Lumia 530 Review – Microsoft’s Foray Into Budget Windows Phone

Lumia 530

Microsoft made a statement by releasing the Lumia 530. This was to be the successor of the Lumia 520, but offered a slightly new deal to the consumers. Microsoft Devices Group consolidated their product portfolio to be just Lumia for their smartphone and the only deviation to that being the basic feature phones that will in fact go on carrying the Nokia brand name. Lumia 530 represents that devices that get’s them the marketshare, just like the Lumia 520.

Recent research numbers show that Microsoft Devices Group can now easily be considered an entry level player considering that more than 60% of their sales are in the entry level. Devices like Lumia 520, Lumia 630 and Lumia 530. This is where we are at as Microsoft tries to make the word affordable also blend in with Windows Phone. We all know they  need it and the move has been overdue. Now onto the device of the day, Lumia 530.Lumia 530

Lumia 530 was announced sometime back in July with India getting dibs for the device in August. It was to become available in Kenya in October to complement the Windows Phone  entry level product portfolio that now comprised of Lumia 520, Lumia 630 and Lumia 530. Lumia 530 was positioned as the smartphone that was cheap first then value second.

You may well be aware by now that Microsoft lays claim to the same experience irrespective of devices from top down. Basically to say that if you use the Lumia 1520 at the top and use the Lumia 530 at the bottom the experience will be more or less the same. Well, of course minus the screen size, speed, performance and resolution difference.  So what does the Lumia 520 bring to the table?Lumia 530

Product Specifications

Let’s first delve into the specs sheet:

  • Windows Phone 8.1
  • 4 inch (480 x 854 pixels) FWVGA LCD capacitive touch display
  • Lumia Colour Profile
  • 1.2 GHz Quad-core processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 Chipset
  • Adreno 302 GPU
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 4GB internal, support of 128GB microSD, 15GB OneDrive
  • Assisted GPS, WiFi positioning
  • 5MP rear camera, no front camera, 1/4″ Sensor
  • Video recording at 864 x 480 pixels at 30fps
  • Camera resolution: 2592 x 1936 pixels
  • Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0, WiFi 8.0.11 b/g/n
  • 119.7 x 62.3 x 11.7 mm
  • 129 grams
  • 1430mAh BL-5J battery, 13.4 hrs of talk time, 8.5 hours browsing time

Design and Feel

Lumia 530 is not close to being the most beautiful phone, but it’s design element tells you what it was meant to achieve. Comfort for daily use. It has average looks slightly leaning towards good looking. It feels comfortable to the hand for most on-screen activities. The only time it may feel like it needed some changes is when you try press the volume rocker or power button which are on the same side and the phone feels like it could slip out of the hand. Hasn’t yet though.

Lumia 530
Everything inside the box

It does have the usual bells and whistles of a Lumia phone, minus the dedicated camera button. On the sides we have volume rocker and power button to the right of the phone, at the bottom sits the micro-USB slot and at the top there is the 3.5 mm AV jack slot. All these are embedded onto the removable back cover which also plays as the the colour determinant. Speaker outlet is in the rear bottom right while the camera is at the top middle. It has no flash and there is no front camera either.

Removable shell gives options to choose the colour of the phone from a range of  four colours; White, Black, Green and Orange. It also gives access to the back which has the removable battery, SIM card slots and microSD slot. Finish on the shell is quite on point with that matte that doesn’t collect fingerprints and stays clean while also giving the feel of durability. The front has onscreen keys for search, home and back and this slightly eats into the 4 inch display.


The display is not exactly one of the most exciting things about the Lumia 530. But at the price point it comes in you would expect such compromises. It misses out on the Lumia Clear Black technology that makes the blacks completely black and also the resolution is wanting at 480 x 854 pixels as a 4 incher. It does do justice to the price point and has slightly more pixels than the predecessor Lumia 520.

