Nokia Lumia 530 review

Price when reviewed

The Nokia Lumia 520 was a revelation when it first appeared. Its combination of good-enough performance, a top-quality screen and good looks made it one of our favourite budget handsets, and so it remained until the Motorola Moto G stole its thunder. This year, the Nokia Lumia 530 attempts to replicate the 520’s success, dropping the price to an even lower £91 SIM-free.

Nokia Lumia 530 review: design

In the flesh, there isn’t much difference between the 530 and the 520. It’s similarly chunky and bright, with several different colours available. The main differences are that the 530 has a gentler, rounder appearance and that it loses the off-screen Back, Windows and Search keys below the screen (these move to the bottom part of the display itself). It isn’t a more attractive design than the 520, but we do prefer it to the Motorola Moto E, which is the Lumia 530’s closest current rival in price. We found the build quality sturdy, too, the chassis exhibiting minimal flex or creakiness, even with some serious twisting.

Nokia Lumia 530

Nokia Lumia 530 review: performance, camera and battery life

Naturally, the 530 runs Windows Phone 8.1, and inside it’s powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200, the same SoC as found in the Moto E. Not surprisingly, performance was similar. In the benchmarks, it was slow, completing the SunSpider JavaScript test in 1,487ms; however, in general use the Lumia 530 felt smooth and responsive, and we saw no obvious slowdown while browsing demanding web pages or downloading apps in the background.

Battery life is a high point for the Lumia 530. The 1,430mAh lithium-ion battery put in a good showing in our tests, delivering a depletion rate of 12% per hour while playing 720p video and 6.5% while streaming audio over 3G via SoundCloud. The Moto E performed marginally better here, with respective depletion rates of 11.5% and 3.8%, but there isn’t much in it. Anecdotally, it will comfortably last a day to a day and a half of moderate use before it needs to be charged.

Nokia Lumia 530

The Lumia 530’s 5-megapixel camera is only passable. Photographs captured in low light were noisier than those produced by the Moto E, but didn’t suffer as much from smeariness and over-compression and thus retained more detail. Outdoors, matters improved considerably, our test photographs looking much cleaner than the Moto E’s output.

Video can only be shot at a maximum of 848 x 480 and, as a result, footage doesn’t look detailed. It isn’t afflicted by the terrible smear that many budget smartphones show when the light falls, though, and the exposure doesn’t step nastily as you pan from light to dark areas. In short, for this sort of money, the Lumia 530’s camera is pretty decent.

Nokia Lumia 530

However, it isn’t all good news: with only 4GB of flash storage and a mere 1.86GB free, the addition of a microSD card is a prerequisite for anyone wanting to install space-hungry apps and games. And even with the required extra storage, the Lumia 530’s Adreno 302 graphics will struggle to run demanding titles. There’s no 4G here, either.

Nokia Lumia 530 review: screen

The Lumia 530’s weakest suit, however, is the 4in 480 x 854 display. Both size and resolution are the same as the Lumia 520, but instead of IPS technology, the 530 uses a cheaper TN panel, which is afflicted by narrow viewing angles and a palpable graininess. The display is dim – we measured it at 251cd/m² – making the phone tough to read outside in bright light. And its contrast ratio is low at 570:1, lending images a flat, lifeless quality. It’s a world away from the top-quality IPS displays found on the Lumia 520 and Motorola Moto E – a truly dreadful smartphone display.

Nokia Lumia 530

Nokia Lumia 530 review: verdict

The Nokia Lumia 530 is a disappointing successor to the Lumia 520. It provides comparable performance, looks quite nice and battery life is decent; even the camera isn’t too bad. But its display is atrocious, and that should be enough to put anyone off. If you have £91 to spend on a smartphone, go for the Motorola Moto E instead.


Contract monthly charge £13.00
Contract period 24 months
Contract provider


Dimensions 62 x 13 x 120mm (WDH)
Weight 130g
Touchscreen yes

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 512MB
Camera megapixel rating 5.0mp
Front-facing camera? no
Video capture? yes


Screen size 5.0in
Resolution 480 x 854

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes


OS family Other

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