Lumia 520 versus Lumia 530 benchmarks show who is king of low-cost Windows Phones

The Nokia Lumia 530 is the newest entry-level Windows Phone device to grace the markets in 2014. As the global rollout begins, we are diving deeper into seeing what the phone can do. Although technically speaking the Lumia 530 is a follow up to the Lumia 520, in some ways it is a step down in specs in an attempt to drive the price even lower. This difference is why many consider the Lumia 630 to be a better upgrade for current Lumia 520 owners.

How does the new Quad-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 200 chipset in the Lumia 530 compare to the older, Dual-core 1.0 GHz Snapdragon S4 found in the Lumia 520? Let's find out!

Setup

In this test, we used the free and cross-platform supported Basemark II OS software to compare device performance. Neither phone used a micro SD card, as the app was loaded into internal memory.

Both phones are running the latest software including Windows Phone 8.1 (build 12400 for the Lumia 530; build 12393 for the Lumia 520) and Lumia Cyan updates. Both phones were soft-reset prior to their tests.

We ran Basemark II OS multiple times for consistency.

Results

Overall, the marks from the Basemark II OS app reflects intuition that the Lumia 530 outperforms the Lumia 520 in virtually every way. The overall score for the Lumia 530 puts it at 366, while the Lumia 520 sits at a much lower 273.

The largest difference in the sub-tests is found in the System performance, which looks at raw processor power. As expected, a Quad-core 1.2 GHz CPU (Score 566) is much better than a Dual-core 1 GHz one (Score 284), making the results unsurprising. Likewise, for graphics the Lumia 530 scored 178 over the lower 125 found on the Lumia 520, suggesting that for games the Lumia 530 is a better device.

Interestingly memory had the Lumia 520 slightly edging out the Lumia 530, suggesting that not all the system components found in the newer entry-level are necessarily better. However, because the Lumia 530 has a beefier CPU, it can overcome any other bottlenecks found on the chipset.

In real world tests the Lumia 530 owns

Benchmarks are one thing, but how the phone reacts to everyday tasks is another. Although more subjective, the Lumia 530 feels zippier for launching apps, loading graphics and scrolling around the OS, suggesting that the new chipset improves upon the experience in owning one of the cheapest Windows Phone 8.1 devices around.

In terms of loading games, the Lumia 530 crushes the Lumia 520. An example game used was the popular Subway Surfers, which took an astounding 20 to 30 seconds longer on the Lumia 520 to load when compared to the Lumia 530. Apparently, that Snapdragon 200 is doing more heavy lifting on Nokia's latest Windows Phone, significantly improving user experience. Even simple things like bringing up the app-chooser and attaching images to emails were faster on the Lumia 530 by a substantial margin.

In terms of the display, the Lumia 520 has much better contrast with the Lumia 530 looking washed out by comparison. However, whites looked more natural on the Lumia 530. The Lumia 520 also has automatic brightness adjustment and sunlight readability mode (super bright), whereas the Lumia 530 lacks both of these. In exchange, the Lumia 530 gains dual-SIM support, which strategically may be more important for emerging markets.

Unfortunately, the camera test from Basemark II OS could not be compared due to it not being able to complete on the Lumia 530. The Lumia 530 though does omit a physical camera button in addition to losing the autofocus, which is an important difference between it and the Lumia 520. Image quality from sample photos using the Nokia Camera app yielded similar results on both phones, with perhaps a slight edge to the Lumia 530 for color saturation and sharpness.

Conclusions

The newer Snapdragon 200 with a Quad-core 1.2 GHz CPU is a better choice for Windows Phone. Games load drastically faster and navigating apps and doing regular OS tasks is a better experience. Some of this comes at a price though, as the Lumia 530 gives up a brightness sensor, camera button, camera autofocus, but gains dual-SIM support and on-screen keys.

Still, in looking at the Lumia 530 on its own, it is a compelling device for the price-range and demographic it is targeting. The Lumia 530's raw performance combined with the latest Windows Phone 8.1 operating system make it an excellent choice for those on a budget.

