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.
Summary: The Lumia 521 is an entry-level Windows Phone that offers a lot for much less than other devices. For just $129 (without a contract), shoppers get an attractive and compact design, a capable camera and a user-friendly interface that will please smartphone newbies. Nokia did sacrifice some features -- such as LTE support, a high-res screen and a front-facing camera -- to achieve such an aggressive price. The battery life could also be better.
Pros: Quality camera for price, Compact and solid design, Intuitive and customizable interface, Loud audio
Cons: Low-resolution display, No 4G LTE support, Below-average battery life, Lacks front camera