Nokia just keeps adding phones to the stand-up Lumia range, with the 620 set to make its debut next week. We went hands on with the baby Lumia and were slightly troubled by what we found.
What Is It?
The Nokia Lumia 620 is the baby Lumia. With a 3.8-inch (800x480) AMOLED screen, a dual-core 1GHz processor, 512MB of RAM and five-megapixel camera, the Lumia 620 sits at the more budget end of Nokia's Lumia family. It also features a set of incredibly fetching interchangable covers, 8GB of internal storage, a microSD expansion slot and Nokia's awesome ClearBlack display. All that will set you back $329 from major electronics retailers, including JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Dick Smith, Harvey Norman and Allphones.
Let's compare the Lumia 620 to its bigger brothers. The Lumia 820 is $120 more expensive, while the 920 is $379 more expensive (compared to the prices at Kogan and MobiCity). On the spec front, you'll find a difference in the processor, RAM and camera departments but not enough to make you baulk. Read our full reviews of both the Lumia 820 and the Lumia 920 to check them out for yourselves.
The Lumia 620 — like the 820 — features removable covers, which retain the bright and colourful identity of the Lumia. These look amazing and have the uncanny ability make the 620 look like a handset you could impress both your friends at the pub with, as well as your suit wearing colleagues.
Under the hood, it's the same Windows Phone 8 experience we loved on the higher-specced Lumias. All the Lumia goodies are there too, including City Lens, Nokia Drive and Nokia Maps as well as the different camera lens apps. Despite the fact that the Lumia 620 has entry-level specs, you don't get an entry-level experience. Browsing, multitasking and generally using the handset day-to-day is fast and fluid.
The 620 takes further design cues from the 820 with its flat screen. The Lumia 920 — the flagship — actually has curved glass covering the screen, meaning the glare can get annoying. The 620, however, has a great screen. So crisp and bright, even in direct sunlight. The screen is more visible in direct sunlight than handsets that cost three times as much like the iPhone 5 or the Samsung Galaxy S III.
This plucky Lumia doesn't have 4G which is disappointing, but I'll settle for HSPA+, which it has. Also, the speaker is absurdly loud. I never expected a noise of that volume to come out of anything this size.
Finally, despite the fact that it's only a 1300mAh battery, it has a surprising amount of life in it. Under heavy use I got just under a day, and with minimal use you can expect to get three. It's quite astounding.
The Lumia 620 has a great screen with only one fatal flaw: its positioning on the handset. Nokia made the 620 with a large bottom bezel, which means the screen sits off-centre on the handset. That's super-annoying at first, just because it feels like there's just too much of bottom bezel there for the hardware keys it needs to accommodate.
Also, because the screen is off-centre on the handset, it can affect your perspective on the way you view things on the handset. Images, for example, look like they're way too high on the screen when you view them in portrait mode. If you're OCD, expect that to cause problems almost immediately. If you're not, however, it's something you can get used to.
While we're on screen size and positioning, it's worth noting that because of the smaller 3.8-inch screen on the Lumia 620, the keyboard blocks out much of the screen when it's active. Thankfully Windows Phone 8 is clever enough not to block the text box you need to be typing in, but if you're a junkie for screen real estate, steer well clear of the Lumia 620.
Don't expect to use the camera as any sort of compact replacement. The images are just passable on the 3.8-inch screen. The images have visible noise and the shutter is just a bit too laggy. Check out our sample image gallery from below.
And it's worth noting also that Windows Phone 8 is still missing a few killer apps you'll find on other platforms, but it's not the Lumia 620's fault. It's more something to keep in mind when you buy.
Finally, the Lumia 620 has removable covers but no wireless charging option? What gives, Nokia?
Click to enlarge...
This Is Weird…
As soon as I finish writing this review, I'm picking up the phone to chat to Nokia in Finland, because whoever designs their SIM card trays needs a stern talking to. I like to think myself a smart guy, but it took me far too long to fathom just where in the hell the SIM tray should go back in.
When I popped out the battery, it tore the SIM tray out with it, meaning I had no idea where it went. I consulted the manual of all things and after what felt like far too long tinkering with the thing, I finally put it in its rightful place. What's wrong with a pop-out tray, Nokia? Stick to that in future.
Should You Buy It?
Nokia built the Lumia 620 to a set of exacting specifications. It couldn't be within shouting distance of the Lumia 920, but it had to be specced and priced in such a way that it appeared as good value when slotted in next to the Lumia 820. The only problem is the price.
At $329, the Lumia 620 is a good deal, or should I say, it would be if it were just a little cheaper. Even if Nokia had managed to make the Lumia 620 cost $299, or ideally $249, it would have satisfied the price test. The 620, however, is still within a stone's throw of the 820 as far as pricing is concerned. The Lumia 820 costs a mere $120 more than the 620, which also puts it $379 away from the flagship Lumia 920.
So which is it: was the Lumia 620 priced incorrectly for it to stand on its own merits as an inexpensive way to get into Windows Phone 8 on a Nokia, or is it a cheap ploy from Nokia to get people to buy more Lumia 820s? Probably both, if we're all honest with each other.
When we reviewed the Lumia 820 we said that it was almost as good as the flagship 920 when placed side by side with it, so much so that an ordinary consumer would likely be confused which one to pick if it were up to them. Most likely it would come down to price, in which case they'd choose the 820. There isn't enough of a difference between the 920 and the 820 — other than size and screen resolution, of course — to make the two stand far enough apart. If the Lumia 820 weren't to exist, however, we would be left with a fantastic, uncluttered range between the 920 and the 620.
It's all a great shame, really, because the Lumia 620 is a fantastic handset. It's cheap, it's cheerful and to be honest, I think it looks and feels better than the Lumia 820 despite the larger screen size on the latter.
If you want Windows Phone 8 but don't want to be anywhere near a contract, then the Lumia 620 is for you. If you firmly believe, however, that you ultimately get what you pay for, then skip the 620 and the 820 for that matter, and spend the $659 getting the Lumia 920. That's Nokia's plan, after all.