AT&T Nokia Lumia 520 with GDR2 and Amber on board; unboxing and quick tour

Last week, AT&T also launched another Windows Phone, besides the much anticipated Lumia 1020—the Lumia 520. Sure, entry level devices aren’t nearly as exciting as technology busting ones, but the Lumia 520 is AT&T’s first GoPhone (month-to-month) and goes for $99 sans contract.

We picked one up last night at our local Microsoft Store because hey, $99. And yes, you can throw in your existing AT&T SIM card and it will work just fine, no need to sign up for any plans or sign anything. You just pay the $99 (plus tax) and walk out the door with a fully functional Windows Phone.

What may surprise some of you though is knowing that this bad boy comes with a Windows Phone 8 build 10327 (GDR2) and Nokia’s Amber firmware update already on board. The means that it has a bunch of low level OS fixes, like that Me Tile situation and the Other Storage fix (we're at 300 MB) and some Nokia perks likes double-tap to wake and flip-to-silence for phone calls. (Watch our video tour above to see it in action.)

The Lumia 520, which we’ve reviewed previously, comes with a 4-inch WVGA display (no ClearBlack), 8 GB of storage (expandable microSD), 512 MB of RAM and a dual-core 1 GHz Snapdragon CPU. The 5 MP camera on the back lacks a flash and there is no front facing camera or NFC on board, but for $99, you get a solid Windows Phone-lite experience. It’s perfect for kids, grandparents, a backup phone or anyone who just needs a phone with perks. The phone only gets HSPA+ with no LTE support on board, but that shouldn’t be too surprising when you consider the price-point.

Nokia Amber features on the AT&T Lumia 520

A lot has been written lately about low-cost Windows Phones specifically that getting them into people’s hands is what will drive the platform. While that strategy remains to be proven, the Lumia 520 (similar to the Lumia 521 on T-Mobile) is a solid contender to lead the way in the States.

Head to AT&T's website to order the Lumia 520 (opens in new tab), or stop by your local Microsoft Store if you have one near you.

Left: AT&T Lumia 520; Right: T-Mobile Lumia 521

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • I'm so glad double tap to wake is coming to the 5x series. My Lumia 521 just keeps getting better.
  • I was looking to pick a 520 up for a second device and just switch the sim but alas, here in Canada, Rogers wants $229 sans contract.  How AT&T can do it for $99 but Rogers wants $229 is bewildering.  Maybe someone else knows how to get it from Rogers on the cheap.
  • Rogers is offering the Lumia 520 on Pay As You Go for $150. Time to time at Future Shop or Best Buy you'll find the price of this dip to $129.99.

