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  • Crono - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    I love my Lumia 521. It's not my main phone - I have an HTC One for that - but it's amazing what $80 (got it from the HSN sale) gets you with Windows Phone. I had a HTC Trophy, Dell Venue Pro, Lumia 710, and a Lumia 920 (for a short while) before that, so I'm not new to Windows Phone, but this is the best budget phone of the lot. A similarly priced Android phone would either be hopelessly old and/or laggy with not enough RAM.

    Nokia can definitely beat Android at the low end since it runs so consistently even on older or lower specification hardware. The only problem is the profit margin is so low at that those points, but at least they are moving in the right direction with overall marketshare. And it's hard to argue what they are doing with their camera hardware and software, though one could argue that's a niche (but rather large niche) market.
  • IntoxicatedPuma - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    I've had mine for about 2 months now but use it as my main phone (had a Nexus 7 that I used for browsing/movies etc but gave that to my dad) and other than the battery life I've been really pleased with it. I'd really like to upgrade to a premium Windows Phone, and while the Lumia 1020 is really enticing I'd like for something more like a Galaxy Note. Reply
  • Wolfpup - Thursday, August 15, 2013 - link

    I've had a 521 a few months too, and am really impressed. It doesn't come across as "good for the price" but more just "good". The article kind of overemphasizes the speed I runs well, faster than higher end Android devices I have. Reply
  • Samus - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    WP8 is a great platform for the aging population. My parents, in the 60's, found the interface easier to use than Android, and my Mom now shopping for a tablet is leaning toward Windows 8/RT over an iPad because of how iOS doesn't give you information without going into an app (no widgets, no live tiles, etc)

    WP8 is incredibly simple, that's why its good for people who are coming from dumb phones, and that's why it makes sense on budget hardware. Android will always be king of features and customization, and iOS will always be king of of apps, which is actually its biggest drawback. iOS needs an app for everything, because without them, it does nothing.
  • Impulses - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    I've been saying for years now that WP will eventually be Android's biggest competitor, not iOS... iOS will always have the diehard Apple audience, and how much market share they retain beyond that is entirely in Apple's hands (if they mess up they could turn into the Mac of the mobile world, low market share while dominating the high end market). The real battle's gonna be between WP andAndroid, and as much as I like Android I certainly hope WP remains relevant. Attacking Android from the low end like this will certainly aid with that, current low end Android phones tend to cut way too many corners. Reply
  • BryanDobbins - Saturday, August 17, 2013 - link

    my classmate's half-sister makes $88 every hour on the computer. She has been without a job for six months but last month her pay was $21529 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this site... Reply
  • jeffkro - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    windows is desperate for market share so they are basically giving the phones away Reply
  • sri_tech - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    Its really a fantastic phone for the price. It helps in bringing first time smartphone buyers and people who are hesitant about WP to the platform because its so cheap for an no-contract phone.

    That is why it is the best selling no-contract smartphone(both T-mobile and AT&T variants) on Amazon for some time now.
  • Crono - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    Agreed. People always say how easy iPhone and iOS is to use for the average, non-tech-savvy user (or their proverbial or literal grandmother), and that's true to some extent, but Windows Phone is even easier to use. Pair that with the low cost and decent build quality of a Nokia phone like this and you have an easy to recommend phone for those who are new to smartphones.

    One thing worth noting about this phone, too, is that OEM batteries are fairly cheap. I picked up 3 batteries for $6 each with free shipping, though you can find them for even cheaper then that. Turns it into a great emergency backup phone. It also makes an excellent music player (especially with free Nokia Music app, Pandora, and/or paid Xbox Music/Zune Pass subscription) with a decent amount of storage with a microSD added in.
  • steven75 - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    The problem for WP, as pointed out in the review, is that iOS is both easy to use *and* not feature deficient. So you don't really gain anything over iOS by going to WP. Reply
  • just2btecky - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    FYI, people who buy this phone care less about a grid of icons, or phfart apps. The WP OS is easier to use than the iPhone, not to mention the iClones. What you gain on WP8 over IOS is fluidity and more modern UI, and very very easy to navigate through. Have you even used a WP UI? I doubt it! Reply
  • d0nk3y - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    Yes - that's right - iOS is just a 'grid of icons' and 'phfart apps' - apparently you haven't used iOS either.

    Oh, and you forgot the pointless 'crap Maps' jibe as well..
  • amdwilliam1985 - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    yeah, I've used Lumia 920, didn't like it, don't even have a pull down notification.

