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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  • USGroup1 - Thursday, August 8, 2013 - link

    I'm sorry but your browser tests and conclusions are beyond stupid. Your Sunspider test result clearly shows that the slowest Windows phone 8 device has a faster browser than some Android devices with much more powerful SoC.

    "Microsoft clearly optimized for Sunspider, as we’ve seen over the years, and while that lets them stay competitive in that one benchmark, it doesn’t really mean anything as far as having decent or even acceptable browser performance. It’s just sad."

    Wow, just wow, so they optimized their browser for Sunspider test to make it look good, lol pity they didn't do it for Google Octane Benchmark right?
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, August 8, 2013 - link

    It's well known tast companies optimize for Sunspider so much that the score doesn't correlate with real world performance any more. Not saying this isn't true for the other benchmarks as well.. but don't weight Sunspider scores too heavily.

    Maybe Mozilla should port Firefox to Win Phone instead of trying to build an entire new OS?
  • InsGadget - Thursday, August 8, 2013 - link

    In general, web pages work fine on my L920, even full desktop ones. I'd like to see some real-world tests instead of these canned benchmarks, anyways, since they can be easily gamed.
  • Myrandex - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    I agree my Lumia 920 handles pretty much any website I can throw at it with no issues. The only ones that I have trouble with are ones that are flash based (very rare) or ones not designed for touch screens (which would affect all platforms, such as websites with menus that require you to hover a mouse over...come on realize how popular touch screens are and get rid of that stuff web devs!)
  • Flying Goat - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    You can't really port Firefox to Win Phone any more than you can to iOS. Microsoft won't let third party browsers use their own JIT Javascript compiler, so would have to be either very slow, or an IE wrapper. They also won't have access to the functionality needed to set up a secure sandbox. See
  • madmilk - Thursday, August 8, 2013 - link

    Most JITs are so-called "tracing" JITs -- they optimize at runtime. However, optimization by the JIT is not free, so it only makes sense to do it when there's a real need. Sunspider's tests are so short that browsers often don't bother, resulting in suboptimal scores.

    This can be hacked around for a significant increase in scores (or the test can be modified -- there's a modified Sunspider test that runs each test 50 times), but Sunspider is so far from a realistic Javascript workload that such a hack would likely cause extra time and power consumption in other tasks. Additionally, Sunspider doesn't do anything to evaluate other parts of the browser like DOM, which very often is the bottleneck in large Javascript applications.
  • cheshirster - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    I agree, and that is unexpected on Anandtech. IE on 521 is performing really well in real-world compartions to low and middle price androids.
  • savagemike - Thursday, August 8, 2013 - link

    So - could I just pick one of these up on Amazon and use it with an MVNO of AT&T?
  • notposting - Thursday, August 8, 2013 - link

    AT&T has the 520 available as a GoPhone, might be a better choice (probably need to check data bands, locking).
  • A5 - Thursday, August 8, 2013 - link

    Yeah, the 520 is a better option if you're using an AT&T MVNO. 521 just gets you 21mbps on T-Mo bands.

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