  • I got it for only $119.99 at BestBuy. The deal ended on July 25th. The Rogers pack contains a cyan back-cover, and I header neither Telus nor Koodo has this.
  • You can buy it outright from Telus for 129.99.
  • Really? Link please? I just bought mine from Telus last Thursday and it was $150.
  • Plus, get up to $20 in service credits when you activate.†
    Similarly, Koodo guarantees you will get $20 cash back in 14 days after activiation
  • really, got this as a pay-as-you go with Rogers. Bestbuy had it on sale over last weekend and I went to Walmart and pricematched it for $119.99 + tax and yeah NO Contracts. I believe regular no contract price for the Lumia 520 is $150.00
    btw got it at a store in Vancouver.
  • Honestly a nice looking phone.
  • +1
    Just sa one of these yesterday. It is a slick looking device.
  • They shoulda put this phone on tmobile too. I want red. But its good that WP variety keeps expanding
  • Its on T-Mobile. Its called the Lumia 521.
  • Yep
  • But my 521 only comes in white. No exchangeable back covers
  • you have point there. But then again, will the 520 covers even be made available in the us? otherwise, its sort of pointless. though i wish Nokia at least made 3D printer shell files for the 521....
  • wat abt the smart cam ?
  • Won't install. Not sure if because this still needs another update to the firmware, or a Smart Cam limitation.
  • nokia said that smart cam app with 512 mb ram lumias they will take 7 pictures in one sec and 1mp quality, but lumias with 1gb ram will take 10 pics one second and 5mp images.
    and on that 512mb phone lumia 625, there was allready smart cam installed.. maybe att will get one minor update too soon to enable that ??
  • 1mp quality ????????? for real ?????????????
  • To your knowledge does this 520 comes factory unlocked?
  • AT&T devices never come factory unlocked.
  • i got a question , i got the lumia 520 but i activ ated the tap to awake but is not working...why is that?
    ..please help
  • ahh sad :(, thx for the info
  • Its doesn't say Nokia Amber in the about setting... perhaps thats why.
  • When will this update come to Pakistan or India?
  • Seems like everything has GDR2 update but 920. Insert smart ass comments HERE.➖➖➖➖➖➖
  • I hear ya.  I would think we should have it sometime next month. /fingers crossed (Hopefully we dont have to wait past August.).  Having GDR2 in the 1020, I really like the features of the time always on the screen, double tapping screen to wake, and looking forward to playing with the camera features with the 920.   
  • +1bn
  • +1840
  • Or the 8X :/
  • And the 928
  • *raises hand and waves* Dont forget the 521!
  • Finally someone shows a pic of 520 vs 521. So it looks like T-Mobile just made the 521 extra tall so it could accommodate a large logo? Yikes!
  • That's the Lumia 1020 in the pic.
  • ?? That's a 521 on the right...
  • Its 520 left, 521 right. The only other reason I could see think of to make it taller would be an antenna for the 1700band, or else T-Mobile is just an asshole
  • No, it's not. 520/521
  • What are you smoking? :-) Definitely a 521.
  • +920
  • Actually, I'm really happy that the 521 has that extra space on the bottom. On my Lumia 900, I constantly kept pressing the "hard soft" buttons by mistake because they were so close to the bottom. I think it would have been a better design to have it slightly higher on the 520 as well (and on other phones).
  • I think they did it just so no one can exchange the back covers to different colors and hide the branding on the back. I don't see why the hell T-mobile couldn't put it on the side with their brand icon.
  • The 521 doesn't have branding on the back, just that large T-Mobile logo on the front
  • Considering the 521 seems to have an extra mic(?) beneath the camera and contains hardware for the 1700MHz frequency, i think the extra height is there for a reason. and i find the height quite comfortable.
