There's no mistaking Nokia's aim with the Lumia 530: the budget phone designed to clean up in the entry level market, just as its predecessor did.
The Nokia Lumia 520 was the top selling Windows Phone handset ever. The 530 brings a few improvements to bear, but retains the brightly coloured plastic body, solitary 5MP camera, and diminutive 4-inch screen.
But here's the issue already with the new model: it's not different enough from the 520 to justify an upgrade.
There's a slight boost to the screen resolution, now 854 x 480 pixels, and a newer 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor, but Nokia really has feature phone holdouts and budget shoppers looking to switch from Android in its sights here, and as such needs to be hitting this market harder.
Pricing is even more aggressive this time round though, as you won't have to pay more than £90 (around $150, AU$160) for a SIM-free Lumia 530. In fact, in the UK, O2 is offering it for £80 and Carphone Warehouse has it for just £70 on PAYG (Pay As You Go).
Making decent quality phones at knock-down prices has always been one of Nokia's strengths. Can you buy a better smartphone than the Lumia 530 for this kind of money? Let's find out.
All of the phones in this price bracket seem to be rounded and chubby and the Lumia 530 is no exception. It's also a paid up member of the funky colour club, with bright green or orange options. Thankfully these are buoyed by black and white choices for more conservative customers.
The Lumia 530 is pretty average for a budget phone in terms of size, weighing in at 129g and measuring 119.7 x 62.3 x 11.7mm.
The plastic back panel is smooth and comfortable to hold, though it offers little in the way of grip. There's a small opening for the speaker near the bottom, a Nokia logo in the middle, and the camera lens near the top.
The left spine of the Lumia 530 is naked. Up top there's a standard 3.5mm headphone jack while the bottom edge is home to the micro USB port. The right spine has the volume rocker with the power button below it... all in all, the Lumia 530 is very easy to use one-handed.
You'll have to prise the back panel off to access the SIM and microSD card slots that are tucked under the removable battery, but at least it's good to see both on offer.
Four inches is starting to look distinctly small in the display department. Although there's a jump in resolution compared to the 520, the 854 x 480 pixel resolution gives the 530's display a fairly disappointing pixel density of 245ppi.
If you've had any experience with higher end phones then you're going to notice the limited brightness, poor contrast, and generally washed out look, although to be fair it's about average for a budget phone. It doesn't match the Moto E, but it's slightly better than the Xperia E1, on paper at least.
Key features and media
You don't need to look beyond price for the Lumia 530's USP. The Lumia 520 was around £100 SIM-free on release, the 530 knocks £10 off that and we're already seeing deals to get it cheaper.
The vast majority of the phones at this kind of price point are unequivocally awful, but the Lumia 530 is actually well-built and easy to use. It's not the best smartphone experience around, but it offers value for money.
Another differentiator is that the Lumia 530 comes with Windows Phone 8.1. Microsoft's mobile platform is a distant third behind Android and iOS, but it's a solid operating system that's very accessible especially to the new smartphone user.
It's easy to customise, the tile system is neat, and the fact you can use a background photo enables you to create a unique look. As a user of Android and iOS I didn't find much of a learning curve with Windows Phone. The truth is that the mobile platforms have a lot more in common than their makers like to admit.
Be warned, though, that if you are switching from Android or iOS, Windows Phone 8.1 still lags behind in terms of app numbers and quality. Most of the big names are available on the Lumia 530, but the experience with apps like Netflix, to give one example, is notably worse.
I was also disappointed to find that Cortana is still missing in action for UK customers. You'll find basic voice controls, but I was looking forward to testing out Microsoft's virtual assistant and comparing it to Google Now and Siri. When I asked 'What is today's date?' it listed Bing search results.
Discounting other Nokia phones, the only real competitors on price are Android releases like the Moto E. Windows Phone 8.1 isn't bad, but it offers nothing over Android. If you could buy a Nokia Lumia 530 running Android for the same price as the WP8.1 version I'd recommend you do that - although Windows Phone can run more smoothly on a lower-spec device, so it might come at the cost of performance.
The Lumia 530 is not an entertainment powerhouse. The 4-inch display is not great quality and that detracts from anything you want to do on it. However, there is something in this phone that really surprised me.
Gaming is an unexpected strong point. The Lumia 530 seems perfectly capable of running even quite challenging games and I had no problems with a typical batch of casual titles like Subway Surfers and Tentacles: Enter the Mind.