    Show the camera phone to my gf, she hated it, why you ask? wp8 does not let you customize a wallpaper, lol. This is worst than iphone in terms of customization.
  • althaz - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    You are more than welcome to prefer iOS (although I think that makes you crazy) or Android (a perfectly valid opinion), but to say WP is less customizable than iOS is actually pure idiocy. It's less customisable in most ways than Android, but MUCH more customisable than iOS in almost all ways. The sole exception is that you can't add a wallpaper (it would look shit, but I agree that it should be an option anyway).

    The lack of notification centre is being fixed in the next update, btw (but should have been there at launch).
  • Myrandex - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    There have been other areas of criticism compared to customization between an iOS device and WP device. The lack of the ability to make folders on the desktop is one that people are asking for (and Samsung just delivered this week for their WP devices, but I would love to see this baked into the OS). Native VPN support isn't there, but that is supposedly coming. And the wallpaper thing.

    There are advantages as well though so it isn't all a one way slam against WP. I've used all three platforms extensively (although today I currently only use Android and WP as my iPhone that I had for years was a company phone and when I switched positions it was left behind), there are plusses and minuses to all of them.
  • npoe1 - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    I might be an exception but notification center is not a great feature to me. The live titles have worked great for me but I don’t really use more than 3 or 5 apps that I really need to have tight grip of what is happening.

    I missed the Wallpaper the first week, but honestly it was me trying to hang in Windows XP/Vista/7. The lock screen does the job and does an awesome job in my opinion. Also, in WP I don’t have to worry about processors and those kind of specs since basically everything runs great.
  • lmcd - Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - link

    Should have Windows 8-like wallpapers. That'd be nice without a doubt.

    Why isn't WP a Windows 8 / RT clone with a Skype driver for interaction with the cellular network?

    Pure idiocy in my mind.
  • Spunjji - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    Except several hundred dollars extra in your pocket at the end of the day... Reply
  • Myrandex - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    They gain a variety of hardware choices and sizes to suite needs, potentially better cameras, STANDARD F'IN power / USB cables (will not support any companies proprietary BS), wireless charging, large bright screens visible in sunlight, expandable memory, live tiles, etc.

    iPhones have a place and I've recommended them to people before, and I do agree that they are easy to use but have a lot of features and settings, but they aren't perfect.
  • davepermen - Friday, August 23, 2013 - link

    until you used WP and realize the many points where ios is lacking in 'ease of use', and the feature lack is mostly not relevant. Reply
  • notposting - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    Are you guys planning to do a review of the 1020 (well, basically the camera)?

    I switched to WP7 in 2011, fwiw, and haven't looked back. Just went to WP8 this summer with my Lumia 928. Very happy with it.
  • Crono - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    According the podcast (can't remember if it was the AT one or from Vertex on iMore) Brian Klug is working on it. Reply
  • PHlipMoD3 - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    Still waiting on that Lumia 920 review... Suppose it wont happen now with the 1020 release - albeit a very similar device internally... Reply
  • Myrandex - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    I've waited for this too. I've really enjoyed my 920 and my wife enjoys hers as well. And speaking of price, it is nice that it is free with contract at Amazon for those of us who don't mind an AT&T Contract. Reply
  • zepi - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    Instant messaging? What is actually missing there? I thought Whatsapp and Skype are both available? Problems with Google talk not working in the background properly etc? Reply
  • JPForums - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    A little elaboration on the Instant Messaging issue would be helpful. Perhaps it doesn't have the IM you want or maybe there is some killer feature in an IM you like that isn't available on any of the WP8 IMs.

    Also, I'm a little confused as to the problem with multitasking. IIRC you can pull up Skype and still have it receive messages when you are doing something else as long as you don't shut it down. Didn't seem like it took very long to resume or load tasks to me, though it was a higher end WP8 and an HTC One is still perceptibly, though not significantly faster at loading in most situations.

    Your concerns on minimalism are quite valid, though I think many people have less issue than you might think. In my experience, people who have used WP for more than a few minutes tend to line up with Crono's classification. They find it easier to use than Apple. For many people the genuinely useful features and/or information that is hidden by the WP minimalist interface is still a distraction that gets in their way.

    Note: though I disagree/don't understand some of your points, I still think this was an excellent write up and hope to see more. Non-flagship devices are seriously underrepresented. Thanks Vivek.
  • VivekGowri - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    I don't know, I rely on IMs as part of my workflow and I've literally never missed so many messages in my life as the time I spent on Windows Phone 8. Happened late last year with the 810, happened now with the 521. IM+ is garbage and if that's the best multiprotocol IM client on your platform, your platform will be woefully inadequate for IM. That's it. I'm not looking for a killer feature, I'm literally just looking for working IM.

    Multitasking in WP involves completely closing and rehydrating the apps, it's super slow and not multitasking at all. iOS 4/5/6 (7 is real multitasking) does something similar but doesn't need to completely rehydrate each time I think, it's much more seamless than on WP. This is all exaggerated by the still-slow WP app load times. It's been 3 years, I don't know why this is still an issue.

