Nokia Lumia 620 Review


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Since the Windows Phone 8 reboot, Nokia has so far launched five devices, with the Lumia 920 and the Lumia 820 launching way back in September 2012, then the Nokia Lumia 620 at LeWeb, and the Nokia Lumia 720 and Lumia 520 at the Mobile World Congress. The portfolio of devices cover almost all the price points of the market, and the Lumia 620 is in that special mid range segment. Same time last year, Nokia had the Lumia 610 as the predecessor to the 620, but the hardware was so lacking(with 256MB of RAM) and Windows Phone 7 was not really up to the mark in terms of market expectations. Fast forward to this year, Windows Phone 8 brings a lot of features and ticks check boxes of most requested features including Bluetooth file transfer, mass storage, support for micro SD cards, NFC tap to send etc and the hardware too has gained some decent specs, with respect to the Lumia 620. With all these specs and features backing it, will the Lumia 620 suffice a budget minded smartphone buyer in India? Read on to find out.

Video Review

Hardware Walkthrough

The Lumia 620 is a tiny device by today’s standards. It is even smaller than the Lumia 520 thanks to a smaller screen, making it extremely pocket friendly unlike its bigger brother, the Lumia 920. The design of the phone is a bit different this time, with a flat front mad of hardened glass covering the entire face of the phone and the back plastic cover wrapping around to the front. The back cover is removable/replaceable and comes in several colours like White, Black, Cyan, Green, Yellow and Magenta. Of all these colours, we had the white version at first, and here is a hardware overview of the same –

The flat front and the curved sides are a repeated feature in Nokia’s design these days and the Lumia 620 is no exception.

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The larger bezel at the bottom of the phone is slightly awkward at first but the slickness of the design makes up for it. Regarding the build, the shell is somewhat special. Made of two layers, the Dual Shot shell is covered by transparent plastic on the outside and opaque polycarbonate on the inside. This makes for some interesting colour combinations, especially the green one in which the insides are made of Yellow polycarbonate and the outer shell is translucent Cyan, making it look green with the edges in Yellow. In our opinion, that looks super cool, and if you are picking up the 620, you should go for the dual shot shells or change to one.

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There are matte as well as glossy shells. We kinda like the matte shells because it is less slippery and offers a soft touch outer shell for some colours, for example the Black one we have for review. Coming in at 11mm of thickness, the device is thick by today’s standards, but weight, at 127g is not a problem. It doesn’t feel cheap either, it is a solid feel we’d say. Being a small device, it’s very pocket-able and sits nicely in the hand, which is a rarity these days.

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On the front face of the phone you have the 3.8 inch display, and at the bottom, the three capacitive Windows Phone 8 shortcut keys for back, start and search.

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Over at the top you have the VGA front facing camera, the ear piece, the Nokia logo and the usual pair of sensors for ambient control of brightness and proximity detection.

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On the top of the device, you have the 3.5mm headphone jack and the secondary microphone for noise cancellation.

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On the right side you have the power/lock switch, the volume rocker and the two-step camera button, while the left is left flush, devoid of any controls.

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Over at the bottom, you have the micro USB port and of course, the primary microphone for voice calls.

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On the back of the device is the 5 megapixel camera with a single LED flash at the top, the Nokia logo in the middle and the loudspeaker grille down at the bottom. The camera is not part of the casing and pushing against it will open up the back cover.

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Behind the cover you have the 1300 mAH battery flanked by the micro SD card slot.

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Underneath the battery you have the micro SIM tray that is installed in a pull out tray. The SIM tray might be fidgety if it is overused, but we guess that won’t be much of an issue for most.

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And if you noticed, the back cover has the 3.5mm jack component attached to it.

Display

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The 3.8 inch WVGA display on the Lumia 620, which is slightly larger than the 3.7 inch display of the Lumia 610, is of the TFT LCD type and has the impressive Clear Black Display coating from Nokia. Since this is a LCD unit, like the majority, this too has the proper RGB stripe making the display look crisp and nice, with decent pixel density. The clear black coating adds a polarizing layer on top to make outdoor visibility better and clearer, and adding to that, deep blacks, which makes WP8’s black based UI look great.

