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Nokia Lumia 530 review
Big boots to fill - but the Lumia 530's feet just aren't big enough

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.

We liked

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.

Nokia Lumia 530 review

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.

We disliked

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.

Final verdict

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.