The Nokia Lumia 620 is one of the best budget smartphones on the market.
Design & display
The Lumia 620 is described by Nokia as having a "youthful appeal". Its bright colours give it a playful look but it feels nothing like a toy.
The front of the Lumia 620 is completely flat but the back curves smoothly towards the edges making it sit comfortably in your hand. When held with one hand we easily managed to stretch our thumb to the very top of the screen.
At 11mm thick the Lumia 620 certainly isn't as thin as many other handsets on the market, but its light weight of 127g is evenly balanced. It's comfortable to hold and use.
The Lumia 620 has standard Windows Phone keys below its display (back, home and search buttons) along with side-mounted volume controls and a power/lock screen key. There's also a physical camera shutter key which can be held for three seconds to jump straight into the camera.
Nokia has made use of snap-on covers on the Lumia 620. The cover can be removed by pushing the camera lens and pulling back the top of the plastic cover.
The process is a little fiddly but it's something you probably won't be doing too often. Despite the removable covers there are no creaks, rattles or signs of poor build quality.
There are a range of different coloured snap-on covers available for the device in both matte and gloss finishes. Most use a "dual-shot colour technique" which involves a second layer of coloured, transparent or translucent polycarbonate applied over the base layer.
This effect creates secondary colours like lime green, which combines yellow and cyan. The colours are bright, bold and distinctive and further add to the Lumia 620's appeal.
The Nokia Lumia 620 has a 3.8in, TFT touchscreen with a respectable resolution of 800x480. That resolution provides a pixel density of 246ppi, which is more than most budget smartphones.
The screen performs well in direct sunlight, has good viewing angles and displays relatively clear text, provided you're zoomed in enough. Things can become a little cramped during Web browsing, but Windows Phone 8's Internet Explorer browser does a good job of rendering most websites.
Software & performance
The user experience of the Lumia 620 is virtually identical to the flagship Lumia 920, aside from the much smaller screen. You get all the same software features that Microsoft includes in Windows Phone 8, along with the various apps that Nokia preloads.
Performance is excellent. The Lumia 620's 1GHz dual-core processor and 512MB of RAM might not sound like much on paper but they make for a smooth and fast user experience.
Scrolling is smoother than almost any Android phone, there is no lag when switching between apps and performance is consistent and snappy. The combination of the Windows Phone 8 OS and the Lumia 620's hardware makes for a speedy and efficient device.
Nokia's range of apps and features are significantly impressive. The Here Maps application is more comprehensive than Apple Maps and even betters Google Maps on Android phones in some ways. It allows you to download a range of maps from entire countries to use when you don't have any mobile network coverage.
Here Drive+ Beta provides free turn-by-turn navigation in a clean and easy to navigate layout. The ability to download maps means the navigation service doesn't use any mobile data, just the Lumia 620's built-in GPS chip.
The Windows Phone 8 OS itself also has some excellent core features. All users receive 7GB of SkyDrive Storage for free. The built-in, free Microsoft Office app handles Word and Excel documents with ease and is without a doubt the best office client on any mobile platform. The Xbox Music service is also decent value at $11.99 per month or $119.90 per year for unlimited music streaming.
The biggest downside to the Nokia Lumia 620 is the lack of popular third-party apps. The store continues to expand and improve over time, however, with popular music streaming service Spotify recently becoming available.
Disappointingly, the price of paid apps on the Windows Phone platform seem higher than competing platforms, a particular concern for low cost handsets like the Lumia 620.
Camera & battery life
The Lumia 620 has a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with single LED flash and a front-facing VGA camera for video calls.
Pictures captured are of a reasonable quality and good for a budget smartphone. Images can be a little noisy depending on conditions and low-light performance is poor but colour reproduction is accurate and most photos turned out pretty sharp.
Adding value to the Lumia 620's camera are Nokia's camera modes, which it calls lenses. There's a panorama lens to capture panorama shots, a cinemagraph mode that captures movement and turns still shots into a GIF file and a Smart Shoot lens that captures multiple photos and then allows you to remove elements from an image, like someone walking in the background of your photo. These are all valuable additions, particularly on an entry level smartphone.
Photos and 720p video files are saved to the Lumia 620's 8GB of internal memory but the phone has a microSD slot for memory expansion. The slot requires you to remove the snap-on cover, but not the battery.
NFC is another notable inclusion at such a low price point but the Lumia 620 isn't 4G capable, so you'll have to make do with regular 3G data speeds.
The Lumia 620 has pretty good battery life. Most users should easily be able squeeze a full day of use out of the device before needing to recharge it.
Lighter users may be able to push that figure to a day and a half, but it ultimately depends on your usage pattern and how long the screen is on for.
The Nokia Lumia 620 is available now through JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Dick Smith, Harvey Norman and Allphones stores across Australia for $329 outright.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.