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Nokia Lumia 521 Review

The Nokia Lumia 521 is a budget T-Mobile Windows Phone 8 device which retails for only $99 in the United States. It is basically identical to the Lumia 520 offered by other carriers such as AT&T and MetroPCS. In terms of hardware specifications as well as the look and feel of the device, it is a highly competitive smartphone and an excellent value.

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Specifications

The Lumia 521 has a 4-inch 800×480 display and uses Nokia's “ultra-sensitive” display technology that allows you to use it even when wearing gloves. It has a 1GHz dual core Snapdragon S4 MSM8270 with an Adreno 305 GPU and 512MB of RAM. For devices in this price range, the S4 in the Lumia 521 is unusually good. For example, the Alcatel One Touch Evolve, which has the same price as the Lumia 521, only has a single core 1GHz MediaTek processor, and a PowerVR SGX531 GPU, both of which are substantially worse than the Nokia. It also has a mediocre back facing camera without flash, which personally I mostly miss due to not being able to use the phone as an effective flashlight.

Software

Windows Phone 8 is at this point not as capable for a daily driver as iOS, Android, or even BlackBerry OS 7 or BlackBerry 10. Its multitasking features are very simplistic, and its app support is only a bit better than BlackBerry. However there are a few good exclusive game titles such as Skulls of the Shogun and Halo: Spartan Assault, and the integrated Microsoft office support works very well. While it is in my opinion the least polished smartphone OS available through U.S. carriers, it still has all the core software necessary to get the job done, just less efficiently than with other platforms. Windows Phone 8 is also increasingly getting the most popular Android and iOS applications which previously could only be used through low quality third party apps.

Conclusion

After using the Lumia 521 for about a month, I prefer it to any other prepaid device I have used. While I generally prefer Android, the hardware of the Lumia 521 more than makes up for Windows Phone 8’s shortcomings. In addition, rumors about the upcoming software update for Windows Phone 8 indicate that the multitasking features of OS might soon get a significant upgrade and be on par with Android and iOS7, which would eliminate my only complaints about the device.

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