Best Windows Phone - which should you buy? $170

3rd May 2014 | 12:00

Best Windows Phone - which should you buy?

Choose the Windows Phone 8 handset that's right for you

TechRadar rating:

4.5 stars

The Lumia 520 looks good, it's got a decent screen, it rarely stutters or slows down, it's great for calls and messaging and might it just be the best entry level Windows Phone handset you can buy.

Like:

Super cheap; Large, expansive screen; Loads of innovation

Dislike:

No front-facing camera; Average battery; No NFC or compass;

Best Windows Phones - which should you buy?

When Windows Phone 8 launched in 2012 it was looking to shake up the mobile market and differentiate itself from the dominant Android and iOS.

While Windows Phone 8 has increased Microsoft's presence in the mobile market, its popularity has dipped in the past year.

There's still hope yet though as Microsoft continues to persevere. The recently launched Windows Phone 8.1 replicates the popular features of Android and iOS whilst combining the comfort of home computing with the convenience of mobile.

We've looked at the Windows Phone devices on offer and picked out the best ones around to guarantee you get the best bang for your buck. Nokia still dominates the list but as a Microsoft entity, that's no surprise.

1. Nokia Lumia 520

Nokia Lumia 520

Price: from £84.99
Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.0 x 12.0 cm ; 124 g
Internal Storage: 8GB

It may not be the most expensive, most glamorous or most powerful smartphone but the Nokia Lumia 520 still stands firm at the top of our list.

We are yet to find a more perfect introduction to smartphone and Windows Phone 8 use. Considering its low price point, the Lumia 520 still boasts impressive specs with a 4-inch display, 1GHz dual-core processor and even a micro SD card slot if you want to expand your storage.

While it may not have all the fancy add-ons you expect from the top end phones, the Lumia 520 is still the most functional and fun Windows Phone on the market. It's certainly a winner in our book.

2. Nokia Lumia 1520

Noka Lumia 1520

Price: from £370
Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.9 x 16.3 cm ; 209 g
Internal Storage: 32G

If big is what you're looking for then look no further than the Nokia Lumia 1520 with its 6-inch display. However, it's not just the screen that's big, this mobile beast is brimming with powerful specs crowning it our best Windows Phone Phablet.

The Lumia 1520 is the first Windows Phone 8 device with a Full HD 1080p display. It's also the first to run on a quad-core processor, making it the ideal gadget for mobile media lovers.

You'd think all these features would result in an unattractive phone, but it's surprisingly sleek, even the impressive 20MP PureView camera barely bulks it out. Who says size doesn't matter? It certainly does with this bad boy.

3. Nokia Lumia 925

Nokia Lumia 925

Price: from £290
Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.8 x 12.9 cm ; 141 g
Internal Storage: 16GB

Sleek, stylish and Nokia's only metallic Windows Phone, the Nokia Lumia 925 is the flagship 'standard' smartphone.

An update on the previous Nokia Lumia 920, the 925 offers a more premium finish. Although it is not entirely metal, it is however the slimmest of Nokia's designs.

Aside from the look, there aren't many differences between the 920 and the 925. It still houses one of the best smartphone cameras we've seen with its 8.7MP PureView lens. Just imagine the 920 but all grown up.

4. Nokia Lumia 1020

Nokia Lumia 1020

Price: from £369
Dimensions: 7.1 x 1.0 x 13 cm ; 159 g
Internal Storage: 32GB

With the highest spec camera out of all the devices in the Lumia range, you'd be forgiven for thinking the Nokia Lumia 1020 should be placed slightly higher on our top 10 list.

The Lumia 1020 has an impressive 41MP PureView camera with Xenon flash which means it does take superb shots. Nonetheless, the rest of the phone's features don't live up to scratch in comparison.

The screen and processor are no bigger than the 820 or 925 and therefore it's just not powerful enough. However, it's dropped a lot in price recently, and that, combined with the stunning photography ability, makes it really worth a look.

It's great for keen photographers but the camera is definitely the sole focus here. Best make sure you're on a good data plan if you want to share all your images.

5. Nokia Lumia 820

Nokia Lumia 820

Price: from £285
Dimensions: 6.9 x 1.0 x 12.4 cm ; 159 g
Internal Storage: 8GB

The Nokia Lumia 820 has also overtaken the 920 as a much more affordable alternative.

