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Microsoft Lumia 535 review

Andy Vandervell

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Reviewed:

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Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
  • Microsoft Lumia 535

Summary

Our Score:

6

Pros

  • Large, 5-inch screen
  • High-res, wide-angle front camera
  • Changeable covers

Cons

  • Iffy build quality
  • So-so battery life
  • Unresponsive screen

Key Features

  • 5-inch, 960 x 540 screen; Snapdragon 200 processor; 5MP cameras front and rear; 8GB of storage; microSD slot
  • Manufacturer: Microsoft
  • Review Price: £100.00

First reviewed 23rd December, 2014

What is the Microsoft Lumia 535?

The Lumia 535 is Microsoft’s 5-inch follow-up to the disappointing Nokia Lumia 530. The small 4-inch screen makes way for a larger 5-inch display as Microsoft seeks to deliver what it thinks is the definitive budget smartphone.

The most sought-after change, though, is the removal of the awful fixed-focus camera. This was rubbish at taking pictures and has thankfully been replaced with a camera that packs both autofocus and an LED flash. The front camera has also had a boost and is now a selfie takers dream, since it packs a decent-sized 5-megapixel sensor.

On the surface the Lumia 535 appears to be a great budget phone and with a dual-SIM version available in some regions appears to strike all the right notes. Available SIM-free for under £70 there aren’t many 5-inch smartphones that will beat it on price either. It’s disappointing to see, then, that a handful of careless mistakes cost it dearly.

Related: Mobile Phone Buyer's Guide

Smartphones Buyers Guide

Microsoft Lumia 535 – Design & Features

The vibrant replaceable covers are available in orange, black, grey, green, white and cyan and give the Lumia 535 a more premium look than its low price would suggest. The shiny orange version that we have is our least favourite, but the matte plastic options – black, grey, white and cyan – are especially pleasing on the eye.

The vibrant design does its best to distract from some of the Lumia 535’s niggling issues but it won’t fool you all the time. Parts of the removable cover don’t fit as precisely as they should do, which results in subtle but noticeable ‘creaks’ when picking the phone up. It’s a minor fit-and-finish issue that all of the extra money you will have saved will help you forget, but it’s still noticeable.

Related: Best Cheap Smartphones Round-up

More difficult to ignore is how the case and battery sometimes become dislodged when dropped. We spilled the Lumia 535 onto a thin carpet five or six times, and the case and battery continuously came out. If the handset landed on its corner, it was more or less a certainty. The screen is made from Gorilla Glass so it’s sturdier and scratch-free, but that’s of little consolation. No matter what the price, this isn’t good enough of any mainstream smartphone.

On a brighter note, Microsoft doesn't skip corners too much elsewhere. The 8GB of built-in storage should prove ample for lighter users. If that's not enough then there's a microSD card slot, too. You don't get 4G at this price, but you do get Bluetooth 4.0 and – unlike some cheaper phones – it has an ambient light sensor as well.

Related: Best Windows Phone Round-up

Microsoft Lumia 535 – Screen

Most cheap phones have smaller, 4-inch or so screens, so the 5-inch Lumia 535 stands out in comparison. It's one of the reasons it doesn't look like a cheap phone – its size puts it in similar company to much more expensive rivals.

We couldn’t call the screen anything more than adequate, though, despite Microsoft’s use of IPS display tech. We found the viewing angle quite shallow, with a noticeable loss of detail when viewed slightly off-centre. IPS screens normally have excellent viewing angles, so it just goes to show that IPS isn't an automatic guarantor of quality.

Related: Best Android Phones Round-up

Colours are somewhat muted and whites have a slightly blue-ish hue at lower brightness levels, but we've seen much worse screens on phones at this price. Some might argue the 960 x 540 resolution (220ppi) is a tad low for a 5-inch phone – and they’d have a point if the Lumia 535 cost £150, but it doesn't.

More importantly, outdoor visibility is very good – an area cheaper phones often struggle with. Our only criticism here is that the ambient sensor often sets the screen a little dimmer than we'd like, but this is easily overridden.

Surprisingly, however, our biggest frustration with the screen was its touch-sensitivity – a problem we don’t often have to complain about anymore. We occasionally suffered missed presses when typing, which is very irritating.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

chancooluk

December 23, 2014, 5:11 pm

The touch sensitivity problem is being fixed in a software update which was pushed out to a few countries yesterday, so this will likely not be a problem when the phone hits the UK.

beamerman

December 23, 2014, 5:13 pm

6/10 rating seems a bit harsh given the low price point for the phone. Whilst there are some limitations to Windows Phone there are many aspects of the OS that are much nicer than Android or iOS.

Moshiur

December 25, 2014, 5:51 pm

I am from Bangladesh. Brother the touch problem is so acute that at times you feel like just throw the set out in the garbage. And software update won't hit soon.I read in GSMarena that on 27th December update will hit Vietnum and only single sim version. In other region it is still unknown. I also heard that touch issue is for faulty hardware. I hope that is not true but If that is true than future for MS as a mobile manufacturer is grim. Sorry for my poor english.

andyvan

December 29, 2014, 11:16 am

I understand why you say that, it was a tough call. The build quality problems really turned things for me. It is, for the most part, an above average cheap phone, but I don't think it's acceptable for any phone (no matter the price) to fall apart if you drop it.