    Windows Phone is frustrating for me, because I've been a fan of the platform for a very long time, I really want it to succeed as a third major smartphone OS and not just because it's the default option. It's been sad to watch it stagnate on so many levels since launch. Really, that's all I can say.
  • Myrandex - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    There are apps that you can switch quickly between without a complete refresh. I do it all the time and it is called Fast App Switching I believe.

    The only IMs I use on there are facebook messaging as I kind of got out of IMing when I started txting all of the time (nice universal standard), so I haven't actually used IM+ but knew of its existence. FB chat on the phone is quite nice, and hopefully Skype Instant Messaging integrates as nicely someday (what a pathetic joke that MS has purchased Skype so long ago but failed to really take advantage of integrating it into the OS yet like Facetime on iOS).
  • notposting - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    I've had good success with jiTalk (Gchat client).

    As for multitasking...are you doing it right? (serious question, not trolling) If you back out of the apps and/or if you launch them from the Start screen/app list, it reloads them. Otherwise if you are just hopping between apps with the long press on the back button, they come up with no delay and at the same state they were, in general (as Myrandex mentions). I can pop between a web site, a search, maybe a photo and a photo editing app, and email with no problems.
  • cheshirster - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    So it all comes dows to poor IM+ for WP application?
    It was last updated on April and it is really week in terms of quality (large time to connect on 2g, crashes while starting). I don't use it.
    And what you say about multitasking is strange too, most core apps support fast resuming (the last to add it was Skype on 7.7.2013)
  • cheshirster - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    What makes you think IM+ is the best? The fact that it is preforming poorly? What's wrong with you, man? Reply
  • toraji - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    did you ever hold the back arrow button for more then one second? (bottom left on your screen) Every app you have open will suddenly appear, just a question of playing with the phone instead of finding reasons to hate it Reply
  • OoklaTheMok - Thursday, August 15, 2013 - link

    With regard to multitasking, or the perceived lack of, I think you are confused. You are confusing WP7 with WP8. In WP8, true multitasking was implemented. In order to leverage this though, the app needs to make use of it, otherwise it defaults to the "standard" tomb stoning behavior, which is what you have been describing in your article. In WP8, apps can continue to run in the background, i.e. not suspended, and continue to function. I have seen a demo of a GPS app that logged points along a route even when the app was running in the background. Reply
  • seanatwork - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    I'd like to know about this too. It's kind of an important feature. I use an optimus V cuz it's reliable as hell and I'm concerned with switching to something new that doesn't do what I want. I also heard you can't orientation lock the screen in windows phone, that sounds like some bs. Reply
  • Myrandex - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    Its true I've never found a way to lock the screen orientation. I've never found myself wanting to, but if it is a feature that is for you then that could be a big negative in your opinion. Reply
  • ssj3gohan - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    So how does WP actually fare on 512MB RAM? I wouldn't even go near an Android handset with that little RAM, but is this significantly different on windows phone? Reply
  • VivekGowri - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    Application load times are even slower than they are in high-end Windows Phones, but other than that it's totally fine. Also you have to watch out, some games are coming with a 1GB requirement (like GFX Bench/GL/DXBenchmark). But really, in the day to day, you don't notice the difference much. Reply
  • jeffkibuule - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    Windows Phone is like iOS in that apps are not allowed to run in the background unless they conform to a specific set of APIs. Reply
  • steven75 - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    iOS 6.x and older. Not so in iOS 7 due next month. Reply
  • toraji - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    WP8 is very smooth and fluid because of the way it is build. It does not need high specs to run apps that are build for android that DO require a powerhouse to be able to run. Admitted, the flagship phones have a little more ummpf to them but the 520 and 521 are really good at performing too and because of the low specs battery life is great on wp8 devices Reply
  • USGroup1 - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    I'm sorry but your browser tests and conclusions are beyond stupid. Your Sunspider test result clearly shows that the slowest Windows phone 8 device has a faster browser than some Android devices with much more powerful SoC.

    "Microsoft clearly optimized for Sunspider, as we’ve seen over the years, and while that lets them stay competitive in that one benchmark, it doesn’t really mean anything as far as having decent or even acceptable browser performance. It’s just sad."

    Wow, just wow, so they optimized their browser for Sunspider test to make it look good, lol pity they didn't do it for Google Octane Benchmark right?
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    It's well known tast companies optimize for Sunspider so much that the score doesn't correlate with real world performance any more. Not saying this isn't true for the other benchmarks as well.. but don't weight Sunspider scores too heavily.

