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T-Mobile announces Nokia Lumia 521 with Windows Phone 8

With all of the news this morning we let this one fall through the cracks: T-Mobile has picked up the Lumia 520, but as a 521 variant (they always have to be different). There’s no official date or pricing for the device, but we don’t believe it will be too long before the carrier picks it up, probably for $0 on contract or below $200 off contract.

The Lumia 521 fits in with T-Mobile’s plan to move towards non-subsidized phones, where the users buys their own flat out and then pays monthly for the service. In order to do that though they presumably need some good, but affordable deices: enter Nokia.

The Lumia 521 features a 4-inch ClearBlack, SuperSensitive Touch 800x480 display, wireless charging (covers), 8GB storage (expandable via MicroSD), 1430mAh and 1GHz dual-core CPU. This could be a nice break out phone for the carrier to get into consumer hands, especially those not keen on dropping too much on a device.

Below is the official press statement on the Lumia 521:

“T-Mobile will partner with Nokia to bring customers the Lumia 521 – an exclusive to T-Mobile.  Powered by Windows Phone 8, the Lumia 521, which will run on T-Mobile’s fast nationwide 4G network, is a perfect, everyday smartphone that will embody a range of high-end features at an affordable price.  Additional details, including device availability and specifics on pricing, will be shared at a later date.”

