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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hands-on review: MWC 2013: Nokia Lumia 520

Let's get something straight first. We really like Windows Phone 8. It's not for everybody, but it's a great mobile phone OS and Nokia and Microsoft have made great strides with it.

It's also very easy to use - and that's why we think the 4-inch Nokia Lumia 520 could do rather well, as a low budget handset for those who don't want an over-complicated or over-equipped smartphone.

It isn't a slouch, with a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4, but most of the other specs have been trimmed from the higher end Lumias to reach its price point - it has an estimated starting price of €139 (around £120/ US$183/ AU178).

The 5MP camera has no flash, for example, while the display is 800 x 480, the same resolution as the 620's 3.8-inch and the 720's 4.3-inch displays.

Nokia does, however, say the 520 uses the same digital camera lenses found on the flagship (and rather heavy) Nokia Lumia 920. That's hardly a big deal, but the fact Nokia said it shows that this new handset has very little in common with its top-end brethren.

You get 8MB of storage, but you can expand it thanks to a microSD slot.

It is slightly thinner than the Lumia 620, matching the Lumia 720's 9.9mm (0.39 inch) thickness, while at 124g (0.27lbs), it's a pleasant weight.

There is a small speaker on the bottom rear of the device, a headphone jack on the top and the standard microUSB on the bottom.

In terms of look and feel, the Nokia Lumia 520 feels as good in the hand as any other Lumia, thanks to the now-familiar monoblock casing. And there are also familiar controls - the sleep/wake button, camera shutter control and volume controls are on the right side of the device.

In terms of apps, you get all the standard Windows Phone stuff, including Office, plus Nokia Music for free music and Nokia's Here location apps, as you'd expect.

The handset, which comes in five colours, will launch over the coming months in Hong Kong and Vietnam, before "expanding broadly" (Nokia's words) to Europe, Asia - including China and India - Latin America and Africa.

The handset maker also says the Lumia 520 will roll out in the United States with T-Mobile.

We rather like the Lumia 520 - Nokia clearly has a market in mind for the device and has given it a price point to match. It's not a handset for those who really want a Windows Phone, but rather it's one for those who want a budget smartphone. For that type of purchaser, the cheap and cheerful nature of the 520 will surely appeal.

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