Nokia Lumia 520 – The Good, The Bad, And The Tolerable

A while back, I posted about three devices I had my eye on, and fell within my 30k budget. I never said which one I would go for eventually, but the ones who follow me on Twitter know that I’ve been using a Nokia Lumia 520 for the past two weeks.


How I got a yellow one (I wanted white) is a long story that involves some shenanigans with the vendor. But no matter. Right now, I have a few things to say about this interesting device.

This is not a review, so you will forgive me if I don’t reel off the specs or read out the results of processor and battery benchmarks. Okay, so it’s got a 4″ LCD screen, is powered by a 1Ghz Qualcomm processor, scurries along on 512 megs of RAM, packs a 5 megapixel shooter, 8 gigs of internal memory (expandable via SD card), blah, blah. If you want the geeky review of the 520, I doubt anyone can top the one on GSM Arena.

Alright then.

The good

Lumia swag is real

Lumia 4

The 520 does not look like a 30k phone…you could actually fool most people that it costs three times as much. When you dig into the specs, you can see how it can be that cheap, but you’d never guess by just looking at it. Frankly, I’m tired of watching people’s jaws sag when I tell then how much it is. I’ma just keep the swag, abeg.

Nokia + WP8 + 30k = #Winning

Hands down, the 520 is the best buy you can snag for 30k. Quote me. you will not find a better device at that price. Not now. Not with this build quality, and certainly not on Windows Phone 8, which is amazing in it’s own right.

Lumia 1

Or you know of one, perhaps? Let’s hear it. All 30k Android devices are just horrible. I’ve been there, done that and have the phone turned mobile WiFi hotspot to prove it. Yes, where my Samsung Galaxy Pro failed as a phone, it now excels as a WiFi hotspot. 30k is too much to pay for a mobile hotspot.

Tecno Phantom et al, you say? I’m taking all the hype with a healthy pinch. If some of the complaints I’ve heard on Twitter are anything to go by, Tecno still needs to prove that they can execute not just on features but also on overall build quality. We’ll see.

It’s a Nokia!

Once upon a time, I’d have said “dazall!”

Unfortunately, Nokia no longer commands that sort of respect. Even so, they still make some of the best mobile hardware out there…nothing like the feature frippery in puny plastic packages that some OEMs are bamboozling us with. I’m repeating myself, I know, but has to be said.

And when it comes to after sales support of their already hardy devices, nobody in Nigeria can touch them.

The bad

No camera

Lumia 3

Actually, the phone has a camera. But the way I see it, you might as well pretend it doesn’t. You needn’t bother, unless you’ll be sure to take all your pictures outdoors, and in hot blazing sunlight. Without flash to assist the mediocre 5 megapixel shooter, there’s just no point.

For instance, this picture could have been so much more. No indoor photography for you :/


Under the right conditions, perhaps?

one percent

But then, it’s a 30k phone, so there.

Windows Phone 8

Windows Phone 8 is a truly great mobile operating system, very refreshing. It is also a world of annoyance, and is probably responsible for most my gripes with the Lumia 520.

First of all, no apps. That make sense. Yet. We hope. But not holding breath.

Second of all, the multitasking is shit. On this phone, at least. I don’t quite know if it’s the 520’s meager 512mb or a Windows Phone 8 specific glitch, but apps I’m running in the background keep dying on me. The most obvious is Deezer, which should keep playing in the background no matter what. It just goes mute for no apparent reason, and abruptly restarts when I switch back to it. I suppose killing “idle” apps is the phone’s way of conserving resources. But asides that, WP8 doesn’t appear to be really multitasking…more like it saves grainy screenshots of your open apps, and quickly reboots them when you switch back.

Lumia 2

I’m sure I had other reasons to hate on WP8 when I started writing this article that I forget at the moment. No, wait a minute…

You’re married to Internet Explorer. Ugh.

IE is so bad, it deserves it’s own sub-head. It’s just a stupid browser and a data hog, designed to punish anyone stupid enough to buy a Windows Phone. I was ecstatic at downloading the much more sensible UC Browser…until a few minutes later when I discovered I couldn’t make it the default browser. So yeah, you can snub IE all you want, but if you click links from apps, which I tend to do a lot, it still opens in IE. Either way, the evil empire wins. I wonder if that’s why Google and Firefox can’t be bothered with making browsers for Windows Phone.

Ugh, I say.

Beware the camera button

camera button

The first 520 that came to me was defective out of the box — bad shutter button.

I’ve heard quite a few complaints about the same problem, and I’ve concluded that there’s definitely a pattern here with the Lumia 520.

If you’re gonna get this phone, be certain that the button works before you leave the store. The way to know is that on a Lumia — any Lumia — holding the dedicated shutter key launches the camera app directly, even when the phone is locked. You can see that demonstrated here (at  00:32).

