If you're in the market to buy a new, low-cost Microsoft Lumia phone right now, it's a potentially frustrating and confusing place to be. Not least because as of today we've now got a Lumia 530, a Lumia 532 and a Lumia 535 to choose from. To the unsuspecting consumer this closeness in naming means they're similar phones, right? Especially when you consider the Lumia 630/635 and the Lumia 730/735 are basically the same phone.
Regulars in the Windows Central community might be a little more savvy on the differences, but for many others the naming is only the first potentially confusing part of choosing. Here we break it down and try to make some sense of what's what.
Pretty close. In fact the thing that makes the Lumia 535 stand out immediately is the screen size, packing a full extra inch over the 530 and 532. So at least if you get chance to see them all side-by-side in a store, then there's the biggest difference. But, even when you look at the specs on paper, they're all very, very similar.
The biggest difference the 530 has underneath is only 512MB of RAM. With the latest phones from Microsoft coming with 1GB of RAM even at the budget end, app and game limitations based on this are eliminated. Also notable is that 8GB of onboard storage now seems to be the base level. In this situation, more is always better.
Numbers aren't the only story, though. For example the Lumia 535 has auto-focus on its 5MP camera and an LED flash. The other two do not. And it's certainly the choice of the three for the selfie aficionado.
And since they all run – or will soon, depending on where in the world you are right now – the latest version of Windows Phone and Lumia Denim, it's a wash on that front.
So, all three are very similar in terms of hardware and software, but the differences are key. The Lumia 535 is definitely a step up from the other two. Despite the closeness in its name.
So, which one should I buy?
This one's easier to start answering by saying which one you shouldn't buy. If you're in a location where you can choose from all three, the Lumia 530 is probably the one to avoid. While much of the hardware is on par with the 532 and even in some regards the 535, the important differences are what makes it the 'worst' choice of the three. 512MB of RAM and 4GB of onboard storage aren't going to give you the same experience as double in both cases.
After that it comes partly down to price. The Lumia 532 is set to cost around €79 when it goes on sale while the Lumia 535 is around the €110 mark. Not a huge difference and with the added benefits of a larger display, auto-focus and an LED flash on the camera, it's the one we'd recommend if you can afford the extra cash.
What's also clear is that the Lumia 530 should either be due for a price reduction or even be discontinued altogether. The Lumia 532 is the clear winner from those two.
If you've got your own pointers to add, be sure to drop them into the comments below!
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine