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Microsoft Lumia 535 Phone Review

What is the Microsoft Lumia 535?

The Lumia 535 is Microsoft’s attempt to make the ultimate budget phone and right the wrongs of the disappointing Lumia 530. Out is the small 4-inch screen; in is a large and trendy 5-inch one. Out goes the rubbish fixed-focus camera; in comes autofocus and an LED flash. It’s a comprehensive improvement in most areas.

It also includes features no similar phone can match, such as a wide-angle, 5-megapixel front-facing camera aimed at the selfie takers out there. With a dual-SIM version also available in some regions – notably India – the Lumia 535 appears to tick all the right boxes for a cheap smartphone. It’s a shame, then, that a few careless niggles let it down.

Note: We don’t have final UK pricing for the Lumia 535 yet, but the guideline price of €110 before taxes suggests it should retail for £100 or less in the UK.

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Microsoft Lumia 535 – Design Features

This doesn’t look like a cheap phone. The cheery replaceable covers – available in orange, black, grey, green, white and cyan – look great and we like the Lumia 535’s clean, unfettered look. Sadly, the glossy orange version we have is our least favourite, but the matte plastic options – black, grey, white and cyan – look particularly good.

The Lumia 535’s colourful design won’t fool you all the time, though. Parts of the removable cover don’t fit as tightly as others, which results in subtle but noticeable ‘creaks’ when you pick the phone up. It’s a minor fit-and-finish issue that most people will make their peace with given the price, but you will notice it.

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Less excusable is how the case and battery sometimes pop out when dropped. We spilled the Lumia 535 onto a thin carpet floor five or six times, and the case and battery dislodged more often than not. If it lands on any corner, it’s more or less guaranteed. Gorilla Glass ensures the screen remains fairly sturdy and scratch-free, but that’s small comfort. This isn’t good enough for any phone, no matter the price.

On a brighter note, Microsoft doesn’t skip corners too much elsewhere. The 8GB of built-in storage should prove ample for lighter users. If that’s not enough then there’s a microSD card slot, too. You don’t get 4G at this price, but you do get Bluetooth 4.0 and – unlike some cheaper phones – it has an ambient light sensor as well.

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Microsoft Lumia 535 – Screen

Most cheap phones have smaller, 4-inch or so screens, so the 5-inch Lumia 535 stands out in comparison. It’s one of the reasons it doesn’t look like a cheap phone – its size puts it in similar company to much more expensive rivals.

We couldn’t call the screen anything more than adequate, though, despite Microsoft’s use of IPS display tech. We found the viewing angle quite shallow, with a noticeable loss of detail when viewed slightly off-centre. IPS screens normally have excellent viewing angles, so it just goes to show that IPS isn’t an automatic guarantor of quality.

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Colours are somewhat muted and whites have a slightly blue-ish hue at lower brightness levels, but we’ve seen much worse screens on phones at this price. Some might argue the 960 x 540 resolution (220ppi) is a tad low for a 5-inch phone – and they’d have a point if the Lumia 535 cost £150, but it doesn’t.

More importantly, outdoor visibility is very good – an area cheaper phones often struggle with. Our only criticism here is that the ambient sensor often sets the screen a little dimmer than we’d like, but this is easily overridden.

Surprisingly, however, our biggest frustration with the screen was its touch-sensitivity – a problem we don’t often have to complain about anymore. We occasionally suffered missed presses when typing, which is very irritating.

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