The screen brightness is not close to dazzling as outdoor viewing is quite wanting, especially when there is bright sun. You will struggle to make out what’s on the screen, even on high brightness. It also does feel washed out, like the whites are not really white.

Windows 8.1 allows the device to get you more live-tiles on the screen since it has an option to allow for six columns of tiles. Comes in handy when you want to have as many tiles on the visible part of the screen as possible.

Features and Performance

The device comes with 512 MB of RAM, 1.2 GHz Quad Core Processor and an Adreno 302 GPU. This does mean something when it comes to device performance. It is able to push some performance intensive games that are only achievable by mid-range devices. Performance is mostly good though you will feel slight lag when it comes to heavy games and notice some feedback issues especially in games requiring user initiated motions. As far as motion control is concerned I have nothing to complain about, the device did quite well in games that required motion detection.Lumia 530 battery

One of the key strengths of the phone is in the battery life department. When pushed to the limits, the device can do 2 days quite comfortably. As you may well know, battery life is one of the most important things in the low end and Lumia 530 holds up well. Well, I will say though, I am yet to plug in the second SIM card as this is the dual-SIM version and naturally this will have an impact due to two radios active at the same time.

Reviewing Lumia 530 without mentioning Windows Phone 8.1 features would be missing some elements that differentiate it from predecessors. Lumia 530 comes pre-installed with Windows 8.1 which brings the notifications centre which is also the action centre. This allows one to toggle WiFi, Bluetooth, camera on and off and also change display settings . Some though like WiFi are not exactly toggles but shortcuts to the actual setting.

Custom start-screen backgrounds also come in with Windows 8.1 and one is able to customize their screen with a background image of their choice the Lumia way. Independent volume controls allow you to finally differentiate notifications volume from media volume. Internet Explorer 11 works mostly well though won’t handle requests like the slide out menu in some sites. Wordflow keyboard works just fine when you choose to use it, but of course the learning curve there is quite steep considering many of us in this regions will type in a mix of languages and unofficial words.


The camera is somewhere below average with the 5 MP fixed focus shooter. There is neither a flash or front camera, so this demographic won’t be video calling via Skype which happens to be also a Microsoft product. Lumia 530

There is the Lumia selfie lens among the lens options that will get you sorted whenever you need to take a selfie and cant see what your doing thanks to the missing front camera. Lumia selfie lens will detect your face and snap the photo once activated, so you are not exactly on your own there.

Lumia 530 selfie
Lumia Selfie app is intelligent, knows you have fit in the picture and starts beeping to alert you that it’s capturing. Also gives you preset filters

Images coming off the 5 MP camera are just okay, give them good lighting even indoors and you will get some clear pictures, even though they are pretty pixelated and everything in full focus. This is the camera you take photos when the sun is in full glare and not exactly indoors especially when the light is low. See pictures, indoor, outdoor and selfies taken via the camera here (Google Plus link).


Lumia 530 is this device that will serve the main purpose of Lumia inclusion among both Asha and Nokia X users who wish to remain in the fold at a budget, while also giving both new smartphone users and new migrants to the Windows Phone world a cheap option to get their foot in. The device isn’t exactly marketed as the best thing since sliced bread and messaging does mention that it’s meant for the user who hasn’t had a smartphone experience before. And that’s what would save it from what’s coming after this.Lumia 530

When you look at some of the features of the phone, you see why Microsoft is able to get it at that price. For starters the display is quite wanting, the picture quality the same and there is a noticeable lag in when you give the phone a task like heavy gaming. The design element isn’t the best out there, at most it’s a plain Jane, even compared to Lumia 630 or Nokia X which manage to look good. But these are things someone who just came in from the feature phone segment might overlook in exchange for a good price and better experience. You know, that guy who wants to get email, tweet, WhatsApp and Facebook while at it. Throw in some minimal gaming while commuting, and selfies while out at play. Oh! And a Dual-SIM phone.