Some of you recall my post called I don’t own a smartphone a couple years back. Well, after some hard reflection I came to the conclusion that I probably should have one for at least one important reason: about half of you access my site via mobile. I’m also planning on a site redesign this year which includes responsive design, so I increasingly saw the need to own one.
Lucky for me, I recently was given the opportunity to review the Nokia 521 No-Contract phone thanks to my friends at Microsoft. I was particularly interested in this phone for a few reasons:
- The cost. This is a very inexpensive smartphone (it’s currently on sale for $69.99 at the Microsoft Store + free shipping). As I seek to help you save money here, I wanted to review a phone that I felt would make good sense to share with a money-saving audience.
- No-contract. Having a phone that doesn’t lock you into an expensive monthly plan greatly appealed to me.
- Windows Phone. I’ve heard positive things about the Windows phone and wanted to try it for myself. Currently the Nokia Lumia 521 has an average 4-star rating after 600+ customer reviews on Amazon. Half of these reviewers gave it a “5” star rating.
I’m a good person to conduct a smartphone review simply because I’ve never had a smartphone! This means I’m as green as they come with no clue how to navigate pretty much anything.
I found the Windows 8 Nokia very user-friendly right out of the box. The tiles are extremely intuitive and I had very little issue finding whatever it is I needed. I also found that I could use it how and when I wanted to. I didn’t become “addicted” to it (which was a big fear of mine). More on that at the end of this post.
How I used my Nokia phone
During the couple weeks I have used the phone, I’ve used it for a variety of tasks:
- Calling people. Am I weird in that I actually use the phone to call someone (as opposed to texting?). It was very handy to have while I was at a conference in Las Vegas last week. I was able to call home without incurring fees on the hotel phone. Reception was great too!
- Texting. I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of texting, but it could be that I haven’t done much of it so it takes me a lot longer than the younger folk. However, there were a few instances being able to text someone came in real handy, and doing so was straightforward on the Nokia:
- Search/Social. On a couple occasions, I used the phone to check Facebook or to access Bing. I had no problem using the phone for either use. I made sure to turn “OFF” the notifications for Facebook and Twitter.
- Calendar. I didn’t set out to use the calendar, but BOOM, I had appointments show up on it, which turned out to be helpful! Oh hey – it was my birthday on the 13th!
There are a lot of additional functions the phone has to offer that I have yet to explore including maps, music, games, and videos.
Nokia 521 Camera Review
I’ve heard good things about the built-in camera on the Nokia 521 phone, so I decided to test it out. I decided to compare the photos with my Nikon Coolpix (Amazon) point and shoot (which is the primary camera I use for personal use and here at the blog).
Here’s a typical subject I’d take a picture of:
The picture is not bad at at all, but I still prefer the Nikon for close-up shots like this as it picks up the detail a bit better. But overall, I feel like the phone’s camera did pretty good in bright outdoor light.
I decided to test the camera on more subjects that I take lots of photos of. For fun, I tried a typical lighting situation in our house (dim room with backlight). Here are the results:
I think the Nikon handled this better – I like the brightness and coloring better. However, none of the photos I took were edited (other than to resize and format into a collage).
I admit – it’s a bit unfair comparing the camera in a $100 phone with a camera that’s twice that cost, but I do know that many people end up relying solely on their phones for picture taking. I do think the camera in the Nokia Lumia is very convenient – it’d be perfect to tote to the store to scout out prices of products or to snap quick pics here and there, and it is very easy to share your pictures via email or socially. However, I’d personally be more likely to stick with my Nikon for photos for the blog or where I want a more precise shot.
The photos I took were using Smart Shoot, but there are other lens available, including Cinemagraph and Panaroma.
Overall Opinion: Good Phone for the Value
After using this phone for a few weeks, I would absolutely recommend it! It’s beautiful, easy to use, and a good value for the money. The no-contract feature is also great if you’re a light phone user like me. The only thing that I would like to see change is that more apps will be made available for the Windows platform. Unfortunately, I was unable to download the app for the conference I was at last week in Las Vegas for this reason, and the app would’ve been extremely useful for me. I hope that this will change as the number of Windows phone users increase.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, I am pleased to say that no, I’m not addicted to my phone! I think knowing ahead of time when and how I wanted to use it really helped. I love that the phone lets you turn off distractions like Facebook notifications. It’s easy to customize the phone to suit your preferences. It’s a great tool, but one I’m fully in control of.
Finally, I just want reiterate what a good deal the Nokia Lumia 521 phone is at $69.99! This phone is normally $99.99 (which is still a good value in my opinion)! You can get this price by shopping through 2/2 via the Microsoft Store. For more information on this phone, please see the Microsoft Store. You might also be curious to see what other people are saying about the Nokia Lumia 521 on Amazon.
If you own this phone, I’d love for you to chime with your thoughts!
Disclosure: The folks at Microsoft provided me a Nokia Lumia 521 and phone service to facilitate my review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own. Please see my Disclosure Policy for more information.