Although it may not be the case for everyone, the sight of a new lime green Nokia brings a smile to our face, rekindling fond memories of one of their last great pre-Windows Phone devices: the N8. But this phone isn't here to remind us of Nokia's past, it's the next step in the company's future, representing the latest phase in their roll out of Windows Phone 8: making it available to a broader range of consumers at a more affordable price point.
Nokia Lumia 620: Design
We can't help but describe the Lumia 620 as 'cute'. Its compact form factor, well rounded corners and edges, not to mention a footprint smaller than the majority of similarly specced handsets thanks to that 3.8-inch display mean that it's so inoffensive it's hard to fault. Such heavy rounding does put it on the podgy side (it's 11mm thick), which for some might cause issue when it comes to tight pockets or purses, but for the most part, its proportions aren’t that far off the likes of an iPhone 4.
The front features a 3.8-inch ClearBlack display, earpiece, three Windows Phone capacitive keys and a VGA front facing camera, whilst on the back sits a 5-megapixel autofocus camera complete with LED flash and a single loudspeaker in the bottom right corner. Ports are constrained to a headphone jack on top and a microUSB on the phone's underside, whilst the right side offers the remaining sets of controls in the form of the power/lock key, volume rocker and a dual-detent shutter button.
Should the 620's lime green attire not match your outfit, the whole back of the phone snaps off revealing a 1300mAh removable battery, microSD slot, pull-out microSIM tray, NFC plate and the ability to reattach one of five other alternative matt finish colored backs (the lime comes in a gloss finish) which Nokia and some carriers have made available separately.
Nokia Lumia 620: Screen
The long and short of it is that the 3.8-inch ClearBlack LCD panel at work on the Lumia 620 is good, but nothing we haven’t already seen. Like its bigger brother, the Lumia 820, it uses the same WVGA (480x800) resolution, which is perfectly serviceable for images and video, although smaller font sizes as found on web pages will require a little pinch-to-zoom action in order to become easily legible.
Colours are punchy, the backlight is certainly powerful which works well outdoors, blacks are far better than some handsets of equivalent value and as we’ve already pointed out, the smaller screen size is both a blessing and a curse when considering design versus performance.
Nokia Lumia 620: Performance
On paper the 620 could be seen as a veritable pocket rocket, but in reality, things are a little more down to earth.
For the most part, the UI feels fast, fluid and enjoyable, as any Windows Phone 8 device should, but we suspect the loading screens which hung around sometimes a little too long when opening or switching apps occurred as a result of the frugal amount of RAM (512MB) on offer. The Snapdragon S4 1GHz dual-core chip has no trouble running apps like Skype and Facebook side by side and a trip to the Games section of the Windows Phone Marketplace won’t limit you with regards to full 3D titles, however frame rate on a game such as Fruit Ninja doesn’t feel as buttery smooth as we’ve seen on similarly specced Android handsets, we could tell the 620 was working hard.
We have to commend Nokia for squeezing not only WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS into the 620, but NFC too. For an entry level handset at the PAYG price points UK carriers are suggesting, such a level of functionality is seldom seen elsewhere. What’s more Nokia have included tools to make the most of what’s on offer from their App Highlights area.
One aspect where they did have to cut some costs was on mobile data and so unlike its Windows Phone 8 Lumia brethren, the 620 doesn’t feature an LTE 4G radio. This doesn’t come as a massive surprise however and those looking to pick up a 620 should still be happy with the snappy 3G speeds, quick-to-connect WiFi and and always-on nature of elements like Facebook Chat and Skype.
Battery would also have taken a hit had LTE been part of the recipe but the 1300mAh cell should see you through a day without much worry, just don’t go overboard with web browsing or intensive gaming, otherwise you might find yourself tripping it to the plug point sooner than you’d like.
Nokia Lumia 620: OS
Windows Phone 8 is as always a joy to use and Nokia are at the head of the pack when it comes to creating a more unique user experience, which is done by the use of exclusive apps and wallpapers more than anything else. The closed nature of WP8 does make it hard to differentiate between one brand and another, so a trip to the Nokia Collection section of the WP Marketplace is a welcome inclusion.
Nokia have produced a wealth of apps to download, many of which are free, but they also provide new owners with a number of third-party apps preinstalled out-the-box. Our 620 featured Ebay, Groupon, Nectar, Angry Birds Roost and Hello! Magazine from the moment we turned it on, giving us an indication of who Nokia might be targeting the 620 at.
Nokia Lumia 620: Camera
The 5-megapixel snapper on the back of the 620 is a perfectly serviceable camera that although not outstanding, could be seen as outclassing many other 5-meg cameras found in rival devices. In natural light, colour depth is good, with bold shades punching through, perhaps to the detriment of accuracy, but we liked the resultant images.
In low light, colour depth might not offer as much in the way of variation, but nonetheless, the quality of the shots was impressive to say the least; really with thanks going to the phone's single pulse LED flash, which takes a lot of the noise out of dark areas.
The camera’s weakness is in the detail. Finer aspects of images were lost as the phone tried to remove noise and image shake and the same can be said for video. The Lumia 620 can shoot in 720p HD video at 30fps, which doesn’t feature much in the way of detail, but again likes to push colour saturation of some shades. In the outdoor footage we shot, the auto contrast struggled to maintain a clear image, sometimes leaving subjects in darkness, which leads us to think the 620 won’t be an option for those who want to film on a night out.
Nokia Lumia 620: Verdict
The Nokia Lumia 620 - it might appear cheap and cheerful at first sight, but it actually appears to be a device which can punch well above its weight. Elements like expandable storage up to 64GB, NFC and Nokia’s array of exclusive apps make for a compelling package in a fun design which we think can cater to a range of users.
What really sells it to us is for the price (between £149.99 and £189.99 on PAYG), you’ll be hard pressed to find such a well-rounded alternative. Naturally, we wish the camera was better and Nokia considered an LTE version as it’s almost refreshing to get our hands on such a capable ‘small’ (relatively speaking) smartphone again (when most handsets with similar hardware daren’t drop their screen size below 4.2-inches). The 620 feels like a step in the right direction, but we want more.