The Nokia Lumia 520 still most widely used Windows Phone in 2016 and that's a problem

January's AdDuplex report does little to bolster the position of Microsoft's Windows Phone. The report reveals changes within the Windows Phone ecosystem as opposed to comparing it to Android and iOS sales. In turn, it shows some interesting bits about OS version growth and which Windows Phones sell the best and where.

Windows 10 on 10%

Windows 10 Mobile continues to take a slice of the Windows Phone OS pie with 9.5 percent for the month of January. That is an increase of 0.7 percent from last month, but as AdDuplex notes that number is likely driven more from new hardware adoption (e.g. Lumia 550, 950, and 950 XL) rather than new Insiders. The latter group may have finally peaked with late adopters now waiting for official updates rather than jumping into the risky tester pool.

Windows Phone 8.1 still dominates at 77.7 percent, but Windows 10 Mobile is on more devices than Windows Phone 8.0 at just 8.4 percent.

Lumia 520 is still king

Back in early 2013, the Lumia 520 became the shocking buffer that saved Windows Phone. Seemingly out of nowhere, the phone was quickly being used by many new faces. Priced right with robust features for the time the Lumia 520 was a precursor to the quality budget phone craze that later took the industry. As noted in our previous coverage, it only took one year for the Lumia 520 to become the most popular Windows Phone in 2014.

Unfortunately, Android OS and Chinese manufacturers came onto the scene and stole Nokia's thunder. Soon after the market was flooded with just as good – if not better – spec'd budget phones with a more popular OS. Nokia – and eventually Microsoft – have been unable to capture that lightning in the bottle again ever since.

Looking at January's numbers and in 2016 the Lumia 520 continues to represent 12.9 percent of all Windows Phones globally more than any other (the Lumia 535 is next at 11.7 percent).

The fact that a phone announced three years ago is still the king of Windows Phones puts things into perspective. Nokia and later Microsoft have been unable to convert those 520 owners into owners of newer or better Windows phones.

Devices like the Lumia 640 (6.3 percent) and Lumia 640 XL (3.3 percent) have done admirable especially if you consider them the same phone (for 9.6 percent total) with just slightly different specifications. Those phones were announced just under one year ago.

Unfortunately, there are no data points for the new Lumia 550, Lumia 950, or Lumia 950 XL. Considering the pricing of at least two of those and the late launch of the Lumia 550, perhaps that is not too surprising. It is not reassuring either, as no one, not even Microsoft, are expecting those phones to push any real numbers.

Still, it would have been nice to have been surprised by this AdDuplex report.

BLU overtakes Huawei

Another interesting bit is that BLU with their Win HD and Win JR phones (0.27 percent) have barely passed Huawei (0.26 percent) for Windows Phone manufacturers. Considering Huawei has not had a phone in years, it is surprising it took this long.

Despite efforts from BLU companies like Samsung (0.59 percent) and HTC (1.21 percent) still have double and quadruple the market share. Brand names matter, folks.

Lumping Nokia and Microsoft devices into one group and the legacy duo still make up a massive 96.97 percent of all Windows Phones. That number is virtually unchanged as newer OEMs like Acer and Alcatel OneTouch have yet to launch any new products with Windows 10 Mobile.

Around the world

Finally, the AdDuplex report takes a look at some individual countries for their breakdown of Windows Phone usage. Here are some highlights:

  • Lumia 640 continues to gain with a 1.7 percent increase, and it now makes up 18.2 percent of all Windows Phones in the US
  • Lumia 640 (10.6 percent) overtook the Lumia 930 (8.9 percent) in Germany for second most popular Windows Phone
  • Lumia 640 has added 1.7 percent in Italy for a total of 6.9 percent along with the Lumia 640 XL (4 percent) surpassing the Lumia 820; the Lumia 630 is still the most popular with 14.9 percent
  • Lumia 640 has gained 3.9 percent in Poland to become the second most popular device; Lumia 535 added 2.1 percent and is still the top with 16.6 percent of all Windows Phones in that country
  • Lumia 535 makes up a massive 29.8 percent of all Windows Phones in Indonesia for the top spot; Lumia 520 is next with 22 percent

Overall, the landscape remains largely the same with older, budget devices still reigning. Newer phones have yet to make an appearance, and the playfield is looking rather dated for 2016.

