Conclusion: The Lumia 521 is a scaled back phone with no camera light, no NFC, no front-facing camera, 512MB of RAM and 8GB. Sacrifices likely to keep the Lumia 521 at a very amicable pricing point. Fortunately, we didn't find any of this detrimental to the Lumia 521's overall performance. The screen has a little pop, the camera is a good shooter, call quality won't leave you asking "Can you hear me now?", and battery life is respectable.
Nokia Lumia 521 Review: The Best Affordable Prepaid Smartphone
16 July 2013
Summary: Years ago Nokia made a name for itself by pumping out great affordable phones, but somewhere along the way they lost their way, especially in the U.S. Fortunately, the 521 brings back that heritage. Sure, there is no front facing camera, or LTE, but who could complain at this price, especially when the phone is so well rounded.
Pros: Amazing value for the price, tough build quality, HD Voice makes calls sound really clear and loud, you get many of the same great bundled Nokia apps that you would get on Nokia’s more premium handsets, quite a durable phone, very good performance, Wi-Fi calling support, good battery life
Cons: No LTE support, no front-facing camera or flash, backplate is tricky to remove
Conclusion: The Nokia Lumia 521 isn't the nicest Windows Phone 8 device on the market - and it's certainly not the hottest Nokia machine out today - but it's not meant to be. Working to be the cost-cutting entry level to the Windows Phone 8 universe with the good ship Nokia - that's the aim. That's what this machine will do, too - expect quite a few upgrades to higher-powered Lumia devices once the 521 is paid for in full by users on T-Mobile.
Conclusion: The Nokia Lumia 521 is the kind of budget phone that really feels like one. It has some nice aspects – speedy performance, decent design, good call quality – but they’re overshadowed by the mediocre display and slow mobile data speeds. Plus, Windows Phone has it’s own overall problems including too few really great apps. For those customers who really want to stick with T-Mobile, this is your only Windows Phone choice. And at $30 down it’s not a truly terrible one.
Pros: Comfortable, compact design, Speedy performance, Good call quality
Cons: Narrow viewing angles on display, Screen collects smudges and dirt easily, Mediocre battery life, Slower 4G speeds than most phones
Excerpt: Of the Windows smartphones available on the U.S. market, Nokia's Lumia 521 is the least impressive. That doesn't stop it from being a beautiful phone – after all, the entire Lumia series boasts graceful curves and a sturdy build quality. As an entry-level device, the 521 will wow anyone who's used to feature phones. Compare it against other Windows phones , though, and the 521 is found wanting.
Pros: It's extremely affordable even off-contract, making it great if you want to avoid locking yourself into a carrier for two years.
Cons: Its screen is grainy, its camera is mediocre, and its battery and processor are far below par next to other smartphones. Most critically, it can't connect to 4G LTE networks.
T-Mobile Nokia Lumia 521 Review: Smartphone deal of the year
4 June 2013
Conclusion: Our final rating is going to be an 7 out of 10. While there are a lot of limitations and areas that are lacking with the Lumia 521, the big draw for it is its pricing. Given the crazy low price, there is a huge amount of value included with this phone and it’s still fast, stable, and easy to use. In some ways, it’s actually better than some high end phones; 1. the user replaceable battery is inexpensive and widely available. 2.
Pros: Very inexpensive, Removable, inexpensive, easy-to-find battery, Micro SD card expansion for extra photos, videos, and music, Comfortable ergonomic form factor & design, Wi-Fi calling, Nokia HERE Suite (Offline GPS navigation for USA = worth the price of the phone alone), Nokia Music (free unlimited offline music playlist downloads = worth the price of the phone alone),
+ GDR2 and Nokia Amber updates have been pushed to the device as of 8/14
Cons: only 8GB of storage available for apps, Low resolution screen with mediocre outdoor visibility, No compass for augmented reality apps, 512Mb RAM means some apps won’t run, No wireless charging option, Nokia HERE Drive license only supports USA, Peurto Rico, and US Virgin Islands (it’s not a global license.)