Microsoft goes shopping to prove value of Nokia Lumia 521

The Nokia Lumia 521 from T-Mobile is already proving to be a popular Windows Phone 8 device, thanks to early sellouts on HSN and Walmart's websites. The biggest reason is that the phone has a unsubsidized price of $129 on Walmart. For that amount of money you get a 4-inch smartphone with 512 MB of RAM, 8 GB of on-board storage, a five megapixel camera and support for 720p video.

The smartphone is still sold out on Walmart's website, but on Saturday its retail stores will begin to sell the device again for the same price of $129. Microsoft Store locations will begin to sell the Nokia Lumia 521 for $149 on May 22. In the latest video from the Windows Phone team, one of the company's evangelists, Ben Rudolph, and two other members of the team decided to go shopping to see what other kinds of smartphones could be bought for under $149, unsubsidized.

The final result was pretty much as expected. The phones the three men found while shopping for an hour are much older Android devices from Samsung and others and none of them come close to the kind of hardware features that the Nokia Lumia 521 has. It's looking like both Microsoft and Nokia have come up with a Windows Phone 8 device that will be perfect for those folks who don't want to be tied down to a two year contract.

Source: Windows Phone on YouTube

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You can buy the HTC 8S for $150 too.

That's a really nice phone with 5mp camera, windows 8 and beats audio. Nice rubberized back too. But admittedly it's only 4gb storage (expandable) and no Nokia exclusive apps.

I just think that was a hit about Windows Phone. In addition, I completely disagree with the first comment just because if you have a smartphone that can do more than only texting, checking emails and whatever, you will definitely do more.

It sounds to me like, 129 dollars should be an android phone because you won't do much with it and that's what this phone comes to show, that this idea is wrong.

The thing I love most about technology is that it always goes down in price. My carrier will be selling it on prepaid for $150 later this month, I expect it to eventually go down to $100 outright, that's when I'll upgrade my lumia 610 over to the 520 (possibly).

I really dont get it with low end android phones. Recently my 620 lock button broke so I sent it off for repairs and it amde me think do I want a Windows Phone. So while it was being repaired I looked a lot at Android Phones for at a similar price range and after all my research and asking users on forums I found out that bascially every Android Phone with only 512MB RAM would lag like crazy, like even when your just texting. This shocked me as I thought how can Google let an OS be put out and put on phones where the specs dont allow the OS to run smoothly when doing the simplest of tasks? In the end I kept my 620 as it was the best phone for the price and runs so smoothly with everything I do. Im not hating on Android but it just seems to me unless it high went/ flagship or has at least 1GB RAM it wont run smoothly. I was shocked Google and Vendors would get away with this.

That's one of the reasons why WP is good. It was designed to run well on low-end hardware. Android runs well on high-end hardware only because of the high-end specs (which is at quad/octa-core & 2 GB RAM now).

That was my understanding after I did all my research but what I dont get if thats the case why are vendors allowed to make phones with such low specs when they know th phones wont run smoothly? Why not make dual core with 1GB RAM the standard to run an anrdoid phone and thats the specs vendors need to use? They still can make cheap low end phone but maybe not phones that cost £40 but thats a good thing. Then there would only be good low end phones which run smoothly.

Richard Cousins said,
That was my understanding after I did all my research but what I dont get if thats the case why are vendors allowed to make phones with such low specs when they know th phones wont run smoothly? Why not make dual core with 1GB RAM the standard to run an anrdoid phone and thats the specs vendors need to use? They still can make cheap low end phone but maybe not phones that cost £40 but thats a good thing. Then there would only be good low end phones which run smoothly.

Android is open source. Anyone can put it on whatever device they want to. Google COULD restrict them from being allowed on the Play Store, but then they'd just lose revenue and people would figure out how to sideload google apps.

An AMAZING deal to be honest. You get a buttery smooth, high quality device AND the wonderful power of WP8.

very good deal... even would kick in an extra $50 if it had front facing camera... Buying phones for workers? Always went with "used" 3gs's, but if some apps make their way on windows platform (the apps I use obviously) will be switching to these nice phones.

rippleman said,
very good deal... even would kick in an extra $50 if it had front facing camera... Buying phones for workers? Always went with "used" 3gs's, but if some apps make their way on windows platform (the apps I use obviously) will be switching to these nice phones.

The 520 does have a front facing camera, the 620 doesn't. Did they remove it from the 521?

You really can't beat the value of the Lumia 520/521. If an HSPA+ version of the 520 existed, I would've got that instead of my HTC 8S.

Anaron said,
You really can't beat the value of the Lumia 520/521. If an HSPA+ version of the 520 existed, I would've got that instead of my HTC 8S.