After a lot of palaver that lasted almost three weeks, my Lumia was eventually replaced by the vendor, and I haven’t had trouble with the shutter button since. That explains how I got a yellow phone, instead of white.

The tolerable

Penny wise, data foolish

IE positively drinks data by the barrel, but I’m not sure I can say the same for the phone itself. Compared to Android, it does seem data efficient in some respects, but the background data that keeps those pretty live tiles winking at you can quickly become a problem if you’re not on WiFi, and plan on using one of the lesser data plans. Phone drank my first 200mb plan in less than three days. To be fair, I was installing apps and things, but that was no excuse for the vaunted “people” app to guzzle 48mb, all by itself.

Turning background data off, via a pre-installed app called Data Sense solved the problem somewhat. Except that without the dynamic updates and toast notifications, the device starts feeling much less awesome.

The Lumia 520 might be penny wise, but it’s relatively data foolish and certainly high maintenance, compared to BlackBerries that now need no more than N1,500 a month to use comfortably. I’m thinking you’ll need to allocate a minimum of 1gb per month, if you’re gonna get the most out of this device.

Typing on glass isn’t that bad

Lumia 5

I was anxious about whether I would be able to do without a QWERTY smartphone. Well, I’ve done so for more than two weeks now, and I haven’t died. Typing on glass isn’t that bad once you get the hang of it. I haven’t even felt the need to soup it up with one of them new-fangled software keyboards — if there are any in the Store, that is.

But I think I will always want a physical keyboard.

Lumia 6

That’s my Nokia Lumia 520 non-review, the good, the bad and the tolerable. And yeah, that’s me and my Lumia. Maybe yellow wasn’t so bad after all.

Amazing pictures are courtesy of my men, Adewale and Pelumi, thanks guys.


  • Abigail Anaba says:

    Data foolish is why not. 1 gig equals 2 BB plans plus a few hundred in change. Great non-review though. You do look good as Big Bird complete with the plumes.

  • Muyo-san says:

    Um… but how is it the best phone for 30k if it sucks at multitasking? My 30k Android phone handles multitasking pretty well for it’s price range. And as far as specs go, it’s on par with the Lumia

    • Trae Zeeofor says:

      I tire oh, after sucking in so many ways.

      This review doesn’t encourage me one bit to embrace Nokia Windows.

      Abeg go get a cheaper or at par Android device with that 30k and “be all you can be”.


      • #GeekAlert

        You’re obviously the guys who care about specs and numbers and other stuff that aren’t really essential to a great mobile experience, like solid build quality, near invulnerability and kickass after sales support. All the 30k Android phones people are touting right now are liable to quench after three months of use.

        Sincerely, I really like someone to point me to a 30k Android device that can play at this level. I guess that’s the cue for the Tecno voltrons to come charging in : )

        • Trae Zeeofor says:

          What do you mean “play at this level”. Play at sucking abi? lols.

          My Samsung Galaxy S Duos S7562 which now retails for slighty higher at 34k has been going strong for 7 months now.

          My LG Optimus L5 Dual E615 cost about 27k back then when i bought it in January (should be much cheaper now). Sucky camera and graphics though but aside that doesn’t seem to suck over all as your windows.

          P/S: Get swiftkey for your typing and enjoy the power of advance prediction.

    • upnepa says:

      Tecno is the way forward tbh

  • Pepe says:

    Mr. Mobility made a comment in the link you posted which you have repeated. That a way to avoid a faulty camera button on the Lumia 520 is to have it tested when buying. The first one I got wasn’t tested and I had to return to the retailer. The second one I tested and it WORKED for about a week. Only for me to see it had stopped working. From the link you will see Nokia Nigeria jumped on my tweets. They made good their promise – I got a Lumia 720 and the DC – 15 (or is it DC – 16) for my pain. I would still like to get my 520 camera button fixed; you can still take pictures by tapping on the screen when taking pictures.

    • you can still take pictures by tapping on the screen when taking pictures.

      Tapping the screen is the worst. And that’s after having to dig through the menu to find the camera app launcher first. Of course you could always pin it to the start screen for easy access, but what a bummer. Good thing that Nokia Care is responsive.

  • You should see the 19k android (infinix race) I got for someone. Android 4.0 + 8MP camera 😛

    • I don’t think I did a good job of talking up the Lumia 520’s goodness in that post. The flaws unfairly overshadow it. It is a great phone to be honest. I guess one has to experience the 520 to believe it. Save for the camera, no need to waste money on 920. Now the 20k Droid army are tearing the poor thing to pieces in the comments. But you of all people should know that Android is tiresome on these bottom of the barrel scraping devices. Specs (all na vanity) regardless.

  • Martins Seun says:

    This closing of apps in the background that Lordbanks mentioned also happens on my HTC Amaze 4G with 1gb of RAM and I’ve been thinking of how to stop it.