    Maybe Mozilla should port Firefox to Win Phone instead of trying to build an entire new OS?
  • InsGadget - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    In general, web pages work fine on my L920, even full desktop ones. I'd like to see some real-world tests instead of these canned benchmarks, anyways, since they can be easily gamed. Reply
  • Myrandex - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    I agree my Lumia 920 handles pretty much any website I can throw at it with no issues. The only ones that I have trouble with are ones that are flash based (very rare) or ones not designed for touch screens (which would affect all platforms, such as websites with menus that require you to hover a mouse over...come on realize how popular touch screens are and get rid of that stuff web devs!) Reply
  • Flying Goat - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    You can't really port Firefox to Win Phone any more than you can to iOS. Microsoft won't let third party browsers use their own JIT Javascript compiler, so would have to be either very slow, or an IE wrapper. They also won't have access to the functionality needed to set up a secure sandbox. See Reply
  • madmilk - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    Most JITs are so-called "tracing" JITs -- they optimize at runtime. However, optimization by the JIT is not free, so it only makes sense to do it when there's a real need. Sunspider's tests are so short that browsers often don't bother, resulting in suboptimal scores.

    This can be hacked around for a significant increase in scores (or the test can be modified -- there's a modified Sunspider test that runs each test 50 times), but Sunspider is so far from a realistic Javascript workload that such a hack would likely cause extra time and power consumption in other tasks. Additionally, Sunspider doesn't do anything to evaluate other parts of the browser like DOM, which very often is the bottleneck in large Javascript applications.
  • cheshirster - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    I agree, and that is unexpected on Anandtech. IE on 521 is performing really well in real-world compartions to low and middle price androids. Reply
  • savagemike - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    So - could I just pick one of these up on Amazon and use it with an MVNO of AT&T? Reply
  • notposting - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    AT&T has the 520 available as a GoPhone, might be a better choice (probably need to check data bands, locking). Reply
  • A5 - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    Yeah, the 520 is a better option if you're using an AT&T MVNO. 521 just gets you 21mbps on T-Mo bands. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    Huh, wasn't even aware of this phone. That's pretty good value for 140€. If my wife didn't have a Chinese phone since Christmas, I'd get her one of these. Reply
  • Gunbuster - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    I love this little phone. Having jumped on the deal at HSN for $80 I could destroy this phone 6 times over and still be ahead of buying a "high end" handset.

    You get 90% the capabilities of better phones at a price that is over 80% lower.
  • kmmatney - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    Can you use the AT&T GoPhone version with a normal regular AT&T plan? I'm tempted to sell my 4S 32GB before before the new iPhones come out, and use this for a while. Reply
  • thesavvymage - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    yeah you just pop in the SIM and it will work since it is compatible with AT&T's frequencies Reply
  • Impulses - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    At one point in time AT&T actually flagged GoPhone IMEIs and wouldn't let you use them with pre-paid plans tho, this was a few years ago, no clue if it's still in practice. Reply
  • jabber - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    Must admit at 1:1 the pics from the 520/521 look better than the pics taken with the Nexus 4 at 1:1 Reply
  • VivekGowri - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    Yeah, I wouldn't disagree with that statement. Reply
  • Azurael - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    The Nexus 4's camera is notoriously bad though. I don't know what LG were thinking! It's the only thing that's even giving me thoughts about upgrading to one of this year's latest and greatest handsets. Certainly not the 400+ PPI I can't discern displays or swanky new SoCs (which are only marginally faster than the S4 Pro in the N4 but driving 1920x1080)

    Then I remind myself that ALL mobile cameras, regardless of how 'good' they look AS mobile cameras - Nokia Pureview being a possible excepetion - are dreadful compared to the cheapest 1/2.3" sensor-equipped compact cameras, let alone anything better with a larger sensor. In fact, when I did have a phone with a better camera (One X), I didn't use it any more than I do with the terrible camera in the N4 now.
  • ljlego - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    "Far too often, you see important functions and options pushed into random corners of the interface, buried deep in some menu."

    That's a pretty bold claim that I have never experienced, personally. Could you maybe provide an example of when you've found this?
  • Collin5 - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link


    A well done review! It is balanced and it includes a lot of useful information not found anywhere else. Thank you!

    However, I also feel there are a few statements, related to multitasking and overall performance, which paint a picture with too broad a brush. Nothing critical or wrong, but something you may want to look into for future reviews of WP devices:

    "Multitasking in Windows Phone has never really sat well with me, because it’s not really multitasking in the traditional sense—the need to completely close and rehydrate tasks makes resuming applications exceedingly slow."

    On my Lumia 520 app switching occurs instantaneously most of the time. Only when I open more apps than the device can fit into RAM, is the least frequently used app completely closed out (tombstoned). Only when switching back to a tombstoned app does the rehydration process kick in (which I agree is too lengthy). However, even the Lumia 520 can simultaneously cache two or three apps in memory, which is enough to get through most multitasking scenarios without tombstoning occurring.

