on July 29, 2013
Given the MSRP for this phone, you have to set some expectations. But then you realize it doesn't carry a 2-year agreement. You can use this phone out of the box on an AT&T Prepaid (GoPhone) line or on AT&T postpaid (contract) plans. It comes with a Micro SIM card and GoPhone activation kit in the box.
It performs great! I've owned a Lumia 920, HTC 8x, Lumia 822, and a few older WP7 devices. This, just like any other Windows Phone, feels smooth and fluid throughout. Sometimes when a larger operation (filtering a photo, opening a big app) takes place, you will notice a "Resuming..." screen for a split second. Otherwise, it's every bit as smooth as any other Windows Phone. You can't really say that about an Android device at this price point.
1) Price! This phone can be used as a daily driver, backup phone, "I dropped my other phone in the toilet and I'm not due for an upgrade" phone, or even just a device you use with WiFi only.
2) The software library for Windows Phone is getting there. It still doesn't have Instagram, but it has everything else you could really want.
3) Comcast Xfinity remote lets me control my TV/DVR with this thing. It's like I got an amazing touch screen smart remote for free.
4) First-party Xbox apps. Xbox Smartglass lets you use this as a makeshift Xbox 360 controller. Xbox Live lets you keep track of anything like achievements, recently played, your avatar, etc.
5) Nokia Music lets you stream lots of music. FOR FREE!
6) Nokia HERE (Maps, Drive) are awesome! You can download GPS maps for offline use. Use it in the car for turn-by-turn directions, or use it while you're out and about for mapping. If this was the only feature this device had, it would be worth the MSRP!
7) You can swap the cover! If you get tired of the plain black color on this device, you can easily buy a colored variant from Nokia and just swap it out. The yellow one looks amazing!
1) There's no Front Facing Camera, so video calls are out.
2) It only has 512MB of RAM, which limits some apps. I've noticed very few that haven't been able to install, and none of them are deal-breakers.
3) The camera is 5MP, has no flash, and rather poor. But - it's still comparable or better than any Android device I've tested at this price point.
4) The display isn't the best, but what can you expect for the price? It's crisp and readable at WVGA resolution, and the nature of Windows Phone really makes up for any other shortcomings the display may have. The colors are pretty good, considering it's an IPS panel.
Note: I purchased this device directly from AT&T at full MSRP + sales tax. Any of my comments are based on that price point, which is definitely the upper limit you will see for this device. This phone is already listed cheaper here on Amazon just 3 days after it was released.
This phone (retail packaging from AT&T) DOES come with a USB cable. I previously stated that it did not, which is incorrect.
on October 11, 2013
I had an iPhone 5 a year ago and then it got stolen. I can't afford to buy another iPhone because it is off contract with AT&T and even the iPhone 4s would cost me over $350 off contract. I've been curious about Windows Phone 8 and thought this would be a good way to try it out. It is a Go Phone ( marketed for prepaid plans), but if you already have an AT&T post paid phone plan, simply swap in your own SIM card and it will work right out of the box with your current phone number and plan (If you have a larger SIM card you can buy a SIM cutter for under $5 and it should work fine).
I purchased this Nokia Lumia 520 phone from Amazon in mid-august 2013 (about 8 weeks ago). Anyways, I figured that for $100, I could try out WP8 operating system and if I didn't like it it would be not much of a risk or loss to me. So far, I have been really, really happy with it. It is pretty much equivalent in performance and specs to the iPhone 4s. With the Lumia 520, you lose the front camera and flash of the iPhone 4s, but you get a bigger 4-inch screen and bigger battery. The 520 only comes with 8 GB of storage, but I added a 16 GB SD card for a total of 24 gigabytes, which is more than enough for my purposes. Including the SD card, the total phone cost $115 (w/ free amazon prime shipping). I'd be satisfied with this phone if I paid $200 for it, but at $115 - I'm very happy indeed.
