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Nokia Lumia 520 – Unboxing and first impressions of the most affordable Windows Phone yet

Our Nokia Lumia 520 just showed up on our door steps today, so we figured we’d share the news with the largest Windows Phone audience in the world. 

For those who don’t remember, the Lumia 520 was announced by Nokia a few weeks back in Barcelona during the Mobile World Congress. It, along with the Lumia 720, represents the completion of Nokia’s “range” of Lumias.

The Lumia 520 is being billed as the most cost-effective Windows Phone yet, with an estimated price of less than $200 (current prices are slightly north of that, around $230). Featuring a 4” IPS LCD display (with Super Sensitive Touch), a 1GHz Dual-core Snapdragon, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage (expandable with microSD), a 1430mAh battery and a 5MP rear camera (none for the front), the Lumia 520 packs quite a bit into a light (124 grams) body for an affordable price.

While the 520 won’t be exciting for our more high-end audience, the phone is important to growing the Windows Phone ecosystem, especially in emerging markets and for the common person who doesn’t give much thought about smartphones.

We’ll have a full review in the coming days and for now, you can look at some photos and our video walkthrough of the unboxing and OS in action.

Nokia Lumia 520 Windows Phone

Nokia Lumia 520 Windows Phone

Nokia Lumia 520 Windows Phone

Nokia Lumia 520 Windows Phone

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

  • That is one handsome little device. 
  • Looks nicer than 920 IMO.
  • Yep, I consider it the best looking WP8 Lumia.
  • realy? i prefer the look of 620 over this one
  • Yep, it is definetly best looking lumia.
  • The Lumia 930?
  • The Lumia 640 xl?
  • Beautiful device. Hard to believe its price
  • Yup.. Just hope I get to sell all the colors at tmobile
  • Looks pretty slick! The only thing that would deter me from buying this is not the CPU or display resolution, but the 512mb of ram. Otherwise I think its a pretty damn nice phone.
  • Would you like somebody to give you a phone with 2GB RAM!!! Don't be ridiculus, you only get what you pay for and hardware wise you get more than what you pay for this is the only handset with dual core at this price bracket :)
  • I don't think he's being ridiculous. Sure for the price it's an amazing phone, I don't think he was disputing that. I just think for a lot of people it's a more practical size/design than even the 920 and if it wasn't for the 512mb of RAM they'd probably prefer it. I reckon if there was a 1GB option for another $30 - $50 a lot of people would take it over supposed higher end devices, hell I reckon some people would even pay $100 - at which point you are in the same price range as the 720 (and again a 1GB option there would be great).
    I can see why from a business perspective Nokia won't do this to cannabolise 820/920 sales, but for the amount of people that would take the option knowing they need 1GB for certain games, I doubt it'd be sufficient enough to make much of a dent. I think they've more done it from a cost/simplicity point of view.
  • A friend of my has that device. It is pretty nice looking but it does look very thick though...
  • Hey Dan, how come Nokia doesn't send you these phones for tesing? This is the seond phone that I'm guessing ou buy online (with the 620).
  • They do for their high end and US bound devices and are pretty great about it. For some reason, when it comes to international phones/carrier unlocked/things not destined for the US, they don't seem interested in getting us their phones. (I could probably bitch and complain but I have better things to do during the day). It's odd, since although the majority of our site is US based, we're pretty damn good at being global for the Windows Phone community ;)
  • I hope they realise that! International user here :)
    Oh and what's up with the date on the lockscreen? why is it displayed vertically on the upper right corner?
  • Re: date, that's because of Asian markets who have top-down script ;)
  • Did the Office tile become transparent?  It's a bright orange on my phone and its using the large tile size.  In this picture in the story it looks like the same red'ish color as the rest of the tiles...
  • Running Portico here, and Office is a red tile no matter what my theme.
  • 820 on Portico, and my Office tile is bright orange. Wonder what's up with the difference..
  • Great birthday gift for children!
  • I was thinking the same thing.
  • I'm not sure I'm ready to make Windows Phone my main mobile device, but I'm in need of a cellular "home" phone. This may do nicely and allow me to try out the OS in a real world device without having to invest a lot of money.
  • It has no 3G in this day and age??
  • It does, just not the US bands.
  • Only because its an international version and not compatible with the networks in the US and probably Canada. T-Mobile is getting a variant of the 520 and it should be 3G/4G.
  • I would appreciate it if 3G/4G compatibility or a lack thereof in regions outside North America could be mentioned in future articles or video reviews. The "edge only" comment in the video really confused me.
  • and I wouild appreciate it if T-Mobile would carry the 620 .
  • Well for refarmed areas it kind of does.. I got it and get amazing speeds on the 620 here in D.C area..
