Introduction

It's a Lumia like the rest of them. A new youth player promoted to the first team, which will have no trouble blending in. It's just a different name on the familiar kit. Microsoft is starting from the bottom up - an entry level handset, no redesign to speak of. Lights will soon be out on Nokia Devices but Redmond isn't in a hurry to challenge the Finnish-made flagships just yet.

Yes, the Lumia 535 is just like the rest of them. Sensible, reliable, affordable. The closest thing to a risk it's taking is screen size. Five inches of screen diagonal isn't unheard of at the low end but it's still a massive step up from the Lumia 520, which is the obvious predecessor.

The Microsoft Lumia 535 does well to up the resolution accordingly. qHD isn't ideal on a 5" screen but the pixel density is effectively matching that of a Lumia 520 - it's what matters after all from a user perspective.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Microsoft Lumia 535 official pictures

The Microsoft Lumia 535 probably uses the Nokia Lumia 520's camera and adds an LED flash to it. The predecessor had no front camera whatsoever and the Lumia 535 boasts a wide-angle, high-res selfie cam, as seen on the Nokia Lumia 735. The CPU has got an extra couple of cores - true, it's Qualcomm's cheapest but Windows _phone_ is known for running smooth on all sorts of hardware.

Here goes the Microsoft Lumia 535 complete package.

Key features

  • 5" IPS display of qHD (540 x 960 px) resolution, Gorilla Glass 3
  • 1.2 GHz quad-core Cortex-A7 CPU, Adreno 302 GPU, Snapdragon 200 chipset, 1GB of RAM
  • Dual SIM with dual standby
  • Windows _phone_ 8.1 with Lumia Denim
  • 5MP autofocus camera with 480p video recording @30fps
  • 5MP front-facing camera
  • 8GB of inbuilt storage, microSD card slot, up to 128GB
  • Free worldwide voice-guided navigation with HERE Drive+
  • 15GB of free OneDrive storage
  • FM Radio
  • 1,905mAh Li-Ion battery

Main disadvantages

  • The screen has low pixel density (not awfully visible, to be fair)
  • No Glance screen
  • Low battery capacity, especially for a dual SIM smartphone
  • Low-res video recording

The neat design with the usually rich color options has always been part of the deal in the Lumia range. It's a budget WP smartphone we're talking about with a big screen and a high-res front camera. Not bad in terms of selling points considering the price is more than acceptable.

The screen isn't ridiculously pixel-rich but the extra size has its advantages in navigation, web browsing and office tasks.

The biggest turn-off is video recording - although the phone doesn't pretend to be anything special, 480p video isn't doing it a favor. Maybe it made sense to Microsoft to do proper 480p rather than poor 720p (Lumia 520), but we're merely guessing here. It's not the Snapdragon 200 to blame, it's not the single gig of RAM either. 480p video doesn't quite make sense on a device with higher than WVGA screen resolution.

To make up for it, the Lumia 535 is the second Lumia phone to offer a wide-angle 5MP front camera. It's entirely up to you how that's a benefit - selfies or Skype video calls.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Microsoft Lumia 535 live pictures

The big screen, the dual SIM capabilities, the high-res front facer and the light price tag will sure raise the Lumia 535 above the majority of entry-level smartphones. We're about to test its real-life performance and see how it stacks against its siblings and the competition from outside the WP camp.

Let's get started.

Unboxing the Microsoft Lumia 535

Microsoft Lumia 535 comes in a familiar moderately-sized retail box, similar to previous Lumia packages. It contains just the basics - a microUSB charger and some paperwork. There is no bundled headset or a data cable.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Lumia 535 Dual SIM's retail package

We found out the bundle for the Asian markets also includes a basic headset. Sill no data cable though. So, the box contents depend on where you get it from.

Design and build quality

The Microsoft Lumia 535 is a familiar sight - an upsized Lumia 530 and Lumia 630. The simple, laid-back styling has become a Lumia trademark, and that applies to budget handsets and flagships alike. Being an affordable device, Microsoft Lumia 535 isn't particularly slim, nor is its finish anything special.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

The price tag of the first Lumia phone to wear the Microsoft logo wouldn't have justified any experiments with the design. It looks very consistent with the rest of the lineup - some might find this rather repetitive but we wouldn't blame an entry level phone. The multiple color options and exchangeable rear covers do help the Lumia lineup appeal to different demographics.

The Microsoft Lumia 535 can be purchased in orange, green, gray, blue, black or white. And if you want to try another paintjob later, a new original rear cover costs just a few bucks.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Microsoft Lumia 535

So, the new logo front and rear aside, the rest of the Lumia 535 is pretty familiar. Corning Gorilla Glass 3 is covering the entire front and a removable, glossy green, battery cover warps around the sides of the device as well. If you're wary of the glossy finish because of fingerprint smudges, some of the exchangeable covers are matte (such as the black option).

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Handling the Lumia 535

Handling the Lumia 535 is quite comfortable, even though the glossy green version we tested can get quite slippery with use. The phone is pretty much as big as an iPhone 6, just not as thin which actually helps a more secure hold. The Microsoft Lumia 535 will easily slip in most pockets.