The only shortcoming I can think of is there are not as many Windows Phone apps as there are for Android or Apple iOS, but I will not take any stars off of the phone because that is not an issue with the phone and there are more WP apps coming every day. If this was my first smartphone, there would be no complaints whatsoever. I know Apple and Android really have the smartphone market locked up in the US, Japan and UK, but I think Windows Phone will really get a foothold in EU and the developing world, so lots more WP apps should be coming down the pipeline soon form enterprising app developers internationally.
My phone use is for texting first, camera second, phone calls third... fourth would be browsing the web while taking the bus to/from school, fifth as a music player and sixth for maps/directions. It does all of those things very well. The Nokia Camera app is great - I'm a photographer and I like that I can change the exposure by +- 2 stops, Nokia Here apps are awesome (maps, public transit and turn-by-tun driving) - the driving app even lets you download maps to your phone so you can get directions and view maps where there is no cell phone service (came very handy driving through the mountains in Western Nevada). The Nokia "Transfer MY Data" app was great and pulled all 300+ of my address book from an iPod Touch in about 20 seconds via bluetooth. I like the Windows Phone integration with SkyDrive and find it much easier to use and more user friendly than iCloud - there is a lot more customization options with SkyDrive whereas iCloud has a really dumbed down and simplistic interface over the web.
I've even been able to do a small amount of data tethering with my iPod Touch. I've only had to do it once when I had no Windows Phone app for what I wanted to do. I've hear AT&T locks out tethering from data plans unless you pay more, but I think it was only a small amount of data and since it went to a mobile device it was able to get thru the system. I think if I had tried to tether with a laptop, it might have been blocked. I wouldn't say this is a feature, and your mileage if you try this may vary.
I really like this phone and for the price ($100), I LOVE IT! I think my next phone may be a Windows Phone with LTE and I may end up getting an iPad for those few iOS apps I can do without.
on September 20, 2013
I’ve been waiting for a phone like this for a long time – that is, a reasonably-priced, no-contract device that does not have to apologize on quality, performance, or style. I’m no technophobe (I work in an IT related field) but I’ll admit it, I’m a cheapskate. I’m not interested in putting a large amount of my paycheck towards a fancy phone or unlimited-everything contract. By managing my phone use and relying on wi-fi as much as possible, I can get all the calls, texts and cellular data I need for 10 bucks a month. The problem is, there hasn’t been a good selection of phones that give me the performance I want, at the price I’m willing to pay. That’s where the Nokia 520 comes in! I give it 5 stars not because it’s necessarily a perfect phone or OS, but because the value here is incredible. I can see why this is being snapped up all over the world. A lot of reviewers have commented that it’s a good “starter” smartphone, which it may be, but the only thing “starter” about it is the price. Sure, it doesn’t have the specs of a flagship phone and won’t appeal to everyone, but in my estimation it’s a very good phone that should be fine for most average users.
After using the phone for a month, here’s a few specific thoughts:
- I haven’t experienced any lagging, freezing, or need for restart – something that cannot be said for my previous phone which cost over twice as much.
- I like the feel and responsiveness of the phone hardware. I have used other Nokias in the past and they have all been solid as a rock hardware-wise. I hope this does as well.
- About the battery, with wi-fi discovery turned off and screen brightness set to auto, I typically have about one-half of the battery left at the end of the day. There was one day that some app or another (I’m guessing) drained the battery way down so I’m being more careful about what I leave open.
- Camera so far is working well for me when the lighting conditions are decent. I use a real camera anyway for stuff I really care about. Plenty of options available for editing and uploading photos.
- So far I like using the Windows Phone 8 OS. It was really easy to set up personal and work email accounts, etc. Navigating around is easy and kind of fun. I like all the info you can see right on the lock screen, let alone the home screen “live tiles.” The web browser has worked fine for what I need. I’ve adapted well to the onscreen keyboard and I’m becoming a big fan of the predictive text. I’m also using the voice commands more as I learn about the phone’s capabilities. Recently at a day at an amusement park, I used the voice command to speak and send texts back and forth with my wife, and it translated what I said great despite all the ambient noise. I understand some of the criticism of WP8 regarding some nuances and settings it would be nice to have. But here again, nothing for me has been a big deal and they seem to be listening to customers and adding improvements with each release.