    Saying that "the need to completely close and rehydrate" is too much of a blanket statement. That need only exists in very specific circumstances, which some may encounter only very rarely (depending on how people use their device).

    "...but in day to day use, it mostly makes itself felt in slower application loading and multitasking/task switching, which is also related to having just 512MB RAM instead of the 1GB of the 920."

    This could be understood to imply that having less RAM negatively impacts the time it takes to load apps AND the time it takes to task-switch between them, which is false. Having less RAM has no affect on app load times. Having less RAM also has no direct impact on the time it takes to switch between apps. Having less RAM only has an indirect affect on task-switching in the way I already mentioned... RAM capacity determines how soon apps are tombstoned. That is all. Both app load times and rehydration (basically the same thing) are directly impacted by the slower CPU however.

    Certainly we can argue that the probability of a task requiring rehydration is greater on a 512 MB device, but that is what I would expect an article on Anandtech to explicitly state, instead of attributing app load performance directly to RAM capacity ;-)
  • Gunbuster - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    This may be down to confusion on how to "re-open" an app. If you long press the back arrow capacitive button you get the running apps and have almost no lag. If you hit windows and select the live tile for an already open app it kills that app and loads it again fresh. I don't really agree with that design choice as it seems to confuse most users. Reply
  • Myrandex - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    You can hit the start button, go back to the homescreen, and select an app and still get fast refresh. It still needs to be recently run though. I do this frequently. Reply
  • Collin5 - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    It seems unlikely that Vivek doesn't know about the task switcher, but who knows?

    However, not all apps are reloaded when relaunched from a live tile. Some apps support a feature called "fast resume", which allows them to resume instantly, even when reactivated via a live tile. Unfortunately, apps must support this feature explicitly, and the fact that not all do leads to behavioural inconsistencies, which is why I agree with you (and Vivek) that at least this aspect of WP multitasking is poorly designed. Fast resume support must be mandatory.
  • althaz - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    This is the same behaviour as iPhone and Android (disclaimer: I haven't used an iPhone for over a year). Reply
  • Azurael - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    I was about to say I very rarely encounter this issue on my phone, but then I remembered that the Nexus 4 has 2GB of RAM so it's not exactly an Apples to Apples comparison. I usually have to run 10+ apps to start seeing the reload on taskswitch behaviour...

    Android, however, doesn't relaunch apps if you select them from the home screen - the behaviour is exactly the same (and instant, if the app has already been launched) as using the task switcher.

    I guess the biggest difference in reality is that - at least in theory - Android 4.x devices should have a task switcher button, which is a lot more obvious to the user than holding back. Having said that, a lot of 'three button' Android devices are stuck with an obsolete and practically useless menu button instead due to pigheaded device manufacturers ignoring Google's UI guidelines, and then we're stuck with the same behaviour but holding the home button instead...
  • Seurahepo - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    No, it is NOT. iPhone apps are not "reactivated" when launched from the home screen. No matter how the user comes back to an app it is instant (provided it has been recently used and it is still in memory).

    Could some of you WP fans explain to me *why* the apps are slowly restarted from the live titles? Blaming the users are using the phone wrong is kind of defensive, seems like there is a big UI/UX problem for no apparent reason.
  • althaz - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    This is entirely dependent on the app devs actually. Most do choose to reload the app if you go back to the start screen and then load the app. Reply
  • Impulses - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    That's madness... Because people who are new to smartphones tend to ignore quicker methods of multi-tasking and usually resort to tapping home and reopening apps from shortcuts/tiles/all apps...

