REVIEW: Lumia 530 – Low Price, but High Spec Smartphone
As we see the demise of the Microsoft/Nokia X (Android) platform in its infancy, we see them heavily investing in the low end Lumia range in the form of the Lumia 530. The amazing thing about this new Smartphone is that it has an intended price tag of £60 SIM free. Thanks to the guys at MixRadio we have a device to review.
Dimensions, Appearance & Feel
As the base end of the Lumia range, the Lumia 530 is also the smallest measuring 119.7 x 62.3 x 11.7 mm and weighing in at 129 g. As with the rest of the Lumia range, black and white case options are not enough with bold green and orange options also available. All cases provide a matte/silk finish with the colour options epitomising the fun feel of the device.
One of the first things previous Nokia phone owners will notice is the lack of a physical camera button, but we discuss this further in the Media section.
The second thing you will note is the lack of headphones in the box as the contents is limited to the phone, battery and charger. This may annoy a small minority the majority of people have their preferred headphones these days, leaving the headphones provided with their phone in the box. This, therefor, seems like a low impact cost saving leaving cash to use to maintain the phones internal hardware instead.
Despite the low price the Lumia 530 still feels as well built as the rest of the Lumia range, meaning that the smartphone retains the high build quality expected from a Nokia device.
Now we have seen cheap phones before, but the Lumia 530 is powered by a 1.2 GHz Quad-Core (Qualcomm Snapdragon 200) processor and Adreno 302 graphics processor giving it quite a spritely feel, reacting quickly with a sensitive and highly responsive team like the rest of the Lumia range.
There are some limitations when it comes to internal RAM as, as expected from a base-end Lumia device, the Lumia 530 only has 512MB which stops certain apps being available in the Windows Phone store due to the performance limitations of this reduced RAM size.
Although the screen may appear a little small, at a mere 4-inch, it is akin to that of the iPhone 5s which is loved by many. This being said the resolution is reduced on the Lumia 530 480 x 854 pixel display providing a 480p (480 x 854 pixels) 16:9 aspect ratio playback capability. With its 24 bits colour depth and Lumia Colour Profile display technology means that blacks are more of a very dark grey on the Lumia 530, rather than the black we have become accustomed to from Nokia’s Clear Black technology.
When it comes to photography, the Lumia 530 has a 5.0 megapixel CMOS sensor with a 28mm focal length and f/2.4 F-Stop/Aperture which is quite competitive with the low and Android phones with which the Lumia 530 is intended to compete.
Video capture on the Lumia 530 is limited to 480p (864 x 480 pixels) at frame rate of 30fps. Although this is a lot less than that of the high end Lumia devices we have to remember that this phone retails for less than £100 and this level of video quality is still ample for basic family videos.
One major difference Nokia phone users will note when picking up the Lumia 530 is the lack of physical camera button, but this is a common occurrence with most other phone manufacturers. After spending a little time with the device you forget about it’s absence, pinning the Camera app to the Startscreen and using the on screen camera button to capture images and videos.
Music playback sounds as good on the Lumia 530 as we have come to expect from the rest of the Lumia range with Microsoft’s Music app providing on-device music playback and MixRadio (ex. Nokia) providing curated and bespoke playlists based on the music you listen to which can be streamed or downloaded.
As with all Lumia device, the Lumia 530 provides the users with free on-device Satellite Navigation maps for the world, in the form of HERE Maps and HERE Drive+, with the user being able to download different country and regional areas at will over Wi-Fi. An example of map sizing is that the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) weighs in a c.600MB all in. In addition to the basic Navigation apps HERE also offer a comprehensive HERE Transit app providing public transport options if you don’t want to walk or drive from A to B.
As with all Windows Phone devices Office and OneNote come pre-installed providing word-processing (Word), spreadsheet (Excel), presentation (PowerPoint) and cloud based note (OneNote) capability.
Add to this the ever expanding range of apps offered in the Windows Phone Store and your can find an app for all your needs although Android and iOS continue to have more mainstream first party apps. The Windows Phone Store is slowly, but surely catching up as more and more companies add Windows Phone to their app options.
One big forward step for the Windows Phone OS has been the introduction of Cortana, a contender to Siri (iOS) and Google Now (Android), closing the gap to the competition and in some cases surpassing it. The good news is that the Lumia 530 benefits from Cortana out of the box for the USA and downloading the Preview for Developers app from the Windows Phone Store and registering provides the WP8.1 Update 1 beta bringing Cortana to a small number of other regions including the UK.
Although the Lumia 530 has a very limiting 4GB internal memory its Micro-SD slot supports up to another 128GB providing more than enough storage space for the most avid amateur photographer/videographer and their comprehensive music library.
An major advantage of the Windows Phone 8.1 Operating System (OS), which comes pre-installed on the Lumia 530 is that apps and games can run on the Micro-SD card meaning that, yet again, space is not going to be an issue if you go for a larger micro-SD card.
In addition to this the Lumia 530 comes with an addition 15gGB of free storage space on MIcrosofts OneDrive cloud based service.
The Lumia 530 shares the same default connectivity options as the whole Lumia range with a micro-USB socket at the based, supporting USB 2.0 for wired data transfer and charging, a 3.5mm audio headphone jack-socket at the top and Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi (802.1b/g/n) for wireless connectivity.
As with the Lumia 6xx, 7xx and 8xx series of devices the Lumia 530 sports a removable rear cover providing access to a replaceable 3.7V 1430mAh battery (BL-5J) battery which provides 528 hours standby time and 51 hour music or 5.5 hours of video playback without a re-charge.
Sadly, as with the Lumia 6xx series there is no options for wireless Qi charging, but again we have to remember the cost of the Lumia 530 and accept that trade-off need to be made.
When it comes to accessories, one must have accessory is the Flip Shell which incorporates a flip from cover to a replacement rear hard shell cover. The only down side of this accessory is that it doesn’t make use of the new Windows Phone support for interactive phone covers, but this is the kind of functionality that is not introduced on a base-end phone model.
The Lumia 530 is a nice little smartphone even before you factor in the impressively low price. Although it doesn’t have the high end features of the 10xx and 9xx Lumia devices the Lumia 530 provides enough for those without the size of pocket required to buy one of the high end smartphones. The device should worry the competition at the introductory end of the smartphone market and should help Microsoft further improve it’s position in emerging markets.
The only risk in the retirement of the Nokia X (Android) range and introduction of the Lumia 530 is that the Nokia X introduced users to Windows Phone whilst benefitting from the size of the Android marketplace whilst the Lumia 530 forces new users straight into the Windows Phone ecosystem. It is not that the Windows Phone ecosystem should be shied away from. We love it, but the fact that it is different to Android and iOS and is seen as in its infancy compared to competition scares many away.
If you are after a basic smartphone that does everything a smartphone needs to do, but do not have the funds to invest in a high end device you can’t go wrong with the Lumia 530.
Appearance: *** (3/5)
Quality: **** (4/5)
Experience: **** (4/5)
Price: ***** (5/5)
[NOTE: The high scores are as a result of the shear amount you get for your money]