Product Review: Microsoft Lumia 535


Introduction: One of the most “what if” questions came to pass in 2013, when Microsoft announced the buyout of the Nokia Devices and service unit sometime in 2013 and later fully acquired the unit in 2014 at $7.2 billion. We were all surprised and thought that this marked an end of era for a big devices brand that had been around for the longest time ever. The fact that the buyout even came at a time when Nokia had just started releasing its Lumia series and Asha series had shocked many when the Lumia line up was brought under the Redmond roof. Anyway, now the dust has settled and the ink is dry on Microsoft’s buyout of Nokia and it business as usual for Lumia. We now welcome Microsoft Lumia 535.

Launched in April 2014, in the global market and later in November in the Kenyan Market, the glamour of this new phone is directed to the low-end market that could be traditionally using a feature phone but thanks to Microsoft Devices, (formerly Nokia) pretty good job, smartphone functions and the Microsoft properties like OneDrive, Office and Cortana can now be accessed to new users.

For three weeks we got to interact with the device TechTrendsKE could say The Lumia 535’s cheap price, big screen and colourful body earn it plenty of points.


Announced : April 2014, in the global market and later in November 2014  in the Kenyan Market

Guide price:                                                                       Kshs. 14, 065.

Dimensions, weight:                                                       140 x 72 x 9mm, 146g

Screen size, tech:                                                             5″ LCD, 540p RGB

Processor, speed, RAM:                                                               Quad core Snapdragon 200, 1.2GHz, 1GB RAM

Storage:                                                                               8GB plus microSD

Stills camera:                                                                      5MP, LED flash, plus decent 5MP secondary, front facing camera

Video camera:                                                                   480p

Battery capacity, life:                                                      1905mAh, replaceable

Speaker:                                                                              Back, moderate volume

Advanced comms (depending on variant):           Up to dual band 3G

Design: The ‘Microsoft’ name comes written on the front and on the back of the 535 replacing the Nokia brand we were used to. At the back the word is also accompanied with a small MS logo. The Exchangeable back cover was worth noting, one can always swap it for a fresh one when it starts to look a little battered. Or simply change it for a different colour if you want it to match that day’s outfit. And as far as buttons go – we found them to be pleasant to the touch – both the power button and volume rockers are placed on the right side, clicky when pressed. The buttons come along with the 3.5mm headphone jack and micro-USB port for charging and data transfer.

The 535 comes with a one-piece plastic rear shell available in a range of vibrant colours, including black, grey, white, green and orange. However, in the Kenyan market the available colours are white, grey, orange and black. It has a cheery, fun design that stands out. I liked the way the back shell fits around on all sides, ready to take the impact of a fall – plus the inevitable absorption of momentum by popping off – it’s in the design!

The front glass is likewise protected by a hard plastic ridge around its edges – these however does not affect how one swipes but will protect the screen against most drops, even onto its face. Although not classed as waterproof, the removable back and battery and cards mean that the usual ‘take it all apart and stick it in rice or use a blow dry to get the inner parts dried up,’ can successfully apply here, #justsaying.

Another thing that is worth noting was although the default is for a twin-wide Start screen layout, the option is there in Settings to ‘show more tiles’ – it’s not recommended on a 4″ display though, especially not for the target market, where larger, clearer icons and text will be preferred to a myriad of tiles and shortcuts.

Did we mention that the Speaker volume is terrific? You would listen to a recorded video all day plus the sound clarity is a plus.


Device security

General Security features include Device lock, PIN code, Device lock passcode, Regular signed firmware updates, Track and Protect via internet, Application certification, Application sandboxing, Backup and restore via Internet, Browser integrated anti-phishing, Remote device lock via Internet, Remote device wipe via Internet, Secure boot, Signed OS, Consumer VPN

Enterprise security features: Mobile VPN, Remote lock and wipe, Hardware accelerated device encryption, Mobile device management, Remote security policy enforcement


Main camera:The phone also comes with a main camera of up to 5.0 MegaPixels resolution. The main camera is also on Autofocus and has a focal length of up to 28mm. It also comes with an LED flash.Other Camera features include an auto and manual white balance plus an automatic photo upload to OneDrive. Its minimum focus range is 10 cm

Front-facing camera and Video: Front facing camera is also 5MP and has wide angle Focal length 24 mm, thus enhancing Still image capture, Video call, Video recording. The video quality is one amazing things about the Lumia 535 that would make anyone who loves taking videos wish to own the phone.