Controls

The Nokia Lumia 535 front is all black with two small slits - one for the earpiece above the display and a very tiny one for the mouthpiece below the screen. The front camera of the Lumia 535 is a wide-angle 5MP unit, which reportedly is optimized for Skype video conferencing.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

The Lumia 535's front

There is nothing on the left, while the right side has the volume rocker and power/lock key. Both controls are prominent enough to locate by touch, offer a solid press and are finished in the same glossy or matte plastic as the battery cover.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

A peek at Lumia 630's left and right sides

The top of the Lumia 535 has the 3.5mm audio jack, while the bottom accommodates the microUSB port for charging and PC connections. If you want to use the Mass Storage mode on the Microsoft Lumia 535 you'd have to either buy a microUSB cable separately or use one from an old phone.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

The top and bottom of the Lumia 535

The big change around back is definitely the Microsoft logo but you'll certainly notice a LED flash too, if you compare it to the likes of the Nokia-made Lumia 520 or 630. The 5MP autofocus camera is centered near the top, a small loudspeaker grille all the way across at the bottom.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Lumia 535 at the back

Removing the battery cover is quite hard, as it requires some bending and twisting of the phone. We suggest prying at the bottom - it pops up more easily this way. Once you've removed the cover you'll get access to the pair of microSIM compartments and the microSD card slot that supports up to 128GB cards. Neither of the SIMs is hot-swappable, but luckily you can hot-swap the memory card.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

What's under the battery cover

Display

The Microsoft Lumia 535 packs a 5.0" IPS display of qHD resolution (540 x 960 pixels). The pixel density of 220ppi provides acceptable sharpness and the image quality is surprisingly good.

Colors are nice and punchy and viewing angles are quite decent too. There's little color and contrast loss even if you look at it at an extreme angle.

Here's a microscopic image of the screen's RGB matrix - it does come with a standard pixel arrangement.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Although we found the blacks and pixel density of the Lumia 535 to be only average we should note that the contrast is very good, particularly for this price range.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Microsoft Lumia 535 0.26 312 1188 0.45 458 1118
Nokia Lumia 630 0.24 184 764 0.71 508 771
Nokia Lumia 830 0.21 223 1087 0.49 533 1078
Sony Xperia M2 0.33 325 989 0.64 643 1000
Nokia Lumia 735 258 363
HTC One mini 2 0.19 220 1141 0.42 501 1196
Nokia Lumia 1320 0.34 341 1008 0.62 671 1089


Unfortunately the smartphone did poorly in our sunlight legibility test, the screen is very reflective and almost unusable outdoors in a bright sunny day.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    4.033
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
    3.799
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    3.675
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    3.567
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3.565
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    3.547
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    3.527
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    3.512
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3.509
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.487
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.42
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    3.174
  • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Samsung I8730 Galaxy Express
    2.861
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • HTC Desire Eye
    2.815
  • Gionee Elife S5.1
    2.812
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.79
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2.618
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia T3
    2.609
  • BlackBerry Passport
    2.595
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro
    2.416
  • LG G Flex
    2.407
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Meizu MX4
    2.366
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    2.352
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • HTC One (M8) for Windows
    2.291
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • Nokia Asha 311
    2.25
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    2.193
  • HTC One (E8)
    2.185
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    2.17
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Nokia Lumia 620
    2.142
  • Nokia 515
    2.134
  • HTC Desire 500
    2.129
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    2.119
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    2.103
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • Sony Xperia SL
    2.078
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    2.056
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    2.024
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    2.022
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    1.992
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Oppo R819
    1.957
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • Sony Xperia E3
    1.943
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    1.941
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.94
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • Sony Xperia J
    1.932
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    1.931
  • LG Nexus 4
    1.926
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
    1.913
  • Nokia Asha 308
    1.911
  • HTC Butterfly 2
    1.905
  • Sony Xperia T
    1.894
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    1.887
  • HTC Desire X
    1.878
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • HTC Windows phone 8X
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly S
    1.867
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    1.845
  • LG G2 mini
    1.838
  • LG G3
    1.82
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    1.813
  • HTC Desire 616 dual sim
    1.797
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.783
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    1.769
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • LG Optimus G
    1.753
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.74
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
    1.735
  • Sony Xperia SP
    1.733
  • Oppo Find 7
    1.691
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.68
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    1.672
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • LG Optimus 3D Max
    1.658
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
    1.632
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Sony Xperia go
    1.577
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160
    1.566
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320
    1.488
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Oppo N1
    1.47
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1.462
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos
    1.4
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.393
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    1.38
  • Sony Xperia E1
    1.372
  • Nokia Lumia 625
    1.371
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
    1.35
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1.35
  • HTC Desire 510
    1.34
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1.331
  • Sony Xperia miro
    1.324
  • Samsung I9082 Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    1.315
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Nokia Asha 503
    1.281
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.27
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Nokia Lumia 510
    1.268
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame
    1.245
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Samsung Galaxy Young
    1.22
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215
  • Nokia XL
    1.204
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176C
    1.198
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.18
  • Nokia Asha 305
    1.178
  • Nokia Asha 306
    1.175
  • Sony Xperia neo L
    1.169
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    1.161
  • Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos
    1.148
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

We notice the touch input is not as accurate as on other Lumia smartphones. We occasionally ran into issues with the touchscreen - from activating the adjacent option instead on the one we pressed on to not detecting the fingertip at all. It isn't that annoying as it sounds, but it is still something to consider as a drawback.

