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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  • just2btecky - Thursday, August 8, 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!
  • d0nk3y - Thursday, August 8, 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 8, 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 8, 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 9, 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 8, 2013 - link

    Except several hundred dollars extra in your pocket at the end of the day...
  • Myrandex - Thursday, August 8, 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.

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