  • No kidding! Like i'm somehow gonna forget who my carrier is, or maybe T-Mobile doesn't bother to put it anywhere onscreen?!
  • Agreed.
  • Im glad us 521 users are getting some of the cool updates from GDr2 and also Amber!
  • I just need to know where I can buy some different colored battery covers. At the Microsoft store I was told that AT&T only have black. My wife keeps bugging me that she wants a different color.
  • Yeah, me, too...
  • You can get them from eBay.
  • enjoy
  • It's a beauty :) i recommended this phone to my friend but instead of buying this phone he buyed the Lumia 800 .... 
    Best regards!
  • Haha, you mean he "bought"... Windows Phones come with spellchecking! :)
  • Correct :) Sorry my english is not that good :) 
    Best regards!
  • As long as he brought a Lumia :)
  • Sucks for him the 520 is a good entry level windows phone. I see you on phonearena sometimes it's nice t see you here also. 
  • Yes and it has Windows Phone 8 and MicroSD support etc ... & thanks! I love this site, PhoneArena is a little bit a dissaster with al those haters...... 
    Best regards!
  • I agree phonearena can be pretty bad but I like it for the news articles. This site is great.
  • Perfect for my 5th-grader! We hate AT&T but not as much as we hate T-Mobile and Sprint! Verizon is not viable where I live. I'm picking one up tomorrow which is pay day!
  • All those new lumia's with GDR2/Amber.. Where is it for my 920! Damn, thought this phone was like a premium device... For a couple months...
  • These devices are launching with them
    While us 920 users have to wait for an OTA update. There's a difference there. less red tape to launch your device with the latest OS than to go through middleman AT&T
  • No glance??
  • no
  • No sadly, Nokia stated that it wouldn't because of hardware limitations
  • I have a 520. Mines shows the "Lumia Amber" heading.
  • Ah, I probably need to update the Nokia system apps
  • I think so. I had to.
  • any idea if it has BT4.0+LE?
  • No, BT 3.0
  • I'm tired of hearing about this damn GDR2 update. Release the damn update already... My 920 is waiting.
  • + 8X
  • +521
  • +820
  • What about data sense??
  • I really want to see the availability
  • AT&T so far has chosen to not support it.
  • If that's the case then no Data Sense for ATT 920 I guess
  • I'm so glad to hear this comes with GDR2! Mine is waiting for me in a UPS box at home. Time to relegate my 900 to a drawer.
  • Make no mistake, the 900 is a damn fine phone. You'll notice the big drop in the "quality feel" between the 900 and the 520. And if you play a lot of mp3 music (from your own collection) on your phone, you'll probably miss Zune as well. But it's nice to have WP8 to get access to newer apps. If I still had an AT&T sub, I'd probably switch the SIM back and forth between the 900 and the 520 depending on the situation...
  • Yea, the lack of the polycarbonate is noticeable. It may just be me, but I miss the weight of the 900. But overall, the 520 feels faster and access to most wp8 apps is nice.
  • Bluetooth keyboard support??
  • Down the road maybe?
  • I held the 520 in's a cool little phone. I like the material they used for the back cover. But the glass edge where it meets the body is not the most comfortable. But for the money, it would be a keeper
  • What about the FM radio to be featured in the update? No mention in the article :/
  • I have one, FM radio works.
  • Does the GDR2 update allow us to adjust separate volumes from ringtones to music ect?
  • Nope
  • carrier branded crap.
    Nokia, sell UNLOCKED, UNBRANDED ones at Microsoft Stores.
  • you seem fun
  • Daniel, <3
  • I agree with this. I find T-mobiles branding on the 521 and 925 atrocious.
  • just wait till they decline the updates from microsoft
  • When is GDR2 coming out on the Lumia 928?
  • Nobody knows, if you find out anything, please leave a tip after the break :D
  • so this is all there in those two updates? wow.. 
  • Also, you can use the different coloured back covers made for the 520.

