OS: Windows Phone 8
CPU: 1 GHz dual-core Snapdragon
LCD size: 3.8 inches (480×800 pixels at 246 ppi)
Physical dimensions: 115.4 mm x 61.1 mm x 11 mm
Band: GSM 850/900/1800/1900 (2G), HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100 (3G)
Internal memory: 8 GB (expandable to 64 GB via microSD
• Very compact
• Great battery life
• Needs a different way to open the phone
• No distinctive markings for side buttons
If you want to try out the Windows Phone 8, the Lumia 620 is a good starter phone. However, you’ll need to get used to the phone before you can fully appreciate it.
Nokia has been in the mobile phone business for what seems like forever. The Finnish company dominated the mobile phone market before iOS and Android exploded. Some of our older readers may have gone through several models of Nokia phones, and practically everyone I knew had a Nokia phone when I was going to school. It wasn’t anything super fancy compared to today’s phones, but the phones served their purpose quite well, and many people still use Nokia phones to this very day.
Upon unboxing the Nokia Lumia 620, it came with a few accessories such as a microUSB cord with a wall socket and a set of earphones, but since I already have multiple chargers and earphones that can be used with most smartphones, I just stuck to using my own for the review. The phone is 11mm thick, which is thicker than most smartphones, but this is because Nokia’s build quality has been historically good, and it is great to see that it is keeping to that principle to this day. Off to the right side are the volume rocker, the camera button and the power button. It’s obvious which button is the volume rocker, but Nokia doesn’t label the power and the camera buttons, so you might accidentally turn off the phone instead of taking a photo. The left side of the phone has no buttons. On the top of the phone is the 3.5mm jack, and the bottom is the microUSB port. Below its 3.5-inch touchscreen are the usual three capacitive buttons—one to go back, one to search, and one to go to the “Home” screen. If you don’t like the color your phone came in, you can always switch out the back panel color for your favorite color.
Opening the phone is relatively simple, but one of the issues I had is that you had to press on the camera lens to do so. If you don’t know your own strength, this might turn out badly. Upon opening the phone, you can insert your microSD card in the tray to on the left. You’ll need to remove the battery to insert the microSIM card, which you then pull out from under where the microSD card is. This is a rather strange arrangement, but one that was made to keep the Lumia 620 as compact as possible. If you’re a fan of microSD cards or switching out your covers, you’ll have to be very careful with the camera lens.
Setting up the phone will take some time, but thankfully, you’ll only need to do it once. You’ll need a Hotmail, Windows Live or Xbox account, so some people might have to break those accounts out of their digital closet to use this phone, or if they don’t have one, go through the process of setting one up. There will be a few pre-installed apps, and the rest can be installed later. What exactly powers this phone? The phone has a 1 GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm, and an Adreno 305 GPU, which isn’t too bad for the phone and actually puts it closer to their flagship counterparts. You’ll also get 512 MB of RAM, 8 GB of built-in memory (5 GB usable, and expandable with microSD) and other connectivity options such as Bluetooth, 3G, Wi-Fi and near field communication (NFC) which lets the Lumia 620 communicate with other smartphones. On the back you’ll have a 5-megapixel camera, and to the upper left you’ll have a VGA front- facing camera.
The Windows Phone 8 OS powers the phone, and although its laptop/desktop counterpart takes a little getting used to, the mobile version isn’t so bad. You can resize tiles so that your favorite apps take center stage. You can also multitask to a point, so those coming over from iOS will appreciate this feature. The Lumia 620 ran through most apps without any major problems. One major missing feature, however, is a convenient place to see all the notifications from all of your apps. Although the live tiles do somewhat serve this purpose, it’s not the same as a unified area from which to see these notifications.
The phone app isn’t very different from any of the phone apps you encounter, although there is a lack of smart dialing. The dialer itself is pretty basic and the call quality was decent even when I was in enclosed areas. Playing music was a rather good experience for a mobile phone. It wasn’t the best listening experience, but it wasn’t bad, either—Nokia’s about so-so in the sound department. If you have plans to make the Lumia 620 a music player, you’ll need a microSD card if you have a large library of music.
If you’re a photography person, you’ll have a 5-megapixel camera available to you. The photos are somewhat decent, good for showing your friends on the various social networks, but not something you should use if you’re looking for high quality photography. Those who take videos will be able to take them in 720p at 30 frames per second, ideal if you’re just uploading videos to YouTube. It’s what I’d call a social phone for cameras, since you’re not going to get professional results out of it, but enough to share them with friends and relatives.
The 1300 mAh battery seems small, but don’t let the numbers on that battery fool you. Nokia has always had good battery life on their phones. With light use, you can go as long as a day and a half with a full charge. Of course, your use of the phone is what the battery is dependent on, so if you like to do a lot of web browsing and video playback, you won’t get as much life as the phone is using more resources (hence, more battery).
The Nokia Lumia 620 retails for PHP 11,600, which is a bit on the high end compared to other entry-level smartphones. However, it functions well for an entry-level Windows 8 phone, and if you can get over the quirks that the phone comes with, you’ll have a good Windows 8 phone on your hands.
First published in Gadgets Magazine, April 2013
Words by Jose Alvarez