- Nice to have the free downloadable maps and turn-by-turn navigation. Works great with no data costs.
- Availability of apps for Windows Phone has been a deal-breaker for some. Statistics show that most people REALLY only use a handful of apps and this is true for me. So far, I’ve found what I needed. (I’m a busy dad and mostly use my phone as a tool, not something I spend hours entertaining myself with.) A warning though, I’ve run into a couple apps and games that require a higher-powered phone, but nothing I really cared about.
- It’s nice to have the Office apps on here so I can open docs I get from work, etc. I’m also getting into using OneNote.
- The latest thing I’m loving is the Xbox Music Pass. Unlimited music downloads and/or online listening for a REALLY reasonable subscription price. I’m on a trial now but I think I’m gonna keep this one. Music is my one big weakness for spending money!
To sum up, all I can say is, I think a lot of consumers (in the U.S., particularly) are hoodwinked into thinking they HAVE to have such and such phone on an expensive monthly contract. But if you’re like me and you have better things to do with your hard-earned money, then get this phone with a prepaid service and join me in laughing all the way to the bank!
on April 7, 2014
If you made the mistake of purchasing this phone thinking to use it overseas, or on TMobile over here, and just discovered it is "locked" to AT&T (even though you own it and thought "no contract" meant "unlocked"), there are still a lot of useful things to do with, apart from fuming:
1. Out of the box, insert battery, power it up, and go to Settings.
2. Set "Airplane Mode".
3. Power off, remove battery, insert the provided GoPhone SIM.
- The SIM is essential for downloading Nokia Here Maps, which are GREAT.
4. Go to Settings, turn on WiFi mode. Don't turn off Airplane Mode! Leave it the way you set it in step 2.
- Airplane Mode keeps the phone from searching for a cellular carrier and forcing you to activate the phone.
5. There are some advantages to having a Microsoft Outlook free email account. Go to outlook <dot> com and get a free account if you don't already have one.
6. Go to Settings and add some Accounts:
- Microsoft (your new or existing Outlook account).
- Nokia (for free and purchased apps from the Store).
- Google, FaceBook, Yahoo! Mail, Twitter, LinkedIn, IBM Notes Traveler, and generic POP and IMAP accounts are your other choices.
7. While in Settings use the "left arrow" a permanent below-the-screen left arrow to move back to the main Settings menu and set Brightness to High with no automatic control. This works best except in dim settings like on an airplane with lights out, where I use Low for Kindle reading.
8. On the same first page of Settings, scroll down to Phone Update and check for system updates. You should already have the "Black" update set, 8.1 will come out in a couple of months. Check about once a week.
9. Apps will update too, a number will appear on the Live Tile for Store. Sometimes important updates like FaceBook are announced but the Store won't auto update right away - you can force an update by searching for that app, then clicking on it, and clicking manually on the update bar that appears.
10. Download these apps (my favorites, YMMV):
- WhatsApp, Line, Viber. Or your favorite message/free phone call solution.
- Most of these require an active phone number to work. If you use your other phone's number, that will erase your account on that other phone, when you use the text supplied PIN to activate on the Lumia 520. That might change someday, but for now linkage to phone numbers is a limitation.
- Skype. Works REALLY well on the Lumia 520.
- Kindle. Works so-so. I read a couple of books inflight so it isn't screen sharpness that is the problem. The problem is a little Amazon software funkiness that occasionally cuts off a line or two of text between pages. To fix, rotate from book orientation to landscape to read your text then rotate back. The rotation seems to fix the problem.
- Facebook. Fine for consumption, not so fine for editing your posts or comments. Much improved over last year.
- Facebook MESSENGER. Yes, it is a separate app, and more and more people use it, is a good substitutes for WhatsApp, Line, Viber, and Facebook doesn't care how many devices you have it on. A mature product on Lumia 520. Be sure to pay attention to the little delta wing that rats out your location - default is on, so you WILL be tracked by friends and frenemies. Well tracked when you answer a message.
11. From the home screen - press the Home soft button on the bottom of the screen - flick the screen to the left to see the list of apps, all the apps, and open HERE Maps.
