Did you think the Nokia Lumia 620 was a solid-enough smartphone to shake up emerging markets, thanks to its low cost? Say hello to the Lumia 520, which, at an estimated cost of $183, will be one of the (if not the) least expensive Windows Phone 8 devices once it comes out later this quarter. It's attracted a commitment from T-Mobile in the US (timeframe not yet specified) and other carriers around the world, so we're likely going to see a lot more of this little beaut in the future. Naturally, it's time for a face-to-face introduction.
The Lumia brand as a whole is very consistent in its overall design language, so it's not difficult to tell that the 520 fits perfectly in the lineup. It will be offered in five of Nokia's usual colors: cyan, red, black, yellow and white. If you're interested in swapping covers, snap-on backs will be available -- but beware, the actual back of the device itself isn't removable. The right side of the phone houses three buttons: the volume rocker, power and the dedicated shutter button. A 3.5mm jack sits on top, whereas the micro-USB charger is on the bottom.
While it felt a little cheaper (as one would expect with such a low-end handset), it still seemed to be held together quite solidly. Interestingly, the phone's weight wasn't distributed across the device like we saw on the 720, but instead the middle of the device seemed pretty hollow, even though it held its fair share of circuitry and other components. Take a peek below if you're interested in a full photo tour of the 520, and continue reading for more impressions and specs.
Since the 520 uses a WVGA (800x480) LCD panel, it's not quite as saturated in color as the 720, but its 4-inch size actually helped make the text appear more crisp and clear than its larger-screened companion. The edges of the phone not only slope gently up to meet the screen, they come up ever so slightly above the screen, interrupting the smooth transition our fingers make from the display to their usual home on the sides. While it was quite noticeable after using the smooth 720 for enough time, this design choice likely means your screen will have a little extra protection.
If you're a fan of smaller handsets, the 520 will be incredibly comfortable to hold. Its 9.9mm thickness may be a smidge more than your run of the mill smartphone, but it's actually par for the course for the Lumia lineup -- and frankly, its smaller size, combined with a slightly thicker profile makes for a much more solid grip.
The Lumia 520 handles HSPA+ connections (up to 21Mbps) on 850/1900/2100 (another model offers 900/2100) and GSM/EDGE 850/900/1900/2100. You'll also get 512MB of RAM and a 5MP rear camera with 720p video recording. Altogether, we're feeling pretty good about a device like the 520; after our excitement with the Lumia 620, we'll be happy to take its less-expensive sibling for a spin as well.
Joseph Volpe and Sharif Sakr contributed to this post.