Battery life

The Microsoft Lumia 535 is powered by a 1,905mAh battery. According to the official stats it should be enough for about half a day of calls in a 3G network and two weeks of stand-by. Of course, we ran our own battery test and the results are in.

The Lumia 535 Dual SIM is indeed capable of lasting half a day on a call. Its browser and video playback endurance however is quite poor, while the standby performance is only average.

The Microsoft Lumia 535 posted an overall 44 hour endurance rating, meaning you can use the smartphone for about two days days if you do an hour each of calling, web browsing, and watching videos daily. It is far from impressive, even for a dual-SIM smartphone.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Our proprietary score also includes a standby battery draw test, which is not featured in our battery test scorecard but is calculated in the total endurance rating.

Connectivity

The Microsoft Lumia 535 is available in both single SIM and dual SIM versions. Both models support quad-band GSM and dual-band 3G networks. The SIM card slots are of the micro-SIM variety, while none of the models offer SIM card hot-swapping.

If you opt for the dual-SIM Lumia 535, you'll get two microSIM beds with dual stand-by functionality. Of course, once you're in a call on one of the cards, the other SIM becomes inactive.

The rest of the connectivity features available across all models include single-band Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS with GLONASS, and an FM radio with RDS. There is a microUSB 2.0 port for charging and data connections.

Mass storage mode is supported for access to the phone's built-in memory and microSD card.

There is no TV-out functionality whatsoever - wired, or wireless. Also currently, there are no Windows Phones that support USB On-the-go, so that's missing, too.

Microsoft Lumia with Microsoft Windows

The Microsoft Lumia 535 is running the latest available Windows phone 8.1 (with Update 1) out of box. The latest Lumia Denim software expansion package comes pre-installed, too. The Windows phone 8.1 major firmware update has already rolled out to Windows phone 8 devices, and represents the latest that Microsoft has to offer in a mobile OS.

The Update 1 expansion adds folder support, customizable snooze alarms, enables Cortana in UK and China, and also includes some under the hood improvements. Microsoft has recently enabled alpha testing for Cortana in France, Italy, Germany and Spain.

Let's start our tour with the lockscreen. The Lumia 535 doesn't offer Glance screen, nor is there the double-tap to wake up option. Apparently, those are reserved for the mid and high-end Lumia phones. Still, you get to choose up to six notification slots for your lockscreen, you can setup PIN unlock too.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

The Lockscreen

Once you unlock your Microsoft Lumia 535, you'll get to the familiar interface with resizable live tiles.

Under Windows phone 8.1, you can now select a background image to make some of your live tiles look more uniform. This looks great, except that not all live tiles are transparent, which can detract from the overall effect.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

The Start background

With Update 1 you can now create folders on your Start page. Using them is easy and intuitive. We have been waiting for this option for a long time.

One of the major novelties brought by Windows phone 8.1 is a unified notification center. Microsoft calls this the Action Center and you access it by pulling down from the top of the screen, just like on Android.

The Action Center lets you access quick toggles as well as various app notifications. You can swipe individual notifications off the screen or you can click the dedicated clean all key to remove them all at once. Sliding down the Action Center also reveals a battery percentage indicator below the battery icon, as well as the date and carrier network below the clock and reception icons, respectively.

The four toggles at the top are fully customizable. The available options include Airplane mode, Bluetooth, brightness, camera, internet sharing, location, project my screen, quiet hours, rotation lock, VPN, Wi-Fi, and more.

The different toggles have different actions, however: a double tap on the Wi-Fi button will get you to the Wi-Fi settings menu, while a double-tap on the Bluetooth - won't. It's a somewhat confusing inconsistency and detracts from the overall usability of the toggle system.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Customizing the notifications • choosing a quick action button

Just like on iOS, here you can customize the notifications - you can choose whether banners, sounds and vibration are available for each notification type.

Microsoft chose Apple's way of handling apps running in background - most of the apps are suspended upon hitting the Windows key and will be resumed once you bring them back. There are others, of course, such as Navigation, Cortana and Battery apps, which will continue to run in background unless you specifically kill them.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Multi-tasking

Quiet Hours mode is acts much the same as a Do Not Disturb mode - it can be set to block calls and messages over pre-defined time interval, plus it can also go on automatically during events you have marked in your calendar. Just like its competing services, Quiet Hours supports the so-called Inner Circle - the notifications from your Inner Circle will always break through. There is also an option to allow calls from people who call you more than two times in less than three minutes.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Quiet Hours

Windows phone 8.1 doesn't offer a full-featured and system-wide file manager out of the box but Microsoft allows you to download their newly released Files app, which would service the purpose of accessing the storage memory and manage all files stored there regardless of which app they are meant for.

Windows Phone, just like iOS and Android, offers Find My phone option. If you lose your phone, you can log into WindowsPhone.com with your Microsoft ID and try to locate your phone from there. Ring, lock and wipe options are available as well.

