You don’t mess with a winning formula, people say, and there’s no device out there that seems to follow that mantra as ardently as the Nokia Lumia 525.
If we were to put the Nokia Lumia 520 and Lumia 525 side by side, you’d have a truly impossible time telling the two apart. A true twin to its predecessor, the Lumia 525 is, on the outside, a complete copy. The same petite proportions are at play here, and there’s still quite some space wasted in plastic. The playful exterior of the Lumia 525 communicates no high-end ambitions, but it looks sturdy and reliable. Unfortunately, we can't say we're happy with Nokia's decision to go back to glossy polycarbonate, as pertains to the rear shell – we much preferred the matte finish of the previous model.
This is a one-handed device through and through. It sits comfortably in the hand, thanks to its conservative dimensions and rounded sides. Its angular frame digs into the palm, but we found the presence reassuring rather than unpleasant. The well-placed volume rocker, and power and camera shutter buttons also aid in the overall ergonomics of the phone. They are all confidently edging out from the right side of the Lumia 525, and provide a pronounced feedback on impact.
The display is another area that remains firmly unchanged with the Lumia 525. We're still privy to the same highly-sensitive 4-inch, 480x800 resolution IPS LCD panel. This configuration works out to a rather low pixel density of 235 pixels per inch. It's also worth pointing out that the scratch-resistant glass on top, unfortunately, appears to lack an oleophobic treatment, resulting in a shower of greasy smudges. But hey, at least you can use it with gloves on!
Color reproduction with Nokia's screen of choice is not perfect, but doesn't leave too much to desire. Sure, colors are less saturated than the best out there, and there's a noticeable pinkish hue to whites, but it's leaps and bounds ahead compared to the average panel in this class. But one area – peak brightness – the display concedes to even inferior solutions out there, and that's just unfortunate. Our bright yellow unit, ironically, is not at all suited for play in the sun.
Interface & functionality
If you're coming from a platform different than Windows Phone, you're likely to feel lost with the Lumia 525. At least at first. Microsoft, as many of you already know, has taken its own approach to designing the system, and though its a little disorganized at a first glance, there's no telling whether you won't end up liking it. And there's a lot to like with the Lumia 525. It comes preloaded with stuff like HERE Maps and HERE Drive, which support offline navigation – still a rarity on rival platforms. You also get access to Zinio – a magazine digest app – along with Nokia Beamer and Nokia Cinemagraph, which allows you to create animated shorts from pictures.
Processor & memory
The device relies on a 1GHz, dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 to do the heavy lifting, which makes use of two Krait 300 cores and an Adreno 305 GPU in turn. Thanks to the light nature of Windows Phone 8, this otherwise unimpressive combo does away just fine – lag is non-existent while operating the UI, and it runs smoothly as it should. Moreover, the relatively low pixel count on the display allows the configuration to run even gaming titles as exacting as Asphalt 8 without too much fuss.
Multitasking has been improved with the Lumia 525, as the amount of RAM has been bumped up to 1GB from the 512MB of the Lumia 520. This is pretty much the only noteworthy change between the two handsets. Built-in storage, at 8GB, is typical for this class, though it's a big plus that you can expand it via a microSD card with up to 64GB more.
Internet & Connectivity
To test out the browsing capabilities of the Lumia 525, we had the built-in Internet Explorer (IE) app jump through hoops until we arrived at a verdict. With years of background behind it, IE once again showed what it's made of – common commands, such as panning and zooming were performed well, no questions asked. Of course, this is an area that is profoundly impacted by how well the processor itself handles the web, and we're happy to report that the Snapdragon 400 did just fine. Load times could use some work, but once the wait is over, it's a smooth sailing.
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