- Choose your state and download your map.
- Going to Dublin? etc? download that map. The maps don't take up a lot of space.
- Yes, GPS works without cellular service, so long as you downloaded the map. Remember, the maps won't download if you didn't put your SIM card in (you can remove it later, but why bother?).
12. Some good exercise apps that work well with the LOUD speaker on this tiny phone:
- 7 Minute Scientific.
13. For music:
- Because it has the necessary licenses from MicroSoft, 64gb and even 128gb micro SD's fit and work fine. I use a 64gb to hold almost all my music.
- It will play current iTunes tracks fine (everything except the early DRM digital rights management copy protected tunes), mp3. it will not play Ogg Vorbis.
- The player is called Music & Videos and comes stock; until updates, it might appear as Nokia Music or as xBox, Nokia Mix Radio is a separate app which provides free streaming music from Nokia. Very cool!
REMEMBER, all this is WITHOUT cellular phone service!
You have a camera, music player, GPS unit, e-reader, and minimalist web browser, all in a $60 or so package! And the option of using it to back up your AT&T and AT&T driven phone service, if you need it.
1. Due to the 512mb memory limitation, app switching is painfully slow. NOT unusably slow, but by modern standards PITA slow.
2. A few games and rare apps won't run in a 512mb footprint. Before you go ballistic on this memory limitation, keep in mind the iPad 2 and original Mini are both 512mb. Like Apple, though, MicroSoft uses compiled code for its apps - more efficient - than Android, which "compiles code" on the fly via an interpreter - hence Android needs faster processors and more RAM (but in current editions and with modern hardware, Android is plenty fast).
3. This is DVD resolution, not HD. It is 800x480, not one of the higher resolutions. The type looks crisp, not pixelated, but you don't get as much information per screen on websites or Kindle, and the screen - for resolution AND quality reasons - isn't good for serious video watching.
4. No front camera. This is a BIGGIE for many selfie fans. On the rear, no FLASH but the camera DOES autofocus. I don't like flash, I prefer natural light even if the picture goes grainy etc. so I'm ok with this.
1. The battery life is absolutely incredible, with cellular radio turned off via the Airplane Mode switch.
2. Nokia continues to roll out major software updates for this amazing little helper - even Win Phone 8.1 is coming to the 520, which means being able to run apps from the uSD card and, finally, being able to set ringer and music volumes separately (saves ears, that).
So I've found plenty of uses for my Lumia 520, even if it isn't good for travel or TMob. I wish it were unlocked, and would have paid more for an unlocked one from Nokia (if they sold unlocked phones direct, like Google and Motorola and Apple do), but my buyer's mistake hasn't turned into buyer's remorse.
You will be blown away by the design, looks, and quality of this little bargain.
on September 15, 2014
I love this phone. Easy to operate and easy to handle since it is not too heavy to carry. I enjoy using it every day ^_^
on December 11, 2013
As so many others have stated, this may be the best smart phone for the money. Our family is Apple centric when it comes to our desktop computers and we have several generations of iPads in the house. So we are comfortable with IOS and appreciate the wealth of educational apps available for our home school program and for for our entertainment. It would seem logical that we would gravitate to the iPhone but given our limited phone usage, but it didn't make sense to make the required investment. The Nokia 520 provides all the functionality we need and for $59, it was an incredible bargain. We simply inserted the Consumer Cellular micro SIM card, called CC to register the device's IEMI, entered the apn and mms apn settings, rebooted the phone and we were connected. I bought the phone for my wife and she finds it very easy to use. I had previously purchased a Nokia 920 for my own use, but I could be happy with a 520. I especially appreciate that it has a user replaceable battery that will extend the useful life of the phone.
We don't need an unlimited data plan as we'll connect with wifi at home for browsing or downloads. Likewise, the 8GB phone memory is not an issue because we will only install a few essential apps. The Windows Phone 8 OS is well sorted out, attractive, easy to use and updated with useful features. It would be great if Microsoft, Nokia or a third party created an app to sync iCal and Apple Contacts directly and avoid Google, but for now that doesn't seem to be in the cards.
