Mi­crosoft Lu­mia 535

Tech Advisor - - REVIEWS - Jim Martin

The Lu­mia 535 isn’t the cheap­est in the Lu­mia Win­dows Phone range: that hon­our goes to the Lu­mia 430. And at £100, the 535 has plenty of com­pe­ti­tion from bud­get An­droid smartphone­s, though, it also of­fers a lot more than its pre­de­ces­sor, the Lu­mia 530 (tinyurl.com/oaxpfks).

Su­per­fi­cially, the 535 looks like the 530, but it’s a much more grown-up smart­phone. The screen has in­creased from 4- to 5in and it has also slimmed down to un­der 9mm thick. The 535 mea­sures 140x73x8.8mm and weighs 146g.

The screen has a res­o­lu­tion of 960x540, which is poor in 2015, but at least it’s an IPS dis­play. It equates to a just-ac­cept­able pixel den­sity of 220ppi, and it’s cov­ered in Go­rilla Glass 3.

If this is your first smart­phone, you prob­a­bly won’t mind the limited view­ing an­gles and lack­lus­tre colours (and con­trast) too much. Part of the prob­lem is that the LCD panel isn’t lam­i­nated to the cover glass, so it looks as if it’s sunken in­side the phone. Over­all it isn’t a patch on al­ter­na­tives, such as the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Moto G’s (tinyurl. com/kcb7c5n) screen, but it’s just about us­able out­doors.

One of our big­gest is­sues is with the touch­screen. Mi­crosoft has al­ready is­sued a soft­ware up­date to fix the worst of the prob­lems, but we found the slight­est ac­ci­den­tal touch by your palm or even us­ing your fin­ger at the slightly wrong an­gle meant ei­ther an er­rant swipe or an un­recog­nised tap re­spec­tively. When typing, we fre­quently saw char­ac­ters dou­bled up and only by de­lib­er­ately slow­ing down could we get it to work prop­erly.

The 535 is un­mis­tak­ably a Lu­mia Win­dows phone, es­pe­cially if you opt for the bright green or or­ange ver­sions. How­ever, since the rear cov­ers pop off, you can swap them around at will (there are black and white cov­ers if you want to be more dis­crete).

We found the su­per-glossy green ver­sion slip­pery to han­dle and al­most dropped it more than once while try­ing to take pho­tos. The good news is that there are frontand rear-fac­ing cam­eras and the back cam­era has an LED (which is par­tic­u­larly handy as a torch).

There’s a head­phone jack at the top and a Mi­cro-USB port at the bot­tom. On the right are the usual power and vol­ume rocker but­tons, but no shut­ter but­ton for the cam­era.

One of the sac­ri­fices you’ll make by choos­ing a Lu­mia 535 is the pro­ces­sor. It may be a quad-core CPU, but it’s an old Snap­dragon 200 run­ning at 1.2GHz. It’s backed by 1GB of RAM, which gives the 535 a bet­ter chance of be­ing up­grade­able to Win­dows 10: phones with 512MB of mem­ory prob­a­bly won’t be able to run it.

We saw a re­sult of 1295ms in SunSpi­der 1.0.2, which shows this is no speed de­mon, and in gen­eral use the 535 is a lit­tle slug­gish and lacks the im­me­di­ate re­sponse you ex­pect from a mod­ern smart­phone.

There’s 8GB of stor­age (with slightly over 4GB avail­able for use out of the box), but you can in­sert a mi­croSD card to ex­pand the ca­pac­ity by up to 128GB.

The phone also has 802.11n Wi-Fi, Blue­tooth 4 and GPS, plus am­bi­ent light and prox­im­ity sen­sors. There’s no sup­port for 4G, just 3G.

One of the bet­ter fea­tures is the front-fac­ing wide-an­gle cam­era. It has the same 5Mp res­o­lu­tion as the rear cam­era, mak­ing it tech­ni­cally bet­ter than even the iPhone 6 Plus.

The bad news is that pho­tos aren’t great even in brightly lit rooms: they’re grainy and a lit­tle fuzzy. On oc­ca­sion, we also saw painful shut­ter lag which meant pho­tos weren’t ac­tu­ally taken un­til a sec­ond or two af­ter tap­ping the screen. That meant plenty of blurry snaps as we’d moved the phone think­ing the photo was taken.

Oddly, though, video is shot at 848x480 so video clips are very poor. As well as lack­ing de­tail, they’re also wob­bly since there’s no sta­bil­i­sa­tion. They’re just about us­able as part of a Face­book feed, just so long as no-one tries to watch them full-screen on a PC.

Win­dows Phone 8.1 has many strengths and is a great mo­bile OS. As well as Cor­tana – your dig­i­tal as­sis­tant – you get Here Drive+ (a great sat­nav app that can work off­line) and free on­line stor­age via OneDrive. Skype is built in as is Mi­crosoft Of­fice.

The prob­lem is that you won’t nec­es­sar­ily find all your favourite apps in the Win­dows store. The se­lec­tion is bet­ter than it was but there are still gap­ing holes.

Ver­dict

When spend­ing £100 there are in­evitably some com­pro­mises. With the Lu­mia 535, how­ever, they’re seem­ingly ev­ery­where: screen res­o­lu­tion and qual­ity, video res­o­lu­tion, per­for­mance – the list goes on. There are bet­ter bud­get phones out there.

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