Nokia Lumia 520 vs Microsoft Lumia 535 full review

Microsoft Lumia 535 vs 530 vs 520 comparison

What's the difference between the Lumia 535, Lumia 530 and Lumia 520? We explore the differences and similarities between the three Lumia smartphones, including design, specs and features, in our Lumia 535 vs 530 vs 520 comparison. See also: Best budget smartphone 2014

Microsoft unveiled the Lumia 535 on 11 November, the successor to the Lumia 520 and a slightly higher spec sibling to the Lumia 530 that was launched in August. It's also the first smartphone launched by Microsoft since the Nokia branding was dropped.

It can get a bit confusing to decide which of the Lumia devices is best, and which you should choose as your smartphone, so here we run through the similarities and differences to help you make your decision.

It's important to note that, as the Lumia 535 has only recently been unveiled, we've not yet had a chance to run our full tests on the smartphone, so this comparison is based on our reviews of the Lumia 520 and 530 as well as the information provided to us by Microsoft about its latest smartphone.

See also: Motorola Moto G vs Nokia Lumia 530 comparison

Microsoft Lumia 535 vs 530 vs 520 comparison: Price & availability

The Lumia 535 is expected to arrive in the UK in the first quarter of 2015, though there has been some chatter about an end of November release in "key markets" so it could arrive sooner than that if the UK is considered a key market.

There's no official UK price yet, but the single-SIM version of the Lumia 535 is expected to cost 110 Euros, before VAT, which we expect to be £99 including VAT. So, it's not an ultra-budget model like the Lumia 530, which is priced at just £60.

The Lumia 520 was available for £80 when it launched in mid 2013, but you can now pick it up for just £50 if you shop around. The issue with the Lumia 520 is that it's a bit trickier to come by as stock of the discontinued device dwindles.

So you're looking at a price tag of between £50 and £100 whichever Lumia smartphone you decide on. See also: Nokia Lumia 530 vs 520 comparison

Microsoft Lumia 535 vs 530 vs 520 comparison: Design

Microsoft Lumia 535

The Lumia 535 (above) is a reasonable 8.8mm thick, and weighs 146g. That's much thinner than the 11.7mm of the Lumia 530 and slightly thinner than the 9.9mm of the 520, but is slightly heavier than the 530's 129g and the 520's 124g, which is not too surprising when you take into consideration the newer smartphone's bigger screen (we'll talk more about that below).

The 535 comes in a range of bright colours – orange, green, blue – plus neutrals including black, white and grey. These colours can be swapped after purchase thanks to a removeable back, which the Lumia 530 also boasts in addition to the same colour options.

Colour options for the Lumia 520 (below) differ slightly, with yellow, blue, red, white and black models available but no green or orange, and the shell is not removeable.

Like the Lumia 530, the 535 has a rounded design that differs from the more squared design of the Lumia 520.

Microsoft Lumia 535 vs 530 vs 520 comparison: Screen

The Lumia 535 has a 5in screen, so it's bigger than the Lumia 530 and 520's 4in screens. It has a qHD resolution – which stands for quarter HD not quad HD (QHD) like the LG G3 – which means a resolution of 960 x 540. That equates to a reasonable pixel density of 220ppi.

Microsoft Lumia 535 display

The screen of the 535 is IPS, which is better than the nasty TN-based display in the Lumia 530, and is made with the durable Gorilla Glass 3. The 520 does have an IPS display too, so that means better viewing angles and colours despite being older than the 530.

High brightness mode in the Lumia 535 is designed to make the device easier to use in sunlight, Microsoft says.

The Lumia 520's 4in screen has a resolution of 800x480, and the 530 improves upon that very slightly with an 854x480 resolution. They both have a better pixel density than the 535 due to the smaller screen, with a 235ppi for the 520 and 246ppi for the 530.

Microsoft Lumia 535 vs 530 vs 520 comparison: Hardware & specs

Inside the Lumia 535 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 200, which isn't a powerful chip despite its quad-core spec. It's paired with 1GB of RAM. There's 8GB of internal storage, which you can expand via microSD with cards up to 128GB in capacity.

The Lumia 520 has a dual-core 1GHz processor, while the Lumia 530's processor is 1.2GHz and quad-core like the Lumia 535. While this may make you think that the Lumia 520's processor is the worst of the bunch, it actually has the same cores as the Snapdragon 400, which means they're better than those used in the Snapdragon 200. Also, the Lumia 520 has Adreno 305 graphics, better than the Adreno 302 in the 530 (below) and 535.

The Lumia 530 and 520 both have just 512GB of RAM.

Like the Lumia 535, the Lumia 520 has 8GB of storage inside, but the Lumia 530 only has 4GB. Both can be expanded by up to 128GB thanks to a microSD card slot, though.

When it comes to connectivity, the Lumia 535 has 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 and A-GPS. It's the same story for both of the other smartphones in this comparison.

None of the Lumias included here have support for 4G, though, but for such cheap smartphones that's not surprising. They take micro SIM cards and charged via microUSB.

Microsoft Lumia 535 vs 530 vs 520 comparison: Cameras

The Lumia 535 sports two 5Mp cameras, one on the front and one on the back. The front-facing camera is designed for selfies, with a wide-angle lens. The rear camera offers an LED flash.

Video is limited to 848x480 for both cameras, so quality is expected to be very poor. It's an odd decision to limit video capabilities like this when 5Mp is plenty for 1080p video.

The Lumia 530 and 520 also have 5Mp rear-facing cameras, though the newer model has fixed focus instead of the auto-focus in the Lumia 520. This means you won't be able to take macro photos with the 530, which seems a shame. Neither the 530 or 520 have front-facing cameras, and they both lack the LED flash that 535 boasts.

Microsoft Lumia 535 vs 530 vs 520 comparison: Software

The Lumia 535 runs Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Denim, including all of the latest features such as Cortana and the 'word flow' keyboard. It also offers Skype, Microsoft Office, 15GB of free OneDrive cloud storage and Outlook.

The Lumia 530 and Lumia 520 can both run Windows 8.1 too.

Microsoft Lumia 535 vs 530 vs 520 comparison: Verdict

The Microsoft Lumia 535 is a cheap and cheerful new Windows-based smartphone that has some benefits over its predecessors, including a slimmer design, a front-facing camera and a bigger display.

If you're looking for an ultra-budget smartphone and are happy with a 4in screen and no front-facing camera then the Lumia 530 is an option well worth investigating, particularly as it is one of the cheapest ways to get your hands on a windows 8.1 device. But, be sure to see if you can pick up a Lumia 520 instead as you'll get benefits including a better display and auto-focus and you could save some more money.

If you think you've settled on the Lumia 535, it's well worth investigating some Android alternatives first, such as the Motorola Moto G.