    At least that's what I've observed among older clients and family members of mine, regardless of OS. If they're on an iPhone they'll seldom double tap home (if they even know about it) and on Android they flat out ignore the app switching button (a decision reinforced by HTC's choice to eliminate it I imagine, or hide it behind multiple home taps rather).
  • toraji - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    good points collin Reply
  • mi1stormilst - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    I just picked up one on Craigs List for $115 new in the box (from HSN deal). It came with a cheap pair of headphones, car charger and a soft case. I charged it up and went to the t-mobile website to sign up for the $30.00 a month pre-paid plan (100 mins of talk time, unlimited text and data). I am using it as a home phone and a phone for my two youngest kids to share when they are away from home. We all like the physical phone, camera is decent (needs a flash) and the interface is clean and fun. The speed of the OS is mostly snappy the data connection is faster than expected. Battery life is more than acceptable if you are not playing and staring at it all day. I only have two complaints: 1.) The OS does seem to slow down occasionally in different screens especially when trying to type in the keyboard. 2.) It is not clear how to close down apps or navigate in the Browser. I am satisfied with the phone overall and have recommended it to budget minded folks. Reply
  • textomatic - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    To close down an app keep hitting the back button until you're out of that app.
    You can only navigate back in the browser. No going forward. Their is a third party app called UC Browser that does let you navigate backwards and forward.
  • Krysto - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    Seems like a loss leader for Nokia. Reply
  • Gunbuster - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    I highly doubt it. It's just the other high end models they really rape you on. Do you think they put some unicorn horn or magic fairy dust in a Lumia 925 or Galaxy S4 that makes is cost over six times as much to produce? Nope, they are just making a bunch of profit from people who don't realize the "Free", "$99", or "$200" on contract phone is really priced at $400, $500, or $600+ Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    I really do not understand the review philosophy.... this phone seems like it compares best with a Galaxy S2 in terms of features, price, and performance, yet there are no charts comparing them. Scratches head. Why would I want to know how this thing compares to an S3 when an S3 is still over $200? Reply
  • toraji - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    very good point shadowmaster, I think it is hard to admit that the 520 and 521 are just block busters so they need to find some strange comparisons to cover up their biased opinion and as far as I am concerned it is not working because the 520 and the 521 are just best in class.there is nothing to compare to be honest Reply
  • dirtyvu - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    don't forget that this includes the full Nokia suite of apps including the HERE maps (powered by Navteq whose maps power most GPS devices such as Garmin). even if you don't get cell phone service or a data plan, you have full turn-by-turn offline navigation as long as you've already downloaded the maps (and you can do that over wifi). the whole US takes up about 2.6 GB. California takes up about 250 MB. so not bad. for $100-129, you get a good GPS device at the very least which can then be used as a cell phone if you so choose. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    Very cool feature indeed. I'm not a driver, so those things pass me by very easily. If I were, that would definitely play a role in my purchasing decision. Reply
  • toraji - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    if you are not a driver you might be a walker, there are 3 different apps included for people that do not drive, transfer, city lens and here maps AWESOME way to find your destination :o) Reply
  • toraji - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    I would not recommend downloading us maps because it takes up valuable space, I would only download maps for places where I do not have data coverage or while I am roaming Reply
  • dirtyvu - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    being able to download whole countries is a very good feature. other mapping systems don't offer that. you can download only a very small map with Google Maps. and the device does accept 64GB MicroSD cards. I'd rather use the space for maps than for things like Angry Birds. for me, the most important uses would be navigation, phone calls, email, and web browsing. Reply
  • cheshirster - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    Not a problem. See "Lumia storage check beta" in store, It has the option to store maps on SD and it works fine. Reply
  • cheshirster - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link Reply
  • billybobjr - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    I am the happy owner of 2 lumia 521 phones. The hardware you get is an outstanding value. When you look at phones in this price range 8GB of flash memory is rare. 4GB of flash leaves almost no space for any apps with the OS using most of the space. Most apps can not be installed on a flash memory card. The OS fairly quick for a cheap phone and I have yet to run into a problem with 512 MB of memory. WiFi calling is another awesome feature. If you are in building with poor signal you can use your wi-fi to make calls. The OS is pretty stable, I have needed to reboot the phone a few times, but not a common occurrence.

    I am not a huge fan of the Windows Phone OS. It lacks a ton of apps and not just the fart apps. No support for google apps except gmail. Youtube, and Google maps must run through the web browser and they run poorly. No google drive, google plus, or google music. Amazon music does not work at all. Lots of social media apps are missing from the app store. Facebook support is lacking. I lost track of how many accounts I needed to create to use the included software for this phone.(Windows phone login, skydrive account, nokia account, xbox live account) There is no equivalent to Siri or Google Now.

    Bottom line
    Android does not run well on cheap hardware. The Nexus 4 is the cheapest phone to run android well. $300 vs $130. If you can live with the limitations it is tough to beat.
  • notposting - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    I use jiTalk, MyTube or Metrotube, MetroTalk, and gMaps. One MS account covers email, Skydrive, Xbox, Skype, etc. It has the Nokia Here maps, why not use that? No need for a Nokia account. IIRC, you can play Amazon music tracks through the browser. Which social media apps are missing? Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin apps are all available, and baked into the OS as well. It has Skydrive and XBox Music (or Nokia Music on their phones), would you expect MS to be making apps for their competitors? It does have voice commands (long press the Start button) and text dictation.

    There are legitimate complaints about the OS, but if someone is that entrenched in the Google ecosystem and won't consider using the MS alternatives...what do they expect?
  • Impulses - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    Those all seem like valid alternatives, except for using Amazon MP3 in the browser (very kludgy, not even remotely optimized for mobile the last time I tried to access it on an Android phone where the app wasn't installed) Reply
  • skiboysteve - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    Totally agree with you. Billybobjr sounds like all the WP detractors... They make no sense at all Reply
  • toraji - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    exactly nonposting ;-) like your name.... Reply
  • Myrandex - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    Check out GMaps Pro if you want to see a nice Google Maps implementation. I have the paid version and it is quite nice. I bought it back when I was on an LG on WP7, but have pretty much switched to using Nokia's HERE implementation except for every now and then I pull up GMaps again.

