Nokia Lumia 530 review

Cheap! But is it also a good buy?

Nokia Lumia 530 review

Modesty adorns people and that's why we thought it was time to take a closer look at the most modest Windows Phone device. In that case you end up with the Nokia Lumia 530.

He follows in the footsteps of the most popular Windows device to date, the Nokia Lumia 520, and thus has big shoes to fill. Recently, in the form of the Nokia Lumia 930, we already tested the best Windows Phone of the moment. Comparing the Lumia 530 with this is not entirely fair but we are curious to see how Windows Phone runs on much cheaper hardware.

If you're looking for a phone with a 4.0 inch screen for less than 100 Euro, you'll end up at Alcatel. With the One Touch Pop C2 and the One Touch Pop D3 4035D you even have two options. Sony also offers the Xperia E1 and we shouldn't overlook the Motorola Moto E either.

What's with the device?

Apart from the Lumia 530 with its 1,430 mAh battery and quick start guide, we only found a charger in the box. And not one with a loose data cable, but a real old-fashioned charger that only fits in the wall socket. Unfortunately, we also have to do without a memory card. It may be because we received an Italian device as a test model but presumably there is little difference in the contents of the packs within the EU.


Like its predecessor, the Lumia 530 actually consists of two parts. A black body with all the hardware and a brightly colored matte backcover that also covers all the sides. This time, the buttons in the cover are also included and in the same color. So you can easily change colors in the future!


In the orange jacket of our test device there are two holes at the back; one for the camera and one for the loudspeaker. At the top there is a hole for the headset jacket and at the bottom for the charger. Around the screen are quite large edges, but the Lumia 530 has no notification light or camera on the front.


There are two notches at the top and bottom of the glass plate on the front of the appliance. Respectively for the earpiece and microphone. The build quality and finish are, as we are used to from Nokia, very well taken care of. The phone is a bit on the heavy and thick side, but lies pleasantly in the hand.


The Lumia 530 does not have power-guzzling functions and/or hardware. For intensive use of multimedia, the device does not really lend itself. The toughest strain on endurance will be pulled by Facebook and WhatsApp. With average use of these and two synchronized email accounts, the Lumia 530 lasted about 24 hours with a margin of a few hours.

When it comes to battery management, Windows Phone can do a lot of improvements. For example, the phone gives a warning once at 10% that the battery is almost empty. Battery saving has been brought forward from the settings and has its own cup in the menu. Here you can see the apps that are running with consumption or in the background. In addition, the battery saver can be enabled here. What it does and when it is turned on is unfortunately not immediately clear or adjustable.

Call quality

The sound during a conversation can be loud enough but is on the shrill side. Because of its placement directly at your thumb, be careful not to press the power button instead of the volume control when you want to turn the volume down. Occasionally we had a falling or cracking connection. Remarkable is the fact that the proximity sensor is missing. At the slightest movement, the image jumped on while we held the phone to our ear.


You need to get used to the image immediately when turning on the camera. We are used to Windows that the colors splash off the screen and jump out at you. This is made possible with the Nokia devices by the ClearBlack technology, but it is precisely this addition that is missing on the Lumia 530. There is also clearly no IPS screen in it. That is why colours look a bit pale and the contrast is somewhat flattened. The resolution of 854 × 480 pixels is of course elementary, but on a 4.0 inch screen you can still work with it. The interface of Windows Phone does not really suffer from it either. However, you do lose some of those pixels to the virtual control buttons. This leaves 800 by 480 pixels.

The viewing angle and legibility in outdoor light are somewhat disappointing. The screen is not illuminated uniformly. At the top edge some extra light seems to leak through. There is no automatic mode for the screen brightness. Instead, there are three brightness profiles; low, normal and high. The exact brightness can be changed in the settings. In addition, the colour temperature and saturation can also be adjusted. In spite of this, the picture quality cannot really be set satisfactorily. There seems to be a constant kind of tarnish on the screen or noise in the image. Scrolling through text in particular is therefore unpleasant to look at.


The Lumia 530 has the same version of Windows Phone as our recently tested flagship, the Nokia Lumia 930. This also means that the welcome improvements of Windows 8.1 are present on the device. For example, there is a notification screen or action center that can be opened by dragging the notification bar down. Notifications of new messages are of course shown here. Furthermore, the remaining battery percentage, the date, four configurable shortcuts to specific settings and a link to the settings menu are displayed at the top.

For the lock screen, an application can be selected that takes care of the background image. Think for example of Bing, Facebook or Instagram. Furthermore, one app can be selected for detailed status information and five apps for quick status information.

Some apps can have a tile with live view on the home screen. However, the amount and type of information depends on their size. Because of the lower resolution and the smaller screen, there is of course less room to play with the layout of the home screen. To the right of the start screen there is always an alphabetical list of all installed apps. Apps can now also be placed in folders on the start screen, but in order to use this function, the app 'folders' must first be downloaded. It is not yet really user-friendly.

