Huawei Ascend Y530
23rd Feb 2014 | 06:19
Is simplicity the key to winning the budget market?
The Huawei Ascend Y530 was announced ahead of MWC 2014, and while the handset will be displayed at the Barcelona show I managed to get hands on with it ahead of time.
Following on from last year's Ascend G510, the Ascend Y530 builds modestly on its predecessor while keeping a low SIM-free price tag of around £150.
That price is expected to drop to around the £100 mark when the Ascend Y530 becomes available on PAYG in March.
Featuring a 4.5-inch, 480 x 854 display, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage and a microSD slot, the Ascend Y530 finds itself firmly placed in the budget market.
Huawei has stuck Android 4.3 Jelly Bean onto the Ascend Y530, and while this may not be the latest version of Google's platform a possibility of an upgrade to Android 4.4. KitKat isn't out of the question - although it is unconfirmed for now.
It's not stock Android aboard the Ascend Y530 though, with Huawei sticking its own Emotion 2.0 UI on top - a bit of a marmite feature, and something I'm not overly keen on.
Icons and general style lack professionalism, and the interface ends up looking a little bit childish.
For those out there who love Android you'll be better off going for the Moto G which runs a near stock version of the software, while the Ascend Y530's adaptation completely removes the app list in favour of keeping everything on your homescreens.
If Huawei's take on Android is still too much then the Ascend Y530 has a trick up its sleeve which can help you out.
Head to the settings menu and select "Home screen style" and you'll see there's a second option listed as "Simple."
This removes the cluttered homescreens with big coloured tiles, providing a very simple interface more accustomed to featurephones rather than smartphones.
There are clear advantages here for first time smartphne users, or those who are a little less tech savvy.
You can have up to eight tiles on screen, and they can all be moved around, removed and added, allowing you to have only the features you want visible.
The simple interface is only surface deep, tap a tile to open up an app and for the most part you'll get the same layout as you would in standard mode. That's not a huge issue, but it does make for a slight disconnect in the user experience.
The settings menu and text message app have slightly altered displays, with larger buttons to make things easier to use - but they are unrelated in terms of style to the tiles on the homescreen.
I found that the screen on the Ascend Y530 was responsive and while the resolution might not be at the HD level of the Moto G, it's certainly good enough for day to day messaging, calling and web browsing.
Those wanting to play games or watch movies on the Y530 will be less impressed, but with it's average power setup these aren't the type of activities the handset is targeting.
In terms of design the Huawei Ascend Y530 doesn't break any new ground, but it's a solid, well constructed device which feels like it could stand up to various bumps along the way.
The textured back provides a decent amount of grip and the rounded edges means the Ascend Y530 sits comfortably in the palm.
I'm used to seeing the power/lock key and volume rocker switch on the top/right hand side of devices, so their position on the left of the Ascend Y530 did feel a bit unnatural.
Saying that I'm sure that after a short while owning the phone you'll quickly adjust, and the keys are easy to hit for both left and right handed users.
Up top lies the headphone jack, while on the base of the all-plastic Y530 you'll find the microUSB port.
The back cover peels off easily, revealing microSIM and microSD slots as well as the Y530's 1750mAh removable battery.
A slight frustration here is the need to remove the battery to access the SIM slot, so if you're someone who likes to swap their SIMs every now and the Ascend Y530 may be rather annoying. The microSD slot, thankfully, can be accessed without disturbing the power pack.
On the rear of the Ascend Y530 you'll find a 5MP camera - the going rate for cameras at this price range - while on the front there's a VGA offering for the odd video chat or cheeky selfie.
The camera application is relatively basic offering a small selection of effects, but things such as white balance and brightness controls are out of the question.
I found shutter speed was acceptable, browsing around the Ascend Y530 in general was pretty smooth and I didn't experience any real lag or slowness, something I was fearing with just 512MB of RAM to play with.
The keyboard on the Huawei Ascend Y530 is actually not a bad offering and I found it easy to tap out a message at speed, plus there's spell check and next work prediction to help you compose your missive.
Huawei has a pretty decent history of churning out affordable, well built budget devices and the Ascend Y530 is more of the same from the Chinese firm.
The problem for the Y530 is the incredibly well priced Moto G, which offers up a better set of specs and features, a lower price tag and almost stock Android.
That said, the simple UI mode on the Ascend Y530 means it could be a hit for the older generation of mobile user, as well as anyone looking to pick up their first smartphone, but who doesn't want anything overly complicated.