Nokia Lumia 525 takes a low-key road to Windows Phone 8 (hands-on)

The Nokia Lumia 525, the successor to the popular Lumia 520, delivers entry-level features in a no-frills design. CNET Asia takes a closer look.

Aloysius Low Senior Editor
Aloysius Low is a Senior Editor at CNET covering mobile and Asia. Based in Singapore, he loves playing Dota 2 when he can spare the time and is also the owner-minion of two adorable cats.
Aloysius Low
2 min read
Nokia Lumia 525
Aloysius Low/CNET

You may be surprised, but the budget-friendly Nokia Lumia 520 is actually one of the best-selling handsets for the Windows Phone 8 platform. Leaked just a few days ago, the Lumia 525, the 520's successor, is now official. It will be available in Singapore on December 14 for S$249 (US$198), the same date as its larger, more expensive cousin, the Lumia 1520.

The Lumia 525 shares the same design aesthetic as other Lumia handsets. If you like how the Lumia 1020 looks, the 525 is a smaller version, with the same bright yellow rear. Unlike the 1020, though, the 525's rear cover and 1,430mAh battery are replaceable. If you don't like yellow, there's a choice of four other cover colors you can swap in: blue, red, white, and black.

Nokia Lumia 525
A few controls sit on the right spine of the 525. Aloysius Low/CNET

The volume rocker, power, and camera buttons are located on the left side; the Micro-USB jack is located at the bottom. It packs a 5-megapixel camera, but take note that the budget handset lacks a flash.

I wasn't too impressed with the screen, which is a 4-inch IPS display with a resolution of 800x480 pixels. I especially wasn't impressed when it was placed next to the Lumia 1520. The display appeared sunken in, and not as vibrant. That said, you can use the display with your nails or when wearing gloves.

Nokia Lumia 525
The usual Windows Phone 8 touch controls sit below the display. Aloysius Low/CNET

While the Lumia 525 has the same specs as the Lumia 520, Nokia has upgraded it with twice the RAM. It now has 1GB, which should help with multitasking. The smartphone comes with 8GB of onboard storage, and has a microSD card slot for expandability.

Nokia Lumia 525
The 5-megapixel camera doesn't come with a flash. Aloysius Low/CNET

The Lumia 525 is powered by a 1GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and will launch with the Nokia Lumia Black update package, which includes the latest version of Windows Phone 8.

Other free apps include Here Maps, Here Drive, and Here Transit; Nokia says Transit now works for public transportation in Singapore, though real-time bus times are still being worked on.

Nokia Lumia 525
The Lumia 525 (right) next to the Lumia 1520 Aloysius Low/CNET

Don't expect the stellar imaging prowess of the higher-end Lumia handsets, but the 5-megapixel camera of the 525 should be able to do well in bright daylight. As mentioned earlier, there's no flash, so if you need to light up your subject, you're out of luck.

Priced at a really affordable S$249, the Lumia 525 should sell as well as the 520. I'm not too convinced if this is the best way to experience the Windows Phone platform, however, but it looks like I'm likely to be wrong about this given how well the 520 has been doing. Besides Singapore, the Lumia 525 will be available in Asia Pacific, Africa, and the Middle East.