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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  • 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.
  • cheshirster - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link
  • billybobjr - Thursday, August 8, 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 9, 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 9, 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)
  • skiboysteve - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    Totally agree with you. Billybobjr sounds like all the WP detractors... They make no sense at all
  • toraji - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    exactly nonposting ;-) like your name....
  • Myrandex - Friday, August 9, 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 9, 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 9, 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"

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