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Best festival phones: Nokia 206, Lumia 520, Lumia 620, and Alcatel One Touch T’Pop

Festival season is well underway with the likes of Download, Glastonbury, Latitude and V Festival done and dusted for another year and End of the Road, Reading/Leeds and Bestival to come. 

Unsurprisingly though, taking your precious half grand smartphone to packed out, often waterlogged public events where drunken revelry is par for the course isn’t something we’d recommend.

For those of you who’d rather take an inexpensive second phone with you lest your regular one get lost, stolen or trashed, we’ve put together this short run down of four of the top contenders today has to offer, with camera samples from each within the blurbs.

Put through their paces at this year’s V Festival, which one offered the best experience? 

Nokia Lumia 520

The Nokia Lumia 520 is one of the lowest-priced Windows Phone devices going, giving you a comprehensive smartphone experience for £100-£120.

The low price combined with a battery saving mode makes the Nokia Lumia 520 an attractive festival prospect. The bright coloured swappable covers are both fun, and would make it easy to find should you lose it when it’s dark. Removeable covers also means any scuffs can be remedied with a simple purchase.

During the brighter and sunnier moments of V 2013, the reflective cover of the screen meant the glare of the sun hampered the experience and even with the brightness maxed, reading texts from friends wasn’t always easy. 

Call quality was great, seemingly the best of these four phones we reviewed. With the volume cranked up high on the Lumia 520, it was loud enough to cut through the hubbub of several revellers and some particularly rowdy girls who were all agog over the prospect of Niall from One Direction or whoever being onsite. 

After two days of mild use the Nokia Lumia 520 weighed in with 41 per cent of battery left in the tank. 

Nokia Lumia 620

The higher-specced Nokia Lumia 620 ups the ante by taking everything that the Lumia 620 offers and adding more. The LED flash means you can take better pictures and video at night and the ClearBlack display means that the Lumia 620 offers greater legibility in bright sunlight, making texting much easier. 

The camera of the Lumia 620 was the best out of these four which is obviously another factor to consider when documenting those priceless festival moments. This is even when you consider that you essentially get the same sized sensor (5-megapixels) and the same software as you do with the Lumia 520.

The 1300 mAh battery is slightly smaller than the 1430 mAh cell that comes in the Lumia 520 but at the end of the day we didn’t notice much of a difference – after two days of use, the phone was still ticking over with 33 per cent left.

As with the Lumia 520, call quality was good but oddly, not quite as clear or loud as the cheaper Lumia 520 which in a festival situation is really what you want. Generally, the Nokia Lumia 620 is bit more expensive too, costing as much as £150 in some places but if you look you can pick it up on pay-as-you-go for £100 plus top up.

Nokia 206Nokia 206

Touchscreen phones are the norm these days so reaching for the Nokia 206, with its old school keypad, seems like madness at first.

Festival goers of a certain age will also be a dab hand at T9 texting though, which if you’re good, can be faster for texting than standard touchscreen text entry, especially in the rain with the phone shielded either in a pocket of under a jacket. 

As well as being most festival friendly by dint of it having keys instead of a big panel, the Nokia 206 boasts excellent battery life. After two days of constant use it was showing no signs of flagging, though the Nokia’s feature phone OS wouldn’t let us get as accurate a reading of the fuel tank as the competition.

We had a few problems with our particular model, namely that it occasionally failed to recognise whether or not there was a SIM card inside and getting our festival photos off of the darn thing was tricky.

There’s no USB port, just a proprietary two-pin plug so you can’t easily transfer any pics you’ve snapped that aren’t saved on a microSD card. In the end we used Bluetooth to get our snaps off of the Nokia 206, but not after we’d tried no less than ten times to pair it with our laptop.

For all our grievances on the imaging front, the 3.2-megapixel shooter isn’t too bad, provided there’s enough natural light. The lack of flash makes it useless for documenting nocturnal misbehaviour and as you can see below, it’s not brilliant at long distance shots. 

For £50+ you’ve got something with a solid battery that’ll save you from having to visit a charging tent when you could be spending time watching a band. 

Alcatel One Touch T’Pop

Alcatel’s One Touch T’Pop is an inexpensive Android phone that can be snapped up for around £60. 

It’s a very basic phone. It runs the old Android 2.3 Gingerbread software, its pretty unresponsive and the shots produced by the 2-megapixel camera really aren’t worth writing home about, let alone trying to capture any great festival memories. 

Call quality is OK but not brilliant. The default keyboard is SwiftKey which makes texting your friends easier and even though the 3.5-inch screen isn’t particularly detailed (320 x 480 resolution) when you have the brightness turned all the way up it’s fine for texting in the sun, though not as good, it has to be said, as the Nokia Lumia 620. 

Obviously the higher you’ve got the brightness turned up the more power the phone will use and this is where the One Touch T’Pop really fals behind the competition. After a two day festival, the One Touch T’Pop was beeping angrily at us, reminding us that it had just 15 and then 10 per cent of power left. 

There’s a battery saver installed but all this really is a menu screen with quick links that let you toggle things like data, kill any unnecessary apps or tasks that are running in the background and consuming power and (you guessed it) turn down brightness. Even with that it’s not enough to give the One Touch T’Pop much of a chance of assisting you over a weekend.

Winner – Nokia Lumia 620

Even though it’s the most expensive phone on offer here the Nokia Lumia 620 is still a bargain when you consider what you get for your money. Respectable battery performance and a high contrast screen combined with a decent, festival-worthy camera make the Lumia 620 our winner.  

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