I've had my Lumia 521 for about a month now. In the past I was a die-hard Android phone user, but everything about the Lumia has exceeded my expectations, so much so that I can't ever see myself going back to Android. What makes this phone so wonderful? Several things, actually:
1. The Windows Phone 8 is fluid and smooth. This is really the highlight and main reason to buy this phone. Even though this phone only has 512 MB of RAM, there is no slowdown or stuttering like on many similarly spec'd Android devices. Apps load quickly and snappily, and games run just as fast. The only drawback to the limited RAM is that you can't multitask with very many apps open (otherwise you'll see the "Resuming..." screen when an app reloads#. Still, this is a minor nitpick, as apps resume very quickly. And speaking of apps...
2. Nokia's built-in apps are excellent. If you're coming from Android or iPhone there is a slight learning curve, but after using the phone for a day you'll be a pro. Nokia provides a "Help & Tips" app just in case you need assistance learning the ins and outs of the OS, and their other apps such as "HERE Maps," "HERE Drive" #GPS navigation# and Nokia Music are extremely user-friendly and, in my opinion, of higher quality than other Android apps that provide the same services. Nokia also provides their own "App Essentials" pack in the Windows Phone store that you can download, which includes many other useful apps like Ringtone Maker, Photobeamer #which allows you to "beam" your photos projection-style onto any PC or Mac that has the Photobeamer website loaded#, and HERE Transit.
3. The camera takes decent, but not great, photos. If you're looking for iPhone quality photos, I'll be honest: The Lumia 521 will not cut it. There is also no LED flash included on this model, but really, what did you expect for $130? On the other hand, if you just need something for a quick point-and-shoot, then the 5MP lens on this phone does just fine. You can further enhance your pictures through Nokia's #MANY# photo editing apps if need be. I've found that as long as there is ample light, the photos turn out satisfactory.
4. Less apps than iPhone and Android. That's right, I said "LESS" apps. While most people would see this as a negative, it actually works to Windows Phone's advantage. Most major apps you would need are readily available in the Windows Store, like Twitter, Facebook, Kindle, Spotify, Pandora, etc. For everything else, you can usually find a comparable substitute that is of better quality than what's available on iOS or Google Play. For example, if you need a replacement for Google Reader - or one of its many offshoots - NextGen Reader is an awesome alternative. Because there are fewer apps available, quality apps like NextGen Reader are much easier to find. No wading through tons and tons of garbage apps just to find a diamond in the rough!
5. Call quality ROCKS. Calls are clear and loud, and I've never had anyone say that they have trouble hearing me. Voices don't sound muffled in the least.
And because no product is perfect, here are some things you might not like:
- The feel of the phone is very cheap, particularly the back. It's just a hard plastic shell without a good grip. You'll want to get a case for this phone soon if you consider yourself a butterfingers and don't want to risk dropping it.
- The screen is nothing to write home about, but once again, what are you expecting for $130? Sure, it's not a super AMOLED like on the Samsung phones, and it's only 4", but it's definitely more than passable. It is, however, super-sensitive, although you can turn down the sensitivity in the Settings if you desire.
- Only 8 GB of internal memory. This will fill up rather quickly if you download a lot of apps and music. Fortunately you can remedy this by using a MicroSD card for more storage, but keep in mind YOU CANNOT INSTALL APPS TO THE SD CARD. You can only put music, pictures, and videos on the SD card.
If you're on the fence about picking this phone up, or you're hesitant to switch to a Windows Phone, then trust me: The Lumia 521 is worth it. For the price, you're getting a phone that has an awesome mix of features and apps, and if you plan on using T-Mobile's $30 prepaid plan then you're getting even more of a bargain. In fact, the only reason you should consider NOT getting this phone is if you don't get T-Mobile service in your area or if you just dislike T-Mobile altogether. There's a reason this phone is nearly sold out everywhere: it's just that good. Track one down if you can, because you won't regret it.
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