There are a lot of things about this phone that remind me of the legendary Nokia brick phones of old. Battery life is absolutely not one of them. This is the first time I’m getting the chance to fully test battery life on a Windows Phone 8 device. Until now, I haven’t seen the option to set display timeout to “never” on one of the Nokia devices—the maximum was 5 minutes on the 920, 820, and 810. The 521 has a 1430 mAh 3.7V battery, putting it at 5.29 Wh—a far cry from the 9+ Wh batteries we see in a lot of higher end phones these days. This results in battery life being...not great—easily one of the poorest results we’ve seen in the 2013 Smartphone Bench after the original Galaxy Note and the notoriously short-lived Galaxy Nexus.

It’s worth noting, too, that the 521 is using single-carrier HSPA+ as the air interface during our mobile broadband test. That’s technically 4G, but obviously offers less bandwidth than the DC-HSPA+ we’re used to seeing on T-Mobile.

AT Smartphone Bench 2013: Web Browsing Battery Life (3G/4G LTE)

AT Smartphone Bench 2013: Web Browsing Battery Life (WiFi)

Cellular Talk Time

I did the battery life testing at the medium brightness setting (191 nits), since that was the closest to the 200 nits we use as the baseline and well within the margin of error. Talk time is a bit more respectable, indicating that the display and backlight are perhaps a bit less efficient than in other devices.

When you think about these results in the context of the battery capacity, the 521 is actually pretty efficient from a power standpoint. Obviously, with a dual-core CPU clocked so low combined with a relatively small display, this makes sense; I just wish that Nokia had specced at least a slightly larger battery to get more competitive runtimes.

Meet the Lumia 521 Performance, IE10 Mobile, and Cellular
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  • toraji - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    it truly is
  • toraji - Friday, August 9, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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