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We found the display to be quite nice, and thanks to a software tweak for the display under the settings menu, the outdoor visibility is even better. Basically it does edge enhancement when the display is under direct sunlight, making it seem sharper. The viewing angles are great and the colour reproduction not too bad, but it may be a little warm for our tastes. Overall, we think the display is great, and you will have no problems with consumption of media or text, if you are ok with the screen size that is. One thing you might miss though, if you are living in some of the cold countries is the super sensitive screen, which is a non feature on the 620. We were surprised to see it available on 520 though.

Camera(s)

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With Nokia having known for great cameras on its phones, one would expect the Lumia 620’s 5 Megapixel camera to perform great. In some ways it does, when you consider the price it comes at, or when you compare it with the yesteryear Lumias/the current Android competition. The Lumia 620 blows them away with better quality pictures, but standalone, it is mediocre at best. It has copious amounts of noise in low light and sometimes even in day light, where the noise slightly creeps up.

Camera Samples

It is necessary that you keep the lens smudge free, as it was annoying to find some of our pictures smudged even after repeatedly wiping the lens. Macro photos often lost focus while taking the shot, and the camera UI too is not encouraging, with its inability to lock focus with a touch, instead it immediately focuses and takes a shot. We had already posted our thoughts on why the Windows Phone 8 camera UI should change, do give it a read in case you are wondering what the camera UI is like. Here are some screens from the camera UI –

The video recorder can record videos up to 720p at 30 fps, and they are pretty decent. To make your own judgement, you can take a look at the sample video here –

The front facing camera is VGA and is ok for video calls. Overall, we think the camera is pretty decent for the price, and definitely better than the competition at the same price range.

Internals and Performance

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The internals are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 plus MSM8227 SoC, which is a dual core chip with the processor rated at 1 GHz. It is based on the custom Krait architecture from Qualcomm. Powering the graphics is the Adreno 305 GPU, which is a mid range chip. Generally, the Lumia 620 is quite speedy and to be really honest, we couldn’t find a massive difference in performance between this and the more powerful 920, which means the software is truly optimized to run on slower hardware too. The Lumia 620 is nothing like its predecessor and is a good performer.

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Games too were not a problem, with games like Asphalt 7 Heat performing just like on the more powerful devices, and casual games like Angry Birds and Gravity Guy were not a problem at all. However, there is a bottleneck in terms of device capabilities when it comes to gaming performance and that is the RAM. With 512 MB of RAM, it might seem very sufficient for day today tasks as well as most games, but some recent games that have heavy graphics are disabled by default from the store and are barred from installing on any 512 MB device, more on that in the software section then.

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The internal storage is pegged at 8 GB, of which around 3-4 GB of user space is made available. It is adequate for installing apps but big games are a no-go, but not to worry here since most big games are not targeted at 512MB devices anyway, and even if they are targeted, like the Asphalt 7, they will be of lesser size. You can install a micro SD card if you want, but Windows Phone 8 doesn’t support installing apps on SD yet, so media is the only thing you can use it for. Overall, the day to day performance and even the gaming performance is refreshingly nice, and comparing the competition, the OS seems like a better performer on less capable hardware.

Connectivity and call performance

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The Lumia 620 comes with all sorts of connectivity options like 3.5G HSPA, WiFi a/b/g/n, Hotspot support, Bluetooth 3.0 and even NFC for contact-less communications. We were surprised by the lack of FM Radio and DLNA out of the box, but we are being told that they are software issues and Radio will be coming soon to all WP8 devices. However, DLNA can be enabled with Nokia’s own Play To app, which is in beta.

This is a Nokia, so as expected, the call quality was very good, in fact, the clarity seemed really better, but it is noticed only when you frequently use other devices. The loudspeaker was really loud and clear but was muffled when the device is laid on a surface. You can connect the 620 to the PC using the micro USB port, and thanks to Windows Phone 8, it now supports the MTP protocol, and hence mass storage-like functionality is now possible, without the need of any drivers or special sync software.