Are you sure the 520 is not HSPA+? Almost every 3G phone had HSPA support for years, even the cheapest nokia symbian smartphones like the 5230.

This makes me ever happier that I got a Firefox phone $200 for a 4.3 inch screen, 8 MP camera, 4GB (granted it is less), 512 MB RAM, 1.2GHz dual core Snapdragon S4, and even on the software-side, I'm surprised how good the browser supports websites, typing is, and it comes with Nokia's own HERE maps software. It might not be like wayyyy better of a deal than the 521 is and has issues currently, but it's just as worth the value for the price. And free updates for life regardless of the phone model.

EDIT: Typed entirely on my GP PEAK.

Pluto is a Planet said,
This makes me ever happier that I got a Firefox phone $200 for a 4.3 inch screen, 8 MP camera, 4GB (granted it is less), 512 MB RAM, 1.2GHz dual core Snapdragon S4, and even on the software-side, I'm surprised how good the browser supports websites, typing is, and it comes with Nokia's own HERE maps software. It might not be like wayyyy better of a deal than the 521 is and has issues currently, but it's just as worth the value for the price. And free updates for life regardless of the phone model.

EDIT: Typed entirely on my GP PEAK.

Don't see how it's a better value. It's $70 more (521 is $130 at Walmart). It has a little bit larger screen and better camera but less storage. Runs the same processor. Updates are free on all phones and the Nokia maps are better on the 521 vs a firefox phone because it has HERE Drive, too.

Pluto is a Planet said,
This makes me ever happier that I got a Firefox phone $200 for a 4.3 inch screen, 8 MP camera, 4GB (granted it is less), 512 MB RAM, 1.2GHz dual core Snapdragon S4, and even on the software-side, I'm surprised how good the browser supports websites, typing is, and it comes with Nokia's own HERE maps software. It might not be like wayyyy better of a deal than the 521 is and has issues currently, but it's just as worth the value for the price. And free updates for life regardless of the phone model.

EDIT: Typed entirely on my GP PEAK.


Firefox OS? That's laggy as hell.

mrp04 said,

Don't see how it's a better value. It's $70 more (521 is $130 at Walmart). It has a little bit larger screen and better camera but less storage. Runs the same processor. Updates are free on all phones and the Nokia maps are better on the 521 vs a firefox phone because it has HERE Drive, too.

So you expect the 521 to be running WP 9 one day? And the storage doesn't really matter that much... Would you honestly buy the 521 without getting a memory card upgrade?

MeowPurr said,

Firefox OS? That's laggy as hell.

Right now it sorta is. It's still in Beta, not a single phone released for consumers. Do you really think that's gonna stay like that?

Pluto is a Planet said,

So you expect the 521 to be running WP 9 one day? And the storage doesn't really matter that much... Would you honestly buy the 521 without getting a memory card upgrade?

Right now it sorta is. It's still in Beta, not a single phone released for consumers. Do you really think that's gonna stay like that?

It could possibly. But it'll run WP8.1 for sure. It'll be obsolete by the time it won't get updates.

Internal storage does matter. That's where you install apps and it's much faster. WP8 can't install apps to SD, but if Firefox OS can it's still better not to because SD cards are very slow. They're great for storing large files that don't need to be accessed very fast (such as music and videos) but running apps off them kinda sucks.

What makes you think your Firefox OS phone will be updated forever? It too will be dropped sooner or later. Maybe even sooner because Firefox OS isn't going to catch on.

mrp04 said,

What makes you think your Firefox OS phone will be updated forever? It too will be dropped sooner or later. Maybe even sooner because Firefox OS isn't going to catch on.

I meant for the lifetime of the software, for clarification. Can a 10 year old computer browse anything on the web, or do they stop supporting the browser on that hardware? You can still install the latest updates of Firefox on every computer with Windows XP. Unlike Microsoft, where Windows 8 doesn't support every Windows XP computer and the latest version of IE for XP is 8 (instead of 10). Besides, it's open-source. They have no reason to disable older hardware for updating to the latest version of the OS, unlike companies for profit which want you to get a newer phone instead of just updating forever.

And simply disregarding FF OS before it's even commercialized is like me disregarding the rest of your statements before you've even written them. Level up in ignorance!

Pluto is a Planet said,

I meant for the lifetime of the software, for clarification. Can a 10 year old computer browse anything on the web, or do they stop supporting the browser on that hardware? You can still install the latest updates of Firefox on every computer with Windows XP. Unlike Microsoft, where Windows 8 doesn't support every Windows XP computer and the latest version of IE for XP is 8 (instead of 10). Besides, it's open-source. They have no reason to disable older hardware for updating to the latest version of the OS, unlike companies for profit which want you to get a newer phone instead of just updating forever.