This Thursday, Microsoft is expected to announce its quarterly report, and the news for Windows Phone will be disappointing if you were expecting any shifts.

You can read our previous AdDuplex Report coverage right here

About AdDuplex

The numbers from AdDuplex are collected through their in-app advertising that is prevalent in over 5,000 apps in the Windows Phone Store. That data serve as an important metric within the Windows Phone ecosystem. The full AdDuplex report for January will be posted tomorrow, January 28 on

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • 520 is best windows phone but lacking ram and flash and front camera.. Windows 10 should launch soon for 520
  • I have L525 running w10 build 10xxx.63. My phone freeze twice or thrice everyday, Lock screen lags, Gaming performance decreased, settings app & cortana is little bit slow rather than this everything is fine.. Running good & Wi-Fi strength increased :D
  • There are too many bugs on that build actually.. There will be lot of updates before officially launch of window 10 I guess.
  • The "official" release will just be an insider build. There won't be a difference. Just like Windows 10 PC insider builds go to official Windows Update later on
  • There is quite a difference between insider builds and official OS..
  • Officialy launch? You mean official availability to older phones right? W10M is already official with 950, 950XL and 550.
  • These phones are running the insider build. It's still beta, and that's pretty obvious to any user. Bit of a stinker for MS to release these phones with a beta OS but it's just as bad on PCs and tablets so I don't suppose it matters much these days. Beta is the new stable.
  • Er.. My 950 runs beautifully with 10. (My 735 didn't though). Also, whats Beta about Desktop 10. Again, its running wonderfully for me on all my machines. You seem to be a hater :/
  • No it's not. W10 PC is completely solid minus an audio bug for me.
  • L520 was best when it lauched because it was ahead of competetiors offered soemthig unique as harware as well as software!   The new range of MS budget or midrange phoens are a sad excuse for mobile phones! As long as Microsoft continues to use anicient hardware like snapdraogn 210 or 410 for its budget offerings this will be the case, look at lenovo k4 or xiaomi, why cant MS use those mediatek helio chipsets and be done with, its so simple to win yet the rigid stubborness to take the choice that will always cost windows , they will alwyas not just be late to party but arrive when the party is over!   Also for FFS give a decent amount of RAM people  are past the 1 GB offerings! 
  • If you do a hard reset and don't restore a backup it should run far better.
  • This. Just like desktop windows, a clean install runs so much better on W10 vs. restoring a WP8[.1] image; that's been my experience on the 640 at least. Problem is most users will be "upgrading" keeping their old settings in place. MS needs to add this issue to their long list of bug fixes, perhaps at the top. Comparing iOS, the upgrades from 7 to 8  to 9 were all in-place, yet there was no performance degradation vs. a clean install (on a 5s at least).
  • This is exactly what users shall do - upgrade OS and not perform clean install. It's up to OS and OS developer to make this transition seamlessly and hassle free. Only because OS can't handle this correctly doesn't mean we shall shift blame towards users. Also performing hard reset is something that you should not expect to do. Not to mention that this action (at least for some devices, ready L1020) solves literally nothing.
  • Nokia had a class.....for what ever device they is just making to inc.... Windows phone OS users that's it!!!!!! Everything in beta and considering to kill,apps which Nokia brought to life and rebrand guys expect a good sale....sometimes I ponder that Microsoft itself will kill its own platform while android and ios are getting the almost same unique features windows phone used to have....... They r giving away the reason to buy a windows phone......LONG LIVE NOKIA
  • If it's lacking all of that, it's hardly the best.  Even if you were to say best budget phone, that honor would have to go to the 640.  It corrects the 3 issues you list.
  • Battery backup is also a issue.. But as per Nokia battery it works fine 1430mah. Sometimes I thought of a combination of android on Lumia 520.. Exciting
  • The problem is that not everyone wants a lager phone, nor need a front facing camera, or need a full, nor a function camera or a phone that costs more than $30. For that price off contract, a 520 running 8.1 is a bargain.
  • I agree with the phone size thing. I miss the small phone factor everyday, and it's why I almost caved to buy a 550 again
