Nokia Lumia 620: A Second Opinion

2013-03-17 02.26.47

By this time, you’ve probably heard a lot about how good the Nokia Lumia 620 is. I will agree that it’s certainly the best smartphone that you can get for the price; if I were in the market for a low-end smartphone I honestly cannot think of any Android device that I’d rather have than the Lumia 620. It is definitely a very likable phone, and I fell in love with its hardware design the moment I got it out of its box. There is something about using a small, simple and compact phone again after spending weeks with high-end 5-inch Android touchscreen slabs; while using the Lumia 620 felt a bit claustrophobic at the very beginning, I grew accustomed to this smartphone within a day.

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Just like the HTC Butterfly, the Lumia 620′s physical design comes very close to perfection but falls short in certain areas that might not be immediately obvious. First of all, the 3.8-inch WVGA display on the front feels noticeably “rougher” in texture compared to the other devices I have on my desk; it’s particularly obvious when one is performing swipe gestures on the Lumia 620 as there’s more friction going on between your finger and the surface of the display. The display also collects fingerprints very easily, but I realize this is slightly nit-picky and the target market for the Lumia 620 won’t necessarily notice or care. The LCD panel itself might not feature the best contrast or viewing angles, but it has a decent pixel density and is of adequate quality for a phone like the Lumia 620. If you keep your expectations measured, you’ll be very happy.

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Both the capacitive buttons on the front and the physical buttons on the side work well, with decent responsiveness and good press feedback respectively. However, the camera “glass” on the back of the Lumia 620 collects fingerprints extremely easily (there’s no way that it won’t be soiled each time you want to take a photo) and, for some reason, requires more effort to clean than other smartphones I’ve used. Oil and grease from your fingers don’t seem to rub off as easily on the Lumia 620, and using a sheet of tissue paper can cause bits of tissue paper to become stuck in the miniscule gap between the camera “glass” and the LED flash window, as well as the gap where the camera “glass” meets the back cover.

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Speaking of the back cover, I’m quite a big fan of what Nokia has done with its coloured shells for the Lumia 620; I’ve discussed them in my initial impressions. However, I would absolutely recommend you pick up a matte shell instead of the glossy one because while the yellow and green shell is certainly attention-grabbing, its glossy surface collects fingerprints very easily and can become rather slippery after some use. The matte ones are just as good-looking in my opinion but don’t get oily and slippery unlike the glossy shell, and are probably more scratch-resistant.

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Otherwise, build quality on the Lumia 620 is absolutely top-notch; it does not feel like a low-end smartphone at all, providing the same impression of solidity and durability as its sibling, the Lumia 820. Unlike the Lumia 820, however, the 620 does not feel chunky or hefty at all; it sits very comfortably in one’s palm and can be used entirely one-handed with ease. In terms of physical dimensions, it is very similar to the iPhone 4/4S in terms of length and width, which should please those of you looking for a smaller phone that fits in a pocket without any difficulty at all. What might be less pleasing, however, is battery life.

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The Lumia 620 packs a relatively small 1300mAh cell whose only saving grace is that it’s user-replaceable so you can always get a second battery if you need more power; you won’t be seeing mind-blowing runtime from the Lumia 620, and even chatting on WhatsApp with music playing in the background can take a big toll on battery life. I saw a 50% charge deplete in the matter of a couple of hours, and several hours of light use (occasional replying to messages) coupled with about half an hour of web browsing over 3G and half an hour of camera use was enough to deplete 60% of a full charge. I mostly left my display brightness set to automatic, with WiFi switched off when not needed. If you’re a particularly heavy user, you might find that the Lumia 620 won’t make it through a day without a mid-day charge.

