We have been having a hands-on with the Nokia Lumia 530, courtesy of unlocked-mobiles.co.uk, who are selling it for £86.98.
We put Nokia’s most affordable windows phone, which can be had for as little as £39.99 pre-paid,through its paced, and came away relatively impressed.
In terms of design the handset appears somewhat chunky and not very modern, but it does feel very robust, with the unibody construction giving a feeling of confidence that it can withstand more than a few knocks. Unlike the latest generation of handsets from Nokia, the 530 is a true one-handed device, with even the smallest hand being able to reach all corners of the 4 inch screen.
The buttons, which are made of the same material as the shell, are clicky and easy to feel. The only pity is the missing camera key, with camera short cut pre-populating the action centre being a poor 3 step substitute.
The on-screen navigation keys use the extra 54 pixels on the 854×480 screen, and are as easy to use as any capacitive keys.
One thing to note is that the packaging of the device is of the same quality as the Nokia Lumia 930, which is quite unexpected. In the box you will find some standard headphones and a mains charger, but the micro-USB cable is captive and not detachable, and can not be used to sync your device to your PC.
The device performs pretty well, as all Windows Phones do, but when compared to the Nokia Lumia 930 it is of course noticeably slower. This is especially apparent when loading web pages, where the device will take significantly longer to finish opening a page.
The big weakness of the handset is the screen, which has a noticeable sepia cast which can not be adjusted away in settings, and which has pretty poor viewing angles, discolouring at around 50 degrees. The quality of the screen is unfortunately apparent in regular use any time the background is somewhat light.
Daylight viewing is not too bad, and only marginally poorer than the Nokia Lumia 930.
The low resolution of the 848×480 screen course affects web page viewing, which may be one reason to hold out for a HD screened handset.
The camera is also not a strength of the device, producing heavily oversaturated pictures, and the video, which has a maximum resolution of 848×480, was not really designed to be viewed on anything besides the actual handset. It is about what one can expect from a very cheap handset however.
|Nokia Lumia 530, good light||Nokia Lumia 930, good light|
|Nokia Lumia 530, poor light||Nokia Lumia 930, poor light|
The handset of course lacks a flash, and the low light performance does not compensate for that fact. It also lacks a front-facing camera, meaning selfies will need to be be taken via a bathroom mirror like usual.
When playing music through the speaker or headphones, volume is pretty good, but somewhat tinny.
Battery life is pretty good, with the handset managing to achieve 3 hours and 34.5 minutes on our stringent run down test, with the Nokia Lumia 930 managing 4 hours 10 minutes from a much larger battery. The test involves playing music through the loudspeaker on repeat at 50% volume while repeatedly loading our website every 30 seconds with the screen at maximum brightness, so is a good test of heavy usage.
The Nokia Lumia 530 is not a flagship device, but at its current price it could form the foundation of the Windows Phone 8.1 ecosystem over the next 12 months, and makes an excellent, easy to use and cheap device for those moving up from a feature phone.
See our video review below.