With the final disappearance of the Nokia brand from the smartphone space, and Microsoft’s taking
over, we are looking at the dawn of a new age for Lumia devices. As one of the first to don the Microsoft
mantle, a lot of eyes are on the Lumia 535, and for good reason: this is the future of this particular
smartphone business, and an important piece in the Windows ecosystem. Is there enough to keep the
hope alive, or is it just more of the same? We had a little time to try and find out.
There was little surprise as to the phone’s design then we finally got our hands on it. It bares all the
familiar lines and curves of the Lumia devices of old. Our particular unit came in a loud shade of green,
as other Lumia devices have before it. It is pleasantly smooth, almost slick all over, and still comes with
the single removable back shell we have come to associate with Nokia’s Lumia phones.
The front of the device is bare, with only the screen and no soft keys to be seen. The only hard keys
present on the whole device are the volume rocker and power button on the curved right edge of the
phone. The 3.5mm jack is located at the top of the device, the back houses the main camera and LED
flash, and the bottom has the microUSB port for charging and data sync. The device feels nice in hand,
with just enough weight to be substantial, but not unpleasant. There isn’t a sharp edge to be found,
which is worlds better than other devices that can be a little uncomfortable to hold up to an ear, or stow
in a pocket for a significant amount of time. It is really pleasant to hold, which is great in my book.
The 535 is positioned as a mid-level smartphone, and as such, carries an appropriate spec sheet. It has a
large 5-inch screen, with a resolution of 540×960 pixels, for a screen density of about 220ppi; enough for
all practical uses, though not quite sharp enough to render the individual pixels invisible. The screen is
protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3, for good measure.
Under the hood, the device runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 chipset, and a 1.2GHz quad-core
processor with 1GB of RAM. While it might seem a little anemic, that’s just on paper. With the
optimization Microsoft has put into Windows Phone 8.1, there’s little to worry about regarding
The 535 has a 5 megapixel main camera, as well as a 5 megapixel front camera, for higher-resolution
selfies should the need arise. It has a fairly large, ¼-inch sensor, which should take better photos, at
least on paper.
As for connectivity, it is an HSPA device with two SIM slots, letting you cut your daily carry gear by one
phone. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS come standard. User Experience 3.5
I generally have mixed feelings about Windows Phone devices. The software is solid, simple, and slick,
but it does take some getting used to. Once you’ve switched gears, however, you’re left with an OS that
is actually very nice to use, if just a little short on apps. Still, the implementation of Windows Phone is
flawless, as usual. The live tiles, smooth, stutter-free performance, and straightforward usability make
me wonder if I pitched my tent in the wrong OS camp.
One of the things used to headline the 535 is the camera. At 5 megapixels, it’s not necessarily the most
impressive on paper, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The main camera takes decent
photos. The colors are a little on the weak side, but brightness wasn’t lacking in the least. There are
better cameras to be had, but those are generally at price tiers significantly higher than where the Lumia
finds itself. Of particular note is the device’s front camera, which is also 5MP, and has a wide-angle lens,
so you can catch more people in large groupfies. The front camera is noticeably better than a lot of
other devices at this price point, which should be great news for the camera-conscious among us.
Battery life was a little short for us. The Lumia has a rather small 1950mAh battery, and for a screen size
such as that on this phone, it’s a little light, even with the lower pixel density on the Lumia. This shows in
daily use. In most days we were using the device, the phone would go into power-saving mode before
the end of the day. If you intend to use both SIM slots, and frequent mobile internet, you might have to
set some cash aside for a decent power bank.
This is where the Lumia 535 shines. Most users who look at this phone aren’t after top-tier specs,
though they rightly expect a decent user experience. The Lumia 535 gives you just that, at a reasonable
price point. OS issues mostly stem from my being deeply entrenched in a different one, and shouldn’t be
a problem given a few minutes of use. It’s affordable, reliable, and has a great pedigree. That’s a winner
in our book.
It’s no top tier device, but it never intended to be one, and is solid nonetheless.
Dimensions 5.52 x 2.85 x 0.35 in
Weight 146 g
Connectivity: GSM, HSPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS
Screen: IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 5.0 inches, Gorilla Glass 3
OS: Windows Phone 8.1
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 CPU: Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7
Storage: 8GB, expandable via microSD
Camera: 5 MP main, 5MP secondary