Benchmarks and performance

Microsoft Lumia 535 is powered by the low-end Snapdragon 200 chipset. It has four Cortex-A7 processor cores clocked at 1.2GHz, Adreno 302 graphics and 1GB RAM. While we've seen this CPU perform adequately across the Windows phone gang, its graphics performance is usually underwhelming.

First, we ran the multi-platform compound test BaseMark OS II, which takes in consideration CPU performance, graphics, web benchmark, and memory. The Lumia 535 posted a mid-range score, slightly lower than its S400-powered Lumia siblings. We noticed the dedicated graphics score was the one to blame for the overall lower rating.

Basemark OS II

Higher is better

  • Nokia Lumia 930
    1067
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    478
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    465
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    435
  • Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
    414

Then we ran AnTuTu for Windows Phone, which also gauges the overall system performance. Here Lumia 535 is pretty much on par with the Snapdragon 400-running Lumia 635.

AnTuTu 4

Higher is better

  • Nokia Lumia 930
    26206
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    12112
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    12095
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    12035
  • Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
    11761

Finally, we ran the JavaScript-centric Kraken benchmark and the compound BrowserMark 2.1. Internet Explorer isn't on par with today's mobile competition in this benchmark. Our impressions however are that in real-life usage, the performance differences to mobile browsers such as Chrome or Safari are negligible.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • Nokia Lumia 630
    26257
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    26542
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    26913
  • Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
    26981

BrowserMark 2.1

Higher is better

  • Nokia Lumia 735
    625
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    599
  • Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
    480
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    462

When it comes to summing up the Lumia 535 real-life performance, we'd rate it as OK. Windows phone 8.1 is smooth and lag free but we could notice some longer loading times. There were some minor UI hiccups, but those didn't ruin the overall good impression.

All default apps and the Office suite did great, but you shouldn't expect more than an average performance with the 3D games because of the low-end GPU. It will do the job for popular platformers, but you should probably tune your hopes down for Halo.

Given the Lumia 535 price tag, it performs well for the class and that's what matters.

Cortana kicks off in even more markets

Cortana, which premiered on Windows phone 8.1, is Microsoft's answer to Siri, S Voice and Google Now. It does a pretty good job with voice recognition and it has the potential of helping you out on a number of occasions throughout your day.

Cortana is very similar to Siri. The voice comes courtesy of Halo's Jen Taylor and is probably the most human-like sounding virtual assistant we've encountered. It recognizes your voice commands and questions in natural human language and provides voice feedback.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Cortana in action

So, what can Cortana actually do for you? First you need to personalize it in order to utilize its full potential. The Settings are called Notebook and are divided into Interests, Reminders, Quiet Hours, Inner Circle, Places, and Music Searches. In Interests you can assign literally everything you like and Cortana will help you track specific news, plan trips, find restaurants or bars, and more.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

You can find the answers to simple questions, put down notes and set up alarms al by your voice

Cortana supports reminders including contact-based ones - you can tell her to remind you of something next time you call some of your contacts. It also supports reminders by location (home, work, university, stores), so it can remind you to wish a coworker a happy birthday before starting with the work-related questions.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

You can turn on your Bluetooth or check the currency exchange rates • she can do fun stuff too

Cortana can also remember places, important people to you (it can even suggest such people based on your activity), plus it can actively control your quiet hours mode.

Cortana can fully interact with your phone and carry out all kind or commands related to it - make a call, send a message, add appointments, take notes, set alarms, play specific music or playlists, navigate you to locations or simply search the web. It can also turn on/off settings or give you straightforward answers to simple questions.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Asking what's for dinner • Who are you? • Settings

Cortana is also capable of checking the traffic in your city and it will remind you to leave early or warn you if your bus or train has been delayed. It can also provide alternatives routes to avoid traffic jams.

Unique among virtual assistants, Cortana can also forward your commands to third party apps, so you can for example ask it to open Skype and call some of your contacts. Only Skype, Facebook and Twitter currently support this functionality, but others should follow sooner rather than later.

As far as the speed of voice recognition is concerned, WP's virtual assistant does a fine job. Words are recognized almost in real time, and the accuracy has greatly improved since its earlier iterations.

Siri can do a lot more than Cortana today, while Google Now with its automatically appearing cards is probably the most useful of the bunch, but those two have quite a head start. Microsoft does remind you that Cortana is still in beta, so we expect even better performance and functionality once it's finalized.

Microsoft has been working hard to bring Cortana in more regions and languages as the US, UK and China are the only ones supported for now. It recently became available in early alpha version in Australia, Canada, India, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain, and it's progress but lots of people worldwide are eager to try it out. The good news is you can bypass that limitation by simply changing your region in the settings menu - no complicated hacks required.

The People Hub is great

People Hub is the phonebook that you'll find on the Microsoft Lumia 535, and is one of the more capable such applications we've seen. It supports multiple accounts, including social ones, and has multiple pages like the rest of the WP interface. The first page is your contacts list, the second one is What's New with all of your friends' social updates, then come (chat) Rooms, and Groups.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Contacts

Just like the People app, viewing a single contact also allows you to check this specific person's social updates plus you can view the complete history of exchange with this contact in one place, displayed chronologically. Everything but status updates is listed here: calls, texts (actually threads from the Messaging hub) and emails.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Viewing and editing a single contact

It is very easy to choose which SIM to be used for calling or messaging a specific contact - there is a dedicated SIM1/SIM2 switch to each contact number.