And simply disregarding FF OS before it's even commercialized is like me disregarding the rest of your statements before you've even written them. Level up in ignorance!

Support on a desktop OS is much easier than a smartphone OS where each individual phone model needs to be updated. On Windows they release one set of binaries that works on EVERY Windows computer. Smartphone OS isn't fully abstracted from their hardware.

I think it's pretty safe to disregard FF OS. And Ubuntu's mobile OS, too, for that matter. There are enough mobile operating systems and FF OS doesn't really bring anything new.

mrp04 said,

Support on a desktop OS is much easier than a smartphone OS where each individual phone model needs to be updated. On Windows they release one set of binaries that works on EVERY Windows computer. Smartphone OS isn't fully abstracted from their hardware.

I think it's pretty safe to disregard FF OS. And Ubuntu's mobile OS, too, for that matter. There are enough mobile operating systems and FF OS doesn't really bring anything new.

That's not exactly necessary for it to succeed. Firefox OS isn't targeting the US or UK where there's already high demand for smartphones. It's targeting the places where they haven't succeeded because they're too expensive, especially Latin America.

This can be used on AT&T right? Thinking about picking this up as my piece of scht phone. Hiking, biking, beach, ECT.

AWKM said,
Potential dumb question: What is different about the 521 compared to the 520 or are they the same device?
The networks it runs on (HSPA+ vs GSM)

Probably different color options available, other then that they are identical.

I don't know if you've got your network types wrong or not. HSPA+ runs on a GSM network. It's just 3G. Or are the bands different?

AWKM said,
Potential dumb question: What is different about the 521 compared to the 520 or are they the same device?

521 is T-Mobile branded and has 3G support on 850/1900/AWS whereas the 520 has European 3G support. There is a NAM version of the 520 coming out which will basically just be an unbranded 521.

Nashy said,
I don't know if you've got your network types wrong or not. HSPA+ runs on a GSM network. It's just 3G. Or are the bands different?

Nope, the 521 is 4G actually.

Ain't that the truth.

And it won't be laggy, it will absolutely fly. So what if there's some games that it can't play? it's a better phone and it's better at doing what phones are expected to do today: checking e-mail, calling, texting, whatever. You'd be insane to buy something that wasn't an android flagship to be honest.

siah1214 said,
Ain't that the truth.

And it won't be laggy, it will absolutely fly. So what if there's some games that it can't play? it's a better phone and it's better at doing what phones are expected to do today: checking e-mail, calling, texting, whatever. You'd be insane to buy something that wasn't an android flagship to be honest.

What I can't get over is how vendors can get away with shipping 2 year old operating system on brand new phones - yeah they're low end but that is no excuse to screw over the customer with an out of date OS.

Mr Nom Nom's said,

What I can't get over is how vendors can get away with shipping 2 year old operating system on brand new phones - yeah they're low end but that is no excuse to screw over the customer with an out of date OS.


A 2 year old operating system with just a few hundred megabytes free and where cache, applications and application data cannot be moved to the SD card so it fills up in no time even if you install nothing. Not that the phones with larger storage like the S4 can be much better, if I remember right Samsung ships the S4 16gb models with only 5gb free.

Asus sells the Padfone, a 7'' tablet phone that despite being bigger, having much better specs (except for the camera), a larger battery, and having 16Gb of integrated memory it has a ridiculously low price that is on par with that low-price garbage (220€, the price of a Lumia 620). Clearly no horrible market segmentation by Samsung, LG, etc. Curse you, crazy manufaturers

Edited by francescob, May 10 2013, 4:32am :

siah1214 said,
You'd be insane to buy something that wasn't an android flagship to be honest.

Or just... not as rich? Or... someone who values other things more and doesn't want to spend 2 month's salary for... a f*cking cellphone (yes, the minimum wage is about 300$ here)?

bviktor said,

Or just... not as rich? Or... someone who values other things more and doesn't want to spend 2 month's salary for... a f*cking cellphone (yes, the minimum wage is about 300$ here)?


What he meant was that low-end android phones are generally very bad, the 4Gb of internal storage of which you only get a fraction to use are extremely limiting and not all the apps work on them therefore the good android phones are all mid-high end models (Xperia U and above). Of course this is not android's fault but rather the manufacturers flooding the market with trash. The 520 is in the same price range of low-end android phones but the hardware is far above the average, also while you don't get as many apps as Android almost every app on the store would work on the 520 since the hardware is similar to higher end models.

Mr Nom Nom's said,
What I can't get over is how vendors can get away with shipping 2 year old operating system on brand new phones...

What I can't get over is that cars are still sold with only four wheels, one engine and a single steering wheel.

siah1214 said,
You'd be insane to buy something that wasn't an android flagship to be honest.

the problem with that is that, in the end, you are stuck using Android...