Here are the pluses:
1. Convenient size
2. Acceptable camera for snaps (has autofocus but no flash).
3. Acceptable speaker volume, sound quality okay
4. Frequent W8 updates
5. Replaceable battery and back cover colors
6. Great Nokia Here maps and free voice aided navigation off line
7. Good screen for the price . . . we aren't watching HD movies on the phone
8. Micro SD slot for up to 64GB storage for photos and music
9. Bluetooth connections are easy to connect and stable
1. No flash, but most LED flash provides mediocre results at best
2. No front facing camera, but we don't do selfies
3. 512MB of RAM may be limited for some apps, but none we need or want
4. 8GB memory limits the number of apps that can be loaded, but is enough for our needs
on August 1, 2013
I used to own nokia feature phones 6 years ago and loved everything about them. After moving to the America's , I caught up with the smartphone wave and have used android,apple, blackberry and tried htc, samsung handsets. When my 2 yr contract ended with att, I looked for an off contract phone and was skeptical about windows 8. I picked up this phone for $100 from an att store. Honestly, I'm blown away and very glad to own a nokia phone again. I love everything about this phone.
1. Excellent design and call quality
2. Great speed and smooth operation similar to high end phones that sell well over $200
3. Turn by turn navigation with offline maps
4. Offline music
5. Very good camera even without the flash
6. Live tiles are refreshing
7. Easily changeable back shell in bright colors
This phone will stay with me for many years no matter wherever technology takes us.
Especially at today's Deal of the Day price, this is a no-brainer purchase.
It's cheap, it has a micro SD slot for additional storage, and it has all the essentials.
Yes, if you're an AT&T customer (which you need to be to use this as anything but a 911 phone), this is a fantastic spare phone - fantastic not because it's the best phone ever - it isn't - but because it's a usable smartphone for (today) twenty bucks.
For others: it's also a very nice - for the price - little bag of tricks. You don't ever need to register it with AT&T. Buy it and use it as a smart non-phone.
The free downloadable maps make it a true GPS (it'll work even with no cell signal as long as it can find the satellites, which it seems to be able to do without issue). So - buy one and use it as a dedicated navigator. Just make sure to download maps (again: free) *beforehand*, and you'll be set if you're ever driving somewhere with poor to no cellular data signal. You can download virtually the entire country on the provided built-in storage (if you don't use it for anything else), and you can absolutely download everything if you add a cheap micro SD card. I used it for travel and had it speak directions to me. It worked as well as Google Maps for me in that situation (and I love Google Maps), so I definitely can recommend this as a GPS/navigator. Get one for your parents/grandparents.
It has a rear camera (sorry, no front camera for selfies), which isn't all that bad (hardware is OK, software is pretty good) and which - nicely - has a dedicated physical button on the phone. But, there's no flash, so it also can't function as a light (one of my typical smartphone uses). Still, it works (in relatively well-lit areas). Again, if you've got a younger kid, this is a camera they can use that's cheaper than pretty much any other option - *and* it can do so much more.
It's also a decent WiFi communication device (email and Skype, for example, but remember there's no front camera), and, as such, makes a nice gift for kids or others who don't have overly high expectations.
Then there's Cortana, which isn't yet as good as Google and Siri but which works well - ask it a question, and you typically get a correct answer. Again, this isn't stuff you'd not find on a nicer phone from virtually anyone, but it's on this, and it works.
And, of course, there are apps. Most of the Windows Store apps run on this, so you've got streaming music, games, etc. Personally, I don't think the media ecosystem (as far as movies, shows, books, etc. but possibly excepting music) is as good as what Apple, Google, or Amazon offer, but the apps are pretty diverse otherwise. *As* diverse, no, but plentiful enough.
Edit: I just downloaded Netflix onto it (I hadn't before, since I've got other devices for that), and, while it took a while to install and initialize, it works fine - video looks good (given the caveats of screen size and resolution), and audio is surprisingly decent and would be even better with headphones. Again, it's no 80" screen with surround sound, but, hey, for the price, it's awesome.
