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
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • notposting - Thursday, August 8, 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 8, 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.
  • PHlipMoD3 - Thursday, August 8, 2013 - link

    Still waiting on that Lumia 920 review... Suppose it wont happen now with the 1020 release - albeit a very similar device internally...
  • Myrandex - Thursday, August 8, 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.
  • zepi - Thursday, August 8, 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?
  • JPForums - Thursday, August 8, 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 8, 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 8, 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 8, 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 9, 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)

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now