Nokia Lumia 521 Review

Nokia Lumia 521Since the Nokia Lumias have come along, they have increasingly gained rave reviews. I have always been an Android girl, but I was curious about the Nokia budget phone and was in the market for new wireless service. I decided on T-Mobile which carried the Nokia Lumia 521. It is very inexpensive and you can get it with a contract at $20 down or pay $120 outright. Also, T-Mobile has a monthly pay as you go plan for as little as $9.99. For the smartphone’s low price, users are going to give up some luxuries such as a large display or camera with a flash.  With little things like that, Nokia may have gone too far with this phone.

At First Glance

The Nokia Lumia 521 does not feel like a budget phone. It is somewhat sleek-looking, fits perfectly in the palm of the hand, and lightweight without feeling cheap. On the other hand, the back plate is weird because it’s a hard plastic which does feel cheap. The back plate comes off easily where you will find the battery, SIM card, and SD cardholder. The screen is really nice because it is very crisp and clear. However, be warned, the screen stays dirty and a screen protector is a must with this phone. 

Windows, Services, and Applications

It is a strange transition from Android to Windows. The home page is really cool because it is customizable. Changing the colors and moving the tiles around to your liking is nice. Navigation is not so nice. You can navigate Android phones effortlessly. However, with Windows it feels like there is no order. It’s strange the apps page is liked down by the alphabet. It just doesn’t feel right.

The apps on the Lumia 521 phone leave a lot to be desired. The Nokia “Here” is a location service offering maps traffic, directions and transit. Nokia’s music store is the one stop shop for apps, streaming games, and music. T-Mobile has a few branded apps like Call 411, Caller Tunes, and T-Mobile T. From Microsoft, there is a mobile version of Office, Xbox Games, and Xbox Music and Video. Word to the wise for Android and iOS users. If you make the switch to the Windows OS, your apps will disappear. I’d say I lost 85% of my apps because they are not available in the Windows app marketplace. Brace yourself!

Battery and Performance

Despite the limited RAM and 1-GHZ dual-core Snapdragon, the phone runs like a dream. I have not had any problems browsing the web, playing music, watching videos, or a combination of some activities at the same time. The cell phone runs on T-Mobile 4G which isn’t all that.  At times, my phone has gone down to 2G. So, if you are streamer or constant data user this could be a problem. I only stream a little at a time. However, your location may be a factor to the phone’s signal strength and connectivity.

The battery life is pretty good. Depending on how heavy I use my battery, I may have to top off once a day. Usually, I can go a whole day without charging. However, I keep the screen light low and I am always on Wi-Fi. Therefore, my battery does really well.

Sample Camera Images

Nokia Lumia 521 - DaylightNokia Lumia 521 - IndoorNokia Lumia 521 - Night


The Nokia Lumia 521 would be a great phone for anyone who has not had a smart phone. It is difficult to go from having it all with my Android phone to virtually having nothing in regards to phone features and apps. The Lumia 521, for the most part, is aesthetically appealing, but it ends there.

Three Things To Consider Before Making The Purchase:

  • The 4G is slow, but it may depend on your location.
  • The battery would easily be drained by a music lover or heavy gamer.
  • The app store is desolate.

If these 3 statements make your cringe and break out in sweat, I would avoid this particular Lumia. I am only speaking for the Nokia Lumia 521.

I bought this phone on a whim since it was $100. This phone is not even comparable to the first generation Android phones and I am having a hard time transitioning. I would not recommend this smartphone to an Android or iOS user. I planned to sell my Android phone but decided otherwise. Even now, I still do more on my relic of an Android that I can on my fresh out of the box Nokia Lumia 521.

Hardware Specs:

  • Height: 124 mm
  • Width: 64.0 mm
  • Weight: 124.5 g
  • Display size: 4.0 inches
  • Display resolution: WVGA (800×480)
  • Form factor: Monoblock touch
  • Main camera sensor: 5MP
  • Talk time: 9 hours 3G
  • Standby time: 400 hours on 3G
  • Music playback: 45 hours
  • Photo Share using Flickr, Bluetooth, Skydrive, or e-mail attachment
  • Does not carry dual SIM
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 8GB of memory

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