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I found the Lumia 620′s 5-megapixel shooter to perform up to expectations considering the phone’s market positioning. It’s not going to blow you away with the images it puts out and you certainly won’t want to use the Lumia 620 to shoot photos of anything remotely important, but it will give you photos that look just fine for sharing to social networks. Macro photos aren’t terribly sharp and the post-capture noise-reduction algorithms work to reduce detail especially in low-light situations, but the Lumia 620′s camera generally met my expectations for a smartphone in its price range and in a few instances managed to exceed those expectations.

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I think it is pretty amazing that Nokia have managed to replace the Lumia 610 (a phone I absolutely detested) with a far better product running on a far better software platform so quickly, but Windows Phone 8 is probably the most contentious aspect of the Lumia 620. Windows Phone 8 has a real competitive advantage over Android at the low-end and mid-range price segments. Most of us have seen how poor the user experience on low-end Android smartphones can be – performance in every area tends to suffer, especially when it comes to the general speed of the user interface and web browsing.

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However, the difference in perceived speed between a low-end Windows Phone 8 device like the Lumia 620 and a higher-end Windows Phone 8 device like the Lumia 820 is virtually imperceptible – the Lumia 620 feels every bit as fast and fluid as the Lumia 820 when it comes to navigating around the Windows Phone 8 user interface, switching in and out of apps, browsing desktop-class websites in Internet Explorer and so on. In other words, you’re getting high-end performance on a low-end smartphone, and that makes for a generally excellent user experience. The Lumia 620 features all of the same Nokia-exclusive apps as you would find on the flagship Lumia 920 – this little smartphone offers every single software feat that the Lumia 920 is capable of. Regardless of where your platform preferences lie, it cannot be overstated how the Lumia 620 sets a new bar for what we should expect from a low-end smartphone. It offers a fluid, consistent user experience that appeals to novices and people upgrading from feature-phones by virtue of its simplicity and good design.

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With all that said, Windows Phone 8 is still a platform that is far from perfect. I won’t cover old ground regarding my gripes about Microsoft’s smartphone operating system – you can check out this editorial I wrote a while back for a refresher on those, but it’s clearer than ever that there is still a lot more work to be done. Microsoft cannot allow Windows Phone 8 to stagnate; while Windows Phone 8 in its initial release was a very strong start, there remains room for improvement. Has anything changed in the last 2 months since I wrote that editorial?

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Unfortunately not. When I reviewed the Nokia Lumia 820 and HTC 8S, Windows Phone 8 had not been available for public consumption for too long, so I was willing to cut the platform some slack regarding the issues I encountered. However, to pick up the Lumia 620 2 months later and set it up as my everyday smartphone only to find that virtually none of the issues I faced back then have been resolved is a recipe for frustration on my part. I really thought I’d fall in love with the Lumia 620, but certain aspects of Windows Phone 8, especially those aspects which are completely broken, have made my time with the Lumia 620 a lot less enjoyable that it could have been. I concede that not everyone might encounter the same issues as I have, but my personal experience was significantly affected nonetheless.

My problems with getting the Xbox Music app to work properly as a music player has caused me the most pain out of everything I’ve encountered. I really don’t understand why it’s so hard to synchronize MP3 files and M3U playlists over a wired MTP connection from Windows Media Player in Windows 8 to the Lumia 620′s microSD storage, and have the Xbox Music app display my music as they should be displayed. My music library has been painstakingly tagged and organized, so there cannot possibly be a problem with my MP3 files.

It’s true that Xbox Music displays everything just fine right after the synchronization has completed. However, if the Lumia 620 runs out of battery or a reboot is necessary for whatever reason, everything goes to hell without fail. My playlists vanish, the album list becomes empty; all that is left is the song list and upon selecting a song to be played, I realize that all my album art has gone missing as well. In order to fix the problem, I have to re-synchronize all my music. At times, a corrupted Xbox Music library affects the Nokia Music app as well; I’ve also had issues with the next track not playing after the current track has finished, necessitating a reboot which then corrupts the music library.

