Microsoft Lumia 535 – First impressions of the latest budget Windows Phone

The Lumia 520 was in many ways just as iconic as the Lumia 920 but for very different reasons. The unassuming low-end device took the Windows Phone by storm, quickly becoming one of the top-selling devices ever for the fledgling OS. Fast forward to 2014 and low-end Windows Phones dominate the scene.

The Lumia 535 is the first Windows Phone with the Microsoft banner emblazoned across it instead of Nokia. The phone likely emerged during Nokia's tenure, but Microsoft is taking the credit on the packaging. Budget phones are tough to write about, but the Lumia 535 appears to get so much right when compared to the Lumia 530 and Lumia 635 it is hard to not get a little excited about it.

Let us not beat around the bush: the Lumia 535 should be the low-end device for Windows Phone. The Lumia 530 is not a bad phone per se it is just the 'value to dollar' ratio seems off, considering how much is omitted. The Lumia 635 is an outstanding device putting aside the ridiculous 512 MB RAM limitation and no front-facing camera. The Lumia 535 though hits all the right notes though and for most users on a budget it is the ideal phone.

Lumia 535 specifications

  • Single and dual-SIM variants
  • Windows Phone 8.1 (build 14192) with Lumia Denim
  • 5-inch IPS LCD (960 x 540), Gorilla Glass 3
  • 1.2 GHz quad-core processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 200
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 8 GB storage
  • Ambient light sensor
  • MicroSD card support (Up to 128 GB)
  • Removable 1905 mAh battery (13-hour talk-time)
  • 5MP rear camera with auto-focus and LED flash
  • 5MP front-facing fixed-focus camera
  • Six colors: green, orange, white, black, grey or cyan (swappable covers)

Coming in at just 146 grams and 8.8 mm thin, the Lumia 535 is the perfect weight and size for a 5-inch phone. It just feels outstanding in the hand with its curved edges and removable polycarbonate back. The specs also 'fix' everything that is wrong with the Lumia 530:

  • Larger, better display
  • More RAM to run all apps and games
  • Autofocus rear camera with a flash; a 5MP front-facing camera
  • More internal storage
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Double-tap-to-wake; audio equalizer, virtual surround for headphones

Even compared to the Lumia 635, the Lumia 535 edges it out in some areas (though the Lumia 635 has the enviable ClearBlack display and 4G LTE support).

Overall, the Lumia 535 brings a lot to the table and seemingly makes up for the odd Lumia 530 and the almost-perfect Lumia 635. At 5-inches, it is the ideal size for 2015 and just feels great to hold and use. For those in emerging markets where dual-SIM is preferred, the Lumia 535 even has that as an option. One issue I did notice was touch-sensitivity was a little low for my tastes, resulting in occasional mis-taps on the display.

Considering the price for the Lumia 535 should be between $130-160 off contract, depending on SIM configuration and regional taxes, it is a phone that Microsoft can be proud to put their name on. Throw LTE on this and release it in the States, and this phone could make a splash.

In conclusion, so far I am quite impressed with the Microsoft Lumia 535.

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.