Regardless of the lesser number in the model ID, we're looking at the Sony Ericsson K610 next of kin. The changes in design and functional equipment are almost insignificant. The good thing about K530 is that it's gotten rid of the cheapo look of its predecessor.
Standing at 102 x 46 x 14 mm and weighing 92 g, the neat bar has near perfect oblong shape with rounded edges. It's all made of plastic but that doesn't seem to upset the solid and robust feel of the handset. Even hard pressure on the casing won't result in alarming creaks. Our test unit was the Warm Silver variety, which did complement the refined exterior of the device. The other available color version is Thunder Black.
The side lining of the front panel starts to recede right above the keypad, making the screen unit project from the casing. The resulting asymmetrical side view of the handset is a very likeable choice of design. The right side of the handset hosts the shutter key and the volume rocker. On the left, you'll find the Memory Stick Micro card slot, hidden beneath its protective cap. Topside is the minute power button; the classic Fast port connector and the neck-strip eyelet are at the bottom.
Almost half of the neat back panel is taken by the black battery cover with the manufacturer logo badged on it. The only adornment rearside is a dimple-patterned crosswise strip. Alongside the loudspeaker grill and the external antenna connector, you'll also spot the 2 MP camera lens. It is, sadly, rather unprotected and will require extra care handling the phone and a lot of cleaning. Cost reduction went another step further and we're disappointed to not have at least a LED flash.
Under the easy-to-remove cover is the 950 mAh Li-Po battery. It is said to provide 540 minutes of talk time or 395 hours in stand-by. Video calling time is up to two hours. The SIM card is placed under the battery. Taking it out proved quite a trial.
The keypad comes off quite well, consistent with the neat and reliable feel of the handset. Controls and alphanumeric keys are put together in an unbroken layout. The middle-column keys are notched out at the sides for better touch orientation. Bulging at the bottom, each key has a slight tilt, making the rows of alphanumeric buttons tangibly terraced. It's really a very user-friendly keypad offering great touch orientation, although some may frown at the keys being too tightly packed.
The pivotal navigation element is the D-pad. Its confirming center is ample and sufficiently elevated from its surroundings to ensure reliable keypresses. The couple of soft keys follow, along with the usual Back and Clear keys. The last two controls are the Activity Menu key and Internet key. All control keys are easy to operate, and the keypad is backlit in strong and even white.
We just can't speak highly of the Sony Ericsson K530 display. The manufacturer has chosen to integrate a low resolution screen of 176 x 220 pixels. Topped with the unenviable 31 x 39 mm surface, it really pulls off a rather grainy, coarse imaging. The screen is enclosed in a black frame, which it makes it look bigger than it actually is. QVGA resolution would've surely suited this screen better. It displays 262K colors of high saturation. Brightness levels can be set from within the menu. Above the display is the minute secondary camera for video calling.
The manufacturer has yet again abstained from displaying the digital clock permanently in power-saving mode. The screen will go completely blank after a certain time, so you'll need to power it back up to check for missed events. The illuminated digital clock will appear on screen by pressing the volume rocker. Why a little LED notification of missed events is missing is beyond us. Seems like most users, us included, would've welcomed such a perk.