is trying to be something to everyone with its current lineup of Lumias
- they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials and colours.
However the nature of Windows Phone as an OS hasn't made it easy for
Nokia hit all the right price points. Nokia's devices were either too
premium or too weak to capture the interest of buyers in the critical
sub-Rs. 10,000 mass market.
That started to change with the
introduction of the Lumia 520. With its low price, bright colours and
unique design, the Lumia 520 was a breath of fresh air in a dull market
segment overflowing with similar-looking Android phones from second-tier
brands. According to a recent report, the Lumia 520 accounts for nearly
45 percent of all Windows Phone devices sold in India, and just over
25 percent worldwide.
Even so, there was room for improvement. The
Lumia 520 was criticised for coming with only 512MB of RAM and
dispensing with a front-facing camera. Honestly, though, the front
cameras on phones in this price range are generally so bad that they're
unusable anyway, and video chatting isn't popular enough for it to be a significant miss. The low amount of RAM was more of an issue, since people were
afraid that heavier apps and games wouldn't run well.
525 is thus a mid-lifecycle update which fixes this problem and leaves
pretty much everything else exactly as it was. Nokia has responded to
buyers' and reviewers' criticisms and has done what it could without
raising costs too drastically. It's good to see that the company is on
its toes. Even if this helps sway only a few buyers who were earlier on
the fence, every small victory counts.
However, the Lumia 525 is
still smaller and weaker than many of the Android options available in
its price range. Windows Phone is better than it was, but there's still
not guarantee that you'll find all the apps you need or the games you'll
see your friends enjoy on their Android phones. Let's see if the Lumia
525 has enough going for it to compensate for these factors.
Look and feel
no mistaking Nokia's visual identity. The use of bright-coloured
polycarbonate was a risky choice, but it's paid off. You might not want
to own a bright cyan, magenta or yellow phone, and for that reason
they're also available in at least black or white, but you'll always
know that these phones are Nokias.
Our review unit had a bright,
glossy, almost-fluorescent yellow shell that was sometimes too
overpowering to look at. Even when the review unit was lying on its back
on a table the side panel was eye-catching enough to be distracting.
When viewed head-on, there's about a half-mm border of yellow plastic
around the front panel, and that was distracting too! Thankfully, Nokia
sells replacement shells in white, orange and yellow, so if you buy this
colour only to find it a bit much for your taste later on, you can swap it out.
you've ever used a Lumia 520, you'll find the 525 identical in terms of
dimensions and weight. It's easy enough to hold and use in one hand,
and is actually quite small by today's standards. The back is curved
nicely, although the front corners are a bit sharp.
of placing all buttons on the right edge has become a bit of a Lumia
trademark: you'll find the volume rocker, standby button and camera
shortcut all in a row. It makes sense to have the power button on the
side of larger phones, but on this one it winds up being awkwardly out
You'll find the standard Windows Phone Back, Home and
Search buttons below the screen, and nothing but an earpiece and Nokia
logo above it. As mentioned already, there's no front-facing camera.
There are two sensor cutouts, but they're completely invisible. If it
wasn't for the garish colour, we'd actually say this phone looks simple
All you'll see on the back is the camera lens, a
faint Nokia logo, and a small cutout for the loudspeaker. There's no
flash, and the lens doesn't need to bulge out either. The shell is
highly glossy and rather flat in the middle, so it's likely to get
scuffed up over time as you use it.
The shell pops off without too
much trouble, but it's too easy to end up pushing the camera lens down
for leverage, which leaves it smudged. Underneath, you'll see a
traditional removable battery and slots for a single Micro-SIM card and a
microSD card positioned such that you'll need to take the battery out
to get to them. We noticed that it was necessary to put the shell back
on carefully, to make sure the plastic buttons on the shell lined up
properly with the contact points on the phone itself.
recent phones have shipped with chargers that for some reason have a
plastic earthing pin. Phone chargers don't need to be earthed, so the
only purpose this could serve would be to open the shutters on modern
three-pin sockets. The plastic pin slides inwards so the charger itself
isn't much more bulky than usual, but it means you won't be able to use
two-pin sockets. The Lumia 525's charger also has a fixed wire, unlike
almost every other phone on the market today. For PC syncing there's a
separate, but much shorter USB cable.