    (Bonus, they don't have the AT&T logo! Sadly, no Cyan.)
  • So it's settled. Other storage is even lower for low memory phones. Just release this update already. I've got games to play. :)
  • So, There's double-tap to wake but no Glance screen..
  • Since the 52X has No front facing camera no glance feature unless I am thinking of peek feature.
  • Glance uses proximity sensor
  • yes, but it may either use the camera for additional accuracy (so it doesnt just come up randomly when something moves in front of the proximity sensor), or the 52x series may of used cheaper parts (most likely) that do not work with glance (unknown.) at least, these are my guesses.
  • can it be unlocked?
  • I unlocked 2 Telus Lumia 520 there : . 15$ and you get your code within 24 hours. AT&T and TMobile are listed in the supported carrier. You should give it a shot. 
  • So badass a Windows Phone 8 go phone :)
  • Oh ok, that's for new subscribers not existing. I just got the 520 for WP8, my Lumia 800 still works great.
  • I wonder if Verizon will have these updates by the end of the year?
  • Storage is a buzz kill for this, on the other hand for $99-$125 best deal
  • I have so many questions and test cases for GDR2. I hope I'll get the update sooner than later to explore them myself.
  • Got my son it from Rogers last week. He immediately switched to cyan back lol
  • For people who might not have all the amber features while having an up to date firmware, restoring to factory settings fixed everything for me.
  • Wonder how long it will take for T-Mobile to release GDR2/Amber for 521.
  • at the end of the day...these cheaper devices are what will increase the marketshare. that's how android grew to be so big..and that's why apple has kind of hit a saturation point with their marketshare. 
  • How's the camera on this? I have a Lumia 800 right now and I'm thinking about getting one of these to hold me over until I can afford a flagship. My only concern is with the camera. I realize that it doesn't have a flash, but I rarely use the flash the on my 800 anyway. Besides that, how's the actual image quality? Does anyone who happens to have access to both the 800 and the 520 know if the if the image quality is significantly worse on the 520?
  • I think it is better than 900... it struggles in lowlight. other lighting it is fine.
  • Image quality is passable.
  • Hey friends,,I want to increase the Tile count in a single row in my nokia Lumia 820. Is it possible?
    no matter if the tile size will decrease,,the update was about to come.
    plzzz help out.
  • Max is 4
  • Hey Friends,,, How to upgrade Lumia 820 to a higher version?
  • a new phone??
  • Do Go Phones use every tower that standard AT&T plans/phones use?
    Would this cause a data plan to be added if I used my AT&T dump phone sim in it?
  • Why does it say 4G on the box when the device is not 4G capable?
  • HSPA+ is technically considered to be 4G as well....don't hate - I'm not the one who ceme up with this crap ;)
  • its not crap. everyone assumes "4G" is LTE, when its not. theres 2 kinds of 4G: 4GLTE and 4GHSPA+. Its just easier in the case of HSPA+ to say 4G, while every carrier, playing on consumers lack of knowledge, likes to tout the term "LTE".
  • It has 4G (HSPA+). It does NOT have LTE.
  • Back-up phone? This this is all I need! I actually enjoy having a 4" screen unlike most people. And the soft material on the back is awesome.
    I like this phone better than the 820 even if it doesn't have a flash. Screw specs...this is Windows Phone!
  • when amber will update all phones? How much longer? because we were tired of waiting! 
  • when Amber will update all phones? How much longer? because we were tired of waiting!
  • +920
  • yeah! I just wonder when there will be an update for Nokia Lumia Amber 620,720,820 and 920
  • Alert: Amazon is planning to sell this at $90. Currently showing out of stock.
    Edit: Link added
  • Going to pick one up as a media player. I'll put a SD card on it and have access to all my Xbox music pass content. Wp8 provides a better experience with Xbox music than WP 7. Will sell either my 900 or old focus to fund.
  • I think Nokia should make a music player at this cost as well... That is needed on the WP ecosystem.
  • Yes, some kind of Nokia Xbox Music device that uses WP8 apps, especially the Nokia exclusives. It should also be optimized with 1.5-2 GB of RAM to play all the WP8 games. Or maybe they should just make a high quality mini tablet running Win RT that does all of this.
  • What about data sense and fm radio. The article seems incomplete...
  • Data sense: No, Fm radio: enjoying it
  • I think Nokia should work with AT&T to push this for the Back to School promo. Perfect phone for light users, teens and active seniors. HSN may be a good place too.
  • HSN already had the 521... so idk why theyd get the 520
  • Would I need to unlock it to take it to an AT&T MVNO like StraightTalk?
    How easy would be to get AT&T to unlock the phone anyway?
  • The Lumia 520 GoPhone works fine with a Straight Talk AT&T SIM. You might have to change a few settings for Internet and MMS, but once you do, it's fully functional and works great. If you want to use ST, just buy a SIM from them (unless you have one already) and plug it in.