The Me tile is also available, which acts as your collective social hub - you can see all of your social updates here, post statuses across all services, and even a check-in option is available. You can send IMs to your Facebook/Twitter friends from the Me app, too.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

The Me tile

Telephony

The phone application on the Microsoft Lumia 535 shows you call history with call duration, thanks to WP 8.1 coming out of the box. There are shortcuts to voice mail, dialer and phonebook. Smart dial is not supported, but you can use Cortana to dial someone in a flash.

One new feature you'll notice in the in-call screen is the Skype button. If you hit it, your call will be automatically transferred into a free Skype video chat. Of course, the other user must have a Skype client installed plus an active internet connection. In any other case, the call will be charged as a Skype Out call.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

The call log • the in-call screen with Skype integration

Each SIM card has separate phone and Messaging apps, so there is very little chance that you accidentally use the wrong SIM. The People Hub offers a comfy switch to each number, so you can easily choose the card you wish to initiate the call from.

Managing the two SIM cards is very easy and is possible via the settings menu. There you can choose which SIM card will be used for data traffic.

We ran our traditional loudspeaker test and the Lumia 535 scored an Average mark. The loudspeaker isn't the loudest around and you should keep in mind that you may miss some calls or notifications in louder environments.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Nokia Lumia 735 67.6 66.8 63.7 Below Average
Microsoft Lumia 535 66.5 64.8 71.9 Average
Sony Xperia M2 66.6 66.7 75.7 Good
Nokia Lumia 630 68.0 65.3 75.8 Good
Nokia Lumia 830 65.3 66.3 78 Good
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini 73.5 67.7 78.7 Very Good
Motorola Moto G 81.6 75.7 82.7 Excellent


Messaging

The Messaging hub has two new options - a shortcut to go to the contact's full details in People Hub, plus a setting to mute the thread. If you choose Mute, then you'll stop receiving any notifications for incoming messages from this number, though the messages will still be saved in the thread.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Messaging • adding multimedia content is easy

Threads are the building blocks of all non-email messaging. As a sort of conversation view, threads mash together SMS, Facebook and Windows Live messages. That's one thing we love about Windows Phone: the Messaging hub removes the old division between texts, IMs, social messages.

The native email client has very simple interface but it offers everything an email client should feature - support for multiple accounts, threaded view, batch operations, search.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Reading through new emails • only unread emails • email folders • popular email services are supported

Linked Inbox is available too - you can link all of your mail boxes into a single one from the Outlook app's settings.

While retaining the same looks, the virtual keyboard now supports Wordflow - a Swype-like input method allowing you to quickly input words without lifting your finger by swiping through the letters. It is extremely accurate and recently managed to set a new Guinness Record for typing on a virtual keyboard.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

The Wordflow keyboard

Photos app does the job

In Windows phone 8.1 the Photo Hub has lost the magazine UI in favor of the traditional WP page view. You get three swipe-able pages - all, albums and favorites - all pretty much self-explanatory.

Automatic OneDrive backup is available, you just need to enable it from the settings. Microsoft gives you 15GB for free plus 3GB for the each device on which you turn on the automatic OneDrive camera upload.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Pictures hub

Sharing options include Bluetooth file transfer, messaging, email, Facebook, OneDrive and other available social services.

Xbox music app

The default Xbox music player in Windows phone 8.1 uses the familiar page layout - you get Now Playing page; Collection view with shortcuts to artists, albums, songs, genres, playlists, and Music Store highlights. It also allows you to create, edit and delete playlists straight from your phone.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Music app with Now Playing screen and its album view • Collection and Music Store

The player is compatible with your Xbox Music account and can stream your songs if you have active connection without saving them on the phone.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Browsing your collection

Unfortunately, the Music app doesn't support FLAC playback. Equalizer options are available from Settings -> Audio. You can either user presets or customize your own.

Same video player with limited codec support, does not play HD

The video player is a separate app called Video. It has a four-page layout - your collection, movie store, TV store and spotlight.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

The Video hub

The video player supports XviD, DivX, MOV and MP4 videos up to qHD resolution. The few things it won't play are MKV files and videos using the AC3 audio codec. There is a limited subtitles support.

Playing back 720p or 1080p video files is not smooth, if they start at all.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Playing a video

FM radio with RDS

There's an FM radio with RDS support on board the Lumia 525. You can use the loudspeaker for the FM radio, though you still need the headset connected as it doubles as an antenna.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

FM radio

Audio quality is decent, on the quiet side

The Microsoft Lumia 535 did well when plugged into an active external amplifier, showing very clean output. Its volume levels are only average and lower than most other Lumias we've tested recently, but in this price range we'd still call this a win.