For users with a Lumia 520, the natural upgrade path makes the Lumia 630 somewhat more appealing since it has a larger display (4.5-inch versus 4) with ClearBlack for dramatically better color saturation. The Lumia 630 also has an improved Adreno 305 GPU versus the Adreno 203 found in the Snapdragon 200 on the Lumia 530. As a result, gaming and graphics performance should be even better on the Lumia 630.

Next time, we take a closer look at benchmarks between the Lumia 530 and Lumia 630.

QR: basemark

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

283 Comments
  • So I guess the 530 seems faster?
  • You are correct sir
  • Not fast enough to make it a worthwhile release. We already have a weak ass low end cheap Windows Phone with half a gig of ram and no front facing camera: the Lumia 630. I see the appeal in having a cheap smartphone, but 630 could've just been the replacement for the 520.
  • Lumia 520 accounts for nearly 40% of the Windows Phone market. A Lumia 530 that performs this well with dual-SIM is huge for emerging markets.
  • I definitely understand the appeal of people being able to quickly access a phone that performs well and costs little (FTR, I have and enjoy a 520 myself)... I simply feel that the 530 is redundant with the 630/635/638 essentially doing the same thing, especially with the 630 being available for $79 at Fry's. ...don't you feel that it's money and resources that could've been put to better use?
    ...don't you feel it's just the slightest bit redundant?
  • Seems that way at first, sure. But since the low end market is huge, much bigger than any other and also much more lucrative then the high and midrange. I mean, for every potential 930 buyer there are 100 530/630 buyers. This validates creating multiple devices for and Microsoft isn't being strange at all. They clearly stated that they wanted to kill the Nokia X series and put WP devices at that price point, this is how it's done. Everyone else does it too and if you compare the size of the market, 2 isn't much really. But here is the interesting part. The 630 has an initial retail price lower than the original 520. The 530 gets placed even lower. This is a full out attack not just on smartphones, but also on featurephones and the same market firefoxos and others aim for too. Markets where the 520 was still too expensive. The 530 can drop lower in price than the 520 ever could.
  • I get what your saying, but I have to ask, people that get feature phones do so because they don't want to shell out for data plans. So how cheap could a actual smartphone truly go before it makes no sense? I mean take a free 520 give it to someone who's use to paying 30 a month now add at least 20 to that and see if they don't get upset? So to me a 630 at 79 would make a whole lot more sense than a 520 would.
  • there are plans on T-mobile that are $30 and possibly lower, so its not like evrey carrier charges out the ass for a smartphone service..
  • And there's cheaper straight phone services too. My point still stands.
  • I think i get your point but im not too sure. You're saying that it is dumb to pay so much more for contracts when you save so much more by buying your phone straight out? If so. I half agree. But my problem is.. I dont understand the connection to the 630 Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • No what I'm saying is that for instance if I was a feature phone customer id be really hesitant on getting a smartphone because of the difference in plan cost. IF I got a smartphone and new I was gonna be paying more anyways id certainly spend 20$ more for a phone that would be better. So a 630 being on 20 ish more would get my money before a 520/530.
  • In the US that's true. But in some countries the plans are not really that different in price. 530 is aimed at those markets.
  • So in those countries a feature phone cots the same still?
  • Oh i understand now. Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • The cheap phone services no longer care if you're using a smartphone or not. They never should have, it's none of their damn business what device you're using. You just pay for the service you use. In most countries that bullshit was never implemented anyways. Either way, your super cheap dumb phone plan would cost the same with a smartphone nowadays. You might not have data access over cellular but you will over Wi-Fi. They don't force you to buy data any more.