WhatsApp is an essential messaging service for me and many other people I know, and the Windows Phone client while having benefited from a few updates is still fraught with issues. Issues such as the Live Tile updating with a number badge only after I’ve already read a message by jumping into the app from a toast notification. Issues such as conversation threads not scrolling to the bottom when the keyboard is onscreen. Issues such as random moments of non-responsiveness when trying to wake the Lumia 620 from sleep if WhatsApp is left in the foreground. Issues such as the app being slow to resume from the background, slow to load up from the Start screen, slow to load conversations, slow to do just about anything. This is not a satisfactory experience at all.

Speaking of resuming apps from the background, I cannot believe how slow this process can be in Windows Phone 8. Switching between apps is a nearly instantaneous process on an almost 3-year-old iPhone 4. Meanwhile, it doesn’t take very long for one to spot a “…Resuming…” indicator using a Windows Phone 8 device. I realize that we are talking about a delay that only lasts a few seconds, but if you add all these seconds spent looking at “…Resuming…” indicators in a single day together, that would probably end up being a significant amount of time. Coupled with Windows Phone 8′s liberal use of animations and transitions, trying to look up something in a hurry can be a frustrating experience. Having apps take a few seconds at a time to resume from the background really starts to grate after a while.

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Not being able to enable push email on my Gmail accounts is quite an annoyance as well, but what’s even more annoying is the lag in the Camera app when capturing and saving shots. None of the issues that I have described in the past few paragraphs are new issues that I’ve just discovered on the Lumia 620. They are recurring issues that I first uncovered on the Lumia 820 and HTC 8S, and absolutely nothing has been done about it despite being, in my opinion, rather major problems.

At the end of the day, the Lumia 620 is still subject to caveats and compromise just like any other smartphone in its market segment. Owning a Lumia 620 involves accepting a different set of compromises compared to owning a comparably-priced Android smartphone. Is it the best low-end smartphone currently available on the market right now? I think it is. Would I pick up a Lumia 620 over a comparably-priced Android smartphone? I certainly would.

But please, Microsoft, can’t you fix the bugs already?

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About The Author

Based in Singapore, Alvin is an applied drama and psychology student who loves caffeine, cycling, photography and working with stories, and is obsessed with mobile technology, often spending many of his waking hours thinking, talking and writing about it. He has also developed an irrational love for his Nokia N9.
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Number of Entries : 280
  • mobileyog

    Good post. Though I think 620 is best windows phone device at that value , I disagree that it is best low end smartphone as of now.

    There are several androids which are similar or lesser priced and have much better specs than 620. And it is not only specs but experience is also better , not by huge margin but overall better. Here in India, micromaxx, karbon, lava have got really good phones. No wonder these phones are selling like crazy. Samsung is also selling SGS Advance at much lesser price , and that phone is also very good.

    Also people here have got used to Android and it’s interface, freedom(dual SIM, pirated apps,Google apps) which it gives :)

    I am sure 620 will improve poor sales of WP but I don’t expect any major shift.

    • Mark

      Don’t tell me, show me. Name the micromaxx, karbon and lava phones which offer better value, because I don’t know them.

      • mobileyog

        Micromaxx Canvas 2, Xolo A1000, Lava Iris 501, Samsung Galaxy S Advance

    • iVarun

      Come on, how can someone list these companies in competition against the customer support of Nokia. There is no comparison. micromaxx, karbon, lava, all these have non-existent post sale support and if they have its no way near Nokia’s.

      Also these companies were able to offer these new android phones because they are using older gen SoC’s with previous gen processors. The Lumia 620 is using the latest generation of SoC’s and with its GPU is even ahead of 920 is terms of architecture and reference version number.

      The author is correct for the price range 620 comes at, it has NO legitimate competition. Customers are being duped if they think they are getting value for their money with micromaxx, karbon, lava

      • mobileyog

        I guess that is your person opinion, and it fact it shows that you have not even tried these so called “no legitimate” phones.
        I am glad that majority people don’t think the same way and it shows in sales :)
        I agree that these companies have very poor after sales support but then failure rates are not very high. Also please visit Nokia care once and see people complaining there.

