Huawei Ascend Y530
1st May 2014 | 16:55
Is simplicity the key to winning the budget market?
The Huawei Ascend Y530 is the latest handset offering from the Chinese technology giant, and it's rapidly developing a reputation of releasing budget devices every six months.
By looking at the phone's specifications it is obvious to see that the Y530 is a slightly updated version of the Huawei Ascend Y300 released last year.
The usual smartphone features have all been bundled into the device and connectivity should not be an issue, as the Y530 packs Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, Wi-Fi, Accelerometer and Proximity sensors into the device.
The option to add additional storage (up to 32GB) via the microSD card slot is also available for when the internal 4GB of storage rapidly fills up. It's worth noting that this is one of the main advantages over its closest rival the Moto G, which doesn't have a microSD option.
The Ascend Y530 does not support 4G, but for £110 SIM free this is to be expected. The 1700 mAh battery contained within the Ascend Y530 certainly isn't overkill, but will easily last a whole day of average usage without a problem - a daily charge to bring the device back up to 100% is something most smartphone owners are used to.
The slight improvements on the Huawei Ascend Y300 are mainly in the operating system. The Y530 has been bumped up from Android 4.1 to 4.3, although there is no word on whether the device will be able to upgrade to Android KitKat 4.4 or beyond in the future.
With that said, the device is certainly sufficient for most entry-level smartphone users. With its 5MP camera including an LED flash and the 1.2GHz dual-core processor the Ascend Y530 should be able to cater for most of your needs.
There has also been an update to Huawei's Emotion UI, which enables the user to switch between the default UI and a new simplified version.
Compared to the Huawei Ascend Y300, the Y530's screen size has been bumped up to a 4.5-inch TFT LCD screen with a resolution of 480 x 854 pixels. The new display's pixel density is 218ppi and that's significantly lower than its main rival – the Moto G provides a display of 326ppi.
Although this may not be a significant problem if you are using the device to mainly text or make calls, the difference in screen quality is clear when it comes to videos and games.
The experience using the device doesn't feel premium as the bezel around the edge of the screen seems rather large, which only aids to the devices cheap and cumbersome appearance.
Measuring in at 132.5 x 67 x 9.3 mm the Ascend Y530 fits comfortably in one hand and its 145g weight feels sturdy and solid, with the rear plastic cover sporting fine diagonal lines to provide additional grip.
But I think it looks cheap and plasticy, although, this is to be expected from a £110 device. The Ascend Y530 takes a normal (larger sized) SIM card with no compatibility for a smaller micro SIM.
Because it takes a fingernail into a gap in the cover, along with a gentle yank, to prise open the rear casing I felt as if I were breaking the device when I went to insert the SIM card. But once you're in you will have access to the devices battery, SIM, and microSD slot.
Unsurprisingly there is no physical home button, which follows the trend of the previous devices we have seen from the Chinese manufacturer. The only physical buttons on the Y530 are found on the left hand side of the device.
Here you will find three buttons: two to change the device's volume, and the third to power the handset on or off. There are three touch buttons just below the screen used to navigate around the android device.
If you have ever used an Android handset before these icons will be extremely familiar. The 3.5mm headphone jack is found at the top left of the device, whilst the microUSB port for connecting and charging the Y530 is centered at the bottom.
Key features and interface
The Huawei Y530 is an Android device, which means it has access to thousands of apps in the Google Play store. If there is an additional software feature you require, the chances are you will find it there. That being said, a number of stock apps are included on the device to cater for your needs.
The usual apps like Calculator, Maps and Camera are included and easy to locate. You will also find Chrome preinstalled, and just like other Android devices, the Y530 features the ability to add your account (Google, Twitter, Facbook) credentials in the settings app.
This deep integration with Google means that data such as contacts, calendar entries, emails, and more are synced with your account. You also have the ability to back up the data you add to the Y530 with Google.