Better build quality would earn in it a 7. If that and the screen problems were sorted then it might nudge an 8, but the build quality can't be fixed with software update.

beamerman

December 29, 2014, 11:24 am

Thanks for the reply. I've not got the phone so comment was based on reading the review. Agree that build quality and responsive screen are essentials. A shame - seems that Lumia's are going backwards.

Jacksept

January 1, 2015, 2:18 am

The touch issue on the Microsoft Lumia 535 is not fixed with the latest software update. Hold off your purchase for now until the touch issue on the Microsoft Lumia. 535 is resolved.

The video shows Microsoft Lumia 535 had been updated, reset and the touch issue remains.
http://quickvid.org/watch.php?...

bertbopper

January 9, 2015, 1:58 pm

Nokia's ALWAYS fall apart when you drop them. It is the preferred design choice, and it works since the legendary 3310. Falling apart means better fall recovery. It is a big plus over the average fall-and-crack Samsung or Apple. In case the shell breaks or bumps, for 20 bucks you have a new one and the phone looks like new again.

This phone should earn a 9: it has the best mobile OS, Windows Phone beats iOS and Crapdroid with ease, you get way better basic functionality with OneNote, Office, Here Drive, Cortana, Skype. There is zero bloatware, WP8 is the only os that does the home screen right (no crappy pages to scroll through)
Few apps in the store: boy it is a relief! Apple's store and Google Play are giving you a straight overdose of choices. I really like the store having 5% of the apps. And apps are dead anyway. Mobile sites are the new apps in 2015.

And biggest plus: it makes ass out of anyone spending 5-fold on a phone. Heck to a faster processor, better GPU, higher megapixels. The thing works, looks awesome (as in better than a iPhone 6 plus), yet leaves you money for a free ticket to New York. It might have yesteryears top of the line specs, but who cares, any phone is obsolete in a year.

manoj garg

January 17, 2015, 4:21 pm

in microsoft lumia 535 it is very difficult to operate facebook

sougamo

February 7, 2015, 5:20 pm

Either you have a Nokia dumb phone or a smartphone, they always fall apart, so there is less force applied to the back cover and the chassis of the phone. It is the best way to minimize damage and avoid service centers. Back covers were always cheap and they are sold in wide color variety.

DD-Indeed

May 22, 2015, 2:15 pm

I bought this phone couple day ago. Yes, there is that touch-issue, it wasn't too bad in original condition, but got worse after I updated the phone's software. But, you can live with it, you just have to be patient. Built quality is good, so I don't quite go with the reviewer's thoughts. But what I really like after many years of using Samsung-phones with Android OS, is the smoothness, functionality and looks of the Windows 8.1 OS. And that will give it a huuuuge plus over every Android-machine. Performance is really good and smooth and while there is couple things more in the Android, that you can do, I don't miss them at all. This is by far, best phone I have ever bought and best value for money, when it comes to the software side, only time will tell, if it's reliable on the hardware side.

I bet it is.

Steve

May 22, 2015, 5:36 pm

I love my new Microsoft Lumia 535, but I have noticed the battery needs to be recharged almost daily :(. Is it possible to replace the 1905 mAh battery with a 2300 mAh battery, or will it cause damage to the phone?

DD-Indeed

May 29, 2015, 7:00 am

Hmm, I think it should be possible to change, as long as the voltage is same. You could ask that from Microsoft.

Salmirik

June 24, 2015, 11:50 am

You are very rude with this phone. It had really bad screen responsivness but now it's over, Microsoft is going to change every single screen whith this pb. Don't hesitate, it's free! And now, it's the best phone i ever bought, responsive screen, OS is very light and efficient (compared with android wich is heavy and need very high specs to run well). Yes, the store is poor, but what do you really need? For me, it's the best phone ever and it's really cheap!

bertbopper

August 9, 2015, 8:22 pm

The problems of the 535 are fixed in the more than excellent 640 series.

jai pal Singh

August 25, 2015, 6:12 pm

do not get proper signals with lumia 535 bought in june end 2015. did not have this problem with other models like nokia basic model and samsung models. no signals in basement also. imei no 359771063426426.order id 171-1856391-8579548, dated 15/6/2015.through amazon. no response on customer care. j p singh,9313620990

Daniela Armanda Aguirre

August 25, 2015, 11:37 pm

Would you recommend that phone to me?
I wanted to replace my Motorola Defy, but some people sayd 530 model has not very well performance, but seems it's improved on 535.
My use for it is a couple of chat applications and a couple of games (not the heavy ones), and a gameboy advance emulator.

Eric B

August 29, 2015, 9:11 am

This phone is terrible. I can barely use it to type a 3 worded SMS message without it having a fit. I have serious issues with the touch screen - if I have even the slightest bit of perspiration I cannot use this phone. It is a constant source of frustration and I hate it.

Valentin Vasile

December 30, 2015, 7:33 am

for the gba emulator,open the store,search for my boy and download the trial version of it.Its only downside is that the paid version is needed for savestates

keith rider

May 3, 2016, 6:21 pm

Great phone. Only hassle is that you need to recharge it every two days.

keith rider

May 3, 2016, 6:21 pm

Tescos are doing them at a good price.

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