You're obviously going to need a microSD card since there's less than 2GB free internally out of the box, but you do get 15GB of free cloud storage with OneDrive.
The microSD card I put in it from my Xperia Z2 had a few videos on it in MP4 format, which is apparently supported on the Lumia 530, but they wouldn't play for me. The audio worked, but the picture was scrambled.
I streamed The Usual Suspects from Netflix and it worked fine, but despite fast broadband being available and a Wi-Fi connection it was a low quality stream that kept pixelating.
The Netflix app is also pretty awful compared to its Android and iOS counterparts: for example, the genre tab was simply blank every time I flicked to it. I tried uninstalling the app and reinstalling it and the problem remained.
The sound comes from a single speaker on the back, so you have to be careful not to cover it if you want to use it. The quality is fairly tinny, about typical for a budget smartphone.
Nokia didn't bother to include earphones, which is to be expected with a budget device. To be honest most smartphones come with pretty horrible earphones anyway. Plug in a decent set of cans and the sound quality is vastly improved.
It's nice to find an FM radio app pre-installed. It's handy for when you're out of Wi-Fi range and don't want to use up data.
You can buy music, TV shows, or movies from Microsoft's Xbox Store via the pre-installed Music and Video apps. They work well if you know what you're looking for, not so great if you just fancy a browse, but the collection on offer seems to be pretty comprehensive.
You'll also find the MixRadio app, which offers free streaming with six skips an hour and helps you to create stations based on your favourite artists. It will keep playing when you quit out to do something else and you'll find controls on the lock screen.
It's not exactly Spotify, but there's no sign up or adverts, so it feels churlish to complain. Incidentally the Spotify app for Windows Phone 8.1 is actually pretty decent.
Interface and performance
You'll have no trouble getting to grips with the Windows Phone 8.1 interface whether you've used a smartphone before or not. It's just a shame that the headline feature, Cortana, isn't available in the UK yet.
Swipe up to get past the lock screen and you'll find your home screen is constructed from resizable tiles that can serve as simple shortcuts or updating widgets. Swipe from right to left and you have a list of your apps. Swipe down from the top and you'll find quick settings and notifications in the Action Center.
If you're coming from an older Windows Phone device then you'll be glad to know that you can now set a photo as a tile background, create folders by dropping tiles on top of each other, and set separate ringer and app volumes. I also liked the option to pull in random photos from my Facebook account to serve as lock screen wallpaper.
The nicest surprise with the interface is how easily the Lumia 530 glides through it. It feels fluid and relatively fast to swipe up and down the app list or tap on tiles. There is a slight delay of a couple of seconds as an app loads, but nothing major.
Microsoft's platform doesn't seem to be too demanding which is lucky because the Lumia 530's 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 200 processor is backed by just 512MB of RAM. It has an Adreno 302 GPU as well, which seems to be great for the gaming experience despite being theoretically underpowered.
When I ran WP Bench the Lumia 530 scored 253.32 which is respectable for this hardware. To compare with other Windows Phones: the Lumia 635 scored 255.45, despite having a Snapdragon 400 processor and the Adreno 305 GPU, and the much more expensive Lumia 1320 averaged 312.22.
It's a real disappointment to see the Lumia 530 go backwards in terms of GPU. The Adreno 305 is clocked slightly faster and it was the graphics card in the Lumia 520. Gamers are obviously not Nokia's target audience here... except, perhaps that's not the case and there's just been some clever optimisation.
The Lumia 530 can handle basic games like Angry Birds just fine. I wanted to see how it would handle a graphically intensive game, so I tried to install Asphalt 8: Airborne, but even after clearing as much space as I could it refused to install. The details state that the game is 988MB. I managed to free up 1.25GB, but it still insisted I didn't have enough room.
The operating system takes up 2.06GB of the 4GB you get out of the box. Realistically, you're going to want a micro SD card and the Lumia 530 supports cards up to 128GB in size.
When I stuck a micro SD card in and it did let me install Asphalt. Microsoft allows you to install apps or games direct to the micro SD card, something that Google is now discouraging on Android.
The game ran surprisingly smoothly. It took an age to install and a good five seconds to load, but once it was up and running, even with the engine maxed out in the settings, it ran very well. Perhaps Nokia does care about mobile gamers after all.