        Even if you discount such manufacturers , what you think of Sony , LG, Samsung?
        I have used SGS Advance and it is much better value for money than 620.

        • iVarun

          Majority of the people have no clue about their phones, they don’t look at the specs with an eagle eye, price point is more important.

          Nokia has greater volume of people having their phones and their service is great so customers complaining at the Nokia CC is actually a sign of things working NOT Nokia making silly stuff.

          I have yet to see a Micromax service center.

          I’d give the Maruti analogy here, they make good cars and provide exceptional support, the rest of domestic manufactures are only catching up to them.

          Also Nokia’s brand image is not something which is bought, people actually like them because they provide quality and value money proposition.Sony, LG, Samsung are all multinationals with decent to above average or superb after sale service.

          They also don’t cut corners on their hardware.

          My obejection was only to your assertion that these domestic manufacturers are providing better quality than Nokia when in fact they reason these devices have a lower price point is because they are using older gen specs for things like SoC internals.

          • mobileyog

            “Majority of people” – I think you are living on some island, please go and watch in stores, users ask for dual core, more RAM, bigger screen, latest version of OS etc.

            “Nokia has greater volume of people” – Again this is your personal opinion, Nokia is now 3rd in India, behind Samsung and Micromaxx in Smartphone sales.

            I never said that Micromaxx and similar companies had better after sales support. People are willing to take risk with their products and overall it is not as bad you you may think. I have seen around 6-8 people around me buying such phones and only 1 has to visit service centre within 1 year( Official warranty).

            “They also don’t cut corners on their hardware” – Are you talking about Nokia here? If yes , then let me remind of of great products like N97, E72,(Which has RAM issues). If we look at so called popular Lumia , please check 510, 610
            If you are talking about other manufacturers , let me remind you of Sony,HTC(Missing FFC,microSD,okish screens).

            My assertion was these companies provide better value for money,
            SoC internals is not everything, Screen, Battery, OS flexibility, Dual SIM, are also important factors.
            Actually despite huge marketing money and effort done by Nokia, sales of Lumia series says it all.

            Also I never mentioned Micromaxx, Lava , Karbon as “domestic” manufacturers. I call them fake indian brands :)
            So I am not big fan of these , in fact I hate those but facts are facts.
            I hope you will get my point of view. Lumia 620 may be(is?) best Windows Phone smartphone but it is not best smartphone < 15k.
            P.S. – One of my friend bought Lenovo P770 for just 13.5k. Please check it and compare with 620 :)

            • iVarun

              “dual core, more RAM, bigger screen, latest version of OS”

              This doesn’t disprove my point, every 2 dual cores are not the same, larger screen doesn’t mean better, and Lumia 520/620 is clear example of this and Canvas’s SoC and Lumia’s SoC are clear examples.

              My point is still valid.

              Leave Samsung out of this, the only reason i even entered this debate is because you brought in domestic manufacturers.

              Nokia having greater volume of people I tried to imply they apart from new phones also have customers with phones which are old and still being used and are still being repaired, this increases the “noise in the CC as you refer to”

              My point is still valid, i.e. you had a redundant argument on Nokia pppl complaining, they have an outlet to complain, someone buying a Lava is not going to walk few KM’s and find a Lava store to bitch about.

              Domestic manufacturers DO cut corners on their hardware.

              This is fact, WHY, because the world is real and tangible, stuff is not free here and companies in an open capitilist system are not charities.

              By cutting corners i meant in SoC’s, display technology used, Android OS (which can be forked or licensed without turning on the costs to customers).

              Indian’s mid-range device manufacturers are not following the Chinese Meizu, Oppo, etc system, where these small companies buy excess parts from companies like Apply, Samsung and release very small volume of insanely high end devices for low price because those excess parts are of depreciated value.

