Review: Case selection for the Nokia Lumia 520
Fresh from my case selection for the Nokia Lumia 1520, let's go down to the other extreme, to the best selling Windows Phone ever - the budget Lumia 520. Again, I'm going to take three of the best selling cases from a major retailer, with very different characteristics, and see which one comes up trumps.
If anything, despite the price, the Lumia 520 needs even more protection than flagship devices, since it's likely to be used - or at least passed to - kids and young teenagers. So the 520 will get dropped, bashed and generally misused. The more protection the better - yet without getting in the way of usability for whoever's holding it.
Here are the three contenders I selected:
Adargia Flip Case, £10
Don't worry, this is available in all colours relevant to the 520 - it's just unfortunate that I'm looking at the 'neon yellow' one, given that I have a red Lumia 520! Styled to look like leather (it's not, of course), this is attractive and sturdy. The phone sits in a very solid rubberised hollow and the top flap (whch has a couple of credit card slots) closes over the top, with a magnetic closure against another magnet mounted in the case's top.
The system works rather well - the case is fun, sturdy and attractive. As long as you don't want to get the phone out of the case very often (e.g. to change the battery or SIM card). It's true that most typical owners won't want to do this very often, but it's worth noting that extracting the Lumia 520 from the Adargia's clutches isn't easy - it's 'clipped' in place very strongly. I had several goes with a screwdriver and managed it eventually - I guess the flip side of this is that, once on, your kid or teenager isn't going to be part the case from the phone either, so protection will remain!
One catch (get it?!) is that the rubber coating over the top magnet rubbed off in the first 10 minutes of use! Oops...
Style: 8 Usability: 7 Protection: 9 Value: 9 Overall: 33/40
In the classic '2 piece' Otterbox mould, we have a rubber inner to absorb shocks and a hard exoskeleton to take any serious impact. The fit is superb - you put the 520 inside the rubber first, then fit the sheathed form into the exoskeleton.
The degree of ruggedisation is first class - although the Trident Aegis isn't claimed to be waterproof in any way, the rubber seal around the screen and the token covering of the 520's ports mean that rain or the odd splash of liquid should be perfectly survivable. Maybe even a very brief drop into water?
Impressively, there's masses of protection all round the screen's front, meaning that even the famous drop, face-down, won't be a problem. The detailing over the 520's buttons is excellent too, completing a very tactile experience all round.
Style: 7 Usability: 9 Protection: 10 Value: 7 Overall: 33/40
Very minimalist, and you'll already know that you can get many similar designs on the likes of eBay, but there's no denying the protective capabilities of TPU gel cases like this. The 520 sits very securely, the case wraps around on every side and it's the perfect way of keeping a Lumia case without breaking the bank.
The downsides are that the end result is very 'meh' and utterly out of the ordinary, plus the button cutouts aren't as well engineered as on the Aegis case above, so quite a bit more pressure is needed.
Style: 5 Usability: 7 Protection: 9 Value: 10 Overall: 31/40
These three are, of course, just a handful from the many other accessories out there - but you get the idea. In fact, all three solutions are equally valid, and a lot will depend on exactly who's going to be using the phone, how rough they are and how often you need to get to the SIM card and/or battery.
For my use, I'd pick the top of the line Trident Aegis and treat it as a fully ruggedised solution - for my 5 year old nephew (whose games are loaded up on my 520 right now) I'd probably just go with the cheapest, the gel case, as the cheapest to replace should he lose both the phone AND the case!
Comments welcome. What's your position on cases for budget, sub-£100 phones?
PS. Thanks to Mobile Fun for the review Lumia 520 case samples.
Reviewed by Steve Litchfield at