Reviewing Microsoft Lumia 535 - The True Successor To The Lumia 520
Nokia Lumia 520 was a great affordable smartphone that managed to become the most popular Windows Phone device ever. Its successor - Lumia 530 - had many issues and it did not manage to rise to the high expectations set by Lumia 520. Luckily, Microsoft has released the Microsoft Lumia 535 - a smartphone that fixes the many shortcomings of Lumia 530 and which, at least on paper, seems like a worthy successor to the Lumia 520. We were very keen to test it and see how well it performs. We used it for a week, on a daily basis and here's what we think about the new Microsoft Lumia 535:
Hardware Specifications & Packaging
Microsoft continues its tradition for packaging Lumia devices so, as you can see in the picture below, the Microsoft Lumia 535 comes in a small and colorful box.
Inside the box you'll find the battery, the charger, a user manual and, of course, the smartphone. As you may have noticed, there is no USB cable or any headphones included, but for this price we cannot ask for more.
Like other new Lumia devices, Microsoft Lumia 535 is available in two versions: Dual SIM and Single SIM. The model we received for tests is the Dual SIM version.
Microsoft Lumia 535 is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor at 1.2 GHz, 1GB of memory RAM and an Adreno 302 graphics processor. In terms of storage, the smartphone comes with 8GB of internal storage space that can be extended with a microSD card up to 128GB.
The screen uses a 5" IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with 16M colors panel with a resolution of 540x960 pixels and a pixel density of approximately 220 dots per inch. It is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and with the help of the ambient light sensor it features automatic brightness control and several sunlight readability improvements.
In terms of size, the Lumia 535 Dual SIM measures 140.2 mm (5.52 inches) in height, 72.4 mm (2.85 inches) in length and only 8.8 mm (0.35 inches) in width. It weighs only 146 grams (5.15 ounces). As you can see it is an average-sized smartphone that is easy to carry around but if you have small hands it is a little hard to handle with only one hand.
The smartphone has a 5 megapixels rear camera, with autofocus and LED flash, capable of recording video at 480p with 30 frames per second. The front-facing camera with the same resolution of 5 megapixels is perfect for selfies and video conferences.
In terms of connectivity, the device comes with Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0, all standards of Wi-Fi technology and GPS. Microsoft Lumia 535 has a 1905 mAh battery that should keep the smartphone alive up to 12 hours in conditions of normal use. It works with two micro-SIMs that can be connected at the same time through 3G but you cannot use both SIMs at the same time for the Internet connection.
If you want to get a more detailed look at all its specifications, go to this page: Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM.
Design & Build Quality
At first glance, like many others Lumia devices, you have the impression that it is a unibody design, but it's not. Microsoft Lumia 535 comes in a polycarbonate case available in several different colors: green, blue, orange, white and black. In the picture below, you can see what the white version that we tested looks like.
As we said, the smartphone doesn't have a unibody construction so if you remove the cover you'll have access at the battery, SIMs and memory card.
Like any other Lumia smartphone, on the right side you'll find the power button and the volume rocker. Unfortunately Lumia 535 doesn't have a hardware camera button which would have been very useful especially when taking selfies. On the upper rim you'll find the 3.5 mm audio jack, on the bottom the USB connector and the speaker is on the back.
Microsoft Lumia 535 uses an IPS LCD panel of decent quality but without the ClearBlack technology. The brightness is assisted automatically by the ambient light sensor so the outdoors visibility is generally good. The screen has good contrast and color reproduction and decent viewing angles.
The design and the build quality are very good for the price of this device. You won't feel that you are getting less than what you have paid for and you will be pleased with the way it looks and feels. People with small hands may have some problems handling the smartphone with only one hand though.
The Phone Experience On Microsoft Lumia 535
The phone experience with Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM is generally good. We used this smartphone with two SIM cards and the audio quality of conversations is good for both SIM cards. Both SIM card slots support 3G connections, with one disadvantage: only one SIM at a time can be used for cellular data, so you have to choose which one you want to use.
Even though the package doesn't include any headphones, we tested the audio quality with some aftermarket ones. When listening to music or watching videos, the audio quality is good on the headphones. The back speaker on the phone is a medium one. For some sound improvements, you can use the equalizer provided by the audio settings in Windows Phone.
As we said earlier in this review, the device has two decent 5 megapixels cameras. With the main camera you'll be able to take photos at 2592x1936 pixels and capture video at only 480p and 30fps. In addition, the rear camera has autofocus technology and LED flash. Also, you can change the white balance, the sensitivity (ISO), the shutter speed and the brightness. If you don't know what these features are, we recommend that you set them all to Auto mode. The front camera of this smartphone was designed for people who love to take selfies. Yes, Microsoft Lumia 535 has a better front camera than many other affordable smartphones but don't expect it to take professional captures. The quality of your pictures is good enough for Facebook, Instagram and other popular social networking services.
