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Review: The Nokia Lumia 530 is certainly cheap, but is it cheerful?

Designed to appeal to those on a tight budget, the Lumia 530 certainly gets the price right, but what about everything else?

NO SOONER THAN announcing three new smartphones at IFA a few weeks ago, the smartphones Nokia announced back in April have been slowly making their way into stores now and already have competition.

Alongside the Lumia 930, the Nokia Lumia 530 was one of the last Nokia devices the company announced in April before Microsoft completed the takeover of its handset division.

While the Lumia 930 was a great high-end smartphone, does the Lumia 530 do the same for those on a budget?

Unique selling features

- It’s incredibly cheap, you will pay €99 at most.
- Sturdy frame despite using a plastic backing.
- Comes with Windows Phone 8.1, with a few small changes.

Look and feel

Unlike most of its other smartphones, Nokia has gone for a plastic backing to keep its battery safe. This isn’t a bad thing by any means – the phone is still quite sturdy – but the rounded corners and plastic backing means it almost feels like you’re holding a bar of soap in your hands.

It won’t slip out of your hands, but you almost feel that it will if you get careless, and makes you wish it went for the rubber or steel casing that other Lumia phones have.

Lumia 530 gif 3

Hardware and software

Since this is a budget smartphone, it’s obvious that a number of concessions will have to be made, but while the hardware running is pretty decent considering the price, a number of sacrifices have been made to keep costs down.

To its credit, the phone does a decent job in handling some of the more demanding tasks like games, but you’ll have a greater problem downloading them as it has a paltry 4GB, and only 1GB to play around with.

A micro SD card can help remedy this, but since most people will just work with what’s there, this isn’t much help.

While Windows Phone 8.1 is present with all the improvements it brings, there are some curious interface changes which won’t hamper the experience, but will leave you scratching your head if you use the devices regularly.

For one, the Lumia 530 doesn’t have a physical button for taking photos. That in itself is odd considering how important a role the camera plays for Lumia devices on the camera, but it probably tells you it’s wasn’t a priority when putting this together.

The biggest hindrance is the three physical Windows Phone buttons at the bottom are now virtual. This in itself isn’t a big deal, but because the buttons are so small, it’s likely you won’t hit them properly if you’re operating with one hand. 

Combine this with a somewhat grainy 4-inch screen, not helped by brightness giving it a washed out feel, and navigation can get a little awkward.

Lumia 530 gif 2

Camera

With a 5MP camera, you can expect decent, if not spectacular, shots, but taking the photos themselves is another story.

The problems surrounding it mostly comes down to the screen itself, regardless of whether you’re using auto and one of the three brightness levels. The lack of consistency with brightness means it’s difficult to tell whether a shot is focused or not, turning it into a case of trial and error if you’re only interested in quick snaps.

Also, there’s no front-facing camera which isn’t a deal-breaker, but it does mean that the value of video call apps like Skype falls as you can’t show your face without turning it around.

Review: The Nokia Lumia 530 is certainly cheap, but is it cheerful?
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  • Lumia 530 photo 1

  • Lumia 530 - Photo 2

  • Lumia 530 - Photo 3

  • Lumia 530 - Photo 4

Conclusion

In short, Nokia has tried to keep the price down by stripping the Lumia 530 down to the bare minimum and it shows. Granted, this is a budget smartphone and considering the price, you get what you pay for, but it feels like it made too many concessions in a bid to bring down the price.

It’s not a bad phone by any means, but when you consider just how many cheap and high-quality budget smartphones populate the market, it’s hard not to feel disappointed by what’s on offer.

Those looking for a Nokia smartphone on the cheap would be better opting for the Lumia 520 and despite it being more than a year old and not having Windows Phone 8.1 yet, it’s still one of the best Windows Phone devices out there and comes at roughly the same price.

Otherwise, you may want to wait for the mid-range Lumia 730 and 735 to arrive later this year.

The Nokia Lumia 530 is currently available in O2 (€79), Meteor (€99) and Three (€99), and will be released later this year at Vodafone.

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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