The Lumia 535 fixes Microsoft's low-end problem with Windows Phone but will anyone see it?

The Lumia 535 fixes many of the Lumia 530's ills, but comes at an odd time

Late last night, Microsoft announced the Lumia 535, the latest addition in the admittedly growing and confusing Lumia line. The Lumia 535 is confusing because it borrows many of the strong points from the Lumia 630 and Lumia 730 line, blurring the differences between the two.

Having said that, the phone itself is in many ways a welcome addition, mostly because it addresses many of the concern reviewers have had with the 5xx line of Lumias.

What is gained by the Lumia 535

For around $135 USD (110 EUR before taxes and subsidies), the Lumia 535 seemingly hits on all the important factors that go into an affordable, entry-level Windows Phone. For instance, over the Lumia 530, the Lumia 535 gains the following in features:

  • 1-inch larger IPS-type display
  • Double-tap to wake
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • 8 GB of internal memory (vs 4 GB)
  • 1GB of RAM (vs 512 MB)
  • Larger 1905 mAh battery (vs. 1430mAh)
  • 5 MP front-facing camera (vs. no FF camera)
  • Auto-focus for the rear camera (vs fixed focus)
  • LED Flash (vs. no flash)

Granted, the Lumia 535 does tack on around 25 Euro (or around $30 USD) for those extra features – nothing is free. Still, if there were ever complaints about the Lumia 530, the Lumia 535 goes the extra mile to address them.

Features like front-facing cameras, especially ones at 5 MP, along with larger displays is where the market is heading in late 2014. Adding a flash for the rear camera along with a higher quality Gorilla Glass IPS display is also a perfect addition. Finally, the 1 GB of RAM address the biggest complaint, since 512 MB can often limit the ability for users to install certain games.

Microsoft Nokia Lumia 535

Differences between Lumia 630 and Lumia 535

There are a few differences between the Lumia 630 and Lumia 535, but the are few:

  • Lumia 630 has a ClearBlack Display polarizer for richer colors
  • Lumia 630 has a slightly more powerful Snapdragon 400 CPU
  • ~1 hour less battery life (Wi-Fi browsing time)
  • BeiDou for GPS navigation

The Lumia 635 is a 4G LTE variant of the Lumia 630, something that is not available for the 3G-only Lumia 535.

However, what is lost pales to what is gained by the Lumia 535 over the Lumia 630, including:

  • More RAM (1 GB vs. 512 MB)
  • Larger display (4.5-inch versus 5-inch) with no loss in PPI density
  • Flash for the rear camera
  • Front-facing camera
  • Ambient light sensor

Considering the Lumia 535 comes in at around $25 cheaper than the Lumia 630, you can begin to see why the Lumia 630 is not seen as much as a value anymore.

Microsoft Nokia Lumia 535

Limited availability?

Perhaps the one catch is right now the Lumia 535 is only starting sales in China, Hong Kong, and Bangladesh. For US markets, sources familiar tell us that no carrier here has yet picked up the phone for release, which would happen until early 2015 at this point. With its lack of 4G LTE, I do not see the Lumia 535 ever coming to the US. It is also not clear if the Lumia 535 will make it to other markets, including Europe or India.

Indeed, the Lumia 525, is a device that also had very limited availability, despite it adding more RAM to the Lumia 520's chassis. The Lumia 535 may be following in its footsteps, though I hope to hear more in the coming months.

Microsoft Lumia 535

Mixed messages

On paper, the Lumia 535 is the type of entry-level Windows Phone users would like to see around the globe. It hits all of the sweet spots for modern hardware, while still coming in at an affordable price. In that sense, Microsoft nailed it.

The flipside is Microsoft's Lumia line is becoming increasingly fragmented and confusing. The Lumia 525 merely doubled the RAM of the Lumia 520, but otherwise it was exactly the same phone. The Lumia 535 though is different in every which way from the Lumia 530. Heck, it even outpaces the Lumia 630, making its 5xx designation, well, odd.

To be fair, Microsoft has inherited a lot from Nokia, though it behooves them to reconsider so many different Lumias, and instead focus on fewer models with a more consistent differentiation between price-points.

Having said that, I am excited about taking the Lumia 535 for a spin and hope to see a global release of the new hardware in the near future.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.