Lumia 520 review: design and build
The Nokia Lumia 520 fits comfortably in the hands. Rounded corners and sides help you to easily operate it in a single hand. Even with a removable rear panel it doesn't creak or flex under pressure, although the build is a touch plasticky and you'll be constantly wiping away greasy fingerprints. It is solid, and you won't need a case to prevent scratches, however.
In common with its Lumia siblings you can quickly and easily snap off the 520's colourful rear cover and swap in another: yellow, cyan, red, white and black fascias are available.
All fit neatly over the handset's various hardware buttons and ports: there's a 3.5mm audio jack on top, a volume rocker, power switch and dedicated camera button on the right side, and a Micro-USB port on the bottom. On the rear is a 5Mp camera and a small slot for the speaker. Our sample came in red, giving it a fresh, playful look that's miles apart from the multiple boring black Androids dominating the market.
One of the nice things about the Lumia 520 being smaller than many current touchscreen smartphones is that it makes it feel more comfortable in use as a phone.
Lumia 520 review: display
If you are new to smartphones, we'd wager that the Lumia 520's display will impress. At this price it is hard to find fault with a 4in panel that has a resolution rated at 800x480-pixel. This equates to a pixel density of 235ppi. We found images rich and vibrant, and text cleanly defined.
You won't find any problems with the touchscreen, either. Nokia claims the Lumia 520's touchscreen display is 'super-sensitive', able to respond even when the user is wearing gloves or has long fingernails.
Indeed, our only complaint with the display and interface is that the onscreen keyboard is tricky to use. The combination of a smaller 4in screen and the full-sized Windows Phone 8 keyboard makes it easy to hit the wrong key.
The Lumia 520's IPS panel looks great when using Windows Phone 8's unique interface. Those colourful cascading tiles are made for a bright and breezy panel such as this.
Lumia 520 review: camera
You get a 5Mp rear camera with a 4x digital zoom, which can also shoot 720p video footage at 30fps.
In our tests the Lumia 520 fared reasonably well for a 5Mp cameraphone, with good focus and slightly washed-out but relatively true colours. We shot this photo outside our London office to give you some idea of the quality.
No front-facing camera is supplied for video chat, which is one area in which Nokia has cut costs. (See also Group test: What's the best smartphone?)
Lumia 520 review: speed and battery
In terms of speed you certainly won't think this is a slow of laggy handset.
The Nokia Lumia 520 has a 1430 mAh battery. Nokia rates the Lumia 520 for up to 360 hours of standby time over 3G, 14.8 hours of talk time over 3G, 9.6 hours of talk time over 2G or 61 hours of music playback, which sounds fair. In our view it offers middling battery performance.
Connectivity includes dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, HSDPA at 21.1 Mbps and HSUPA at 5.76 Mbps. It has also got Bluetooth 3.0 and GPS. There's no NFC or compass.
The Lumia 520 charges and connects to your PC via a standard micro USB to USB cable. And - glory be - there's a micro SD card slot.
Lumia 520 review: verdict
An ideal first smartphone for those who are willing to part with only £100 or less, the Lumia 520 is a well built inexpensive handset with all the features you need. We award four stars. (Also visit: What's the best Nokia smartphone?)