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

  • Oh awesome to see new windows phone in the US.
  • Why do provider get there own "renamed" models? does this not simply cause fragmentation? well its not like microsoft pushes updates even if providers dont want do update devices
  • Maybe because of slight tweaks necessary to operate on their network?
    It's not just phones and carriers though.  Best Buy denied me a price match on my TV because their "copy" had a letter on the end of the model number, so they said the TVs were different -- same manufacturer, same name, same layout ... if you put the two side-by-side you could not have told the difference except BB's had an extra letter on the end of the model number.
  • Walmart is famous for this practice. Quite often the only difference between what you see in Walmart vs elsewhere is a Walmart-specific model number for an otherwise identical product, simply so Walmart can get out of price matching.
  • It's a douchey move because with that "letter differentiator" means Best Buy will never have to price match such item.
  • WOOOOW, what an exclusive! I'me sure that it's better thatn the 520 because it has +1!!! -_-'
  • I give up on T Mobile!!!! They simply refuse to get a high end Windows Phone. What the hell!!!!
  • That's why I left them to get the 920, AT&T is not the best but they have the good phones.
  • Yup! Same here!
  • You are right about that! Unlimited data is great, but not a high end Nokia phone sucks! And I want a 920 badly!
  • cant you get the stuff unlocked.. carrier phones are a rip off anyways
  • You can get phones unlocked, off contract, but it doesn't discount your monthly payment, so your better off getting it at a subsidized price, because your paying the same monthly any ways.
  • Not entirely true. Equivalent plans run about $50/mo less on TMobile compared to AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. So, you could take that $600 and buy a brand new phone every year, provided you can get your hands on a frequency-compatibile model of the phone you want. Also, once the phone is paid off in 20 months, TMobile stops charging you for the phone. Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I don't the other three stop charging you once you have paid off the phone. They didn't used to, and in fact, neither did TMobile once upon a time.
  • If your plan is $50 less a month, than your getting free coverage. I'm paying 49.99 a month which includes my texting and minutes but not my data plan. And that's the contract price for my subsidized phone. GoPhone plans are nearly the same price as contract plans just BYOD, no security deposit. I don't know where your getting your info. I've been on a GoPhone plan and I've been on contract, its the same monthly price.
  • I'm sure wpguy meant when you compare two equivalent plans. Take two equivalent plans with unlimited messaging, data plans, and hotspotting and you'll see T-Mobile come out a great deal cheaper.
    I have a 3 line family plan with T-Mobile, 1000 minutes, 5GB data, unlimited messaging and hotspotting and my plan is at least $60 less on T-Mobile than if I were to get the equivalent options on AT&T. Yes, I buy my phones off contract and it is cheaper/easier that way.
  • I'm using my Lumia 920 (that I got at the Build conference) on T-Mobile with a 30$/month plan (100 minutes, unlimited talk, 5GB at full speed) and it works great. If I didn't have an unlocked 920 and really wanted one I would buy it full price and use an MVNO on AT&T, still ends up cheaper.
    The frequency comment is still true, some phones don't work on t-mobile, but that's changing. T-Mobile is reconfiguring their network and in several markets you already get 3G with devices that weren't compatible before (my lumia 800 for example, in the SF bay area)
  • Dude, the option is there if you want a 920. Buy a Rogers 920, get it unlocked and boom, you have a 920 on mobile. I am on Wind which uses the same aws freqs as t mobile, so I had no choice but to get a Rogers 920. If you want it as bad as you say you do, then just get one! Try canadagsm, negri, or omegacell if you want to buy one.
  • The 8X is pretty high end.
  • 8X is a 'nice' WP phone, but at today's standards I have difficulty to call it even mid-range device. Especially when compared to HTC's Android offerings. 8gb/16gb with no sd-slot? Really?
  • Yes really.  The 8X is just as high end as the L920.
  • Except that HTC doesn't support their phones as well as Nokia supports theirs. Still the 8X looks nice.
  • the supersensitive screen,wireless charging,high screen refresh rate,clearblack,, 32 gb storage, high amplitude mics and pureview camera says hello
  • Alot of the newer android phones are also ditching the sd card slot (Nexus 4, HTC one, etc)
  • I'm gonna have to go with that one now. It looks amazing, but Nokia just seems to put so much more emphasis on there Windows Phones then HTC.
  • That's what HTC would like you to think.
  • Yes! Yes! Another midrange Nokia phone coming to T-Mobile. Lucky the sarcasm). I feel you but I'm not giving up on T-Mobile only because Nokia has only released their top phones with AT&T and no one else and I'm sure the demand is there on every carrier. So either I'll be switching to Android with the HTC One or unlocking a Nokia Lumia 920 to use on T-Mobile. This makes no sense to keep your top phone on one carrier every single time.
  • Nokia cannot force T-Mobile to take the Lumia 920.  If T-Mobile felt that they could subsidize it substantially, as well as promote it properly (which they are NOT doing with the Lumia 810) like AT&T does, then I would think T-Mobile would give it a go.
    T-Mobile is known as the budget carrier, for the budget minded consumer.  Frankly, I think the Lumia 920 would be wasted on T-Mobile - they have the smallest user base and they apparently would not be able to subsidize the device enough to get it down to budget prices.
  • But somehow they will be able to do that with the Galaxy S line or say the HTC One? This has nothing to do with T-Mobile. Like I said NO OTHER CARRIER has the Lumia 920 so if you think only one carrier can subsidize and sell then you are out of your mind. A homeless guy could sell a Lumia 920. I'm pretty sure T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon could sell it too. I'm pretty sure AT&T wasn't the only carrier to say yeah, I think we can sell this phone. Come on man!
  • I would have certainly taken the L920.  At least the 810 has been kind to me, so I really can't complain. 
  • At least you have the choice of a WP.  I'm on Sprint with no option other then a vague "we will carry WP8" and no Nokia in site.
  • Yeah I'm sorry for you bro but you need to leave Sprint. No one knows what they're
  • After nearly 7 years of being with Tmo, I left for the 920... and so far, there hasn't been one single reason telling me that was a bad decision.
