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Home >Mint-lounge >Features >Gizmo Guru | A great budget smartphone

The problem with entry level smartphones is that most are able to cut costs by severely compromising on the user experience. Touchscreens that don’t respond, apps that don’t load and regular freezing and lag are par for the course at the very lowest tier.

Nokia has, with its Lumia Windows Phone devices, stayed out of the bottom tier thus far, and the series started at the Lumia 520, at just over Rs10,000. This was a good strategy, as they were able to offer a phone that worked smoothly and could handle most tasks while still being affordable for large numbers of buyers. The new update, the 525, is almost exactly the same phone, at almost exactly the same price, but it brings in a few changes—most critically, doubling the amount of RAM to 1GB.

This seemingly small change makes a big difference in performance, particularly gaming, and takes the “good enough" 520 experience and makes it a genuinely good one.

The four-inch screen is running at 480X800 pixels, that’s a little low these days but looks fair enough really. Along with the increased 1GB of RAM, there’s a dual core 1GHz CPU, 8GB of storage, a microSD slot, and a 5MP camera.

The added RAM means that the games the 520 had a few problems with run a lot more smoothly—you’re not going to confuse the performance of the 525 with the new 1520, of course, but there’s no doubt that it’s a smooth experience.

The catch is of course that the 525 is still a Windows Phone device, and while they have been relatively successful in India, it’s clear that smartphone buyers are more interested in Android in this price range, and with good reason too—the app support for Windows Phone remains relatively limited. It’s gone up a lot in the last twelve months, but a lot of high profile apps are still only on iOS and Android, and this is particularly true about games.

Many other entry-level smartphones now have 8MP cameras, so that sounds like a disadvantage for Nokia, but the pictures are crisp and clear, and frankly, in this budget, the 525’s camera is pretty good.

Aside from that, while we love the Windows Phone design interface, there’s no denying that some workflows are still nonsensical, and getting used to the user interface can take a fair bit of time because its logic is very different from the well established paradigms.

Despite these shortcomings, there’s no denying that the Lumia 525 is a responsive, and attractive phone, reasonably priced at Rs11,499.

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