              As you said getting these phones from these companeis is indeed a risk, and also as you also said, SoC’ and internals and sepcs are not the only thing that matters in determining a value or worth of a product.

              Brand image and customer support are all part of it, value for money metric is not limited to price points.
              In terms of pure specs P770 is indeed better than Lumia 620, of course.

              But that paints an incomplete picture.

              We haven’t even talked about the Android v WP debate some people just don’t like one or the other.
              And there is always an issue with manufacturers updating their devices.

              Big players like HTC is renounced for not supporting their devices which aren’t even 15 months old.

              I remember my old Nokia 5800 got 14 Updates over 3 years from Nokia.
              MS has guaranteed support for WP8 till July 2013, than and also said that current line will be upgraded to 8.5.

              Micromaxx can provide this, ALL customers are not tech savvy who know it all.

              Provided all this its unfair and a stretch to label all these as value proposition.
              Many a thing in this world are cheap over the short term.

              • mobileyog

                Now you are changing your position as I expected :) Please read your original comment.
                “For the price range 620 comes at, it has NO legitimate competition and is the Best low-mid scale smartphone.”
                And now you are claiming that you are replying just because I said companies like micromaxx,lava have better phones.
                I had clearly mentioned that there are many androids which are better and those include so called domestic companies and Samsung too.
                Please make up your mind.

                Also explain how apart from SoC, Lumia 620 is better? Bigger screen does not mean better? Please go and check again. Have you even checked phones I mentioned?

                Getting Android is cutting corners? I think you don’t know that using Android is not FREE. There are some patent fees. Though it may not be comparable to WP license. These manufactures are giving what people want, and that is NOT WP. How can this be called as cutting corners? Do you mean that all companies making Android phones are cutting corners by using Android as OS and not WP?

                Please note that I have never said that after sales of these companies is better than Nokia.

                You are saying brand image and after sales are important along with specs. I am saying people are taking risk when they are giving more importance to specs. Sales figures are proof of exactly this point. That is why I said Lumia is not as good as that competition.
                This is point of majority people buying phones today, it may not be your view. simple.

                Overall, I think you are not sure what you are trying to say here :)
                So think again.

                • iVarun

                  Stop being so pedantic, in an argument words must be taken into context.

                  What was the last part of my last comment all about?

                  “Also explain how apart from SoC, Lumia 620 is better?

                  SoC and OS are pretty huge in themselves, 2 devices having a 5% odd separation on price point is not going to have a great deal more in specs.

                  There is also the fact of how OS combines with hardware, i don’t want to go in to OS fanboy debate, it is never civil and since a lot of times its based on objective reasons, its futile.

                  “Android is not FREE”, redundant point, i already mentioned this.

                  OS is cutting corner because the license fee is not as high as WP and manufacturers are not limited to a set specification which MS under its hardware certification requirements does with WP, manufacturers are given specific and strict guidelines of what they can do.
                  This is also why there is so much variety in Android devices across the manufacturers.
                  This leaves enough freedom to cut corners.

                  This is what i said in my first comment

                  “The author is correct for the price range 620 comes at, it has NO legitimate competition and is the Best low-mid scale smartphone”

                  Read the 1st 2 para’s as well. Context matters.

                  All this wall of text is happening because my argument is simple.

                  Specs ain’t everything, Post sale customer support matters a lot and given that these domestic manufacturers have in relative terms close to non existent support for a product which would be 2-3 years old, saying Lumia 620 is the best in its price range across all manufacturers is totally fair.

                  I will eat my words if in July 2014, The Canvas or this Lava phone will be running the latest Android build (whichever that be).

                  To the non-techsavvy this hardly matters since they got a phone on the cheap that works (doubtful in 2 years but alas), but this also shows that these customers are essentially being shortchanged because in the near term things look rosy.

