The Lumia 620 is Nokia's stab at an affordable unlocked Windows Phone 8 device for the global masses, and its fun, youthful design that's so typical of the Lumia line will help it stand out from competitors in the same price point.
Still a dual-core Windows 8 phone with front and rear cameras, the 620 isn't as stacked with high-end features as its fellows; the screen comes in sub-4 inches, there are some design flaws and there's no wireless charging. However, near-field communication (NFC), an anti-glare screen and a decent camera make it an appealing and fairly feature-rich smartphone choice for budget keepers.
Nokia has taken careful, calculated aim at the premium and upper mid-range markets with Lumia devices like the Nokia Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 series. Yet, it could very well be phones like the entry-level Nokia Lumia 620 that embody Nokia's strongest growth opportunity.
With an RRP of AU$329, Nokia has said that the 620 will be available from JB Hi-Fi, the Good Guys, Dick Smith, Harvey Norman and Allphones starting on 22 February.
Design and build
With its five saturated hues, the Lumia 620 cries out for attention. The case colours are double layered, with an interior colour (like white) that melds with the top coating (like blue) to create a sort of gauzy, layered look. Since the back covers pop off, you could technically switch them out.
Beyond its various candy coatings, the Lumia 620 bears a resemblance to the feature-rich 920, at least in terms of its button and camera positioning. Not all of that resemblance is a good thing. Though the phone only stands 115.4mm inches tall and 61.3mm wide, it's heavy for its size, coming in at 127g, and just as thick as taller Lumias, 11mm deep.
Rounded corners characterise the 620's shape, along with heavily rounded spines and a smooth, sometimes slippery backing that nevertheless fits the curve of a palm. Less successful is the sharp edge where the screen meets the sides; you can feel it when you grip the phone in your hand (but not when you hold it lightly).
Nokia gave this lesser Lumia a 3.8-inch display with an 800x480-pixel resolution (WVGA). Windows Phone's bold, bright themes help keep elements looking sharp, but Nokia's polarisation filter deserves much of the credit for cutting down glare. With the screen brightness set to auto, and the "sunlight readability" setting on (this happens by default), we could happily read CNET's website, in desktop mode, no matter which way we faced.
Above the main display area, you'll find the front-facing VGA camera; below it, a large bezel hosts the three typical capacitive touch navigation buttons for Windows Phone. There's the back/multitasking button, the Start/voice command key and the search button.
On the top of the phone sits the 3.5-millimetre headset jack, and on the bottom, you'll find the micro-USB charging port. On the right are Nokia's now-standard oblong buttons for controlling volume, power/lock and the camera shutter. We liked how these buttons rise from the surface, but, on the review phone at least, the power and volume buttons were stiff and uncomfortable to press. In contrast, the camera button depressed easily.
Flip over the phone to see the 5-megapixel main camera lens and flash module. You'll have to pry off the back cover to access the microSD card slot — which takes up to 64GB of external storage — and the micro-SIM card slot. Luckily, Nokia included a sticker demonstrating how the heck to pop off the back cover: place a thumb firmly over the camera module while curling your fingers over the top of the backing and pull/push.
Your efforts will reward you with a revealing look at the 620's innards, with the microSD card slot cage to the left of the battery. Does that mean the hollowed-out area on top is for the micro SIM? Don't be preposterous! You have to first remove the battery, then either pull out the tag that reads SIM — or, even better, feel around with your nail for a tiny ledge beneath the microSD card mount and pull out. And good luck fitting the SIM tray back in its slot on your first try.
Here's one last pro tip: when putting the panel back on, start at the bottom and snap the cover on the top of the phone last.
Apps and OS
The Lumia 620 runs Windows Phone 8, which means that it comes with tools to sign on to multiple email and social-networking accounts. We had no problem adding our corporate emails to the phone and, as usual, signing in to Twitter and Facebook were a breeze.
For the most part, you can do everything on the 620 that you can on any other Windows Phone 8 device.
As far as what Nokia brings to the table, you'll find its suite of apps, including Nokia Care, City Lens for augmented reality, maps and Nokia Drive. There are also several camera lens filters available, like Smart Shoot. We noticed that Nokia Music is absent.
As always, these are in addition basics like a calculator, a calendar, a music player, the browser, Microsoft's Office suite and the digital wallet.
There is NFC capability on the 620, through Tap + Send, but keep in mind that the 620 has no wireless charging. One thing we noticed while using the phone is that there are only two intervals for screen timeout: 30 seconds or one minute. Both are short enough to make having a password lock inconvenient, something that many businesses require as a security precaution when accessing company email on any smartphone.
Camera and video
Considering that it's an entry-level smartphone, we were pretty impressed with the quality of the 5-megapixel images. Resolution won't be as sharp as with the best 8-megapixel lenses, but colours were overall vivid and pretty accurate.
We did notice quite a bit of noise on some shots, especially at their full resolution. However, if you're planning to use photos to populate your social-networking threads or other people's inboxes, we think the Lumia 620's images are sufficient.
Nokia is one of those manufacturers that does give you options to change your resolution, but you can select shooting modes for close-ups, night mode and sports, for instance. You can also adjust ISO and white-balance settings, as well as the aspect ratio.
It's nice that the Lumia 620 lets you shoot 720p HD video (at a rate of 30 frames per second). We shot indoors and outdoors, and both times, the camera produced video with pretty good colour accuracy and smooth playback. As with other cameras, the picture adjusts as you change your light source, for instance, if you pan around an indoor room or capture a 360-degree view outside in the sunlight.
Consider the front-facing VGA camera as a very specific tool, and you won't be too upset. Image quality is very grainy and faces look highly pixellated. Colours are also a little dull.
When it comes to storing your multimedia, the Lumia 620 has 8GB of internal storage. You'll also have access to 7GB over Microsoft's cloud-based Skydrive server, and you can fill up to a 64GB microSD card. The phone has 512MB of RAM.
The Lumia 620 is a 3G phone, supporting HSPA and HSPA+ speeds. Performance was about what we expected; spot on for 3G speeds, but lagging behind 4G long-term evolution (LTE). For instance, CNET's graphically rich desktop site loaded in about 20 seconds, which isn't bad compared to phones on 3G without HSPA+ support.
Processing power also slides in right where you'd expect it for a phone of this class. To Nokia's credit, it comes with a 1.0GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor; not the fastest that Qualcomm makes by any stretch, but good enough if you're coming from something slower.
We test a lot of phones with fast clock speeds, so it was a little laggy in comparison. However, the performance was pretty solid: it took 26 seconds to boot from the off position, and three seconds to load the camera app.
The Lumia 620 has a rated talk time of 9.9 hours over 3G, and a standby time of 13.75 days. Music playback time is listed as 61 hours. We'll perform a deeper battery drain test in the coming days, but the 1300mAh battery is on the small side of the capacity scale.
The Lumia 620's limited screen time helps preserve battery, and if you're interested in purchasing the phone, be sure to check out these tips for improving the battery life on your Windows 8 phone.
If you're looking for an affordable, unsubsidised smartphone that can do a lot for a little, the Nokia Lumia 620 is a good choice — so long as you're well aware of the compromises in battery life, audio quality and design that it takes to make an inexpensive smartphone.
Camera and video quality are more than decent for what you get, the screen reads better than most do outdoors and the operating system gives you your smartphone basics.
Did Nokia prove that it can create an entry-level smartphone worth buying? Yes. But if you have the wherewithal to upgrade to another model with more premium specs, do.