When Nokia persisted with Symbian in spite of the rising popularity of Android and then finally decided to go with Windows Phone 8 for its smartphones, most analysts and experts felt they were jumping into a sinking ship. But what Windows did not have was a partner that would give its 100% to the platform, with others like Samsung putting more focus on Android than on Windows Phone.
Nokia has taken the Windows Phone platform and made it their own. It would be difficult for most people to recall Windows phones made by other manufactures. That coupled with the fact that it has launched Windows Phone 8 devices at multiple prices is what the company has going for them.
The Nokia Lumia 620 is one such phone in the Rs 15,000 price category, which is one of the fastest growing segments in the smartphone market. We used the Lumia 620 for around 10 days and here are our thoughts.
Nokia Lumia 620 : Hardware
Like all Lumia phones the Nokia Lumia 620 comes in a bunch of colors, which can be changed with interchangeable rear panels. The blue one we were using felt youthful and had the build quality one has to come expect from Nokia. The phone has a small screen and is bit thick at 11 mm, but feels great to hold in the hand. The button placements is excellent and one will find the the volume rocker, power/sleep button and a camera activation/shutter release all on the right hand side. We found the buttons to be very responsive.
The back cover comes off easily and incorporates polycarbonate into the build materials, which makes the phone look good and also sturdy. To insert the microSIM one will have to remove the 1,300 battery at the back and pull a tray. We found this tray to be a little tricky at times.The phone also supports 64GB microSD cards via a hot-swap slot, to supplement its 8 GB memory. A strange thing with this phone is the handsfree/headphone socket is built into the cover instead of directly into the body.
It has a rear 5 megapixel camera with an LED flash, and a VGA camera located up front near the earpiece.
The 620 has a 3.8-inch touchscreen display with a 480 x 800 pixel resolution and Nokia’s ClearBlack technology, that makes it better in bright conditions. The colors and text on the screen are sharp and much better than you would find on most Android phones in this price range.
The phone has a curved structure that make it fit squarely in the palm of your hand. It has just three capacitive buttons up front, the back button, the Window key and a search button and one will find the microUSB port at the bottom.
Nokia Lumia 620: Software
The Lumia 620 comes with Windows Phone 8, which runs very well on this device. During our usage with the device we found it to lag rarely, though at times some apps did take a bit of time to load thanks to the 512 MB RAM, which is a bit underwhelming.
The WP8 user interface which is known for its Live Tiles and social network integrated phone book worked seamlessly, as one would find on a higher end Lumia device like the 920 or 820. The ability to resize tiles into three sizes which was integrated into WP8 is a nice addition but we found that Live Tiles was no replacement for widgets.
The email app and integrated Microsoft Office is definitely one of the main selling points of WP8, and we were open to open all our Word documents, PowerPoint presentations and Excel documents without any hiccups. Editing on the phone was a breeze. The mail app was excellent and we prefer this to the one on Android.
Other apps like messaging, calendar and alarm are basic but get the work done without any issues.
Since this is a Nokia Windows Phone, there are quite a few apps which come bundled with the phone unlike other WP8 devices.
The Nokia Here suite of apps which includes Here Maps, Here Drive+ Beta and Here City Lens are excellent and even beat Google Maps most times. It is more detailed than Google’s offering in a lot of areas. The offline capabilities of the map also edges out Google Maps.
The Lumia phones also come with a couple of additional apps for the camera, which definitely improve the functionality. (more on that later)
Nokia also offers bundles Nokia Music and Mix Radio with the phone which offers excellent music streaming.
The keyboard has the keys well spaced out and the predictive text was quite good.
Windows Phone 8 has toast notifications, which appear on the top and disappear after a few seconds. Microsoft really needs a fix for this, cause it is a terrible implementation.
Third-party App Situation
Unfortunately this is the section that bring the Lumia 620 down. The Windows Phone Store still lacks a majority of apps and while Nokia is taking a push by creating apps like App Highlight Social, the platform is behind held back by this.