    There is also a GMail client app that I use. It isn't the prettiest but it is a GMail app. I also have GMail working with the built in email client which works wonderful as well.

    And there is a Microsoft TellMe engine for voice controls. You just hold down the Windows Flag. Plus there are third party software applications out there that can be downloaded for free that function like Siri as well. I had one before but I uninstalled it because I never used it (and I never used it on my iPhone before and I never use it on my Android now).
  • skiboysteve - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    Why do you need a Gmail app? Just use the native email client with Gmail.

    why do you need a google maps app? Just use Bing or Nokia maps. They have a lot of advantages.

    a first party YouTube app would be nice, but metrotube and work really well. There is a legal back story on YouTube app for WP. Google worked hard to prevent one (sent cease and desist, blocked APIs) but when MS decided to go to court google settled and agreed to develop one. Hopefully soon.

    why do you need google drive? SkyDrive is built in and works much better. Especially if you use office 2013 for work.

    google plus would be nice. I don't use it but maybe try their website.

    why do you need google music? Xbox music (formally Zune) is much much better. This is the best part of the phone! Try it out.

    amazon app would be nice but its weird that you're so entrenched into google and refuse to use the Microsoft services that accompany your device... Yet you use amazon??

    which social media apps are missing from the app store?

    how is Facebook support lacking? If anything it is more built in than any other OS out there! It pulls your contact info from FB, integrates friends status and photo posts directly into multiple parts of the OS.

    there is ONE account for all MS services, not separate accounts for everything as you mention.

    there is voice support just hold the home button just like on android and iOS. I use it every day.

    Do you really have this phone??? Clearly you don't and you're just here to fan the flames of misinformation
  • toraji - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    don't blame Wp8 for not having google features included, that is just not fair, there are third party options, If you create one windows account you can sigh in to all windows features automatticly

    Maluuba is comparable to siri but a little different, it will not tell you how AWESOME you are, that is true

    happy to see you can live with the "limitations"
  • toraji - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    forgot to mention the home button......... Reply
  • OoklaTheMok - Friday, August 16, 2013 - link

    Also, many of the Google issues are because of Google, not Windows Phone. Google finally just allowed Microsoft to release their sanctioned YouTube app. Microsoft had released it a long time ago, but Google intentionally kept breaking its functionality when the app would contact the YouTube service.

    And the Maps issue is another case of Google going out of their way to inhibit WP functionality with Google services. Their mobile maps implementation is hard coded to only work correctly, for touch, with WebKit based browsers. IE9 in WP8 is more than capable of being functional, but Google just doesn't want to allow it. Their initial arguments as to why have already been completely proven false. Besides, who would want to use Google maps when we have Nokia's Here Maps with offline support?
  • OoklaTheMok - Friday, August 16, 2013 - link

    "There is no equivalent to Siri or Google Now."

    Windows Phone has had voice since search before iOS and Google had theirs, it just doesn't have a fancy name. Its not as sexy, or comprehensive as Sri, but it works better based on search competitions I have conducted with people. Frankly, I'd rather have it do a few things really well, than everything mediocre.
  • pandemonium - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    Patiently awaiting the 1020 review. That'll be the deciding factor for me to upgrade to it or not.

    I've already played with it and I'm pretty impressed. The camera easily outperformed my N8 in both results and functionality. My curiousity is the battery life performance. I'm expecting good, but not great and just don't want to get results that are poor. :P
  • toraji - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    there are so many true reviews out there, don't wait for the one from anadtech. You want a true review? Look around

    this one might put you in the right direction
  • fabarati - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    Hey, is that an Asus W3J? Reply
  • VivekGowri - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    Hahaha, I think you know the answer to that. Reply
  • Nexus4Life - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    Interesting review. It's good to also see what can be bought on a budget. Especially in these difficult times. Reply
  • asendra - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    Not even 2 hours ago I had to decide for what budget phone to buy for my father and my sister. All the android options available were mostly crap (android on a low budget phone is just garbage..) so I started looking into windows phone options.

    Here in Europe Nokia has very good track record in this price range, so the options were the lumia 520, the lumia 620 (only 10€ more), and, surprisingly enough, the HTC 8X for the same price (yeah, I don't even know how, they were phasing them out at the store I went..)