Watch the video below of one of the five Chevrolet cruze cars to be won in the Lumia #AchieveMore campaign. I recorded this using the Lumia 535 during the unveiling of the Lumia 640, Lumia 640XL and the the Lumia 430 Dual SIM into the Kenyan market.

This device is also ideal in skype and taking selfies, thus doesn’t limit one on social networking.

It also comes with ‘Lumia Camera’ which includes the usual top-end creative controls and Smart Sequence functions, though of course you’ll need excellent light to get any decent results from the hardware here.  The phone also comes pre-installed with apps like Lumia Selfie camera, Lumia creative studio and Lumia storyteller.

A photo of the one of the five chevrolet cruze cars to be won in the #achievemore campaign, I took this photo with the Microsoft Lumia 535

I would say that the camera will not be replacing your handheld camera any time soon, but for that quick Instagram pic or for Facebook, the phone’s camera would do.

Maps and navigation

Microsoft Lumia 535 is GPS enabled. It comes pre-installed with HERE Drive, HERE Maps and BING maps.

With HERE Drive one can find favourite destinations through free global voice guided turn-by-turn drive navigation. HERE Drive also has the ability to offer live traffic information and offer speed limit warnings and also has free voice-guidance in 88 languages.

With HERE Maps one can download accurate, high-quality maps on the phone. It’s a complete mapping app, designed to work even without a data connection so you can rely on it when traveling or out of the home. Find the quickest way around a city with walking, driving, and public transit directions to the places you want to go. Discover what’s good in a new city and save places so you can find them easily with your phone when you’re out and about. HERE Maps is the perfect companion for your smartphone and the best way to plan ahead.

Battery life

What was amazing about the battery life was the fact that after a one off charge, I could stay over a day without charging it, while I still played my music and stayed connected to the Wi-Fi. However the phone tends to heat up faster while you use it for long.


The Battery has a capacity of up to 1905 mAh and a Battery voltage of 3.7 V.

The phone also comes with a micro-SIM slot which holds the Micro SIM in place with a metal clip similar to that on the old Nokia N95, if anyone remembers that – it’s a reliable system and good to see.

Operating System

The phone operates under Windows Phone 8.1 along with the latest software update, codenamed Denim. Windows Phone 8 is easy on the eye, made up lots of large, bright tiles that show live information. You can resize these tiles and reorder them to suit your preferences, set different backgrounds and group tiles together into folders, thanks to the Denim software update.

Another recent feature is the notification panel that you pull down from the top of the screen, like in Android. It shows incoming notifications from your messaging apps or emails, as well as giving quick access to critical settings such as Wi-Fi and screen brightness.

The Denim update also includes Microsoft’s new Siri-like voice assistant, Cortana. Cortana allows you to ask questions and you’ll be given results in the app, or shown a list of Web results, if Cortana doesn’t have the answer.


Size and weight

The 535 itself could be described as ‘chunky’ and has the familiar slab sides plus ‘pillow for a back. The phone comes with a height of up to 140.2 mm, a Width 72.4 mm. thickness1: 8.8 mm and a weight of 145.3 g. This makes the phone portable and sleek and even presentable in terms of how its appearance.


The phone comes with a Display screen of up to 5 inches and uses an IPS LCD display technology. It also allows the user control brightness under the settings under the brightness option. It also allows, Sunlight readability enhancements this effectively allows turning the display for maximum contrast and maximum brightness, and this just about saves the day in sunlight. This makes the 535 better than some other budget smartphones I could mention.

The device also comes enabled with a multi touch technology.


The 435 comes with an 8GB internal storage and 1GB of RAM. It supports microSD cards up to 128GB in size and If you are a phone junky I would suggest you pick one up 32GB one won’t set you back much — as the 8GB of built-in storage won’t last long.


It goes for $151.90 which translates to Kshs. 14, 065. Quite affordable, right?


Its lack of 4G LTE, is worth noting as this makes streaming of videos and other works a little sluggish. But still having a target of the low-end market I think the phone would be a good phone to go fo


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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech and African startups. Founder and Editor of TechTrends Media. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to

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