Software

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The Good

Windows Phone 8 is Microsoft’s newest effort to stabilize its mobile strategy, with Windows Phone 7.8 being the last upgrade planned for the older devices. Thankfully, Nokia Lumia 620 runs on Windows Phone 8 with all the metro goodness you can expect from the OS of the “third ecosystem”.

There is literally no difference between the software on the Lumia 920 and the Lumia 620. The experience remains purely the same, with even the performance matching up. There are resizable tiles, support for Indian languages, bluetooth sharing with and without NFC, and lots more. You can read our Windows Phone 8 review for all the details and they are exactly the same on the Lumia 620 too, which is good.

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Apart from all the vanilla Windows Phone 8 experiences, there are also the great Nokia made apps like Nokia Maps, recently rechristened as Here Maps, and Here Drive, the navigation app, and then there’s Nokia Music for India, which has three months of free download of unlimited music and Mix Radio streaming.

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On top of all these, Nokia also has exclusive camera lenses like Smart shoot, Panorama, Cinemagraph and City Lens(Live sight) to enhance the camera experience. These are all differentiation factors that set Nokia Lumias apart from the other Windows Phone devices. That said, there are also important hardware/software tweaks added by Nokia into the settings screen, like for example the aforementioned Display+Touch settings. With the Lumia 620 certified for Dolby Stereo Audio, there is even a separate settings page for Audio enhancements, including equalizer and Dolby settings.

The Bad

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All said, how does the OS fare when compared to the competition? Much improved since Windows Phone 8 launched, but not quite there yet. There are still some annoyances like the lack of a notification centre, non existent file manager and browser downloads, and general lack of quality apps that are there on iOS and Android, but the situation is slowly improving. Games are coming in at a fast pace now and so are the big players of the app world but there’s still a lot more work to be done here. Instagram is a no-go on Windows Phone, and so are many other apps, but again, the situation is slowly improving and it’s tough to say how much time it will take for attaining app parity with other platforms.

The Ugly

Taking the Lumia 620 into consideration, we found only two major concerns with regards to software, and that’s partly related to hardware. The 512 MB RAM is not future proof, and most recent games that require at least 1 GB of RAM won’t work. Those games might be optimized for 512 MB, like Asphalt 7 at a later stage, but currently they don’t work. Even simple games like Temple Run which just launched don’t work on 512 MB devices. That is a problem in our opinion.

And then there is the problem of storage, for example, Asphalt 7 initially was sized at 1 GB and required 4 GB of storage space for installation. Ridiculous as it sounds, the developer has practically made it impossible for it to be installed on devices like the Lumia 620 where there is only 4GB of free space for the user. Apart from that we don’t have any complaints and we are just hoping the situation gets better like over time.

Battery Life

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The 1300 mAH Li-ion battery on the Lumia 620 is very small in today’s power hungry scenarios with a constant connection to the internet. We managed to get only 10-12 hours of usage with Whatsapp, Twitter, Browsing and Music being the most used apps. Use of WiFi for all our internet needs managed to increase the usage time but on 3G it drained like crazy.

Thankfully, there is a battery saver mode which kicks in at 20%, and manages to work very well to conserve your battery. There are some compromises made, for example all the push services and background tasks will be disabled on power saver mode. It increased our usage time easily by 3-4 hours. It is not enabled by default by the way.

Conclusion

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Concluding, the Nokia Lumia 620 is a great device in this price range. It has great build quality, a great display, an above average camera, really loud speakers, and performs great too, but the software is a weak point if you are looking for lots of apps and games. But if you are looking for a Windows phone 8 device and don’t want to invest a lot, then this might be the most complete device you can get for the price. Retailing for Rs. 14,999/- on the Nokia online store and lesser in other retail stores, the Lumia 620 is the best mid range device that Nokia has ever produced.

Pros

  • Great build quality
  • Great display
  • Above average camera
  • Nice loudspeakers

Cons

  • 512 MB of RAM is not future proof for apps and games
  • Windows Phone 8 lacks some features and apps
  • Internal storage might not be enough
  • Battery life

 


Author: Bharadwaj Chandramouli

Bharadwaj is a content creator who has been obsessed with technology since the early days of smartphones. He loves talking about tech, is a fan of good design and photography. You can follow him on Twitter @bwjtech to know what he's upto!