Review by Sunetra Chakravati,9/17/2014 10:49:49 AM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Very low price | Iconic Lumia design | Runs Windows Phone 8.1
Average screen | Poor camera | Could be thinner and lighter
The first and most important thing you need to know about the Lumia 530 is that it costs just £60 It sits on the shelves alongside phones costing 10 times as much, yet it shares many of the same functions. Sure, it doesn’t have the biggest screen, the highest resolution, the best camera or the fastest processor...but for those wanting a handset on a budget it could be exactly what you’re looking for.
The Lumia 530 might only cost as much as a tank of petrol, but it shares many of the same design traits found on the rest of the Lumia lineup. The rear cover is one complete piece of plastic which can be swapped if the intensely bright green of our review sample is too shouty for your tastes. That cover surrounds the centrally-mounted rear camera and buttons on the right edge for power/screen lock and volume. So far, so Lumia.
The bright green cover wraps around every corner and gives way to a 4-inch, glass-covered display with a slightly-too-chunky black bezel surrounding it. Completing the look is a headphone jack at the top and a microUSB port at the bottom.
At 11.7mm thick and 129g, the Lumia 530 isn’t a particularly dainty handset, but the relatively small screen ensures it’s still comfortable to hold in one hand and we had no trouble reaching the top corners with an outstretched thumb - perfect for one-handed texting on the Tube. We don’t expect everyone to fall in love with the in-yer-face green and orange options, but white, grey and blue alternatives mean the 530 offers something for everyone.
A resolution of 580 x 854 spread across four inches and returning 245 pixels per inch isn’t half bad for a £60 smartphone, but what lets the Lumia 530 down for us is the general quality of the screen and its lack of an oleophobic coating to keep grease and fingerprints at bay. This adds a distracting sheen which makes the phone finally start to feel its price. It isn’t the end of the world - and could well be something we phone reviewers are more sensitive to than most - but detracts from the experience of using the phone.
Otherwise it’s perfectly acceptable; bright enough to be read almost anywhere (being smaller than most helps with glare here), while articles read in the Internet Explorer web browser don’t feel too cramped. Small text is a bit jagged and rough around the edges, but still perfectly readable. As you can probably tell, we’re struggling to say anything truly bad about this phone - at £60 it’s just about impossible to criticise the little Lumia.
Outdated software is often the sign of a budget blower, but the Lumia 530 comes with the brand new Windows Phone 8.1, and, along with the flagship 930, is one of the first handsets to feature the new operating system.
The 8.1 update brings with it some much-needed improvements and helps close the defect to iOS and Android by giving Windows Phone a pull-down drawer on the home screen for notifications and quick access to change settings like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and screen brightness. A quad-core, 1.2GHz processor with 512MB of RAM keeps everything running smoothly, although you’ll have to expect a second or two of the “loading” or “resuming” screens when opening apps.
It’s quickly becoming a cliche, but there’s still truth in knocking points off Windows Phone for not offering the quality or quantity of apps on iOS and Android. At the high end Microsoft - formerly Nokia - has overcome this with market-leading cameras and unique design, while the low-end has been boosted by the bargain prices of the Lumia 520 and this 530. No, the app catalogue isn’t capable of challenging iOS and Android yet, but that’s only one part of a long equation when it comes to picking a new phone.
We imagine for many the lure of a £60 price will be enough to overcome a shortage of quality apps.
Just 4GB of storage is on the low side, but a microSD card slot comes to the savour - and in a big way, as it accepts cards of up to 128GB.
The rear 5-megapixel camera is passable, but takes a good few seconds to shoot and save every photo you take making it feel slow and a little clunky. There’s no flash, so the camera is only really suited for use outdoors or in very well-lit environments; there’s no front camera - sorry, selfie fans.
It’s impossible to ignore the price tag when using the Lumia 530. Costing less than some iPhone cases, let alone other phones, the 530 brings many smartphone features - social networking, the web, email, Youtube, mapping and more - to the masses, and it does so while retaining the iconic Nokia design and big, bold colours. The screen isn’t perfect, but only the most demanding user will hold a grudge against it for that, and for everyone else the 530 offers slick software, Microsoft Office, and everything you could want from a phone.
A cheap and cheerful handset for the masses, the Lumia 530 will make you rethink what is possible from a phone at this price point.