Look, this isn't an iPhone or an HTC One or a high-end Microsoft phone. It's a bargain-basement Windows phone. The screen isn't high-res, and it's not as responsive as more expensive phones. It doesn't have Messages or Hangouts.
But it's surprisingly nice, and I recommend it without hesitation. I've got mine in-pocket, so feel free to ask questions in the comments, and please also let me know if this review was helpful to you.
on August 15, 2013
Previously I was using the AT&T Avail (also known as the Zte Avail) which I never really had any problems with other than the phone liked to restart itself randomly and the low amount of internal memory (could only hold five apps :/) But the Nokia 520, is a way better phone than the Avail in every way. I ordered my phone directly from AT&T because Amazon said it would take 2-5 weeks (after I ordered the phone from AT&T it became in stock on Amazon go figure)
For $100 your getting a really good deal
Screen quality looks nice, you can still see outside in direct sunlight
-The pictures look good for a 5 mp camera ( I have a iPad 4 and the photo quality is very similar/just as good as what you get with the Nokia)
- the call quality is great, even if you use the speakerphone! I called a friend and asked if the sound quality was good he said yes. After I told him, he was on speakerphone he said I sounded amazing and he couldn't tell
-Listening to music is great on the phone nice and loud
-Offline map with turn by turn navigation. This is why I bought the phone for this feature, figured if I could use this feature without any internet connection I could save myself from buying a GPS.
-Keyboard is easy to type on
-Interface is easy to use
-Message title has a winking face when their is an unread text message ;)
-I have 2013 Honda Civic and the phone does work with hands free Honda Bluetooth that is built into the car, and it will support the read you your text messages feature :)
One thing I'm missing on phone is when you send picture messages it doesn't do the little up and down arrow showing that its trying or receive or send a message(Hope this makes sense) so you kinda just have to guess when your picture message has been sent
Things you need to know
-If you are already an existing go phone customer you will need call AT&T, so they can transfer your number and money to the new micro sim unless your last phone already had a micro sim (currently the only go phones on AT&T that have a micro sim are the Samsung Galaxy Express, Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and this phone.)
-If you don't have/want to pay for data you need to disable data otherwise you might see GPRS charges on your account. I had one that cost $4.44 and I wasn't happy. Disabling data will insure you don't receive any of these mysterious GPRS charges. However, if you disable data you will no longer see 4G on the phone and you won't be able to send or receive picture messages (you can still get regular text messages)
-Battery life varies depending on how much you use your phone
I am grandfathered into the old $1 a day plan which doesn't have any data, so I'll guess have to change to one of the new plans or I will end up paying more with the random GPRS charges when data is enabled
-Not as many Apps compared to Apple and Android, but has the most common apps people want and Windows seems to be trying to get more...As I previously stated I have an iPad 4, so any games, emails, or video calls are done on there.My phone is just for calls, texting, picture messages, taking pictures and very light web use when wifi is available and I need to look up something when I'm out and about, and now GPS :)
Overall, if your someone like me who upgrading from an older android, can get used to the Windows OS and can live with the fact that not every app is available in the App Store then I think you'll be very happy with this phone.
on August 15, 2013
I have owned flagship phones, prepaid pieces of junk, international phones, flip phones, etc. This Lumia 520 is by far and away the best deal on a phone I've ever seen. That's not to say it's the best phone ever, clearly you can spend hundreds more to make that happen. What this phone did was show that an inexpensive phone needn't be cheap too. As others have said, if you're on the fence, just purchase this already. It's a no brainer. I will note, I did get mine significantly cheaper than the price listed here - the brick and mortar store that makes the OS on this phone was running a demo that knocked off many dollars on any item. Anyway, onto more of the review.
Overall build/design of the phone - The phone is a very basic look which I find better. It's functional and nothing more, but it isn' also abrasive looking or ugly. The back is made of that soft touch plastic and I love that stuff. It provides grip, it doesn't feel 'cheap', and it doesn't scratch/dent easily. All the physical buttons are on the right side of the phone - which is nice too. You can grip your phone in your left hand without pushing some volume button or what not. The buttons are OK to push - the power works best and so does the camera button(which has two stages so you can focus and snap a pic quickly). The volume rocker is harder to push and push quickly, but you can just hold it to turn volume up/down. Also note, if you take the back off to pull the battery or SD card or what not, make sure you put the cover back on very well - mine was off by a tad and the camera button didn't engage. Overall, the phone is built solidly, it's good looking, and everything is laid out well.
