There is a lot of buzz around the Lumia 535, primarily because it is the first Lumia to not sport the Nokia brand. So this phone has Microsoft branding on the front and rear and not the Nokia branding we have all come to love and trust over the years. But this is the future, it is also the most affordable Lumia at the moment. But how good is it in comparison with its predecessors the Nokia Lumia 520 and 530, as well as its competition in phones like the Xiaomi Redmi Note. We took the phone for a spin.
Specs: 5-inch (540x960p, ~220 ppi) IPS LCD display | 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 quad-core processor | 1GB RAM | 8GB internal storage, expandable up to 128GB | 5MP front and rear camera | 1905 mAh battery | daul SIM slots | Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Denim
Price: Rs 9,199
Design: There are some things that comes to your mind when you hear the word Lumia. And the most prominent of these are the vibrant colours and candy bar design. The Lumia 535 stays true to the rest of the family and carries the Lumia features ahead. The power and volume buttons are on the right and there are no capacitive buttons under the display. The black bezel around the screen is a bit too thick for my liking. The phone is not very heavy, but the super smooth rear might make it tough to grip.
Display: This 5-inch display has to be one of the better things about the phone, especially since the Lumia 530 had a 4-inch screen. Given the price, the display is large and clear. The viewing angles could have been better, but then you cannot have everything in this range. However, Microsoft has to realise that it is in a market where a lot of OEMs can now offer HD at this price point.
Performance: The Lumia phones have always been able to make the best out of their processors. So while the 1.2GHz processor might not sound very exciting on paper, the actual user experience is much superior. There were times when I wanted an app, especially the camera app, to start faster. But the lag is not consistent and at the next instant the same app will open in a jiffy. The lack of consistency in the experience presented itself more than once during the course of the review.
Software: This is where I am not that happy with this phone. The first grouse is something that you will have to grapple with every single moment you are using the phone. The Back, Home and Search button, which are under the display are not capacitive buttons in this phone. Nor are they anchored to the screen all the time. Initially, while opening an app I had not clue how to go back. It was after some time that I figured out that the three elusive buttons need to be conjured up with a flick up from the bottom of the screen. That is a good way to complicate things. Plus, at this price point I things Microsoft should try and make the phone easier to use for first time smartphone buyers. There is just too much text and instructions here for that kind of user.
Camera: It is sort of given than the Lumia camera is good. That is the kind of trust we have in what Nokia has given us. The results of the back camera are rich and deep in sunlight. However, in low light or when you are shooting with artificial light they appear flat and corrected. I faced the same issue with the front facing selfie camera. The pictures appeared as if the beauty mode has been applied by default. This might not be the best Lumia camera around, but it could still be among the best photography options in this price point.
Storage: The phone uses up close to 5GB out of the 8GB storage. So you will need to buy a SD card along with the phone to use it well.
Battery: The battery will last you till the end of your working day. For a few hours more, keep the screen brightness to minimum.
Special Mention: This phone has the best speakers under Rs 10,000. There is no other phone which I have tested that can play music better in this range. When you add this to super mix of songs that Mixradio offers you, it becomes a good value proposition, especially for the youth.
Verdict: When the Nokia Lumia 520 was launched it was without a doubt the best phone under Rs 10,000. But the Lumia 535 finds itself in a very different world, a world in which there are at least a handful of phone cheaper than it, but as good or better. It is still one of the best phones in this price range and those who are hooked to the Microsoft ecosystem will definitely find more value with the phone than the others. Buy this phone if you want a good large screen, a different experience than the one Android offers, a good camera and free access to a bunch of Microsoft services.