Performance with a headphones wasn't as great however. Stereo crosstalk rose moderately, but frequency response got dodgy and some intermodulation distortion crept in. Add the still average volume levels and you get a mediocre performance on this occasion.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
Nokia Lumia 535 +0.06, -0.07 -93.9 90.5 0.0093 0.197 -94.2
Nokia Lumia 535 (headphones attached) +0.66, -0.05 -93.5 90.2 0.038 0.481 -68.7
Nokia Lumia 735 +0.07, -0.04 -90.6 91.4 0.0093 0.084 -91.2
Nokia Lumia 735 (headphones attached) +0.35, -0.21 -89.4 91.2 0.013 0.194 -55.9
Nokia Lumia 930 +0.12, -0.02 -91.4 90.7 0.0099 0.101 -90.3
Nokia Lumia 930 (headphones attached) +0.19, -0.43 -89.4 90.7 0.012 0.501 -55.8
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini +0.03, -0.04 -92.6 90.7 0.016 0.018 -94.0
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini (headphones attached) +0.23, -0.05 -86.7 86.2 0.052 0.167 -55.7
HTC One mini 2 +0.02, -0.09 -94.8 93.8 0.010 0.011 -93.5
HTC One mini 2 (headphones attached) +0.08, -0.03 -94.9 93.8 0.028 0.022 -90.1

Microsoft Lumia 535 frequency response

Microsoft Lumia 535 frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

Very good 5MP autofocus camera

Microsoft Lumia 535 comes with a 5MP auto-focus camera, coupled with an LED flash though it lacks a dedicated camera key. Microsoft has created a proprietary app for all Lumia smartphones called Lumia Camera.

The Lumia camera interface is very familiar - it offers white balance, focus, ISO, shutter speed up to 1s and exposure settings. You can choose between 5MP 4:3 mode and 3.7MP 16:9 samples, there are no other resolution options.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Lumia Camera UI

Additionally, you can get more camera functionality via Lenses. Our Lumia 535 came only with Lumia Cinemagraph (animated photos), but you can download more.

The 5MP images taken with the Lumia 535 turned out quite good, with reasonable amount of resolved detail. Contrast is good as is the color rendering, although sometimes the white balance is off. Noise is kept well under control and we are happy with the overall processing.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Microsoft Lumia 535 camera samples

Photo quality comparison

The 5MP sharpshooters are getting very rare these days, but the few we get to review are getting better and better. The Lumia 535 does OK on all three charts, resolving a good level of detail, with very little noise and with accurate colors. Notice the yellowish spot on the ISO chart.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

Microsoft Lumia 535 in our photo quality comparison tool

Uninspiring WVGA video recording

Microsoft Lumia 535 camcorder is capable of WVGA@30 fps video recording. The videos are stored in MP4 containers and the bitrate runs at about 3 Mbps. Lumia 535 captures the videos with mono sound at 160 Kbps and 48 kHz sampling rate.

The camcorder interface is pretty much the same as the still camera. It offers only white balance and manual focus settings. You can also choose between WVGA and VGA recording. The Lumia 535 also allows you to choose the audio bass filter (off, 100 Hz or 200 Hz). Opting for 200 Hz (Strong) will capture much better sound when shooting at loud venues such as concerts or clubs.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Camcorder UI • Settings

The resolved detail in the videos isn't as good as in the still images, but the colors and the contrast remain very good.

Here is a 30s sample we've uploaded on YouTube.

Also here is an untouched 480p@30fps video for you to download.

Internet Explorer 11

Internet Explorer 11 is the newest version of the Microsoft's mobile web browser. You bet it went through an extensive upgrade and is a marked improvement over previous versions. IE 11 is what the Windows phone browser should have been from the get-go.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Internet Explorer 11

Microsoft took several cues from the competition and now provides private browsing, a Reader mode, unlimited tab support with new UI, saving passwords, tab and bookmark sync across devices and support for inline videos to name a few. Back and Forward gestures have been added too - just swipe from the left or right edge of the screen. Yup, just like in iOS.

Internet Explorer 11 has unlimited tab support. The tab manager has a nice, fresh UI, plus a dedicated shortcut right next to the address bar. InPrivate browsing is available too, you can launch a separate incognito tab from the tab manager.

Once you open an article on the web, you'll notice a small book icon appearing in the address bar. If you tap it, you'll activate the so-called Reader mode. It does the same as its iOS namesake - it strips down the article you are reading down to the text and images. This way you can enjoy seamless reading of long articles without any unnecessary content or ads. You can configure the Reader's background color and font size from within the IE 11 settings.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

The tab manager • InPrivate browsing • Reader mode • Reader settings

IE 11 also supports inline video playback. In case the browser is capable of playing an embedded video, you will be able to do it right from within the article. No external players or pop ups are needed.

Much like its Android and iOS counterparts, the new web browser supports tab and bookmark sync across devices. This means you can start exactly where you left off on IE on Windows PC or slate.

By the way you can pin web pages to your start screen. You'll get a Live Tile, which will show the latest updates to this website.

Another important feature in IE 11 is the option to remember passwords and sync them to other devices. You no longer need to type in the same usernames and passwords over and over again.

Even though our browser benchmarks won't agree, we think that the latest Internet Explorer 11 on Windows phone has finally caught up with the competition feature-wise and performance-wise. It's fast, with excellent page loading times and fluid scrolling.