                  I have nothing to add, I’ve laid down my points, you disagree fair enough, to each his own, lets see in 2014.

                  • mobileyog

                    Being pedantic is actually needed here since I know many people try to always change topic easily. Something which is based on “objective” reasons is futile ? really?

                    I liked the way you are trying to prove the point without being specific.

                    And wherever you don’t have any explanation you are trying to talk about “context”. Also by saying , I am not going to “OS fanboy” debate , you are trying to choose what to argue.

                    Your reference point is wrong when you are saying that using “Android is cutting corner” , it should be other way round.

                    Your whole argument is based on “better support” which I have said very clearly that Nokia is better.
                    But to say that because Nokia will give better support till 2014, Lumia 620 is better today is what I am not in agreement with.

                    I guess you need to understand that people(majority) buy phones because what it does today, not after 3 years. May be you have missed to notice this trend nowadays.
                    Also based on only this point you have declared very simplistically that if 620 is supported till 2014 and Micromaxx , others not, decides who is better phone now.
                    I hope I have made myself clear enough and thanks for discussion.

  • JackMerson

    I found this very straightforward which is good. But according to my experience, I have to disagree some points here.
    • The Lumia 620 has exceed my expectation on its screen. Colors are punchy and vibrant and ridiculously bright. Blacks level are not that deep but that’s typical for an LCD screen. Most importantly, contrast are extremely good and viewing angles are good until certain angle.
    • Camera is also very good. Although details are a little bit low, colors are amazing and they are not oversaturated. And try shoot it on low light, somehow my 620 managed to get things brighter on its eye (Camera).
    • About that syncing songs, try sync with .MP4 files. These works flawlessly and I managed to get every song right.
    • Speaking of Whatsapp, I don’t have the same issue as yours. But then, this is the issue of an applications and not the phone itself.
    • Try remove your MicroSD card from the 620 and then, try shoot a photo. No more camera lags. I however, agree that this should be fix since most people will use the MicroSD card.
    I agree that battery could be better (By putting 1500mAh battery) and that …Resuming…. should not exist (It could probably because of lower RAM compared to the 820).
    Don’t get me wrong. I am just expressing my opinion about my phone. It really is a very cute fast smartphone. :)

  • vivek

    dont u think if nokia decided the price of this phone at 13500 in india then it will be the blast……!!!

  • vivek

    phone lags are really negligible because at same or lower price in other phones the lag ratio is so much high…… really really high….. phone hangs like the only way to get back your phone is to remove the battery in other phones…..

    but here are some rumors i have heard, :

    1. we cant change the name of the song from Xbox,

    2. we cant transfer video files by Bluetooth,

    3. if we call contact “XYZ” 5 times then the call log shows XYZ 5 times means it wont able to merge the names on list!!

    4. Flash player requiring websites cant be open in WP8 browsers!!!

    if there is any mistake in these problems please give me the truth……. really i want to buy this phone but due to this stupid rumors i cant……
    reply please….

    • Alvin Wong

      1. I certainly don’t see a way to do that.
      2. I’m able to send video via Bluetooth.
      3. I… haven’t called anyone 5 times. I haven’t even called anyone 1 time. Sorry!
      4. Internet Explorer in WP8 does not support Flash, and honestly it’s for the better.

  • Kenny

    The L620 has 512MB RAM and 8GB storage. What’s wrong with this picture? Well, for that RAM may HD games like Temple Run won’t run properly. As for 8GB it will only take a few weeks before the “Other” folder eats up all free storage and force a hard reset. Sorry, the micro-SD card won’t help. For the same price you can get a dual core Android with 1GB RAM, 8 or 16GB storage with micro-SD card which really works (you can install apps on it) and runs with no lag. What reason is there to buy the L620 with a deeply flawed os? Price? Hardware, Performance? Functions? Apps? Help me out here, Alvin, I’m really confused. Is an ugly tiled interface worth everything?