    I ended up getting them the 8X because hardware wise is night and day (the 8X being the same as the lumia 920, minus the camera). I hope I made the right decision.. the only thing which made me doubt is the HERE nokia apps, but I've read the maps one, and a few others are no longer nokia exclusive.
  • skiboysteve - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    Wow what a find! Reply
  • toraji - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    it truly is Reply
  • toraji - Friday, August 09, 2013 - link

    You did make a good decision the htc 8x is an awesome phone the only thing you miss out on are the free nokia apps, you can buy them in the store though
    I am sure they will love their phone
  • JBaich - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    My only question is regarding IE Mobile. On my Lumia 1020 the mobile browsing experience compares side by side *very* favorably with my (black) HTC One (not X) with 4.3. I was actually amazed by how smooth mobile IE was when I first started using the 1020. As such I'm surprised by your negative experience with IE. Surely you are justified, or you wouldn't be writing for Anandtech. Reply
  • MatthiasP - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    Nokia makes such fantastic phones in any price range but is so handicapped my Microsoft's halfhearted commitment to the Windows Phone OS. Reply
  • ESC2000 - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    I'm really excited to see this and I hope it does well on T-mobile because something needs to put pressure on the ripoff that is AT&T and Verizon contract-subsidized phones. People balk at spending $600 or $700 for an unlocked unsubsidized phone even though they pay way more in the long run with the big carriers, but $129 is not too tough to swallow. Of course people could also just wait until the end of their contracts and use their old device on t-mobile's BYOD plan.

    The one thing that gives me pause about this phone is the RAM. Is it sufficient? I know the ipad mini's 512 GB RAM seemed woefully low in late 2012 and now it is almost another year later. I don't know what causes it but my brother's mini does lag, especially when pressing the home screen button.
  • petermarker - Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - link

    Pretty cool to see Nokia make good budget phones, I think this is a good market for them. I actually prefer this phone to the craptastic old Android phones being peddled on prepaid. Reply
  • beck2050 - Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - link

    Remember when IDC forecast Windows Mobile would take 40% of the smart phone and tablet market by 2014. They can barely give these things away. Reply
  • killer8 - Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - link

    I'd just chime in that I sold my Nexus 4 and just use a Lumia 521 now. Obviously the Nexus 4 is a better phone in almost every way, but as someone who is a light to moderate smartphone user, it was too much phone for the money compared to the sheer value of the 521.

    What I like about the Lumia 521 most, besides the price, is Office built - in, especially OneNote, which syncs with my desktop version seamlessly.

    The Lumia 521 lasts for days on a signal charge with moderate usage. I've not had a single weird overnight battery drain yet. Nor lock ups.

    Web browsing is the only thing that can be notably slower than the Nexus 4, due to it's 512MB RAM. Otherwise, the phone runs totally fluidly. No random lag ups and so on, still so common even on the Nexus 4 at times, depending on how well the app is behaving.

    Compared to crap sub $200 Android phones, the Lumia 520/521 is hands down the winner.
  • siniranji - Friday, August 16, 2013 - link

    I find this phone very interesting and moreover after hearing android troubles & hanging problems, stable OS is the need of the hour, and windows 8 wins in this category. Everyone needs a phone fast and economical but good at performance front as well as not power hungry. Once in two days charging is acceptable. Reply
  • Calista - Sunday, August 18, 2013 - link

    I picked up a Lumia 520 because I was curious what WP had to offer and I must say I'm impressed what $85 can buy us nowadays. A few reviewers have been complaining about the dull screen, but I must say it work just fine. It's fluid, feels logical and it's easy to navigate.

    I don't plan to replace my HTC with the 520, if jumping OS ship I would get a 920 or similar high-end unit but as previously mentioned - considering the low price it's certainly an impressive phone and I hope it will bring both MS and Nokia a larger market- and mindshare. It's well deserved.
  • aumnevergiveup - Thursday, August 22, 2013 - link

    when my mother ask to me to buy new smartphone, the first platform that i want to choose is WP. My mother then bought Nokia 520 and she's satisfied. It's great to see that Nokia can make smartphone with competitive price that doesn't feel cheap. Great job! Reply
  • jeffkro - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    I think I'm going to have to get one of these. You can buy them at walmart for $129(no contract) and get unlimited plans from tmobile for $35 a month, its a steal compared to what I pay through verizon. Sure my service will go down and I use LTE, but I just don't use my phone enough to justify the cost. Reply
  • jeffkro - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    Plus I break my phones to often to buy a contract phone, I'm on my 3rd galaxy nexus. Reply
  • Anandsiva - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    Whats the price amount? And how internet speed Reply
  • paulschlachter109 - Thursday, September 05, 2013 - link

    Best deal on Nokia Lumia 520 at I enjoyed my online shopping at univercell. Thanks for great and safe packing and on time delivery.

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