Just like on the Lumia 930, the operating system works smoothly and without hiccups. You just have to wait a little longer for apps to open and the many transition animations feel a little stickier. Just like on the Lumia 930, there are also a number of shortcomings in Windows Phone. For example, the action center is elementary and without separate icons in the status bar for notifications of different applications. Whether it's because of the smaller screen or because there are so many options but the settings menu seems even more confusing. Everything is mixed up here and there and is almost infinitely split up. For example, there are separate headings for the color of the navigation bar buttons and whether the device should vibrate when touched.


When using the device, you will need to enter a Hotmail, Live or Outlook e-mail address. By default, the phonebook will contain the contacts of this account. You can also add contacts from the SIM card, Gmail and other social networks.

Useful is that you can indicate to only show contacts with a phone number. On another tab you can chat in so-called rooms, à la Google+ Hangouts, in one place and share a calendar, photos and notes with one or more people.

When we had the date and time set automatically, we were unable to synchronize email accounts or log into Facebook. This was because the time is not synchronized automatically and is therefore incorrect. After we adjusted the time manually, the problem was solved.


In addition to the Microsoft account mentioned above, you can also enter Gmail or other email addresses. Each account gets its own icon, so there is no grouped inbox. The application always looks the same and works equally well. By tapping on the left side of a message on the screen you can tick one or more messages to delete, move or mark them. Gmail unfortunately lacks the automatic sorting over tabs that we know from webmail and Android.

When we wanted to use the keyboard for the first time, we were told that the word prediction was yet to be downloaded. A bit remarkable that this is not installed by default, but nice that it still happens. The layout of the keyboard is pretty user friendly. Only the backspace and enter button are so close together that you sometimes touch the wrong one. The most commonly used punctuation marks can be accessed by pressing and holding the dot key.

Since version 8.1 of Windows Phone, text can also be entered via Word Flow. You can drag and drop from letter to letter with your thumb and on the Lumia 530 this also works smoothly and without faltering. Although the word prediction does not always choose the right word or conjugation. On the other hand, the keyboard displays emoticons as a suggestion for nouns. Pizza' is an example.


The Lumia 530 can be used by road with WiFi and Bluetooth, but 4G is not possible. WiFi and Bluetooth can be controlled from the action centre. With WiFi insight you can share your home network with friends and acquaintances without having to hand over the network key. Of course, a prerequisite is that your friends also have a Windows Phone. In addition, WiFi Sense exchanges information between your Windows computer and Windows Phone so you don't have to re-enter your network keys every time.

Internet Explorer is supplemented in Windows Phone 8.1 with private browsing and a special read mode. The interface is as simple as possible. At the bottom of the screen there is only a refresh button, address bar and three dots to open other functions. These include opening multiple tabs, viewing recent pages, favourites, sharing pages and/or attaching them to the home screen. The button on the address bar can also be set for favorites or tabs. The browser does not work noticeably slower, but the smaller screen does of course make it a little less user-friendly.


In contrast to its predecessor, the Lumia 530 no longer has a specific hardware button for the camera and the autofocus has disappeared. However, there are two cameras available. That is, two apps for the camera. One from Nokia and one from Microsoft.

They hardly avoid each other in terms of functionality and results. For both, white balance, ISO and brightness can be adjusted. Photos can be shot in a 4:3 or 16:9 ratio and the resolution cannot be adjusted. With the Nokia camera, the shutter speed can also be set, and photos can be edited a bit more.

Because of the fixed focus, the camera prints very fast and straightforward. Extreme close-ups (macro) are therefore unfortunately not possible. Because of the hardware, the expectations of the Lumia 530 should not be too high. However, in daylight, the camera shoots quite some pictures. Exposure, color and focus look very bearable. With less light, noise and less sharpness quickly appear in the image. A flash is missing to remedy this if necessary. Although it is questionable whether it could make any difference at all.

Nokia Lumia 530 camera samples
Click above for more sample pictures of the Lumia 530

Existing programs

On the Lumia 530 we came across the following apps: calendar, alarm signals, data insight, Facebook, FM radio, photos, games, maps, data transfer, music, Nokia care, Nokia MixRadio, Office, OneDrive, OneNote, storage insight, podcasts, wallet, calculator, Skype and video.

Although the box indicates otherwise, HERE Drive+ is not installed as standard on the Lumia 530. Other HERE applications also need to be downloaded first. Then the internal storage memory limitation of the Lumia 530 will soon surface. This is only 4 GB in size and a significant part of it is already taken up by the operating system. So it's a good thing that the device can handle microSD cards of up to 128 GB. Unfortunately, no memory card is included.


Of course there is a lot to notice on the Nokia Lumia 530 but you should always keep the price below 100 Euro in mind. Comparing it with the high-end Nokia Lumia 930 may not be fair but on the other hand it is interesting and the Lumia 530 will not come off that badly. The hardware is a lot less, but the device still gets along pretty well with Windows Phone 8.1. The Lumia 530 even has almost all the functionality of this latest version of Windows Phone. Unfortunately, this also includes the imperfections that are still present in Windows Phone.

All in all, the Lumia 530 seems, partly due to its appearance, an ideal phone for the young, novice user. However, the competition from Android phones is not soft. Especially since the Moto E is now also available for less than 100 Euro. On the other hand, the Lumia 530 may have to travel too fast in terms of display and processor.

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