This means all your information is synced and available on the Ascend Y530, just as it would be if you were to log into your Google account via a web browser on a computer. If you have upgraded to the Y530 from a previous Android device, you will be able to download all your previously purchased apps free of charge.
Huawei's Emotion UI is a 'love it or hate it' addition, with many die-hard Android users preferring an interface which is as close to stock Android as possible.
Huawei's Emotion UI is obviously inspired by Apples iOS as it finds itself appearing somewhere in the middle of the two operating systems, even though the device is powered by Google.
Some would call the middle ground Emotion UI is trying to fill no mans land; others would say it is a smoother user experience.
Whatever your take on Huawei's interference, it's hard to dispute the fact that the default themes seem to be aimed at a younger generation.
The childlike icons for apps do not seem as if they were designed for adults, but I doubt that is the audience the device is marketed at. There is a themes app with an additional two choices, and although they are slightly better than the default none suited my taste.
The updated version of Emotion UI installed on the Huawei Ascend Y530 adds a new option to the setting panel - Home Screen Style.
Here you are presented with two options; Standard and Simple. Simple is a new style/layout Huawei have bundled together which visually is somewhere in between Windows Phone and the Android handset it actually is.
In reality it is nowhere near as good a Windows Phone because the titles do not provide you with any information, notifications such as missed calls or texts do not appear on the tiles so overall it seems like a waste of space. This feature seems to target an older generation who just need big, easy, simple icons with a large font throughout the operating system.
The default Huawei keyboard is novel, and again seems to be trying to imitate iOS, but comes up short.
Two large icons along the top of the keyboard are used to access the keyboard page and the input language. An alternative input page can also be accessed by swiping across the keyboard, and allows the user to compose a message the old fashioned way via a dial pad layout.
Having a large icon to change the language seems unnecessary unless you are bilingual. Luckily the option to switch back to Google's stock keyboard interface is available.
With the Emotion UI running you would expect the 1.2GHz dual-core CPU to occasionally stumble. That actually wasn't the case; in fact the Huawei Ascend Y530 was quite responsive.
Apps are quick to open, switch to and close on the Ascend Y530, although there is no preview of open apps when switching, which saves on processing power.
To find out what the Huawei Ascend Y530 really has to offer I ran an Geekbench 3 test on the device to see exactly how it compares with similarly priced devices on the market.
I was surprised to see it come up really short with a tiny average score of 605 on Geekbench. The Y530 does the basics very well, but in terms of playing large 3D games on the device, you find it will slightly stutter and stumble, delivering a less than smooth experience.
Battery life and the essentials
The Li-Ion 1700mAh battery in the Huawei Ascend Y530 is actually quite good. Even though you will need to charge the handset every day with medium-heavy use, it lasted two days with light use, and I was surprised to find it had 18% remaining by the evening of day two.
It's worth bearing in mind that the Moto G from Motorola, which is the Ascend Y530's strongest competitor in the same price bracket, comes with a decent Li-Ion 2070 mAh battery, but that is a non-removable battery, which isn't necessarily always convenient.
After streaming a 90 minute video at full screen brightness and with various accounts syncing in the background the battery dropped to a respectable 74%.
This confirms the Y530's midrange capabilities; the device does not have amazing battery performance, but not anything to complain about.
Connecting with your friends, family or colleagues is easily done on the Ascend Y530. The handset from Huawei is able to connect to the Google Play store and download any of the social apps to start chatting.
Native account integration from companies such as Google, Twitter and Facebook mean that the device can sync and update your data. Signing into other apps using these accounts after the first time normally only takes one click, and with other messaging apps such as WhatsApp you will be able to contact people on various platforms
The Huawei Ascend Y530 features a notification page, which is accessible at any time by swiping down from the top of the screen. The notification page is very basic and easy to use, with five quick settings available.
As with other Android devices, the Huawei Y530 supports widgets on the home pages. There are a number of stock widget options, but many more can be downloaded.
Composing, sending and receiving messages on the Huawei Y530 is a doddle. If you have used a modern smartphone you should feel comfortable from the word go.