Pre-installed apps

Office is one of the key selling points of Windows Phone. Document/Excel/PowerPoint viewing and editing is absolutely free and integrated into the OS. OneDrive integration is available as well. Docs are automatically synced between the phone and your computer through OneDrive.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

MS Office

OneNote is Microsoft's collaborative note taking tool. It has great (and easy to use) support for lists of multiple levels, and you can add photos and voice memos or send notes via email when you're done. OneNotes can be synced with your OneDrive as well.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

One Note

The Calendar app can view sub-calendars for each account you have and can color-code them to make them easier to tell apart. It offers day and agenda views for more comprehensive hour-by-hour browsing of your appointments.

Weekly view makes the days expandable in case you have more events than the small square can show. This mode even searches for weather forecast and displays it with small icons on each day.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Calendar's weekly view • other views

Naturally, Lumia 535 comes with Alarm, Calculator, and Weather apps pre-installed.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Weather • Alarms

Microsoft's Travel, Sports, Finance, Food & Drinks and News apps are available, too.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Travel • Food & Drinks

With the Lumia 535 you get a few Lumia exclusive apps - Storyteller interactive diary, Creative Studio for advanced photo enhancements, and, of course, HERE Maps and HERE Drive+.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Storyteller • Creative Studio

HERE Drive+ offers free, life-time voice-guided navigation anywhere in the world. All you have to do is download a voice in your language of choice and you're good to go. Of course, to make use of the key selling point of Drive - offline navigation - you have to download a map for a country of your choice, too.

HERE Maps takes on other duties - instead of navigation, it's more of a replacement for paper maps that you can take as you explore a city. It will help you discover new places, read a quick description, see photos, read reviews and check what renowned guides like Lonely Planet, Insight Guides and Qype have to say.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

HERE Drive+ • Here Maps

Windows Phone's traditional Games app is present - it carries over many features from the similar Xbox profile - from your avatar to your scores and achievements. It is also your gaming hub - here you can find all of your pre-installed games, spotlight news and store links.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Games hub

Windows phone 8.1 introduced a couple of new apps: Storage Sense and Battery Saver. Storage Sense tracks your internal memory and allows you to configure which content will be saved where. Battery Saver now not only shows you the battery percentage and allows you to configure when the battery saver goes on, but it can now track battery usage too. You can also allow or restrict apps to run in the background while the battery saver is turned on.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Storage Sense • Battery Saver

Finally, Windows phone now features a dedicated and feature-rich file manager. It's called Files, developed by Microsoft and you can get it for free from the Store.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Files - a proper Windows phone file manager

By the way, the Microsoft Store now supports automatic app updates. You can choose whether those happen only when connected to a Wi-Fi network, or if cellular data is allowed as well. Check for updates button is available, but now the Store checks for available updates quite a few times a day, so you probably won't need to use this key regularly.

Final words

An affordable, big-screen smartphone, with dual-SIM support at that, the Microsoft Lumia 535 looks like a package that's made to measure for the emerging markets. No wonder India was one of the first destinations confirmed.

The phone has now been listed in the UK as well. Most likely, it's the single-SIM version. It's the kind of flexibility Redmond must have been looking for. The Lumia 535 is the first phone to wear the Microsoft logo and it will need all the exposure it can get.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Microsoft are probably taking their time, probing the market with an entry level phone, and not taking huge risks. The flagships will certainly come but, with there're still a few solid Nokia-made options around which Microsoft wouldn't mind making the most of.

One of those is the Nokia Lumia 735, which is in an entirely different price range, but generously lends its wide-angle, high-res selfie cam to Microsoft's Lumia 535. That's certainly another potential selling point, whether it's selfies that you fancy or the Skype-optimized video quality.

Anyway, Microsoft is treading carefully. An affordable, entry-level phone will be less judged and can potentially reach a wider audience, giving Redmond a good start.

The low-res video recording is a potential deal-breaker but it's really one of few. The screen resolution is just enough at best for the 5-inch diagonal but size matters in a good way in things like web browsing, handling office documents and in-car navigation.

That said, the office package and the HERE Drive+ apps have been a traditional Windows phone advantage over Android competition.

Let's check out the key test findings we've come to in our review process.

Microsoft Lumia 535 key test findings:

  • The 5" IPS display is OK, average pixel density, high maximum brightness levels, disappointing sunlight legibility and poor touch accuracy
  • Battery life is only average, but that's OK for a dual-SIM smartphone
  • Windows phone 8.1 is nice and snappy, Cortana is a capable voice-operated assistant, but it's still not available in all regions
  • The CPU benchmarks are OK, but the GPU is behind the curve; Snapdragon 200 will soon be an outdated choice even for the low-end devices
  • The speaker is of average loudness
  • Audio output quality is clean, but quiet
  • Decent camera quality, but video recording is limited to WVGA; front snapper offers high-res selfies
  • The video player played fine most of the video formats we threw at it, except MKV files or those with AC3 audio encoding; 720p and 1080p videos are hardly playable.
  • Lumias come with a package of seriously value-adding preinstalled apps - Here Drive+, Lumia Camera, Lumia Storyteller, Lumia Refocus, etc.