    Since the 920 (and HTC 8X), there hasn't been any new 'flagship' phones, only 'affordable' ones, which concretes that I made a sound decision.  I wanted the best WP8 phone and I got it (I know some 8X owners will debate me on that, but IMO, so whatever).  
    So far, I've experienced no problems w/ At&t and actually rather nice customer service (at corporate store in person and via online chat).  Don't miss Tmo at all.
  • I give up too!!! My contract on two HD7's was up Nov 2012 and I was just waiting on MWC to see if T-Mo would get the 920 or a new high end Nokia Win8 phone, and what do they announce, Nokia's lowest end Win8 phone? Really T-Mo?? I'm off to their cheap ass GoSmart service until AT&T has a deal on the 920 then they will no longer be getting any money from me!!! 
  • TMo will get a high end phone once they move to a fully running LTE service.  I expect TMo to have something superior to the L920 this year.  I know it's a bit of wishful thinking, but according the business department rep that's what he said.  Only time will tell.
  • Just buy a 920 unlocked!! It will still run 4g on T-Mobile in mist markets.. But for windows phone to grow we need these low end phones.. We as sales reps aren't asking for high end, it's hard enough for an 810 yo compete with an L9, but this 510 should stomp a prism, mytouch, or an exhibit. Plus look at timing, a high end phone would become quickly overshadowed by an iPhone and m7 launch next month. This is definitely a smart and well planned move by tmo and Nokia!! If you can't see that, then you don't know this business at all.
  • One of my friends has this phone and really, it lacks of many essential things. Just to name one, as it has no macro focus on the camera, Bing's photo translator can hardly be used, so are QRs.
  • How does he have it now?
  • I know I'm skimping out on a good camera by picking up a sub-$200 phone. Name the others.
  • hard to believe
  • You mean the 500 with 7.5?
  • *510
  • yeah, sorry about the confussion, I meant 505 with 7.8
  • Since the phone was just announced today, not likely.
  • wow really how can your friend have one of these phones already????????
  • Lovely T-Mobile logo!
  • Why the hate? Show me another $200 phone that is any better? It has 512 MB RAM so it runs all the apps that the 8X and 920 can, including full background tasks and full lock screen functionality. (I think few will miss the FFC or flash.) How is this not a winner for frugal T-Mobile customers and Windows Phone in general?
  • The low price only matters if you're comparing unsubsidized phones.
  • Isn't the 810 $50?
  • That's the point I'm trying to make to Vernon.
  • They should have got the 720, would have exchanged my 810
  • I agree. Sadly.
  • While no one doubts the strategy of bringing a low cost phone to low cost carrier, wp enthusiasts on Tmo are losing patience. They need, at the very least, to pick up the 920 the minute exclusivity expires. I want a phone with a great camera. Please and thank you.
  • Not from the USA here, but the claimed T-Mobile's "4G" network is not really LTE right? It'd be weird if the Lumia 521 supports LTE, but the Lumia 720 doesn't.
  • If the speed is equivalent or better, does it really matter?
  • Oh and Daniel, are you sure the 521 has Clear Black screen? According to official Nokia site, the 520 does not have a Clear Black display. Did the +1 give it ClearBlack display?
  • Where is the big end lumia running o. T,mobiles new lte network. Le sigh
  • T-Mobile, as usual, the low stuff. Don't know why I care for that company as I just ditch it 2 months ago due too poor reception and WP offerings.
  • Are you on AT&T now?
  • Smh!
  • I might just be forced to get an Android phone I see..
  • if high-end Lumia gets announced tomorrow for Verizon. I'll be officially done with tmobile
  • Im drooling
  • I wish they got the 720 instead
  • Whenever I read a story like this makes me glad I'm not in the US mobile phone market. Carriers have somehow managed to accumulate too much influence. Something's wrong when they dictate to manufacturers to change their designs etc to give them an exclusive. Why not compete on price and service as happens in more competitive markets?
  • Sell this off contract for $200 and it won't be able to stay in stock. TMobile is essentially a prepaid company. Its gonna be tough to get high end phones not named android there. I saw a 620 go up with a 920. The differences in performance wad minimal. I'm sure the extra ram is just for games and the screen.
    I'm tired of contracts . This is my dream phone
  • Moves like Tmobile getting the 521 are just stupid! It doesn't even have a flash on the camera. Why would they not at least get the 620 or better yet the 720 which looks better then there 810! Who makes these poor descisions.
  • People that are obviously smarter than you, because this is a great decision. Windows phone needs a phone that will be sold under $100 off contract, or a $0 down $10/mth phone on value. It's actually what we reps have been asking for. I hate selling garbage android that customers hate. I'd rather sell a cheap windows phone that's going to work. This is a great move to push the needle on market share and brand awareness.
  • Um ok ya I hear what your trying to say but I wouldnt call the L9 for example im using now on Tmobile monthly a garbage android. In fact it's one of the best ive had & ive had every os on every carrier.  A flash for the camera is a main must for me at least & I cant fathom why they would leave that off.. Like I said the 620 would have been much better then this & it's already been out & would have been around the same price point!
  • I wasn't calling the L9 garbage, and mentioned in comment above that we struggle to sell an 810 over an L9 which is a much better phone at a close price range.. And from what I've gathered from our windows rep, we should be seeing tablets in the near future plus an above 920 device.. I would rather not even see a 720 though, would be better to bring a 920 like device, drop price on 810, and have the 521 gives good options if you look at our value plan for a phone at all 3 price levels 20, 15, 10 per month. But in the mean time for the past year or so, the reps here have been asking for this very low end phone showing how easy it will be to sell over the low end androids. This phone isn't for almost anyone that keeps up with wpcentral, its solely for the customers who want a super inexpensive product and first time smartphone buyers.
  • Lumia 520(521) is actually a better phone than 620 except the flash light. 
  • Why the Lumia 521 only? IMO, it would be much better to offer this and the 720, with the latter at a slightly more expensive price.
  • RM913 eh?
  • Who wants to bet the ugly this thing up. If they do I'll just buy international. May do that anyway.
  • Can't recall the exact interview where some Nokia manager stated that they are bringing(or trying) low, mid and high -end phones for each US carrier. This should be good news for patient ppl. So for TMo these would be 521-810-920(or better).