One issue plaguing the “review” industry is the new factor rush to be first. This isn’t really a review, but more a few notes and thoughts on my Lumia 520 Windows Phone after using it for a month or so.
I want to start off actually by saying, I’m still mostly happy with the phone. For $50, it’s a really great “replacement” phone for that cracked screen whatever that has a broken speaker making calls impossible to hear. Windows Phone OS itself is really great too. I like the interface and the colors. If I were going out and picking up a nicer phone I’d be really inclined to go for the Lumia 1020, which has a kick ass camera and Windows Phone under the hood.
I wanted to start with this because the rest of the tone of this list will come off as pretty negative since the phone is flawed. It’s also $50, so it’s easy to forgive the flaws and understand WHY they are flaws. It’s a cheap and underpowered device.
The Camera Sucks
This is probably my biggest annoyance with the Lumia 520. If I really need to take Photos on a trip or something, I’ll be carrying my DSLR with it’s 14mp goodness, but I’ve gotten used to being able to use my Cell Phone in a pinch. The 520 really doesn’t do the job at all though, even in a pinch. Low light performance is abysmal and it’s slow.
The focus is also really flakey. I take a lot of photos of small things up close (toys) and it’s frustrating to point the phone, tap to focus, only to end up with the background in focus and not the object I’m trying to photograph. The auto focus action will bring the closer object into focus briefly as it runs through it’s mechanics though, which makes the whole business even more frustrating because it means that it COULD focus on what I want, it’s just choosing not to.
The end result photos tend to be a little hazy as well. I’m a little worried that the lens may have been scuffed up some causing issues as well. The iPhone I carry for work has a completely useless camera since the scuffed lens makes everything uselessly hazy.
It’s Crazy Durable
I’ve heard a few mentions here and there that Nokia makes durable phones. The 520 doesn’t seem to be any exception. I’ve dropped it more than once on hard surfaces and its done just fine. It explodes into a phone, back and battery, but it’s still not damaged.
I actually think this may be somewhat related to the back design. The back is curved and wraps around with it’s edges actually on the front face, so it completely protects the phone and is fairly durable itself. It also pops off pretty easily, so an impact will jar the back off dissipating the energy of the impact instead of damaging the phone.
Storage is/was Too Little
I have fixed this issue by putting a 32gb microSD card into the phone but I’ve been fighting against storage issues from the start. Base storage is 8GB. I want to say the system takes up half of that. I have not been keeping music or podcasts or audiobooks on the phone either.
I’ve had to uninstall some apps just to keep up with the storage needed to use the phone. My personal opinion is that these things should ship with at least 16gb as a standard, maybe even 32gb. Memory really isn’t that expensive, especially if a company is buying it in bulk for manufacturing. The 32gb card I bought is a nice Sandisk class 10 and it was only $15. That was on sale admittedly but it also includes all the overhead of Amazon and Sandisk and packaging and putting it in SD card form.
Memory is cheap. These companies (not just Nokia/Microsoft) need to get with the program here.
The Windows Phone Store Could Be Better
This is, unfortunately, a problem that will last beyond the Lumia520 if I upgrade to a nicer Windows Phone. There was a recent news article about how the Windows Phone store is full of scam apps. I’ve already listed the apps I’m missing and that list is still pretty much the same.
I also kind of hate that I can’t buy an app and opt to not install it immediately. This came up as part of my storage issues. Asphalt 5, a racing series I’d played on Android, was on sale but i didn’t have enough space to install it. When I tried ot buy it just to add it to my account for later use, the phone just told me I didn’t have enough storage and refused to let me purchase it.
I could probably have done it through a website somewhere but that is an extra needlessly inconvenient step.
The Hardware is Underpowered
This is definitely more a Lumia520 issue than a Windows Phone Issue. It’s a problem that has become increasingly worse, possibly attributed to the system updates that I’ve done since picking up the phone.
I see a lot of “Loading…..” and “Resuming….” screens. I get a lot of times where an app fails to load so I get the Loading… screen and it dumps back to the homescreen. Sometimes this even happens with the home screen, so I’ll be in say, Baconit (Reddit Reader) and hit back to the home screen only to end up back in Baconit.
It’s worse when Baconit then has the same issue and now I end up in some other app I had open previously.
It’s more than a little irritating at times.
I still like the phone and the OS. It’s a cheap phone, so some issues are to be expected, but the performance of this cheap phone is way better than I’ve experience on a cheap Android phone or tablet. A lot fo this is helped by solid hardware, something cheap Android devices seem to not have. Nokia for a long while has been THE Windows phone Brand, and now they are owned by Microsoft, the Windows company. They have also been making cell phones for ages, I loved the hell out of my old Nokia candy bar phones. They have been around long enough to know what they are doing unlike a lot fo these newer cheap Chinese companies.