Features, specifications and software
from the doubled amount of RAM, the Lumia 525 is internally identical
to the 520. It's powered by a 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus, with
integrated Adreno 305 graphics. The S4 Plus is acceptable for such a
low-end device, but there are quad-core Android models on the market in
this price range now. The lone camera can take 5-megapixel stills and
720p videos, but there's no flash.
The screen resolution is
480x800 which was common in the early days of Windows Phone, and now
feels about right for a 4-inch screen on a low-end phone. The screen
isn't nearly as sharp or accurate as we'd like. There's 8GB of built-in storage and the microSD slot will accept cards up to 64GB in capacity. Nokia has given the
Lumia 525 a relatively small 1430mAh battery which is adequate
considering that none of the internal components are particularly
A quick dip into the phone's info screen told us
that it was running Lumia Black, the latest version of Windows Phone
with Nokia's customisations baked in. However, many of the useful little
tweaks that we saw on Nokia's higher-end Lumia 1320 and 1520 are
missing here: there's no Glance screen and no shortcuts like
double-tap-to-wake. You'll also get the less capable Nokia Drive app,
rather than Drive+. The difference is that you get navigation and
turn-by-turn directions only in India rather than full international
Nokia Smart Cam lets you take bursts of photos and then
either pick the best one or combine them all into an action sequence.
You can also blur backgrounds to emphasise motion, merge shots to make
sure everyone in a group is smiling, and remove unwanted moving objects.
As we've seen even on more capable hardware, it's possible to get good
results with the tricks that merge multiple shots, but you'll have to
try a few times to make sure people or objects are moving at just the
right speed, with just the right background.
There isn't much else
to say about the Lumia 525's software. Nokia preloads Zinio, a news
aggregation and magazine reader app; Bigflix, for streaming Indian
movies; Flipkart's ebook reader; and Nokia Beamer, which lets you stream
your screen's contents to a Web browser via the Internet. Of course you
get Microsoft Office, Xbox Games and SkyDrive (soon to be renamed to
OneDrive) as well.
We were very pleasantly surprised
by the quality of images captured by the Lumia 525. The only complaint
we had with photos taken in daylight was that they tended to be a bit
overexposed, thus making colours appear washed out. The level of detail
captured, even when focusing on grass, is amazing considering this
phone's entry-level status.
With no flash to help out at night, it
seems that Nokia has developed a way to make low-light shots brighter.
When taking photos, we were surprised by how they made rooms look lit up
even when the only light was coming from outside. This comes at the
cost of clarity and detail, and you'll notice a lot of noise and
speckling when looking at these photos at 100 percent zoom.
(Click to see full size)
were happy enough with the Lumia 525's performance when it came to
navigating through the interface. The phone took a bit of time to load
some apps, but things were otherwise smooth. We noticed some graphical
glitches in Temple Run 2, which really shouldn't have put that much
stress on the phone. With that in mind, it would seem that high-end
games are totally out of the question.
Benchmark scores came in
at roughly half as much as the Lumia 1320's, which in turn were roughly
half as good as the Lumia 1520's. It's clear that you get what you pay
for, and so Nokia's new entry-level Lumia remains exactly where the 520
was in terms of both performance and value. We'll have to wait for the
next generation to see Nokia up the ante.
It should come as no surprise that the Lumia 525 struggled to play HD videos. Simple AVI files worked fine, but anything encoded at a heavy bit-rate should be avoided. The built-in speaker is loud enough, but sounds a bit hollow and tends to distort sound at if the volume is set higher than halfway up.
Our battery life loop
test took 7 hours, 17 minutes to kill the Lumia 525 with Bluetooth and
Wi-Fi switched off and the screen brightness set to Medium. That's a
pretty decent figure, and you should be able to get through a full day
of calls, texts, music and simple Web browsing.
Lumia 525 is a small, affordable phone with a surprisingly decent camera
and plenty of attitude, but not much else going for it. When
held up to similarly priced Android phones, it's hard to make a case in
favour of Windows Phone, which is why Nokia has capitalised on looks and
ease of use.
If you're looking for the most powerful phone
available for around Rs. 10,000, this is not it. You'd be better off
with Lenovo's A706, for example. However there is one very clear market
for the Lumia 525: first-time smartphone users. If you're graduating
from feature phone (Nokia or otherwise) and are looking for a phone that
will let you browse the Web, take good photos and use Facebook or
WhatsApp easily and in style, this phone is a pretty decent option.
Nokia Lumia 525 in pictures