The entry level smartphone market is crowded, with plenty of handset options. But the potential size of the market itself is also enormous. So grabbing a small piece of a very big pie can equal success for phone manufacturers.
Nokia has been trying to tap into that potential, and pulled it off with the Lumia 520, which sold better than any previous handset running the Windows Phone operating system.
The upgrade to that smartphone, the Nokia Lumia 530, is now available, and is set to continue where its predecessor left off.
A thing of beauty, the Lumia 530 is certainly not – but it meets the standards and expectations required at this end of the market.
It keeps the rounded, one-piece-of-plastic back cover, which comes in a variety of garish and plain colours. One gripe is that the cover is awkward enough to open, for the purposes of inserting the battery, SIM card and MicroSD, though this is an operation you are unlikely to have to perform too often.
The screen is 4" LCD, with a resolution of 854x480. It all amounts to a pretty perfunctory display experience that is fairly standard at this level.
Inside it’s powered by a 1.2GHz quad core Snapdragon 200 processor – an improvement on the 520 – and 512MB of RAM, which makes the phone zip along reasonably well.
There can be some momentary delays when apps are opening, which generally is not a problem, unless you want to take a picture, of course.
There’s 4GB of pre-loaded storage, which can be expanded to another 128GB of MicroSD. Connectivity includes USB 2.0, Bluetooth 4.0 and Wifi and the 530 can take dual SIM cards.
There’s one rear facing 5MP camera with no flash. That’s the same as on the 520, and it remains pretty average in terms of performance, particularly in low light. Video quality at 864 x 480 is also far from impressive. But everything has to be considered in the context of the price and market segment.
The 1430mAh battery is also the same as on the 520, which is just about adequate for a normal day’s average use.
The operating system, Windows Phone 8.1, is easy to navigate and suitable for all users. There’s also an FM radio, and the handset comes preloaded with a range of apps, including Bing Maps and Nokia MixRadio.
All in all, the Lumia 530 is a respectable entry level smartphone for a pay as you go price tag of €99.
It’s let down by its camera and display, both of which are pretty important for all users. However, it’s fast, it’s straightforward and most of all it is cheap.
And who is going to argue with that?!