were good I'll give in 9/10.
Hope this Helped.


December 24, 2013, 5:38 am

The Nokia Lumina 520 is without doubt the worst cell phone I have ever owned. I have lost connectivity to my computer with it and have had to re-set it to factory settings to get it back - in the process losing everyone in my address book. The phone has square corners so it is difficult to remove from your pocket. By the time you have it out, the caller has hung up. In a noisy environment, you will need to hold the phone close to your ear - your ear lobe will activate things on the screen such as the speaker phone function which is just poor design on the part of Nokia. Avoid this phone like the plague - go for an android phone, They are far better.

Satish Chandra

January 17, 2014, 2:35 pm

Today I bought Nokia lumia 520 mobile. I am not getting call duration option in this mobile. How we know how many minutes we talk etc . If there is help me.

Joe Hardy

June 12, 2014, 1:46 pm

Okay, I am a big tech geek, and Nokia Lumia 520 is my third mobile. So you can expect an unbiased review from me. First of all, Nokia Lumia 520 is all about Nokia, premium look, great build quality, and stunning piece of software, makes an amazing smartphone. I have had the device for the past 3 months, and till date, it hasn't hanged even a bit, something which android users can just dream of. As for the build quality, it is just amazing, the best in class! Overall, if you want a great device under 10k Nokia Lumia 520 is the one to go for.

As for all the guys who want to buy the Nokia Lumia 520, you can get it at Snapdeal where I got an amazing discount, and got the device in a single day after placing order. Here is the discount link -

bit DOT ly SLASH NokiaLumia520SD

DOT stands for . and SLASH for /


Brahmnoor Singh

June 12, 2014, 1:47 pm

Buddy, thanks a lot for this amazing discount. If you buy using that link, you do get the device in a single day! Cheers!

Clive Waller

August 14, 2014, 3:07 pm

Watch your bill - There seems no way to stop this phone accessing the internet (looking for updates?) several times a day other than leaving it switched off, so check how you are charged for internet access.

At home on Virgin (EE network) my old Nokia 6303 Classic got a signal most of the time, but the 520 spends most of its time displaying “No Service”, not so good if you’re in a rural area with a weak signal.

Contacts seem locked to HotMail. I thought I was copying the contacts from my old phone, but I finished up with everybody who has sent an order acknowledgment or anything else to my HotMail account and there’s no equivalent of Nokia Suite to edit contacts on a computer with a real keyboard and decent display.


September 6, 2014, 10:13 am

What a dumb comment. My 520 fell out of my pocket when I bent over in a shop. the back cover came off, but the screen was completely intact. No need for a more expensive piece of junk.


September 6, 2014, 10:28 am

Oh, picky, picky, picky. The Lumia 520 is an excellent, low cost mobile. I don't miss my Samsung Galaxy III one bit. In fact I gave it away to a family member. It's nice not to have to put a loaf of bread next to your head. The 520 is a smooth running device. Of course there's a learning curve with Windows 8.1, which you obviously weren't able to grasp.

Murray Snudge

September 16, 2014, 8:56 am

Settings > phone update, and clear the Automatically download updates if my data settings allow it check box.


December 31, 2014, 8:10 pm

Is it really fair to give this phone a 8 when the Nokia Lumia 635 got a 7?

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