  • Don't forget, u can get a 521 here, and have the option to make 4 individual payments...
  • sad that there won't be FM radio for my Lumia 620
  • it is a much better phone than can listen to themonly thru tunein.
  • so ... the lumia 620 will not have radio fm?
  • Looks like a cool phone, might have to pick one up just to add to my WP collection... but am I the only one who noticed that Dan had 245 text messages in the unboxing video!?  What kind of side businees are you running with that phone dude!? Just kidding! Does anyone know if I can use the sim card from my "on contract" phone in the 520?  Would like to have one as a backup but don't really want to pay additional money for a line I won't use very often...
  • I'm sure the texts were restored from Skydrive, thus show as new.
  • is audio equilizer updated in gdr2??
    because, an equilizer is really a basic feature,.
  • I have to disagree with you on this.  Like Daniel said in his review, they've gotta cut corners somewhere.  And i can't imagine there aren't at least a couple halfway decent free apps that offer equalizer settings.
  • Only OEM and Microsoft apps can integrate with the system settings. So for a dev, they cant even dream of making a system wide sound equalizer for Windows Phone. If there were to be a system equalizer, it would have to come from Nokia or Microsoft. However, there are some music apps, i think, that have some equalization method in them. however, this doesnt work system wide, only in the app.
  • an equalizer may be a basic feature but its hardware dependent for the most part, i believe (exception being equalizers built into music players, such as Media Player on Windows). However, i do hope this comes, and i do think itd be possible to have it implemented without needing certain hardware.
  • 245 messages.... you're the boss!
  • I'm a smartphone noob, so my expectations are low, but i really like my new 520.  AT&T brought it on board just in time too, cuz i was very close to getting a Motorola Defy via Republic Wireless.  Yes, i hate contracts so much i settled on a Droid phone...sad, i know.  I was actually able to order my 520 online Wednesday evening and pick it up in-store Thursday!  I've had probably 4 previous cell phones over the last 7-8 years (and only 3 carriers), and the 4 hours of talktime a month that i get with GoPhone for only 25 bucks is more than i've ever needed -- unlimited texts are icing on the cake.  I'm sure there are plenty of people out there with similarly basic needs and home wifi networks (the latter negating or greatly reducing the need to pay a carrier for data). . .but i'm sorry to say i have no idea how we (and Microsoft, and AT&T) can get the word out to them that WinPhones like the 520 are an EXCELLENT option.  My blogs on Tumblr & Opera just don't get a whole lotta hits. . .
  • Have a look at this entire detailed changelog for amber
  • Will this be sold in any stores like WalMart, target, Meijer....?
  • I have this phone, and I absolutely love it! Its replaced my HTC One as my daily driver. I've just been converted to the gloriousness that is Windows Phone!
  • Just picked it up from att company store. You have to enable the double tap to wake feature in settings/display+touch. Swipe over to the touch settings and there is the enable check box.
  • The flip to silence ringer feature is in settings/audio. Its the only setting and it was enabled from the get-go.
  • Very cheap for USD 99. In Indonesia, it's more than USD 170.
    About update, I had already checked it today on my Lumia 520, no update available. It's August 1, 2013 still no update, so long to be waited. :-(
  • So I hope the unlocked 520s & 620s will also receive GDR2 soon . . . .maybe in the coming fortnight ?? ??
  • I bought a 520 GoPhone at the AT&T store. The first store wanted me to sign up for a go phone plan and wouldn't sell the phone without it. I then went to another AT&T store (both coroprate stores) and the second store handed over the phone for my $, no questions asked or account needed. I inserted my Net10 AT&T compatible sim card, 64 gb micro sd and I updated the APN settings and I'm good to go. All features work fine. The store rep said any AT&T sim (including post paid contract) would work with this phone. For this price, I don't see how AT&T would allow this phone to be used with a post-paid sim. It would seem a better option than paying for insurance or getting stuck paying full retail if you're under contract and lose your phone. This is not a "flagship" phone but after owning several, there aren't many things that seperate this phone from those besides the $$. This is worth $99 even just to play around with and to use for its offline gps and as an mp3 player! The camera is surprisingly good as well. For those worried about not having a flash, my solution is to get a small led keychain flashlight. Not only does this work, but I think it's actually better because it doesn't "flash" but instead can be used as a constaint light allowing auto focus to work better. Problem solved as far as I'm concerned.
  • When this update (gdr2) will come to Pakistan ir India?
  • Hey any info about when will GDR2 come to egypt