Screen - This is always hard as you have to physically look at the screen to decide if you like it or not. I find the panel to be good given the price, size, etc. The resolution is just fine for a 4'' screen. Yes, a full 1080p screen is good, but even as a tech guy I thought it was overkill for a phone. The screen gets bright enough if you set it to high. You can only set it to low, medium, and high. Also you can leave it on auto, which I do. It works well enough and I can always read the screen. Colors are bright and accurate as far as I can tell. You can adjust more specific color things in the settings too. The IPS makes it so you can view it well without having it dead on. I will say it's a very glossy screen so reflections do get noticed. There is some of that dark 'banding' I'll call it at the bottom of the screen. Many phones, laptops, etc. I have, have had this, so I get over it.
The touch screen works very well and while I'm not wearing gloves in the Arizona summer, I did put a cloth over my hand and try it - it worked just as well. No bad touches or anything amiss with the touch screen.
Call quality/data/signal - I'll put these all into the same category as I don't wish to review any specific network. The calls on this phone work well, they sound OK. It's a bit fuzzy, as if you're talking on a cell phone (go figure, but I've had much clearer calls on cell phones recently). Nobody has complained that they can't hear me well. Data on this sucker is HSPA 21, which is fast enough for me. I get the typical 2-5mbps down in my area and about 1.5mpbs up. Things load quickly on the phone, it syncs stuff well, and it doesn't stop my day. My signal strength is about par for my other Samsung, LG, etc. phones, so it's nothing to write home about, but it's acceptable. My old motorola phone still holds a great signal where my other phones struggle, so it could be better.
Software/OS - I won't be reviewing the Windows phone 8 in depth. It's a very nice OS, slick, good looking, gets stuff done without getting in your way. Yes, it has limits. Sure, the available applications are behind iOS and Android, which is a valid concern. The store is also confusing compared to the others, so finding stuff isn't as easy, which is odd given most apps are very easy to use. The included Nokia software is awesome I'll say. Their version of maps and navigation are very good - hasn't failed me yet and just as good as google maps/nav. The Nokia music is great - it beats pandora and google music hands down - simply because it's free. Also, it does work very well. The included software for the camera is nice - nothing mind-blowing but it's useful and I like it. I'll talk about the physical camera more. Mail, messages, phone, etc. are all very easy to use and look nice. Overall, Microsoft did well with the OS here and partnering with Nokia provided a bit of extra 'oomph' to the mix. Go to a phone store and tell the sales people to leave you alone and try out a windows phone for a while to see how it works. That's the only way you'll know regardless of how many reviews you read.
Camera - It's a basic camera. Nokia does well with optics so even though this is 'only' 5mp, it takes decent looking and clear pictures. It doesn't have a flash, which I don't mind anyway - any cell phone with a flash makes pictures look washed out or if you don't use a flash, it's just dark and grainy. It takes pictures quickly and as I said about some of the nice software, you can flash 5 pictures quickly to pick your favorite. I don't get why people slam cameras on phones - they work well enough and aren't the main attraction - some phones come with respectable cameras now but you'll pay for it. If you need that, get one. Otherwise, buy a good stand-alone camera you can use lenses and such on and enjoy excellent pictures.
Overall - I'm impressed with this phone and even more so given the rock-bottom price. It has some signs of a 'cheap' phone such as you must manually pull your SD card out - no spring loaded ejection (this phone can take an SD card, unlike MANY new Android devices and all iPhones. The ability to add a lot more storage, cheaply and quickly, is good regardless.) The screen is a bit glossy, but oh well. It's a full, honest smartphone that has good specs and works scarily well for the price of an impulse buy. Purchase this phone and save yourself money upfront with a cheap phone. Purchase a prepaid plan and save yourself money every month. Don't ever worry about a 2 year contract again!