  • I'll give you the front facing camera, but a better rear camera is ALWAYS better to have.  And a flash is an absolute necessity in a phone with a camera.  I would never buy one without, I don't care if it's $5.  If memory is a concern, you can always drop resolution, but 8mp isn't exactly massive.  And my 640 may not have been $30, but $40 on sale is pretty close.  And some people (at least in US) were able to snag it for $30 at Best Buy around Christmas.  I'm not trying to rag on you guys for having 520s, honestly.  But 640 is definitely the better budget phone, and I'm sure if it was out when you got 520s, you would have shot for it instead.
  • Yeah... minus the 512MB, FFC and flash, the 520 was an unexpectedly satisfying phone. After 8.1 brought move to SD, I found myself going back to the 520 many times over... and would've likely had the 525 (where the bumped up the RAM) as my main phone if it weren't stupidly overpriced. Outside of the hardware itself, it was a really well-planned/executed release on Nokia's behalf. I no longer use the 520... but for as happy as I am with my Lumia 950, it was not planned well, it was not marketed well, and leaving it's potential buyers in a state of being unable to preorder then forced into holiday inconvenience makes for a release that was absolutely horrendous.
  • The 520 was & is still a great device. It's the robust build quality of Nokia that makes me keep it as my daily driver.
  • I don't remember the details, but I'm pretty sure it was also lacking whatever hardware enables recognition of the direction the phone is pointing.   I used it for a while, but the lack of core features kept it from being a great phone.    As Daniel noted, the subsequent flood of cheaper and more feature-rich Android devices pretty much destroyed the 520's first mover advantage.  
  • That direction pointing thing is compass :P
  • Ah, yes, thanks.  Never was good with those technical terms.  :-)
  • Daniel's comment regarding the market being flooded with cheaper android devices is misleading.  Mediatek based Android phones were flooding the market long before the Lumia 520 was released.  If one wanted an iPhone or Galaxy knock off, the web was full of them by multiple manufacturers.and retailers back in 2012.
  • Absolutely.  And Windows Phone 8.1 ran better on low end hardware than Jellybean.  There were entirely too many 384 MB Jellybean devices to mention, and they always ran into problems when you ran more than a handful of apps in the background.  A lot of that changed with KitKat.  Today, you're hard pressed to find a 512 MB phone, as most of the budget phones are up to 1 GB now. 
  • Lumia 520 is there because users bought it as best value for money device of that time with name of nokia despite liking the Windows phone or not as they are the budget user & when they spend $200 on a device they are gonna spent even more time with devices despite of if they are in agony with their phones because of not liking Windows phones but a promise of a better OS coming soon from 3 years
  • \\but a promise of a better OS coming soon from 3 years\\
    Nailed it!
  • The 920 and 1520 were the best Windows Phones, design AND capabilities at the time of release. Nothing ever since came close. 930 came 7 months too late with an outdated chip, lacked Glanced and had too small a battery, 950 suffers from weak design, cheap materials and poor software.
  • I think the 928 and 925 are better than the 920.
  • It better don't unless Windows 10 Mobile reaches a level of speed/stability of Windows Phone 8/8.1. I have a Lumia 630 which is "better" than any 520 and I've using it as a "normal" user who would receive an OS upgrade, I mean avoiding any hard reset, and guess what, my phone is slow as hell.
  • Again as Daniel said it is the period in which the phone was bought that matters: You get an impressive phone sold for peanuts.
    That edge faded out by time, and L520 is no more a wow phone. It's the platform that has fallen.. Lumia will not regain any of the NOKIA flash, and even the Surface Phone will not do the stupid W10M any good. Kudos MS
  • The 520 was launched more than three years ago.  It is old by cell phone standards.  The 640 has been out for 18 months?  It hasn't caught up yet.  The 640 was selling for peanuts this Christmas.  Less than $40.  Cheaper price than I paid for my 520 in 2013.
  • Had been using 520 years! :)
  • I still have my 520 that I bought more than three years ago. It is the only old phone that I no longer use that I still have in plain sight. The phone was just a great low-end phone during its time. Microsoft/Nokia failed to build on the momentum that the 520/521 generated. Even with that I am surprised that the 640 di