Below, you'll find a photo gallery that contains several pictures made with both the front and rear cameras, so that you better understand what you'll get from this smartphone in terms of photo quality. All the pictures were made with Auto settings.
When it comes to video recordings, again, the camera doesn't excel. With its 480p video resolution, the recorded videoclips have a medium quality. In terms of features, you have the option to change the white balance, the focus and also, you can turn the LED flash on or off. Obviously, we cannot talk about video stabilization at this price point. Below, you can watch a video sample in which the target is moving. As you can see, the video quality is rather low and also you can see that the video is blurry and lacking in details.
Next, we recorded a demo in which we captured more static surroundings. As you can see, the quality is better than the previous movie, but again it doesn't shine in any way.
If you play many games from the Store and you take a lot of pictures, then the 8 GB of memory storage space will fill very quickly. In order to solve this problem you'll need to purchase a microSD card to increase the space available. For the device to work properly, we recommend that you buy a quality one (e.g. microSD class 10).
As we said, Microsoft Lumia 535 has a 1905 mAh battery, which is good enough for the entire day in conditions of normal use. If you'll play many games or use GPS navigation apps, the battery will drain relatively fast.
We were very pleased by the phone experience on the Microsoft Lumia 535. It is a very good dual SIM smartphone and we didn't have any problem in using this device on two different cellular networks, simultaneously. The cameras are good for posting photos and videoclips on social networks and, if you get bored, you can play games without problems.
Windows Phone 8.1 & Bundled Apps
Microsoft Lumia 535 comes with the Windows Phone 8.1 operating system and the Lumia Denim update. This update includes the following camera apps: Lumia Camera, Lumia Selfie, Lumia Cinemagraph, Lumia Creative Studio and Lumia Storyteller.
Lumia Camera is the replacement for the Nokia Camera app and with Lumia Selfie, you can easily take selfies, improve their quality and add all kinds of filters and effects. Lumia Cinemagraph helps you to create cinemagraphs and share them with your friends and the Lumia Storyteller application creates stories from your photos based on where and when they were taken.
Another feature that comes with the Lumia Denim update is the Live Folders, which helps Windows Phone users better organize their applications.
Microsoft Lumia 535 includes all the common applications for the Lumia smartphones like Here Maps, Here Drive+ and so on.
Windows Phone 8.1 works well on this smartphone and you'll have no problem running most applications from the Store.
Performance In Benchmarks
We have run some benchmarks on Microsoft Lumia 535 in order to compare it with other Windows Phone smartphones from its price range: Lumia 635, Lumia 630, Lumia 530, Lumia 435.
First, we used the MultiBench 2 benchmark. In the processor test, Microsoft Lumia 535 was just as fast as all other smartphones. The graphics benchmark shows that Lumia 535 is 5.3% slower than Lumia 630 and 7.7% faster than Lumia 435.
Speaking of data transfers, there are very minor differences between these device. The same is true regarding the speed of the RAM memory with only one exception: Lumia 535 is 40.2% faster than Lumia 435.
Second, we ran the WP Bench benchmark app. The CPU test reveals that the performance difference between all smartphones is insignificant, only Lumia 435 is 16% slower than Lumia 535.
In the chart below you can see the results obtained in the graphics, storage and memory tests. In terms of frames per second, Microsoft Lumia 535 loses. It happens because Lumia 635 has a better GPU and because Lumia 435 has a smaller display with a smaller resolution. In the storage and memory tests, the differences between all Lumia devices are, again, insignificant.
Then, we used the Sunspider in order to evaluate the web browsing experience on this smartphone. According to our test results, Microsoft Lumia 535 is the winner in terms of web browsing speed.
Next, we measured the time it takes for the Lumia 535 to start and load the Windows Phone operating system. Our stopwatch says that the smartphone is ready to use in approximately 27 seconds.
Finally, we measured how fast the battery drains when the smartphone uses all hardware resources at maximum capabilities. We used the WP Benchbattery test. Microsoft Lumia 535 had a good result, lasting for an average of 3 hours.
Where To Buy
OK, Microsoft Lumia 535 isn't the most powerful smartphone on the market, but it does its job very well. For the price you pay, you get good performance and build quality. Lumia 535 is a great choice for people who don't want to spend a lot of money on a smartphone. Inexpensive and good! This is the phrase which best describes this product. For less than 150 dollars (off-contract) you'll get a Dual SIM smartphone, with a 5 inch IPS LCD screen, a quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, two 5 megapixels camera and support for microSD cards of up to 128GB. Also, the future upgrade to Windows 10 will be available for free. Unlike Lumia 530 which was a fiasco in our perspective, we consider Microsoft Lumia 535 a great successor to the highly successful Lumia 520.