Nokia is extending its Windows Phone 8 range even further, right down to the budget end of the market. The Lumia 620 brings Microsoft’s leading platform to a compact handset that sells at an affordable price, expanding the Finnish firm’s line-up way beyond the high-end Lumia 920 and mid-range Lumia 820.
Bearing quite a resemblance to its mid-range cousin, the Lumia 620 could offer a cheaper alternative to those considering mid-range Windows Phone handsets. But has Nokia trimmed its flagship range back too far, or does the Lumia 620 do everything the higher-specced handsets can but at a reduced cost?
- Dual-core, 1GHz processor
- 3.8-inch TFT display with Nokia ClearBlack technology
- 8GB internal storage
- 720p video recording at 30fps
- 11mm thick
- 127g weight
- Windows Phone 8 OS
- 1300mAh battery
Design and Build
The Lumia 620 looks fantastic and its chunky, pebble-shaped frame has more than a hint of HTC’s Mozart about it. Rounded edges and a matte finish are the order of the day, both serving to create a device which sits very comfortably in the hand and is easy to grip.
Using the phone with one hand is no problem at all, something that is appealing in a budget handset, especially if it may only see occasional, sporadic use. The handset’s physical keys are all lined up along the right hand side and protrude just enough to make them very easy to find without having to glance at the device.
Changeable shells made a return to Nokia’s range with the Lumia 820 after an absence of many years, and the Lumia 620 features them too. While some removable cases can feel quite delicate, the shell casing here feels very tough and sturdy, an aesthetic that is carried through to the rest of the handset.
Screen and Performance
Nokia has seen fit to incorporate its ClearBlack technology in the the Lumia 620’s 3.8-inch display and the results are excellent, with the bold colours of the Windows Phone 8 user interface standing out in strong contrast to the dark background.
The display itself has a resolution of 480×800 pixels with a ppi of 246, and while this isn’t the highest spec seen on a smartphone the phone shows images reasonably well, with clarity and depth.
The touchscreen can be a little unresponsive however, and while this isn’t very noticeable, it does become apparent when trying to tap links on webpages or double-tap to zoom in and out. Overall though, the Lumia 620’s display is of a good quality, squeezing the big, bold blocks of WP8’s user interface into the small space without any distortion or loss of clarity.
Under the Hood
Impressively for a budget phone, Nokia’s new device features a dual-core, 1GHz processor, the same as that in the mid-range HTC 8S. This is an impressive amount of power for a budget phone and it’s to Nokia’s credit that it has been included here. Equally as impressive is that the Lumia 620 has 8GB of internal memory, twice the storage space that the HTC 8S has. With the Windows Phone 8 software taking up around 2GB of space this leaves 6GB free for apps, music, photos and movies which is excellent for a handset in this price range.
Since WP8 does not allow app data to be stored on an external memory card the impressive amount of internal memory should prove useful.
There is also support for microSD cards of up to 64GB, which greatly increases the amount of storage space available. If a user chooses to save the internal memory for apps and keep media on the external card then the Lumia 620 offers possibly the best storage capacity of any budget phone on the market.
The Lumia 620 is very much like a budget handset when it comes to its battery, a 1300mAh power cell which may struggle to keep the handset running for long.
Under moderate use which included online browsing, taking photos, and playing music through headphones for just a few hours, we noticed a significant drop in charge and heavier use resulted in even more demand on the available power.
Since much of a smartphone’s battery power is used by the display, the Lumia 620’s small screen could prove to be an advantage and serve as less of a drain. However, with heavy use the handset will struggle to make it through a day with one charge.
Operating System and User Interface
We’ve always been impressed by the lack of lag in the Windows Phone operating system and the software is seemingly able to work smoothly even on low-powered devices. There are few hold-ups at all when browsing around the user interface and the impressive processing power that Nokia has included really comes into play. People Hub is as impressive as ever, pulling all your contacts and communications into the one place in a way that isn’t matched by other platforms. The whole of Windows Phone seems to be based less on presenting apps to the user and more on delivering information, and the lively constantly changing essence of the homescreen is fantastic.
Along with the major UI functions, users also have access to 7GB of free space courtesy of Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud-storage service, which integrates seamlessly with the software. SkyDrive can be accessed through apps such as the Office suite as well as the picture gallery and it’s easy to upload photos and files with a simple tap.
Nokia has added several of its own apps to the Lumia 620, many of which have been seen across the range of its Windows Phone 8 devices. Nokia Drive serves as an excellent satnav, using the firm’s NavTech mapping data much in the same way as the Here maps app on iOS does. Users are presented with a minimalist interface and offered very clear instructions, both onscreen and via audio.
Alongside this is Nokia Music, which offers an excellent alternative to the native Xbox music app. Presenting a simple menu system which makes it easy to select the tracks you wish to play, the app also provides artist information and highlights gigs happening in your area.
Nokia’s augmented reality app City Lens, which uses the phone’s camera to provide a live view of your location and overlays it with local information, is also included, as well as several third-party apps including GroupOn and Nectar points tracker.
Camera and Video
A five megapixel camera is a reasonable offering for a budget handset and while the Lumia isn’t going to achieve top quality mobile photography it is more than capable of taking quick snaps on the move.
The camera seems to have some trouble with changes in light and images tend to be over-exposed when captured near a light source such as a window. However, the touch focus function works really well, and a simple tap on the display focuses the camera and automatically captures an image, with small details picked out clearly.
There are several extra camera functions which can be downloaded separately, including Smart Shoot, which offers a burst mode function that takes several images over a short space of time before allowing you to choose the best.
The Lumia 620 can hold its head above other budget phones in terms of video quality, with 720p recording on offer at 30fps. While the kind of image stabilisation seen in the high-end Lumia 920 was never going to make it to this device the resulting footage is clear and free of distortion. The same problems with changes in lighting occurs with video but the quality is still very good for a handset in this price range.
Connectivity and Multimedia
Nokia has included NFC with the Lumia 620, bringing the possibility of contactless payments to a budget handset should the use of the technology become more widespread. This also opens up a range of possibilities for sharing between devices and pairing the handset with other peripherals, such as NFC speakers.
Beyond this there is Wi-Fi and a microUSB port and we had no problems using either of these connections while testing the handset. It’s also worth noting that transferring files to the device from a a PC running Windows XP does not require any additional software and the computer recognises the phone as an external drive.
Performance and Verdict
Nokia’s Lumia 620 is a great budget handset which brings excellent software and hardware at a very low price. This device runs the same version of Windows Phone as the high-end Lumia 920, something which is unlikely to occur with platforms such as Android, and anyone looking to acquire a cut-price handsets running Google’s OS would be wise to consider Nokia’s new device.
The Lumia 620 is a compact smartphone with some big feature and has a great, chunky design that feels comfortable and certainly gives the impression that it can take quite a bit of damage. Its processing power and internal memory are very good for a budget device and several of its specs can challenge the mid-range of the Windows Phone world. Nokia has created an impressive, low-cost handset that offers a lot for its price.