  • This is not the case in all countries of the world.
  • Actually, in developing countries for which the 530/630 are aimed for, the price difference between those two phones matter a lot. As for your concern that their $30 plan could balloon into $50 with the use of a smartphone instead of feature phone is not quite accurate because you can just disable data on the phone. I know this because my friend who bought my 625 is using it like a feature phone and has data turned off in the phone all the time because he doesn't want to go beyond his monthly plan. But he likes the 625 way better than his erstwhile feature phone because he can also use the phone to go online when there is free wi-fi access.
  • I just got a 521 because I dunked my 1520 and I'm surprisingly happy with it. I'd say for $50 it's one of the best phones I've ever had. I'm loving the size, it's not amazingly fast but not slow enough to be a problem. My biggest beefs are the camera, the time it takes to bring up the camera app, the lack of wireless charging and no front camera but it's $50 off contract and it does almost everything my 1520 did just a little slower. In other news I'm also kind of upset that my Mazda isn't a Ferrari. If they had a similar form factor phone with all of those features I'd buy it in a heart beat.
  • I bought a 520 as an interim till I a better phone I liked, a year later and I'm still liking it! I can live with some slowness, it's not that big a deal. the main feature I would upgrade for is LTE, if the 520 had that I wouldn't even be looking.
  • Should of got a 521 then :P
  • I absolutely agree. There's no rhyme or reason to all these Lumia variants except as a misguided attempt saturate the market. The 520 is a great, cheap phone which negates the need for anything other than the 920/1020. I really don't understand why they can't just have the budget phone and then a proper flagship. Everything else is redundant and wastes resources that could have been better utilized making the 530 and 930 proper successors.
  • Because there are people are willing to pay more than $100 for a phone but are unwilling to pay $600 for a phone.   There are too many models, but you need more than 2. Maybe like 4. And no dumb carrier variants.
  • +820
  • 520 is being phased out.
  • In my country Lumia 530 is available at 6700 rupees (110 dollar) and 630 is approx 150+ dollar. So, that's a big difference
  • Not really. Say 630 does settlle arond the $90 price point for a while. 530 could settle aroudn $50 or even lower. There will be buyers in both of those price points.
  • Given most/all of those comparisons don't have dual-SIM, no I don't find it redundant.
  • Agreed. But MS compromised a lot just to make 520 dual Sim.
  • Btw, the L530 uses Adreno 302, not 203.
  • Daniel, the only reason these were selling was the massive microsoft funding. Now that they spent the 7B on Nokia they are rolling back subsidies and their market share is crashing.  It's not like anyone preferred the 520 they just liked that it was free. 
  • Mark, what planet do you live in because here in Planet Earth, everywhere that the 520 was sold, it was sold for a price, in some markets cheaper than in others true, but all were sold at a price. Even those that were sold "free" on certain carrier plans had a price but it was just hidden so you couldn't see it.
  • Tipsy -  I also live on planet earth.  I have a friend who was in sales at Nokia.  He told me that Microsoft was subsidizing all sales massively.  The 520 sold the best because with subsidy it came in at  feature phone pricing (so if not free close to it).   Microsoft backed away from these subsidies last quarter and you can see how their market share took a hit.  They can't afford $B of subsidies after spending $7B for Nokia - plus Satya is not interested in pouring in good money after bad.  I expect that the  phones will soon have to stand on their own and they could go the way of Blackberry.....  
  • The lack of autofocus makes the 630 DOA, as far as I am concerned.
  • The 630 does have auto-focus
