Microsoft Lumia 535 review

A decent budget smartphone with a big screen

Microsoft Lumia 535 review

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Living with a Windows Phone 8.1 device is both an enjoyable and frustrating experience, whether that device is a high flying flagship or, like the Microsoft Lumia 535, a £75 (around US$120, AU$160) entry level model.

Certain things about it I really love, from the tiled interface with those tidbits of useful info flipping into view to the fantastic digital assistant Cortana.

Microsoft Lumia 535 review

We liked

I also really appreciate how Microsoft has not diluted the software experience here, even though it's a cheaper handset. You get full Office access, full Cortana support and because it packs 1GB of RAM, you won't run into games incompatibility like you would if it was only boasting 512MB.

While it's far from premium, the fun, durable and sturdy build, along with the removable back and bright colours combine to make something that is perfect as an entry level smartphone.

Having a wide-angle front-facing camera makes a great amount of sense, whether it's for selfies or Skype chats. It stops everyone feeling like they have all squeezed in and ensures you don't accidentally miss someone out of the picture.

Microsoft Lumia 535 review

We disliked

Performance on the whole is good, but I did suffer frequent annoyances that refused to go away. Screen sensitivity issues plagued my time with the device and I hate nothing more than jabbing away at an icon multiple times before it responds.

Even though apps like WhatsApp and games like Minecraft are available on the Windows Store, it annoys me how developers release an app and then let it lay dormant without any updates and new features. As mentioned, the Instagram app still doesn't support video, which simply isn't good enough.

While the screen is perfectly acceptable for a phone of this price and having a 5-inch display is obviously a plus point for some, I just think it stretches an already low resolution too far. I didn't enjoy reading or viewing pictures on the screen and the lack vibrancy made everything look a bit dull.

Final verdict

The Microsoft Lumia 535 has a good build, packs a large screen that, while it hasn't got the highest resolution, produces good colours and operates for the most part with ease, plus you get the full Windows Phone 8.1 experience.

But to achieve the low price sacrifices have to be made. There's no NFC for example, no faster AC/N Wi-Fi and no 4G.

These points could be forgiven, but the screen issues I suffered with the Lumia 535 are not easy to overlook. Yes, they could (maybe) be eradicated with a simple software update, that is if the issues aren't hardware related, but only time will tell if that ever happens.

Grievances aside, there's lots to like here. The wide-angle 5MP selfie shooter captures decent pics, Cortana is a fantastic virtual assistant that is just as fully featured here as in top of the line Windows Phone 8.1 devices and the replaceable, colourful shells add a dash of fun.