The layout of controls is consistent across Nokia's WP8 smartphones and the Lumia 520 follows suit. There's the usual set of capacitive controls below the screen and the hardware buttons are all placed along the right side of the phone, while the left remains bare.
The capacitive Back, Home and Search keys are well-spaced and haptic-enabled - we always appreciate Nokia's sharp and precise vibration feedback. A press and hold of the Home key will launch voice commands, while a log press of the Back button shows recent apps.
At the very bottom edge of the front you'll notice a tiny mic pinhole. Above the screen is the usual place of the earpiece, an ambient light and proximity sensor next to it. The Nokia Lumia 520 hasn't got a front camera.
The volume rocker, lock/power button and camera key are on the right. All three are sufficiently raised and have great response. The camera key has a distinct half-press for auto focus and will launch the camera reasonably fast overriding a complete lock.
The left side holds no buttons whatsoever and there're no side-mounted ports either, as opposed to the Lumia 720.
The 3.5 mm headphones jack is placed at the top of the Nokia Lumia 520.
The microUSB port is in its usual spot at the bottom of the phone.
The removable back cover is made of matte plastic and features the 5 MP camera lens, a Nokia logo, and the loudspeaker grille in the bottom right corner. There's no LED flash on the Nokia Lumia 520, so low-light photography is best avoided.
Removing the back panel is easy enough and you gain access to the 1430 mAh Li-Ion battery, microSD card slot and microSIM compartment.
The Lumia 520 is quite pleasant to handle and, even though it's not the most compact of smartphones, it will comfortably fit most hands and pockets. The handset is well made and feels durable enough.