  • Indeed. WP runs great on weak specs but I've tried convincing multiple people to get the 520/530. I convinced a few but most got a cheap Android (Galaxy S3 Mini, same price as 520) instead since it had a front facing camera. I feel the 530 should at least have had a front facing camera. And the 630 should have had 1gb RAM around the world. I fear Microsoft is going to lose more marketshare this year because their low-end isnt competitive with today's Android offer.
  • Agreed... no ffc is a big deal. For what it would add to the price, this is one of the things that would be worth it. Everyone loves selfies...
  • Yeah, even for emerging markets, selfies is a trend. Many people likes to be part of the trend.
    Maybe I forigive the 530 not to have FFC, but 630 should have it on the first place. It's hard to convice people to get these devices instead because many entry-level Android phones does have one.
    Most people don't know what Windows Phone is, so their buying decision is usually based on price and specs, apps as I observe isn't much an issue for first-smartphone buyers. So having FFC would help them convice, since many people care about taking photos than what CPU, RAM, GPU, and Pixel-Density it has, they don't even know what exactly it is anyways. I also agree at least some variant of 630 should have 1GB RAM option, make it like 636??? Also another variant of 530 to have FFC, since many Android phones on the same price or lower have one.
    I think Microsoft should have more lower-end models or variants for these emerging market, also convice more OEMs from China and India to make more affordable Windows Phone. Their devices aren't just stay on their country, it also exports alot and usually they are rebranded to other countries. For me this makes Android devices grow on popularity and marketshare on emerging markets.
  • I dint know... For me, every low-end android phone I ever had was a nightmare. But WP runs butter smooth no matter what phone you have. So I would never recommended any budget android phone.
  • 630 IS the replacement for 520, the 730 will be the replacement for 620... with 30s line all the devices took a step down in the starway, now lumia 530 isn't the sucessor of any phone, it has a brand new spot, ultra-low-cost  
  • This is true. I've been saying it for months.
  • "feels zippier" is the new term according to the article, haha
  • I love Lumia 520.
  • 530 only 4gb no way
  • Throw in a micro SD with 128 GB, and who cares? With 8.1 you can put apps, games, music...everything on the card.
  • Not everyone can afford a 128GB SD card.....(specially people who will be buying the most affordableWP8.1 out there)
    I can hardly afford my 4Gb Sd card with 8GB Lumia 620
  • 128 GB was an extreme example and meant to be hyperbolic. Users could buy a 2 GB or 4 GB. The point is, the cost (and choice) is passed on to the user. In exchange, you get a modern dual SIM smartphone that performs significantly better than its predecessor. Microsoft is in this to make money off of their phones, after all. You cannot give everything away for free.
  • Well then,Idk how they are going to attract the Android users out there with these specs when they could buy a better specced(Not sure if that's a word tbh :p ) android phone at an even lower price.
    Note: I'm focusing on specs, not performance which some new customer looking to buy android or WP would probably focus on
  • I have yet to find an android GLOBAL phone that has the same specs performance and price of the 530, let alone lower price. If u r going to bring local OEMs to the argument, there are tons of newly announced local WP's with very low prices in many regions.
  • Motorola e
  • Which costs something like 50% more than what this phone will.
  • And of course the motorola e has only 4GB storage as well.
  • Doogee DG800. Just one of many examples.
  • Indeed its hard to attract some to get these Lumia rather than some "better"-spec Android phones, especially at even lower price. Currently a dead-cheap range smartphone is currently belongs to Android for now. Well that's competition and Microsoft really need to be more aggressive on this. There's actually a chance for some entry-level Android phone users to switch Windows Phone especially if their experience with these devices are bad in terms of performance, ease-of-use, and reliability. I also found Android phones I tested with 4GB of internal storage have only around 2GB of usuable storage, and App Storage are seperate with some only have 500MB-1GB allowed.
     
