Let’s take a look at our detailed review for the newly launched smartphone – the Nokia Lumia 530.
Pros: Affordable price, large external storage support (up to 128GB), latest OS from Windows Phone.
Cons: slippery body which makes it difficult when typing, small screen, camera cannot take macro shots due to its fixed focus.
Bottom line: with basic specification, the low price tag of Nokia Luma 530 is the attractive reason to persuade users.
Nokia Lumia 530 is categorized in the budget-end smartphone range, which mostly aims to low-cost oriented buyers – users that care about the most about the price tag of the phone, not the performance. The Nokia Lumia 530 does so, with a very attractive price and basic specification.
The HSPA+ “4G” speeds featured on Lumia 530 is one step higher than the 3G speeds, but it still somehow slow among LTE markets. Besides, the 5 MP camera without flash and with fixed-focus feature shall not allow users to capture close-up shots. The 4-inch screen also makes it more difficult in typing precisely. However, there are still some positive things to be listed here: the quad-core processor and the latest Operating system Windows Phone 8.1 that offers Cortana’s digital assistant.
Users can pick up the Nokia Lumia 530 in the US with different prices: $50 on Cricket, $70 on T-Mobile if purchase via Best Buy or Microsoft shops and $80 from T-Mobile normal purchasing. In UK market, the phone is available at £90 SIM-free and in Australian market, it is available at around AU$150.
So far, Lumia 530 is not my prior choice among budget-end smartphones (instead, things I would recommend are Motorola Moto G or Lumia 635). But the Lumia 530 is still an attractive options for many users who are looking for a dirt-cheap device with very basic features.
Design and build
The Nokia Lumia 530’s design aims at the comfort when holding on hands: it’s quite short and thick, with curvy back and rounded edges. This 4-inch-screen device has dimension of 4.7 inches x 2.5 inches x 0.5 inch (which is quite small in comparison with other 5-inch and above devices) and 4.6 ounce weight, this definitely feels substantial yet convenient on users’ hands.
Unluckily, the glossy matte back cover of the one I’m keeping is slippery, which makes it keeps sliding from my grab. The durable body is still kept as hallmark of Lumia, and the Lumia 530 is not an exception. The Lumia 530 comes in 5 different colors: black, white, orange, green and cyan. I’m reviewing the white and cyan ones.
Even the phone has large bezel, this 4-inch-size device still feels somehow tiny as I have been holding big-size smartphones for quite a long time.
Regarding the 4-inch screen display, the resolution is 854×480-pixel with 245 ppi. Such resolution is low but is in class with other budget-end device. Of course, with these numbers, you cannot expect much about the display quality. The colors displayed on screen are dim and lack of vibrancy, images shall be sometimes pixilated and grainy, even to naked eye. Such issues become even clearer when zooming in the screen. Although reading articles is fine on the phone, the text will not be crisp.
As the Lumia 530 is just a low-budget device, the ClearBlack filter – which is applied for higher-end Nokia smartphones – is not available in this phone. Therefore, the display quality can be clearly noticed especially under strong outdoor sunlight (fade-away screen). View angles are more restricted and reflectance is higher than in other mid-end phones.
There are only 2 buttons in the Lumia 530: the power/lock button and the volume rocker, which are located on the right edge. All other navigation and controls take place on the screen. Port for micro-USB is located on the bottom edge while the headset jack (3.5mm) is located on the top edge. Removing the back cover, you can approach slots for SIM-card (for some markets, there will be slots for dual-SIM) and microSD card. It’s quite difficult to remove the back cover for the first time.
OS and apps
Even though the hardware is not the strong and impressive, the latest Windows Phone 8.1 still brings to the Lumia 530 the best addition of Microsoft platform: Cortana. This digital assistant is quite helpful and works accurately for some tasks such as taking notes or making calls.
Some apps from Microsoft such as Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Office and from Nokia such as Nokia Care or MixRadio are also available on the Lumia 530. FM radio and battery saver apps are the built-in apps of the phone. Kid’s Corner for back up content (clips or pictures) can also be turned on by setting.
To cut the cost, NFC is not featured in Lumia 530, though Bluetooth 4.0 is still supported.
Interestingly, Wifi calling is included in the version of T-Mobile, when the carrier network is not stable.
Camera and video
Obviously, a 5 MP cam is not great anyway, but with such price tag, people surely will not expect much about that. The absence of flash is also forgivable, however, the absence of auto focus is actually really hard to except. In other budget-end phones, auto focus cameras are still available such as the $80 LG Realm and the $130 Alcatel OneTouch Fierce 2.
Moreover, zooming in/ out feature is also not available in Lumia 530’s cam as the focus is fixed. This 28mm fixed-focus shall make it hard to take a close up shots with neither Windows Phone cam nor the default Nokia Cam. On the other hand, it just takes minimum time to process shooting modes and photos. Timer is also available. There are some photo specs that users can edit such as white balance, ISO or photo ratio (HDR is unfortunately unavailable). Though Panorama is not already pre-installed, you can addendum this feature by downloading Panorama app.
Such camera does not produce good image, as the quality is suffering from graininess. Color is not really vibrant and lacks of warmth, but it’s still fine for pictures taken in good lighting condition (such as bright sunlight).
Videos are recorded at 864 x 480 pixel resolution with 30 frames per second, which is sufficient. Of course, camera lens cannot adjust focus for various subjects. The camera picks up audio quite well.
Performance: Speeds, processor, battery
People may just expect low speed 3G in a smartphone with low price tag like the Lumia 530. But surprisingly, the Lumia 530 supports HSPA+ (which is, in some market, labeled “4G”, but actually is just a 3G’s faster form). Therefore, such support does not mean you can get a bunch of Mbps for downloading or uploading, but anyway, you will still have faster data transferring speed than typical 3G network. As always, main factor that determines your data speed is the strength of your network carrier, not the phone itself.
For example, theoretically, I will see a download speed at 21.1 Mbps and upload speed at 5.8 Mbps. However, as on T-mobile network in San Francisco, the speeds are just hovering around 1-2 Mbps. Meanwhile, on Cricket network, the speeds are around 3 Mbps on average for downloading and 1 Mbps for uploading. Wifi works well on 2.4GHz network.
As benchmarks being used for Windows Phone OS and Android/ iOS are different, we cannot have the exact comparison for diagnostic tests. However, in accordance with AnTuTu benchmark (test for Windows Phone OS) results, the Lumia 530 gets 11,128 scores.
Internal storage available on the Lumia 530 is limited, just at 4GB, but users can extend storage up to 128 GB with microSD card. RAM is also limited at 512 MB. Battery of the device is powered t 1,430mAh, which is claimed to provide up to 13.4 hours of talk time and up to 22 days of stand-by time. Test for actual battery life has not been carried out yet, but bear in mind that you should charge the phone every day.
Bright spots of the Nokia Lumia 530 can be listed here are: super friendly price tag, 4G connection support and generous external storage support. However, with small screen and slippery material, this phone is not really an ideal device for senior smartphone users.
For me, personally, I would save up for a pricier choice – the Lumia 635 or another Android device like the Motorola Moto G. Although users have to pay as twice as the price of Lumia 530, user experience shall be ensured to be more than twice as enjoyable.