  • Variants of the 520 apparently come in both dual and tri band 3G. If you are lucky enough to find the right one, it could work in the US.
  • It looks pretty good for a budget phone but 512MB of RAM is a deal breaker with more and more apps/games requiring at least 1GB nowadays.
  • This 1GB is only for release most apps will be updated it to,work on 512MB RAM phones..
  • Just checked specs and it does have 3G at least in Europe
  • Yeah, it just has fewer bands than previous devices. So no 3G/4G for AT&T or T-Mobile in the US.
  • Only thing i can say is odd about is that there's no led why not ?
  • Cause its 2013 not 2008 or BlackBerry :D
  • I wish it was a requirement for WP.
  • My Lumia 620 has 512 Mb and I'm not having any problems with Apps - I guess games are another issue, but then again I'm not a gamer so not big deal!
  • Lumia 620 has a TFT display and 520 has an IPS? That doesn't seem right...
  • Nokia seems to mix up features unevenly not according to price. For example, 520 has super sensitive screen, 620 doesn't? Also, 620 has a better GPU than the 920!
  • 620 has ClearBlack, which sounds like marketing crap, but the 620 screen does have darker blacks and nicer contrast than the 520. The 620 doesn't have a better GPU than the 920, it's just that the 920 has to push 2.5× the pixels (higher resolution).
    Super sensitive is a valid abnormality, though I think it has more to do with timing than anything. The 520 is a newer model and Nokia seems to have worked out how to get super sensitive in there without bumping up the price too much (supply chains, deals, etc).
  • Hey nube android what are you gonna do when your no longer a noob? You gotta change that name at that point.
  • At the end of the video, the lock screen is shown and the date is in the top right corner of the screen.  Is this a new nokia lock screen?  I haven't seen it yet.
  • Nope, just part of the Asian builds/localization.
  • Looks nice! Thanks for the reply
  • This phone will be a popular one in price sensitive countries like India.I am personally going to buy this phone and I know 5-6 people who have already pre-ordered it from Flipkart.And its available for just  $192 here.
  • I've preordered it too!
  • Agreed. In countries like India where people need to buy phones at full price (no contracts or carrier subsidies) the high entry point of WP devices was a major factor in cheap droids like the galaxy Y going viral. Hopefully this will change some of that..
  • "Actually" Daniel?   ;)
  • and cant run a bunch of apps.  awesome!
  • What, like 2 games?
  • Yeah its just like Amazing Spiderman and Asphalt 7.. Otherwise most apps run fine..
  • Asphalt 7 now runs on 512 MB RAM !!!
  • this is not the most affordable WP8 handset..... Huawei Ascend W1 is.... 149 euros(including tax)
  • This is Nokia Central, only Nokia phones exist. They don't know the price of the W1, let alone expect an unboxing video or a review.
  • I noticed this as well, but WPCentral have covered the W1.
    Here in the UK O2 offer the W1, so I went in to look at it. It runs the OS as smoothly as anything else, but felt insubstantial, even hollow. I went for the Lumia 620 instead and love it.
    Huawai haven't done a great deal to get our attention. They're very welcome, but if their efforts on Windows Phone are half-hearted, so will their results.
  • Cheap smart phones like this is why TMo is getting away from contracts.  Other carriers will need to follow.
  • Will Nokia be sending you a Lumia 521 for you to review as it's the US version of the 520?
    I'm interested in seeing how the 520/521 will do on the market.  With a lag free WP8 experience this has the potential to capture a lot of lower-end market share compared to budget Android handsets.  Top that off with Nokia and their stellar features, apps, and support and you've really got a lot to look forward to for first-time smartphone buyers upgrading from feature phones or those who are just looking for an affordable smartphone with a great "bang for buck" value.
  • Enough android bashing -.- for literally 70 dollars more you can buy a nexus 4...yes this is a great phone but I think that 70 dollar difference can sway some people who want certain key apps.
  • I'm not bashing Android.  I agree with you that the Nexus 4 is a steal for its price of $300 from the Google Play store; there's currently nothing that can match its value per dollar for features at that price for a high-end phone (at full price the Lumia 920 is $450, HTC 8X is $400, and the 820 is $350).  Android is the only choice when it comes to low-end budget smartphones ($200 and below) and this is what I want to see challenged.  Right now it looks like only Windows Phone is willing to try to add competition to Android in this price range and that's good for both WP and Android.  If WP is successful with the Lumia 520 we'll see more high-end features trickle down to low-end Androids and WPs as they compete for marketshare which is a win-win for everyone.  A $70-100 difference can be a deal-breaker for buyers on a budget who don't need all the high-end phone features but want the cheapest decent smartphone.  The 520 is looking to capture these customers and those who have never had a smartphone before so apps that WP doesn't have isn't as much as a deal-breaker, but it's still a factor of course, compared to experienced smartphone users that have a list of their must have apps.
