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Nokia Lumia 520 Unboxing and Initial Review: Entry Level Windows Phone

Hello there Nokia Lumia 520!
Hello there Nokia Lumia 520!

Unboxing the Nokia Lumia 520

Nokia Philippines sent us a review/loaner unit of their entry-level Windows Phone 8 offering, the Nokia Lumia 520. This budget-friendly smartphone sells for Php7,990 which makes it one of the most affordable Windows Phone 8 smartphones you can get in the Philippines. By the way, we actually first saw this in the flesh when we were at Barcelona, Spain, for the 2013 Mobile World Congress last February. That’s the reason why the device felt so familiar when we took it out of the box and held it in our hands when we got it last week.

Anyway, we’d like to share with you guys our initial impressions and unboxing experience in this post. Before anything though let’s quickly do a rundown of the specifications.

Nokia Lumia 520 Spec Sheet

  • 1GHz Dual-core Snapdragon S4 Processor
  • 512MB RAM
  • 8GB Internal Storage, expandable up to 64GB via microSD
  • 4-inches IPS display, WVGA 800×480 pixels (~235ppi)
  • 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with auto-focus
  • WiFi b/g/n, 3G connectivity, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS
  • 1,430mAh battery rating
  • Nokia HERE suite of apps pre-loaded
  • Windows Phone 8
  • SRP: Php7,990

Standard Nokia Lumia Packaging

That familiar blue box is back!
That familiar blue box is back!

The Nokia Lumia 520 came in the ever-so-familiar blue box which Nokia has been using for several years now. It’s the usual product hero shot at the front, technical specifications at the back, and other information on the sides. Unboxing it was standard fare: removed the tape, pulled out the inner compartment, and viola… Nokia Lumia 520 in the flesh… well in plastic, lots of it, hehe.

That's a lot of plastic, hehe.
That’s a lot of plastic, hehe.

Underneath the phone we found the compartment which had the peripherals: wall charger, USB to micro USB cable, earphones, manuals, and certificates. One thing we consider a pleasant surprise though was the inclusion of a second back-up or replacement back cover. Two thumbs up for this one, Nokia! :)

What else is in the box? Charger, cable, earphones, manuals and certificates. They also put in an extra black back cover.
What else is in the box? Charger, cable, earphones, manuals and certificates. They also put in an extra black back cover.

Hardware Check: Lumia through and through

The Nokia Lumia 520 is literally the little brother or the “bunso” in the Lumia family. From the form factor perspective, this is probably the lightest and thinnest Lumia to date (will double check this). In terms of design philosophy though it’s a Lumia through and through. You have the glass display up front, buttons and ports at the sides, and the unmistakable colored shell at the back.

Side-by-side with the bigger flagship, the Nokia Lumia 920
Side-by-side with the bigger flagship, the Nokia Lumia 920

Compared to the Nokia Lumia 920, the Lumia 520 is much more easy to handle as it just sports a 4.0-inch display and has a much thinner frame. The form factor is excellent for messaging as you can actually operate this with no issues using just one hand (something that you’ll have an issue with the Lumia 920).

>>> YOU MAY ALSO WANT TO READ: Nokia Lumia 920 Review – the Best Windows Phone 8 To Date?

Easy to navigate with just one hand
Easy to navigate with just one hand

Another feature of the Nokia Lumia 520 is the removable and changeable back covers. You can easily take out the back cover and replace it with what ever color you want. To match the back plate you can also change the color of the live tiles. This is definitely cool but unfortunately Nokia stores always seem to have no stock when it comes to peripherals and accessories for their products. I’ve been trying to get a Wireless Charger and a JBL Power Up Speaker from Nokia for months now and I still haven’t gotten any feedback from their store or their reps.

Lightweight, ergonomic, easy-to-use with one hand kind of phone
Lightweight, ergonomic, easy-to-use with one hand kind of phone
Removable backcover
Removable backcover

When it comes to form factor and design, the Nokia Lumia 520 is a Lumia. Nokia has successfully created a design philosophy for their hardware and they’ve successfully implemented it across different devices with different price points.

Software Check: Fully Operational Windows Phone 8

Windows Store is growing pretty fast. Facebook App still sucks like crazy though.
Windows Store is growing pretty fast. Facebook App still sucks like crazy though.

When it comes to performance, the Nokia Lumia 520 delivers a respectable Windows Phone 8 experience. It’s not as smooth and fluid as the one you get with the Nokia Lumia 820 or 920 but it’s still quite good. You won’t have problems with core services and functions (messaging, e-mails, etc.) but the phone won’t be able to handle graphics intensive applications like premium games.

Speaking of apps, Microsoft has been very aggressive in courting developers to put up apps in their store. This has bore fruit in the last few months as we’ve seen significant updates and additions to the Windows Store. Almost everything you’ll need is already there save from flagship games. Here’s a quick rundown of the apps we usually use:

Facebook, Twitter, Instance (Instagram Client), Evernote, MetroTube (YouTube sub, the YouTube app sucks), Clearer (To Do), LinkedIn, WeChat, Weave (very good news reader), MMDA, and the HERE Nokia suite of apps.

>>> YOU MAY ALSO WANT TO READ: Nokia Lumia 720 Review – Crazy Battery Life and Excellent Camera

Apps apps appssss!
Apps apps appssss!

As for gaming we have the usual titles like Angry Birds but the latest hits are still not there (Candy Crush but at least we have Bejeweled lol).

Initial Verdict: It’s a good entry level Windows Phone

At Php7,990, the Nokia Lumia 520 offers a respectable Windows Phone 8 experience. It’s definitely not the best device for gaming but it can deliver the usual core services and functions of a smartphone beautifully using the Windows Phone Metro user interface. It’s a breath of fresh air especially in this day where Androids are popping up left and right like mushrooms. :P

The Nokia Lumia 520 is now available in Nokia concept stores (usually found in Cyberzone of SM malls).

Carlo Ople

Carlo is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Unbox.ph. During daytime he’s the Managing Director and Partner of a Digital Marketing Agency in the Philippines and by nighttime he’s living out his passion as a gadget enthusiast and story teller through Unbox.

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