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T-Mobile's $150 Nokia Lumia 521 to Debut on HSN

T-Mobile's next Windows Phone 8 exclusive will have a unique rollout, debuting on shopping network HSN. The Nokia Lumia 521 will appear on the network's "Innovation Weekend" broadcast Saturday, complete with a car charger and screen protector for $149.95.

Following the HSN debut, the Lumia 521 will debut at  retail locations sometime in May. Microsoft Stores and Wal-Mart will start selling the device on May 11, the company says.

The Lumia 521 comes fully paid and without a contract, following the lead of T-Mobile's recently announced "un-carrier" strategy. The difference here is that there are no additional payments to be made and the full retail price is far cheaper than other T-Mobile devices, in some cases by several hundred dollars.

As smartphones go, the Lumia 521's specs seem average but adequate for most users. The device runs on T-Mobile's HSPA "4G" network (but not LTE), and includes a 4-inch screen and 1-GHz dual core Qualcomm 82270 processor. Only 8GB of on-board storage is included, however a microSD slot supports chips of up to 64GB in capacity.The included five megapixel camera includes auto-focus and supports HD recording at 720p.

Why T-Mobile and Nokia are offering the Lumia at such a low price is unclear. Perhaps Nokia sees the promotion as a way to gain back lost ground: the latest quarterly smartphone sales survey from IDC dropped on Friday

The results weren't all that surprising. Nokia had fallen out of the top five manufacturers along with Research in Motion, losing their spots to upstart Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE. The reason for either company's market share drop likely has to do with both Windows Phone and BlackBerry OS largely being passed over by consumers, which are the primary smartphone platforms for each respective company.