  • Well then you are right....umm very nice points Lol
  • Nexus4 isn't available in many places, it is also very supply limited ( likely because Google loses money on it ).
  • Really nice phone for under $200.
    Little sidekick notes on how well Nokia is doing in India:
  • Now get it to the US on budget and pay as you go carriers
  • Back looks completely different from the front....
  • It can be had for only $177 here in the UAE :D 
  • What a beauty that 520 is. Wish my 820 was made the same way.... Oh well...
  • I was gonna say that it looks super thick, but its thinner than the 8X
  • nokia phones always look thick in pics than real life... dont know why///
  • So you noticed that too! I've also wondered about it but I think it has something to do with the reflective properties of the colors of the Nokia casings when photographed.
  • Fantastic device. I hope when the review comes out, there is a section where the 520 and 620 go head to head. The 620 is at a very good price point. But here in india, the 520 launch for atleast 80$ cheaper. And i couldn't really figure out what does one loose out on by choosing to save those 80 bucks.
  • On 520 model you loose the NFC and the front camera. Also some bluettoth features are crippled and no magnetometer or flash for the camera
  • The 520 is a good basic smartphone, at under $200 there isn't a whole lot out there (esp. in Android) that could beat it in terms of performance. I strongly hope this drives Nokia's sales in the entry/mid-end segments.
  • looks pretty nice, but it should be mentioned that htc 8s is currently $149 off contract with virgin mobile right now too - just picked one up myself!
  • it is locked to virgin mobile. this is unlocked.
  • I'm buying it
  • i wish lumia 620 had this screen size and design it looks really great. 
  • I thought that a flash for the camera was a hardware requirement for WP8. I don't see one. Did MS relax that requirement? 
  • Nokia has the rights to do things differently. They could even tweak the OS in many ways, but have chosen not to.
  • This phone is neat. Looks legit.
    Good things come in small packages? ;)
  • I still think the Lumia 620 is the best looking Nokia in the portfolio if it had the 920's 4.5 inch display or larger that would be epic!!! The 920 isn't bad at all tho, I own it. People who say its too thick and heavy are waaay to critical or just dumb. Its perfectly acceptable considering the technology and innovation within.
  • Well it is a bit heavy...but just a little bit...Feels still better than an iPhone which feels like nothing :D
    but the 520 looks great too..just a bit too thick for the length^^
  • you need to look at the phone.. it is thinner than 8X. :).. Somehow nokia phones look thicker in pic than real life.
  • it's avilabile on preorder much lower price 194$ in india... chek here
  • Wow that looks great! Do you know if it supports 3G or HSPA in other regions?
  • Got this spec of the 520 from a website, maybe it would help:
    2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 - all versions
    3G Network HSDPA 900 / 2100 - RM-914    
                        HSDPA 850 / 1900 / 2100 - RM915
                        HSDPA 850 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 - RM-917
  • Yes, that helps. Thanks!
  • this is the best smartphone in that price range.. hopefully it reaches out to the masses.
  • This phone makes a lot sense, it will be a big seller. 
  • I'll buy this for my mom, who will be switching from feature phone to a smartphone
  • Would you post the link where to order it? I'm interest on the Lumia 720. Thanks.
  • Hey, Daniel, (this is the wrong article to ask it on) do you know when Molome may come available to Windows Phone?
  • Ordered the 520 for my sis for around 180 dollars (indian rupee equivalent). Amazing deal.
  • Nokia will start selling Lumia 520 this month still here in Brazil for R$ 599.00 reais ($ 301,00 dollars) ... The Lumia 720 will come here for R$ 999.00 reais ($ 503.00 dollars). It is very likely that these prices are reduced quickly because the Federal Government of Brazil shall approve a law this month that will decrease the taxes in smartphones manufactured in Brazil, reducing the final price by as much as 25%.
    NOTE: the Lumia 520 is already found in the Nokia Store in the State of Amazon for RS 599.00
  • I just ordered a black one 
    Real VFM and the low starting price will really help Nokia sell extremely well in markets like India.
  • There is a good website, researchphones, where you can purchase the new Nokia Lumia at a very good price with or without a service plan. At the moment they are waiting for it to be released in the US to sell it. Windows Phones are starting to catch on, its a great product.  Great review WpCentral, unbiased reviews and evaluations are hard to find these days.
  • Meh edge only. This isn't 2000
  • Isnt this devie supposed to come with a coloured pair of headsets??
    Dan, I saw you got black ones with the device but the official video of Lumia 520 shows the coloured headsets. I was thinking of buying this phone for the omph factor it will pack with everythig coloured. Please dont tell me i would have to buy them ...
  • What kind of data cable is that, it looks like its 14 cm long!
  • This is the superb phone n I have updated on Lumia cyan and I want to know that what will be the last update for this like windows 8.1 update or update 1 or update 2
  • Throwback!