The Lumia 520 was a home run for Nokia as it covered all the basic checkpoints that an average consumer wants from a budget smartphone – a decently large screen, expandable memory and a capable camera. We were quite impressed with it as well when we reviewed the device and thought it was one of the best value-for-money smartphones in its price segment. We now have a follow up to that which fixes our biggest niggle with the phone, which was the RAM. Armed a full gigabyte of memory, the Nokia Lumia 525 now has access to the full suite of apps available in the app store, which were previously reserved for only the elite Lumias. So, for roughly Rs 2,300 more than its predecessor, is the 525 worth the premium? Let’s find out.
Design and Build
The Lumia 525 is pretty much identical to the Lumia 520 in terms of design and aesthetics. The phone feels firm and sturdy and there aren’t any noticeably creaks when you flex the plastic bits. In the front, we have a 4-inch IPS display, with a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. The pixel count is only about 233ppi and it shows in the form of rough edges around fonts and icons but this is only noticeable if you look for it. You also get a scratch resistant glass on top.
Design and build is still solid
The interchangeable back panel remains but for some reason, Nokia has switched the pleasing matte finish with a rather annoying glossy one. The trouble with this is that it makes the phone quite slippery and easily attracts fingerprints, which can make your brand new phone look incredibly untidy really quickly. The surface is also very prone to scratches, even if you are extra careful.
A dedicated camera shutter is a rarity in budget phones
The button placement has remained pretty much the same as well and we even have the same 5MP auto-focus shooter in the back. It would have been nice to see a front-facing camera or at least an LED flash for the main camera but sadly, Nokia has added neither.
The glossy back isn't very pleasing
Nokia ships the 525 with the Lumia Black update out-of-the-box, which means you have full access to the some of the new apps like Nokia Camera, App Folders, etc. Also, the addition of 1GB RAM now opens the doors for all the other apps which otherwise wouldn’t even show up on the phone. As an introductory offer, Nokia is offering select Gameloft games worth Rs 2,000 for free. The games range from popular titles like Modern Combat 4, Asphalt 8, Assassin’s Creed, to name a few. This offer is only on select carriers like Vodafone, Airtel, Aircel, Reliance and Idea and is available on units purchased till 31st March. We feel this is Nokia’s way of substantiating the premium it’s charging over the outgoing model, since they haven’t changed much. This also hints at the Lumia 520 reaching EOL from April onwards and the 525 dropping to the 520’s current pricing.
A familiar look and feel
The phone is powered by the same 1GHz, dual-core Qualcomm SoC, which does a good job of keeping things smooth and fluid. Visually, it’s hard to find any difference between the 520 and the 525 as they both operate very similarly. We tried running some of the more taxing games on the 525 and were surprised to find that they ran very well, in fact as good as they do on a much higher-end phone like the Lumia 1520. There is a some lag that creeps in during gameplay but nothing that distracts you from the game. The difference is noticeable in AnTuTu though as the Lumia 525 scored 7776 points versus 7111 points on the Lumia 520.
Besides the stock video and audio player, Nokia has also added a bunch of other offers to sweeten the deal. The ‘Your Movies’ app lets you stream movies from various genres for a limited period of time. There’s 8GB of onboard storage, which can be easily expanded via a microSD card up to 64GB. You also get an additional 7GB of free SkyDrive storage, which is pretty cool. Just like the 520, some of our 1080p MP4 files played back just fine with the stock player.
Media playback on the Lumia 525
The Lumia 525 comes with 3G capabilities, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v4.0 and GPS with GLONASS for Nokia Drive and HERE maps. NFC is absent, but we don’t think that’s a deal breaker in any sort of way. HERE maps also lets you access free turn-by-turn navigation even when offline. Then there’s Nokia MixRadio, which lets you create custom radio channels. The display is not the best for browsing the web but it gets the job done. Due to the low resolution, text is a bit pixelated, making it less easy to read.
You get some handy apps built-in
The 5MP camera does a pretty good job outdoors, under good lighting but the picture quality is strictly average indoors. You do manage to get good depth of field in macros and the level of detail captured is pretty good. Video recording maxes out at 720p.
Quality is not shabby for a budget smartphone
Nokia hasn’t changed the battery capacity either and as expected, we got pretty similar results as we did with the Lumia 520. After easily completing our 8-hour loop test, we managed still had about 13 percent of battery life to spare. In real world usage, you should easily be able to make it through the day on a single charge.
Verdict and Price in India
The Nokia Lumia 525 is priced at Rs 10,399, which is roughly Rs 2,300 more than the Lumia 520. Considering nothing much has changed apart from the higher capacity RAM, it feels slightly expensive. However, the free Gameloft bundle worth Rs 2,000 somewhat makes up for this premium. We sincerely hope that Nokia drops the price once this offer expires as it doesn't make sense paying this premium without the free games.
The Lumia 520 is old news now and it does not make sense buying it because you’ll be locked out of all the good apps in the app store. The Lumia 525 is definitely one of the best buys in the sub-Rs 10,000 price segment right now and is a better pick than most of the droids hovering around that price range as well. The only thing we didn't like are the new glossy body covers but thankfully, there’s still a matte black option available.