Open up the app to find a list of previous incoming and outgoing messages, and an icon in the bottom left of the screen to compose a new message. When composing a message the option to switch keyboard interfaces will be present in the notification bar.
A picture can paint a thousand words, and in other situations an emoji can sometimes suffice. The Huawei Ascend Y530 allows you to fire across smiley faces from the single page of icons, a limited selection but you should be able to find a face to suit your mood.
The Huawei Ascend Y530 handled the different video file formats I the tested it with (avi, mkv and mp4) without a problem. Although it is worth noting that there is not a dedicated video app on the device and the files were played through either the File Manager app or the Gallery app, which is mainly used for viewing photos or video recorded with the handset.
There are basic playback options for controlling the media, a timeline appears at the bottom of the screen for scrubbing though the file and tapping the screen will pause or resume the video but these are the only options.
Music can be played back through either the File Manager or Google's Play Music app. For a better overall experience I would recommend using the Play Music app because it enables playlists, along with adding shuffle and loop functions, and will also display album artwork.
These are great options if you would like to play more than one song, because the limited playback features in File Manager can be frustrating.
The Huawei Ascend Y530 comes equipped with a 5MP camera, which seems the current industry standard for mid-low end priced smartphones. So on paper it does not have an advantage or a disadvantage over the competition.
After experiencing the Huawei Ascend Y300's camera capabilities I was eager to see an improvement when using the Y530, and I was pleasantly surprised with the updated Emotion interface in the camera app.
The Camera app is really well built, settings are easy to find and my experience navigating the layout was stress free.
Options to toggle flash, ISO, white balance, image adjustments and many more are available from the menu if you fancy tinkering before taking the perfect shot.
There are also additional features you won't find on many other phones in this price bracket. The settings for 'touch to capture' and 'voice activated shooting' are great on paper, or for use in unusual circumstances, but in reality I found frustrating to operate.
The Panorama feature, on the other hand, is really useful for situations where the lens included on the device is just not wide enough.
If you fancy adding a bit of flair to your images you'll be pleased to know that the Y530 includes more than as handful of preset filters that you can apply before or after a picture has been taken.
Several, of them are extremely retro and others are really quite poor, but there are a few crackers included with the device.
The picture quality of the images taken on the Ascend Y530 is good enough for everyday situations in a well-lit area, but in low light conditions the pictures are grainy.
The digital zoom also distorts the image quality, which happens on every mobile device, but the pixilation is so severe that I would suggest avoiding using the digital zoom whenever possible.
Hands on gallery
The Huawei Ascend Y530 is easy to use, and even though it can't smoothly render graphic heavy 3D games, there is more than enough power contained within the device to do the basics jitter free.
If you are thinking of purchasing the Ascend Y530 you may want to think again. Not because the device is bad, but because it's not the best value for money. There are other options currently on the market that provide better value for money, such as the Motorola Moto G.
The Emotion UI is quite a pleasant addition, as is the simple home style. Being able to switch between the two means this device becomes perfectly suited for the young and the old.
The 5MP camera may not be the best camera seen on a handset, but the deep customisation of settings, effects and modes is a real bonus.
The battery life on the Ascend Y530 is better than the average in a device of this price.
In terms of design, Huawei have obviously used cheap materials, and this is really noticeable when interacting with and using the device.
If storage space is a priority then you may find the 4GB of internal storage on the Huawei Ascend Y530 slightly disappointing, and even though there is a microSD slot this really isn't enough for the modern day smartphone.
When using the Huawei Ascend Y530 in everyday situations, for example making calls and texting, the device responds very well. But if you have too many apps open the Y530 noticeably starts to slow down and stutter.
In all the Huawei Ascend Y530 is a solid budget smartphone which is capable of performing all the basics you'd expect without providing any thrills along the way.
For the £110 price tag it's an affordable offering, but if your budget can stretch just a little further there are better options out there.
First reviewed: April 2014