The phone also has only 512 MB RAM, so a lot of apps and games like Temple Run cannot be installed on this phone.
While apps like WhatsApp are present on the platform we found the experience to be terrible. The toast notifications, live tile and also the general responsiveness of the app left much to be desired. So if you are a heavy WhatsApp user this phone may not be for you.
One thing we did like about most third-party apps is that they followed the design rules which provided for a clutter free and fluid experience. The ability to just swipe from one screen to another is probably one of our most favorite features of WP8.
As mentioned before the Lumia 620 comes with a 5-megapixel rear camera and a VGA front camera. The rear shooter surprised us to a large extent, especially at this price range. Outdoors and in daylight, image quality was extremely good, with the colors being vibrant, and the images retaining a decent amount of detail. However in low-light situations, there was noticeable noise and the images turned out grainy often.
While the camera maybe notch above average overall, what really sets this camera apart is the camera lens plugins that Nokia has bundled with the phone. Smart Shoot allows you to take multiple pictures, choose the best frame, make sure each person in an image is smiling and also remove unwanted objects. Panorama works as advertised and Cinemagraph makes GIFs, which the Twitter app Vine has made popular now. These plugins definitely make the camera more fun to use.
Nokia Lumia 620 : Performance
Operating System: As we mentioned before, since the Windows Phone 8 platform does not require much in terms of hardware, the 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon Play processor along with the 512MB of RAM is more than enough to ensure smooth sailing of most operations. The OS is smooth as can be but it does lag a bit when opening apps, which is just a couple of seconds and won’t be a deal breaker to anyone.
Gaming: Gaming on the device is smooth. We tried out Asphalt 7 Heat, which ran without any issues at all. Since the Lumia 620 has just 512 MB of RAM one will not be able to install certain games like Temple Run, which is a disappointment.
Media: While Windows Phone 8 cannot playback all types of files throw at it, it does handle few DivX and XviD coded files as well as MP4, even those in full HD quite well. There is hardly any stutter and the video playback is smooth. The speaker on the phone is surprisingly loud and we did not have any problems even in an outdoor setting. The headset has Dolby’s Headphone Sound Enhancement technology which provides for great listening. Unfortunately there is no equalizer and we hope Nokia introduces this in an update. Also missing is an FM radio, but with Nokia Mix Radio one would not feel at a loss.
Call Quality: Call Quality is excellent and in our testing did not face any dropped calls or any other issues. The phone performed well even in a basement.
Battery: While there were quite a few things that surprised us in this phone, the biggest one was the battery. For a 1,300 mAh battery it was able to stretch over 24 hours with above average usage on 3G. For a moderate usage, 30 hours can easily be squeezed out of this phone. The standby time on this phone is brilliant with next to no battery drain. When we conducted our continuous video test we got past the 4 hour mark with ease.
The phone is priced at Rs 14,515, which makes this phone the best in its class. The experience one gets when compared to an Android phone is dramatically smoother. One will hardly face any lags. That being said, the lack of apps is worrying. If you have been an Android or iPhone user you are very likely to find this OS limiting. An Android user is likely to miss the notification tray the most, while an iOS user will miss the polish.
In terms of hardware, we feel the Lumia 620 is very reliable and gives one a feeling of holding a very sturdy phone. The camera apps, navigation on Here and Nokia Music are added reasons to get this phone.
The biggest negative to the phone is the 512 MB RAM which won’t let you install a number of games. Another issue with this is we wonder what features of the next Windows Phone OS will be cut from the Lumia 620 when the update releases.
If you are a first-time smartphone user, we would definitely recommend this one to you.
- Youthful Look
- Good Battery
- Great Value for Money
- Bundled Nokia apps
- Windows Phone 8 ecosystem still maturing
- No proper notifications
- 512 MB RAM restricts the number of games you can install