  • Dont you think no autofocus = no photography????
  • How so? I have no problem taking photos. It's even easier without AF.
  • I know.. Wish there was manual focus on default camera..
  • the camera fine !! not a easy photo to capture with the light from outside flooding in making most objects in front of the light being a silhouette. nice example of the camera.
  • Doesn't that just make it easier to shoot entries for this weeks photo contest? :)
  • i should enter it. dropping the phone more than a few times also helps with the image. well f**ked the camera !!
  • The phone havee fixed focus ,but is a disaster that phone, my brother have it and in terms of camera and built it's a mess even the 520 has better camera , and not get an fixed focus one , also having 5 low end models don't help because it's not differentiation we will have models with exactly the same processor and not varying at all to give to the buyer a reason to consider a model instead of other
  • I think the camera is just fine for most people buying a budget phone... the only issue would be no macro photohraphy 
  • Auto focus= you never get what you wanted to shoot ;)
  • you can get a 16gb for 11 bucks on amazon http://www.amazon.com/SanDisk-MicroSDHC-Adapter-Frustration-Free-Packaging/dp/B009QZH7BU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409251285&sr=8-1&keywords=micro+sd+card
  • 8 Gb Class 10 micro SD costs under 5€
  • Yea, 128gb is kind of extreme, no question, I make OK money but, 128gb cards are crazy money but. If you watch sites list Meritline or newegg for deals, I have seen 16gb class 10 cards go for under $15 and I have seen 32gb ones go for under $25. I picked up a 32gb class 10 the other day for $18. A 32gb card would give you more memory that the high end models that dont have MicroSD support, like the 929/930 etc... Watch sites like fatwallet and slickdeals for these things to come up and they are very common. Even sites like Fatwallet will give cash back if you order linking from them to save even more money. If you can't scrape up $10-15 for a card, then you need to think can you even afford the phone ?
  • Exactly. Unlike android, you can put any app you download on the SD card.
  • But Mr. Rubino, isn't the price of the 128 GB sd card the same or higher than that of the 530? Would you spend the money on that?
  • Read the comment above. The 128 GB card is the extreme example. Clearly you understand you do have the option to buy 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 GB cards and on on and on, no?
  • Right, but personally, I wouldn't use 128 GB on this phone, it wouldn't feel good
  • Like those people who put a $2000 stereo system and $2000 rims on their $1500 junker car?
  • I have a friend like that lol
  • Worked for years in a high end Audio Video store in the Boston area. You would not belleve what I have seen, a crappy rust bucket Chevette with a $3500 system with custom lighting and everything else (pull up screens, massive high end audio and speakers). This was kind of common place in the Boston area but, every once and a while we would get in a very hot car....
  • Then get a 32gb they're $11 on Amazon.
  • 3rd world country brah
  • He meant it as an example of what the phone I capable of... There are still lesser options that cost less than $10.
  • Because right now, on an 8GB phone where I have moved absolutely everything I can possibly move to the SD card under WP 8.1, it shows 4.14GB of internal memory used. How is that footprint supposed to fit on a 4GB device?
  • True, and some apps cannot be installed on a SD card, not a lot of them, but I've come across a couple
  • This phone has ~1 GB of free space by default, so, there you go.
  • Does it have the unique ability to move messaging, email, internet, and other storage to the SD card or will owners of this phone constantly have to mange those areas to keep the phone functional?
  • You have a 1 GB of email and text? C'mon...most people don't sync more than a week of email, especially those using this kind of phone.
  • Well, the phone says 4.14GB used. It had to go somewhere.
  • Just to let you know Mr. Rubino, I'm not here to troll, just to ask, I'm sorry if you thought something else I just want to apologize
  • Outlook here is 3 days, and use 400mb on my 720
  • Dude how?? lol I have outlook and my .edu email syncing the last 2 weeks of email and I think its taking up around 80MB of memory. am I reading my storage sense wrong?? or are the ladies sending you pics and vids ;)
  • Is 'cause I use a lot of email. LOL Everyday....
  • I'm sorry you have to deal with people who can't even think on their own every single day.
  • some popular apps require to install on internal memory like whatsapp.
  • And whatsapp is like 10 mb's? I'm sure 10mb's fit on 4gb of internal memory...
  • So... nobody send voice notes, and talks with you? Nobody send photos and videos? o.O
  • common sense pls. whatsapp was just an example.
  • on my phone whatsapp has acquired around 150mb of isolated storage, only pics and videos gets stored in SD Card, audio will be stored in phone memory
  • Micro SDs cost money and I don't have a lot - they cost more than my phone!!!!
  • Are you kidding me? This 16gb class 10 sd card costs 10 dollars on amazon!! You're telling me you don't want to spend a measly 10 dollars on an sd card? That's pretty pathetic.
    Oh and your phone is less than 10 dollars? Gtfo dude.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B009QZH7D8?cache=5d5e040d9398b477709924429...
  • Not all the 7billion