Battery and the essentials
If you peel the plastic cover off you'll find a 1430mAh battery inside the Lumia 530. That's exactly the same battery that the Lumia 520 had, and it's a bit stingy compared to the budget Android gang.
I found that the Lumia 530 struggled to go a full day without needing a charge, but that's with heavy use. The standby is good, though you'll never get Nokia's maximum stated 22 days unless you place it in an ambient room with no variance in light levels and don't even look at it for three weeks.
Perhaps I'm being mean. Maybe that's what you do with your phone. If so, you'll probably be cock-a-hoop with the Lumia 530.
For people using the Lumia 530 primarily for messaging, emails, phone calls, and little else it should last a couple of days between charges. If you're going to play games, browse the web, and watch videos, then a daily charge is going to be essential.
I played Asphalt 8: Airborne for 10 minutes and it ate 7% of the battery life. The performance was similarly bad when downloading large files or apps, using the maps app, and watching videos.
Running our 90-minute video test on a fully charged Lumia 530 with the brightness at full and Wi-Fi on the battery dropped to 66%. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that's exactly how the Lumia 520 fared. It's not a good score at all, and nowhere near as good as the Moto E, which still had 72% left, or the Xperia E1, which still had 71% available - and those weren't even decent scores.
Windows Phone does have a nifty trick up its sleeve to conserve battery life when it runs low, in the shape of the battery saver mode.
It disables things like push notifications and background apps, and it gives you an estimate on how much longer your phone will last. You can also take a closer look at exactly which apps have been draining your battery.
It's a pretty standard feature in mobile platforms now and it does limit functionality, but it's handy in a pinch and other Windows Phone reviews have noted that having this jump in automatically does make a big difference to battery life.
As a phone the Lumia 530 fulfils its brief without issue. The phone app is easy to use and it defaults to your call history, so you can get back to the people you've spoken to most recently.
The call quality is good both indoors and out. I didn't encounter any issues. The contacts app is straightforward and I was pleased to find that, when adding a contact manually and then adding contacts from a Facebook account, it would correctly merge contacts with the same number.
Messaging is every bit as straightforward and the keyboard is accurate, despite the lack of screen real estate. Microsoft has also added a familiar swiping function it calls 'Word Flow' that's ideal for one-handed messaging. It allows 'Swype' style typing, where you to swipe from letter to letter without lifting your thumb from the screen.
The smaller screen does make it harder to text though, with the accuracy diminishing as a result - sadly you can't install new keyboards to improve things more either.
Microsoft's ecosystem includes a solid Office app, OneDrive for your automatic cloud backup, and OneNote for quickly jotting notes and sharing them. The weak link is the Maps app which takes an age to load and doesn't match Google Maps in terms of features.
Web browsing courtesy of Internet Explorer is quite snappy. The full TechRadar website loaded within five seconds. You can also open multiple tabs, save favourites, and even pin them to the home screen as tiles if you want to.
It's not got the slickness of Chrome though, and other sites can hang a little for no given reason.
The downside to web surfing is the quality of the screen. You really have to be looking at it square on for best results, but outdoor legibility even at high brightness is terrible. The text begins to fade when you scroll and I got sore eyes quite quickly reading on the Lumia 530.
Nokia has taken another small step back with the 530 compared to the 520. You still get a solitary 5MP shooter, but this time it's fixed focus.
There's no front-facing camera and there's no flash. The camera app is pretty bare bones. You can tweak white balance, ISO, shutter speed, and brightness. There's also a night and a sports mode, but auto will suffice for most people. It takes around four seconds to launch the camera and a couple of seconds to take a shot.
Beyond the basic camera you can record video at 864 x 480 pixel resolution and 30 frames per second, but it looks pretty ghastly. You can also try smart sequence, which basically captures multiple shots and suggests the best one.
In ideal outdoor conditions with good light the Lumia 530 might capture some nice photos, as long as you keep still. It's quite slow to capture a shot, and the fixed focus makes it very limited.
The switch away from the ability to tap to focus is a very bad thing and has become so ubiquitous that even those upgrading from older smartphones will miss the functionality.
If the Lumia 530 has a nemesis then it's definitely the Moto E. It's around the same price, but it has a bigger battery and, more importantly, a superior display.
The Moto E's display is 4.3 inches and features a 960 x 540 pixel resolution, which gives it a rating of 256ppi. Despite being smaller the 530's resolution is limited at 854 x 480 pixels, giving it a lower 245ppi rating. It's not a huge gap, but it's significant as the screen is arguably the single most important component in your smartphone.
