- Impressive performance
- Colourful, solid design
- Amazing price
- Average-ish battery life
- Screen rather washed out
Nokia’s Lumia 530 is a £60 smartphone rocking the latest Windows Phone 8.1 and some impressive features for the price. Here’s our full review of this 4-inch value phone.
Just when you think you couldn’t get any more awesome smartphones for under £100, Nokia fires out something like the Lumia 530, which costs just £60 yet packs the latest version of Windows Phone. Along with Nokia's other cheap-as-chips mobile, the Lumia 630, and Alcatel's One Pop S3, this is one of the most affordable smartphones of the year.
But as you well know, a cheap price tag doesn't necessarily mean great value. Thankfully, Nokia has packed enough great stuff into the Lumia 530 to make it well worth a look for budget shoppers.
Nokia Lumia 530: Design
Nokia hasn’t compromised on design despite that low asking price, and the Lumia 530 is just as colourful and jolly as its brethren. Our review model was a bright lime green colour, and you can also pick it up in orange, white and black.
It’s compact enough to comfortably slip inside a pocket, despite the somewhat chunky build. And we’re pleased to feel a decent amount of heft when we pick the Lumia 530 up - this isn’t some cheapy plastic toy that feels like it might crumble under heavy finger-pounding.
There’s only 4GB of on-board storage, but the blissful addition of a micro SD memory card slot means that’s not an issue. The slot can be accessed by prising off the back cover, no easy feat unfortunately and an action which snapped one of our fingernails clean in half. May you have better luck.
Nokia Lumia 530: Screen
Of course, there have to be some sacrifices at this price point, and the Nokia Lumia 530’s dinky 4-inch screen is clearly a budget offering.
Even compared with the Lumia 630, there are notable differences. Viewing angles aren’t as good and colours look a lot more washed out, even with the ‘vivid’ and ‘temperature’ settings turned to max. Fellow budget offering the Alcatel One Touch Pop S3 suffered from similar problems, but at this even lower price point it seems almost harsh to knock the Lumia 630 for its lack of vibrancy.
Nokia Lumia 530 (left) compared with Lumia 630 (right)
Despite those display issues, the 854x480 pixel resolution gives a surprisingly crisp result (that’s around 245 pixels-per-inch, which matches many mid-range phones such as Sony’s Xperia M2). So even though the Lumia 530 rocks a small display, we had no trouble browsing the web or reading ebooks.
And like the Asus Zenfone 4, we didn’t struggle to type on that dinky display, mostly thanks to the responsive touchscreen controls and the excellent autocorrect.
Nokia Lumia 530: Performance
Considering the price yet again, the 1.2GHz quad-core SnapDragon 200 processor does a commendable job, along with 512MB of RAM. For Windows Phone 8.1, this seems to be more than enough to produce smooth performance.
As well as running everyday tasks such as email and web browsing, we tested out a couple of fast-paced games including Mirror’s Edge. Again, the Lumia 530 performed well, with no dropped frames or stutters to ruin the experience.
A fair few mini phones such as the Asus Zenfone 4 struggle to make it through an entire day on one charge, and the Lumia 530 isn't exactly a superstar when it comes to battery life either.
If you stream video non-stop, the battery life will be drained from full in around four and a half hours. That's better than the Zenfone 4 managed, but still a bit below average for a modern mobile. Use the Lumia as a normal smartphone, with the occasional bout of message checking and web surfing, and you'll just about wring a full 24 hours out before the phone dies.
Nokia Lumia 530: Camera
A five-megapixel rear camera proves to be a no-fuss snapper, lacking features such as manual focus or an LED flash. Yet despite that, it's really not a bad camera for capturing everyday shots or a quick bit of video for sharing online.
While some of our indoor photos came out a little hazy, our outdoor shots were well lit with realistic colours, packing enough detail to make them attractive when viewed on a TV. Despite the lack of focus, we also found our shots were rarely blurry, even when taking quite close up to our subject.
Once again you get Nokia’s Camera app, which gives you full manual controls when snapping away with the Lumia 630’s 5-megapixel camera, or the bog-standard Camera app from Microsoft if you just want to point and shoot.
Sadly there's no front-facing lens for selfie fans.
Nokia Lumia 530: Verdict
For the money, we’re really impressed by what Nokia’s produced in the Lumia 530. If you want a no-fuss, user-friendly phone that can get online and do all your usual smartphoney functions, and even play games, this seems to be a great choice.
Sure, the screen is a little washed out and far from ideal for watching video, but we imagine most people who pick up the Lumia 630 won't be looking for a multimedia device. They'll be looking for a dependable machine for keeping in touch on the go. In that respect, this mini Nokia offers terrific value.