Nokia Lumia 525 Review – Upgraded Budget

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Nokia Lumia 525 Review - Upgraded Budget

The Nokia Lumia 525 is the latest in the Lumia series and is a successor to the popular Lumia 520. This Techspirited article looks at the many features of this budget phone.

Carry the office along

The Nokia Lumia 525 has built-in support to view and edit MS Office files.

The Nokia Lumia 520 is the world’s highest selling Windows Phone device. This budget device has been instrumental in the rise in popularity of the WP 8 platform, and has also helped the Finns rise for possibly the last time before being taken over by the software giant, Microsoft. The 520, being a budget phone, has a fairly modest spec sheet to show for itself. The least flattering of them being the 512 MB of RAM on board. This does not in any way hamper the performance of the phone, but leaves it with an Achilles heel―incompatibility with most Windows Phone 8 apps. The latest version of WP requires at least 1 GB of RAM for most of its apps to function properly. 

Nokia have now come up with a quick fix for the issue―the Lumia 525. The phone essentially packs the same hardware and feature set except for one major change, the RAM has now been increased to 1 GB. The company has timed the release of this device just perfectly, towards the end of the year, just around the holiday season. This comes as a shot in the arm for the company, as the RAM upgrade should ensure that the latest Lumia phone has little trouble taking over the mantle of being the world’s top-selling Windows Phone device through most of 2014. Here’s plunging right into an in-depth review of the latest king of the Windows Phone kingdom.

nokia lumia 525

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Dimensions 119.9 x 64 x 9.9 mm
Weight 124 g
Chipset Qualcomm Snapdragon S4
CPU Dual-core 1 GHz CPU
GPU Adreno 305
Storage 8 GB internal storage microSD card slot (up to 64 GB)
Screen 4.0″ IPS LCD (~235 ppi pixel density)
Camera Primary/Secondary 5 MP/NA
OS Windows Phone 8 Black
Battery 1,430 mAh Li-ion

Design and Construction

The Nokia Lumia 525 sits right at the bottom of the price chart amongst the rest of the Lumia lineup. Although you don’t get the same build quality as the high-end Lumias, the all plastic body is not bad at all. In fact, the glossy plastic around the back and the curved design is surprisingly good to hold, and the phone sits very well in the palm. The phones measures 119.9 x 64 x 9.9 mm, which makes it ideal for one-handed use. The 124 g weight of the phone further helps its usability. The front of the device is occupied by the screen with thin bezels around its sides. Just above the screen at the center is the earpiece that sits in a small recessed gap, and the proximity and ambient light sensors to its side. To the right of the phone are the volume rocker and the power button towards the top, and the dedicated camera shutter key towards the bottom. All the keys are easy to reach and have a nice tactile feedback. The left side of the phone is completely bare. At the top of the phone is the 3.5 mm audio jack that sits slightly towards the left. At the bottom is the microUSB port for charging and data transfer.

The back houses the camera, toward the top-center, the Nokia insignia in landscape mode right at the center, and a tiny opening for the speaker at the bottom towards the right. The back panel is removable and reveals the battery and the Micro SD and Micro SIM card slots. Currently, Nokia offers three color choices for the changeable back cover―white, yellow, and orange. The phone feels solid and doesn’t give you the impression that you are holding a budget phone. Solid build quality on a budget.

Hardware and Storage

The same Qualcomm MSM8227 chipset with a dual-core 1 GHz processor found on the 520 can be found ticking at the heart of this device. The processor has already proved its mettle with a very good performance on the hugely popular Lumia 520. What makes the experience even sweeter is the upgraded 1 GB of RAM on this device, as opposed to 512 MB found on its predecessor. This should ensure that most apps for Windows Phone 8 should work smoothly on this phone. Performance is vastly improved, and the phone is noticeably faster than the 520.

The 525 has 8 GB of internal storage, of which about 5 GB is user accessible. This is fairly good as most other phones at this price point ship with 4 GB or lesser of internal storage. You can further expand the storage of the device using a Micro SD card (up to 64 GB). To top it all, you also get access to at least 7 GB of SkyDrive storage. A hardworking processor.

Graphics and Display

The device comes with a 4-inch WVGA IPS LCD. This translates to a pixel density of 235 ppi. The screen is super sensitive to touch and can even be used wearing gloves. The display is fairly decent, but loses out on detail when viewed from any angle other than straight on. Sunlight legibility is average at best. The screen is protected by a layer of scratch-resistant glass. Videos and images look good enough with an acceptable saturation and contrast levels. The Adreno 305 does a very good job of churning out graphics,, and gameplay is fairly enjoyable thanks to the 1 GB of RAM. Do not however, expect to play any HD games on the phone. Average display quality with above-average protection.

Camera and Optics

The phone comes with a 5 MP camera on board. It performs rather well in well-lit environment, but is found lacking in scenes without adequate lighting. The lack of an LED flash further adds to the woes of the camera when shooting under low lights. Images are captured at a maximum resolution of 2592×1936 pixels. The camera UI is fairly simple to use and provides access to white balance, scene, contrast, saturation, sharpness and ISO settings. It also comes preloaded with Nokia’s Smart Shoot lens which captures multiple images in quick succession and helps you remove any moving objects from the shots. You can also download other cool lenses like Panorama and Cinemagraph. These lenses can be directly accessed from the camera UI. The camera also shoots videos at 720p@30fps. Once again, video quality is decent in well-lit conditions but without an LED flash, it is pretty much useless under dim lights.

The camera on this device is average, although it can take some surprisingly good photographs in good lighting. The addition of Nokia lenses though makes the experience a little less bitter. Nokia lenses are the one saving grace of the camera.

Software and Customizations

The phone comes with Windows Phone 8 out of the box, which is upgradable to WP8 Amber. It is a fairly standard Windows Phone experience with no lags and smooth screen transitions. 

The Lumia 525 comes with the usual Nokia set of goodies like HERE Maps and HERE Drive. What we really love is the option to view and edit Office files integrated within the OS. The stock music player is average, and audio output is decent through the earphones. You can also find the usual calendar, to-do list, calculator, and other useful apps on board. The features on the phone are definitely not exciting but are still good at this price point.
Great built-in Office support.

Battery life

Battery life has almost never been an issue with the mid and low-range Lumia devices as they have lesser demanding hardware. The case is no different with the Lumia 525 which has a Li-ion 1,430 mAh battery, which should easily make it through a couple of days of moderate usage on a single charge. Also, the removable battery gives you the option of carrying a spare battery along, just in case you run out of power through the day. A couple of days of uninterrupted power.

The Good about Nokia Lumia 525

  • 1 GB of RAM
  • Micro SD card slot
  • FM radio
  • Interchangeable back cover
  • Dedicated mic for active noise-cancellation
  • User-accessible battery

The Not-so-good about Nokia Lumia 525

  • Average display
  • No front-facing camera
  • No LED flash

Value for Money

5 / 5

The Nokia Lumia 525 makes for a great phone at a wonderful price. It undoubtedly makes for a worthy successor to the 520, and could well be the next top-selling Windows Phone device in the coming year.

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