The 1980mAh battery in the Moto E also enables it to easily outlast the Lumia 530 with its 1430mAh battery.
We can call a tie on the 5MP cameras and 4GB of internal storage - although the pics on the Moto are superior. For processing power the Moto E has a dual-core Snapdragon 200, where the 530 has the quad-core version, but the Moto E has double the RAM and both phones sport the Adreno 302 GPU.
The only other thing to pick them apart is the platform and as much as Windows Phone 8.1 is a solid performer, it still lags behind Android in certain aspects, most notably app choice and quality. It might be a little closer if Cortana was included, but there's a disappointing delay with the UK release.
Sony Xperia E1
It's a much tighter competition when the Lumia 530 is pitched against the Sony Xperia E1. The displays are the same size, but the 530 edges the win with a slightly higher resolution – the E1's display is 800 x 480 pixels.
There's a similar close win in the processor stakes as the E1 has the same GPU and 512MB of RAM, but an older dual-core processor. Internal storage is the same at 4GB. The Lumia 530 scores a clearer win on the camera front, as the E1 only has a 3.2MP shooter.
Looking for something to recommend the E1 you could point to battery life and the Android platform, but there's little doubt that the Lumia 530 is a better smartphone.
Nokia Lumia 630
The Lumia 530 is not much of a step up from its predecessor, but if you are seeking something running Windows Phone 8.1 that does offer a little more then you might look at the Lumia 630.
Around an extra £40 will get you a much bigger 1830mAh battery and another 4GB of internal storage out the box. You also get a slightly better processor and GPU in the 630, a Snapdragon 400 and Adreno 305 respectively.
You may be worried that an extra half inch of screen with the same resolution gives it a lower 218ppi and that's true, but it has the ClearBlack polarizer which vastly improves contrast.
Pound for pound the Lumia 530 is a better bargain, but the 630 has started to drop in price and it may be a better fit for some - I'd recommend it if you were deciding between the two Windows Phones.
The Nokia Lumia 530 is a decent phone for the money. If it wasn't for Motorola, Nokia would be competing with itself in this price bracket.
If you have limited cash you should give it a look, especially if you prefer Microsoft to Google - it's a more than half-decent handset for those not willing to spend loads on a smartphone, although there are some slight issues you'll have to make sure you're happy to suck up.
The price is right. This phone would have been flagship material four years ago. To get a phone of this calibre for well under £100 shows how far the industry has come in such a short space of time.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the performance is fairly slick. Navigating around the user interface is smooth and fast. The Lumia 530 can even run some pretty demanding games without stuttering or crashing.
Microsoft and Nokia really add value with a light smattering of pre-installed apps. MixRadio is the pick of the bunch, but Microsoft's OneDrive and Office are very handy too. There's enough here out of the box to cater for most basic needs.
A fixed focus camera with no frills is a real disappointment. It seemed like an obvious thing for Nokia to improve when it refreshed the 520, but in fact this is a step backwards.
You've also got just over 1GB of storage space out of the box, which is pretty rubbish even for a budget phone. You can uninstall some of the apps, but there's no way you're going to be able to use the Lumia 530 for long without buying a microSD card.
Thankfully these aren't expensive, but to have to buy something to use the phone properly isn't cool.
The display isn't that bad when you consider the price, but if I could only improve one thing about the Lumia 530 then this would definitely be it. The washed out look and pitiful brightness and contrast really don't make for a great experience.
If Nokia had just improved the 520 specs across the board then I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this, but it has actually taken two steps forward and one step back with the 530.
These compromises are all about delivering the lowest price possible and the 530 is astoundingly cheap, but the budget bracket has grown a lot more competitive in the last year.
When the Lumia 520 came out it was easy to say 'this is the best budget smartphone on the market', but Motorola has really muddied the waters with the Moto E and prices are falling in general.
I can't really unequivocally say that the Lumia 530 is better than the Lumia 520 never mind the rest of the market. There's no way that the Lumia 530 is going to reach the same heights and frankly it doesn't deserve to, as it feels Nokia / Microsoft missed a big opportunity with this phone.
Perhaps it's designed for emerging markets, where the spec list matters less. But there still, logically, seems to be something missing here. I'd say either pay a bit more cash on the Lumia 630 or take a look at the Moto E if that's all the birthday money you've got to spend.