The Lumia 820 is the first phone in the Lumia range with an interchangeable case, taking us back to the days of old Nokia devices. Now you can decorate your device to match your mood, occasion or even outfit.

This does make it chunkier than the likes of the 720, however its dual-core Krait Qualcomm processor and OLED ClearBlack display keep it firmly in front.

6-10 - the best Windows Phones.

6. Nokia Lumia 720

Nokia Lumia 720

Price: from £169.99
Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.8 x 12.8 cm ; 127 g
Internal Storage: 8GB

The Nokia Lumia 720 sits smack bang in the middle of the Nokia Lumia range and as a result it does exactly what it says on the tin. Not exactly a showstopper, the Lumia 720 isn't bad for a mid-range phone.

Its design remains more high-end than budget and it is actually slimmer and more lightweight than the Nokia Lumia 920. As you'd expect, the camera isn't as high spec, however neither is the cost and you still get a 6.7MP rear-facing camera and HD video on the front-facing camera.

The phone also houses a 4.3-inch display and a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chipset, all in all, not too shabby for those on a budget.

7. HTC Windows Phone 8X

HTC Win Phone 8X

Price: from £207
Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.0 x 13.2 cm ; 91 g
Internal Storage: 16GB

Finally we reach the first non-Nokia phone in the top 10 and ironically the HTC Windows Phone 8X was Microsoft's signature device to launch its new operating system.

Whilst still brightly coloured in its design, the HTC 8X is much sleeker and some say the best looking Windows Phone on the market. As with many HTC devices, the 8X boasts Beats Audio technology for superior sound quality. Its screen is also impressive at 342 ppi, beating the iPhone 5's retina display and coming close to the Google Nexus 7.

Nonetheless, the 8X features lower on our list as it's not 4G enabled, unlike all the others above (with the exception of the Lumia 520 of course).

8. Nokia Lumia 625

Nokia Lumia 625

Price: from £172.99
Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.9 x 13.3 cm ; 159 g
Internal Storage: 8GB

A relatively new addition to the low-end budget range, the Nokia Lumia 625 outdoes the winning Lumia 520 in just two respects; it is 4G enabled and with a 4.7-inch screen it is much larger. It also runs a faster processor than the Lumia 720.

Nonetheless it dwindles towards the end of our list as it doesn't provide the same all-round quality as its higher ranking alternatives. It simply doesn't have the same imaging credentials as its bigger brothers with just 201ppi.

But if you want to take advantage of superfast 4G networks then it's an affordable option and definitely worth a look.

9. Nokia Lumia 920

Nokia lumia 920

Price: from £220
Dimensions: 1.1 x 7.1 x 13 cm ; 186 g
Internal Storage: 32GB

It may have been 'replaced' but as a previous flagship phone, the Nokia Lumia 920 still has a lot to offer and now comes at a cut-down cost.

Although slightly less powerful than the 925, its 8MP rear camera still rivals the latest offerings from Samsung and Apple and for a much more attractive price.

It's a great buy for those looking for a top-end cameraphone that has mastered all the basic functions to a good standard. Also, with its large 4.5-inch display and PureMotion HD technology it is a reasonably priced alternative to the mammoth Lumia 1520.

It's not widely available these days, thanks to the popularity of the 925, but can still be picked up by shopping around.

10. HTC Windows Phone 8S

HTC 8S

Price: from £132.99
Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 12 cm ; 113 g
Internal Storage: 4GB (can be expanded with a microSD card)

The HTC Windows Phone 8S is a smaller, more affordable version of the 8X. It still retains the stylish and colourful design and is surprisingly fast for a mid-range phone.

The HTC 8S offers the same screen size as the Lumia 520 and a Qualcomm S4 dual-core chip, although it comes with a slightly lower speed of 1GHz. It also stands out from most of the phones above, with the exception of the Nokia Lumia 520, as it has a microSD card for expandable storage.

The specs on the HTC 8S read similarly to some of Nokia's mid-range options above and some say its design is more attractive. However, HTC have neglected some of the basics. The battery is average, web browsing can be slow and comparatively, it's a little over-priced at the budget end of the Windows Phone range - but it looks pretty nifty, right?.

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