HTC Desire 530 review

A cheap phone which fails to cash in

HTC Desire 530 review

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A youthful design and solid build quality ensure that the HTC Desire 530 makes a good first impression, but it's badly let down by weak specs and poor performance.

A 5-inch 720p display, an 8MP camera, and 16GB of storage with microSD card support all sounds good at a price point of £120, but you can't escape the sluggish Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 and the inadequate 1.5GB of RAM.

To make matters worse, even the components that look okay on paper are disappointing in practice.

We liked

The design is different, and the phone feels very comfortable in hand. It's solidly built, and some of the stylistic touches may well appeal.

It's good that the Desire 530 ships with the latest Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow on board, although Android N is just around the corner, and I wouldn't bet on this phone getting it.

Setting expectations based on the rest of the phone, the camera is actually a highlight. Even though it's slow and can't deal with low light, it is capable of capturing some decent photos, and it's far from the worst camera I've seen on a budget phone.

We disliked

The Desire 530's performance is absolutely woeful. It used to be quite common for budget Android phones to lag and stutter, but that's no longer the norm. These days you shouldn't have to suffer just because your budget is limited – and you don't have to, because there are similarly-priced phones that perform much better.

The screen just isn't bright enough, and the fact that you have to view it head-on to be able to make anything out is unacceptable. If you want to be able to see what's on your display when you're outside, don't buy the HTC Desire 530.

I don't think 16GB is really enough storage, especially since you have less than 10GB free out of the box. It's good that HTC has included a microSD card slot, but using a card is going to inflict another performance hit on a phone that's already amongst the slowest I've ever tested.


I can sum up very easily by saying you should not buy the HTC Desire 530. HTC produces some great high-end phones, and even some decent mid-rangers, but this handset does not come close to competing with the current budget crowd.

For the same money you can get the Wileyfox Swift, which is better than the HTC Desire 530 in most respects. And if you can raise an extra £40 go for the vastly superior Moto G4, which beats the Desire 530 by miles in every respect. If money is really tight, save yourself £29 and pick up the Moto E, which also outperforms the Desire 530.

The unforgivably slow performance is more annoying than any other budget phone compromise, and it's liable to only grow more irritating with time as the Desire 530 fills up and ages. Don't do it to yourself.

First reviewed: June 2016