There are lots of similar smartphones on the market, when it comes to specs comparison - a 5" dual SIM-enabled smartphone with a quad-core processor is already becoming quite a common option. Let's check out a few of those.

The LG L Bello is quite the looker, enhanced by LG's latest innovations - the rear control deck and the Knock Code for its lockscreen. It matches the specs of the Lumia 535, and brings better GPU and better camera, and sweetens the deal with an Android 4.4 KitKat OS. The L Bello will cost you about €50 more though.

LG L Bello

LG L Bello

The Sony Xperia M2 Dual is a really attractive offer because of its dual-call feature. The M2 dual relies on two separate radio modules, which allows both SIM card to be active simultaneously, even when one of them is in a call. It has a 4.8" qHD display, better Snapdragon 400 chip with more powerful GPU, and a capable 8MP rear cam. Then again, the extra features costs €50 above the Lumia 535 Dual SIM.

Sony Xperia M2 dual

Sony Xperia M2 dual

HTC Desire 516 Dual SIM is a perfect match of the Microsoft Lumia 535, ticking all boxes in all departments - display, hardware, camera and battery. However it runs on the rather old Android Jelly Bean OS. The price is yet again higher, and with this hardware, Android is nowhere as snappy as Windows Phone. The jury is still out on whether the phone will be updated to a newer OS version, so that's potentially a huge deal breaker.

HTC Desire 516 dual sim

HTC Desire 516 dual sim

Alcatel Idol 2 also is another good match, with the same hardware highlights, but with a better camera and €70 more expensive price tag. It has a faster processor, but its dual-SIM flavor does away with the memory card slot.

Alcatel Idol 2

Alcatel Idol 2

As you can see no major manufacturer can match the Microsoft Lumia 535. They can offer similar or better phones, months after they were officially launched, but then again - nowhere near the Lumia 535 retail price. This sole achievement is commendable and the Microsoft Lumia 535 indeed seems like an undisputed bang-for-buck champion in the €100+ entry-level segment.

Unboxing the Microsoft Lumia 535

Microsoft Lumia 535 comes in a familiar moderately-sized retail box, similar to previous Lumia packages. It contains just the basics - a microUSB charger and some paperwork. There is no bundled headset or a data cable.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Lumia 535 Dual SIM's retail package

We found out the bundle for the Asian markets also includes a basic headset. Sill no data cable though. So, the box contents depend on where you get it from.

Design and build quality

The Microsoft Lumia 535 is a familiar sight - an upsized Lumia 530 and Lumia 630. The simple, laid-back styling has become a Lumia trademark, and that applies to budget handsets and flagships alike. Being an affordable device, Microsoft Lumia 535 isn't particularly slim, nor is its finish anything special.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

The price tag of the first Lumia phone to wear the Microsoft logo wouldn't have justified any experiments with the design. It looks very consistent with the rest of the lineup - some might find this rather repetitive but we wouldn't blame an entry level phone. The multiple color options and exchangeable rear covers do help the Lumia lineup appeal to different demographics.

The Microsoft Lumia 535 can be purchased in orange, green, gray, blue, black or white. And if you want to try another paintjob later, a new original rear cover costs just a few bucks.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Microsoft Lumia 535

So, the new logo front and rear aside, the rest of the Lumia 535 is pretty familiar. Corning Gorilla Glass 3 is covering the entire front and a removable, glossy green, battery cover warps around the sides of the device as well. If you're wary of the glossy finish because of fingerprint smudges, some of the exchangeable covers are matte (such as the black option).

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Handling the Lumia 535

Handling the Lumia 535 is quite comfortable, even though the glossy green version we tested can get quite slippery with use. The phone is pretty much as big as an iPhone 6, just not as thin which actually helps a more secure hold. The Microsoft Lumia 535 will easily slip in most pockets.

Controls

The Nokia Lumia 535 front is all black with two small slits - one for the earpiece above the display and a very tiny one for the mouthpiece below the screen. The front camera of the Lumia 535 is a wide-angle 5MP unit, which reportedly is optimized for Skype video conferencing.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

The Lumia 535's front

There is nothing on the left, while the right side has the volume rocker and power/lock key. Both controls are prominent enough to locate by touch, offer a solid press and are finished in the same glossy or matte plastic as the battery cover.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

A peek at Lumia 630's left and right sides

The top of the Lumia 535 has the 3.5mm audio jack, while the bottom accommodates the microUSB port for charging and PC connections. If you want to use the Mass Storage mode on the Microsoft Lumia 535 you'd have to either buy a microUSB cable separately or use one from an old phone.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

The top and bottom of the Lumia 535

The big change around back is definitely the Microsoft logo but you'll certainly notice a LED flash too, if you compare it to the likes of the Nokia-made Lumia 520 or 630. The 5MP autofocus camera is centered near the top, a small loudspeaker grille all the way across at the bottom.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

Lumia 535 at the back

Removing the battery cover is quite hard, as it requires some bending and twisting of the phone. We suggest prying at the bottom - it pops up more easily this way. Once you've removed the cover you'll get access to the pair of microSIM compartments and the microSD card slot that supports up to 128GB cards. Neither of the SIMs is hot-swappable, but luckily you can hot-swap the memory card.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM

What's under the battery cover

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