  • rakshan says:

    i have a budget of 13000 and i am confused between 520 & samsung galaxy s duos please help me out.. is there any other better one for 13k??

    • if u r techy and want more than ur phone, just go for android, i.e galaxy s.
      last night i bought lumia 520, and there was nothing much to play with, right now there’s no app to test the performance, and seriously nokia loosed his user friendly connectivity.

  • Vic says:

    Great non review. But tell me honestly. Is a 30k Wp8 REALLY better than a 30k android? Theres some pretty badass android stuff in this budget. I support. windows over android by the way

  • u forgot the overheating problem with just a music player.

  • Chandra Shekhar Singh says:

    The perfect review is here, thankyou very much

  • Anas Hamdan says:

    Thanks for the non-review, I’m using nokia lumia 520 and just want to say something :
    lots of people told me not to buy this phenomenon be but still I did ( thank god ) .
    about IE I think its good maybe more than good I don’t find any problems in it, it has tabs, favorites and its not slow ! So I think it is good .
    As for multitasking, I don’t have that problem I can listen to music and edit photos , browse the internet , download apps or play games and nothing goes wrong , even if something does its a cheap smartphone if you don’t want the the 920 or the 820 and it will have better multitasking .
    for apps windows phone is still new compared. To Android OS so it should have less apps bur still it has lots of them that is pretty much enough (knowing that more apps are being made so it will have more ).
    the only problem that I count annoying is that you can’t install themes from the internet or any app only from the store witch doesn’t have themes (but I’m sure I’ll find a way to get them they aren’t there for nothing ) .
    so I think its a very nice phone for a nice price too 🙂
    using Nokia Lumia 520 🙂

    • guest3 says:

      Lumia 520 does NOT offer USB OTG support . In current WP8 GDR2 offering there is neither support for external USB keyboard option nor any external memory card readers.

  • akhila np says:

    can i sign in to the nokia app store with a outlook account even though i have already signed it with microsoft account.there is no option to logout from microsoft accout…pls help.

  • Shaili Sanghvi says:

    i have prob wid lumia 520 too. i gt it as a gft 10 daes back but it gets switched off on its own, everytym its gets of, i hv to remve the batry to start it agndo u knw y sumthng like dis hpns? also its keeps on shwing that my push notification system (watsapp) has sum prob, i hv to rebbot. but the problem persists. i went to nokia care, but it was of no help.

    • feSaif A Khan says:

      Nokia lumia 520 is Awesome handset…
      u have to fully reset ur handset and go to ur setting – swap ur finger for left application n background tasks n allowed to all.
      8115002800 call me for any query..

  • Manuell Labor says:

    This phone is too fragile and the screen will crack eventually. Mine did in the first 4 days of use, lying by itself in the car. The back flexes too much and over time, taking the battery out will cause the screen to flex and crack.

    Poor design from a company with a once great brand.
    You get what you pay for and this phone is a good example of low price = low quality.

    • pi says:

      Why would you leave your phone somewhere random, my phone hasn’t cracked and I’ve had it for months, I drop it a few times a day and it doesn’t crack, maybe its not lifeproof and you can’t tell someone not to drop it, but heat damage destroys A LOT of phones.

  • AweSci says:

    These are the kind of reviews that actually matter. Thanks! This article, unlike any of the other geeky reviews I’ve read, gives me a clear idea about the device.

  • guest3 says:

    The Lumia 520 micro USB port is used for charging. The Lumia 520 can also be connected to a laptop or a PC host. When phone is plugged into laptop the phone appears as a USB memory stick and the files on phone micro SD card can be read/written via Microsoft File Explorer. Unfortunately the USB OTG mode is not supported (On The Go). So forget about plugging in any USB keyboard or a USB pen drives into a OTG adapter cable – won’t work – not supported in WP8 GDR2 (Amber), Many Android devices gives you OTG mode but not Nokia and Microsoft.

  • roberto says:

    A week ago I’ve bought a Nokia Lumia 520 that because I’ve sent my xperia P to the
    service (problem with gps and battery). This Lumia 520
    surprised me! It has no lag, it has a decent battery life,
    It gets a gps signal within 15 seconds and it cost just 80 euro.

    In attachment you can find some photos taken by my 520.

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  • Jerome says:

    Cool review. I’ve had this phone for a while now, and suddenly my power
    button no longer works. It’s very frustrating, and it’s only saving
    grace is that the camera button unlocks the phone. Before I definitely
    considered it a con, but now it’s my saving grace to unlock this damn

    I’m wondering if I should upgrade to the Lumia 1520, or say goodbye to a Windows phone?

    I was a little confused by your pricing… 30k, until I realized you’re in Nigeria. (I’m in South Africa.)

  • Dennis says:

    i own a lumia 520. its a year old for today
    it is showing problems from past three days. whenever i open an application it automatically goes back to homescreen
    any idea why this happens???

  • Pony Tail says:

    How to find my downloaded games

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