As Windows Phone users earnestly wait for a Windows 10 flagship due summer and old flagships are being retired, Windows Phone now has the distinction of having an overwhelming number of low-mid range devices. I for one have owned the 535, 635 , 735 and 830 at one point or another So it is best to read this as an “After the Buzz” review of how these devices stack up in real world usage.
Lumia 535 – The Lumia 535 is Microsoft attempt to retake the low-end market and fix the Lumia 530. It attacks the points its smaller sibling failed at such as low storage, low-res screen and camera, both quality wise and existentially in the case of the front facing camera.) The 535 is unlike its higher end siblings, its design is blander…more inoffensive and less ambitious. It is curved nicely so it fits well in the hand, essential for such a large screen and is pretty light. However you can feel the price in your hand as well. The build quality is not as solid as a 635 or 735. Whether or not that’s a bad thing may depend on your frame of reference. If you’re used to previous higher end devices, then the 535 will come off as disappointing.
The good thing about this phone is its consistency. It is consistently unambitious and plods along nicely on the bottom range of the spectrum. You shouldn’t expect anything from the camera, nor should you task this phone with heavy activities (at least routinely). It tends to get really hot and laggy if you do.
The touch screen issues have been mostly resolved, though I should warn that the variant I have still spazzes out occasionally and refuses to respond correctly.
Overall, the Lumia 535 is a phone that’s alright if you can’t afford to spend a lot on a smart phone or if (like me), you want a cheap inexpensive phone to give to a kid so they can play games on. It doesn’t work miracles and you shouldn’t expect it to.
Lumia 635 – The Lumia 635 was Nokia’s attempt to recreate the success of the Lumia 520. Announced at Build, it was the first Windows Phone to be released with Lumia Cyan and Windows Phone 8.1. It is also a phone that you shouldn’t buy.
When the Lumia 635 was released, my reaction was shock at first. I had previously owned the Lumia 620, and then the 625 so I expected the 630 to fall into that area of gloriously good enough. Unfortunately the 6xx series had been demoted into a 5xx replacement, lacking things such as NFC, a front facing camera an even flash. The Lumia 635 was a phone that I could recommend to only people who either wanted a phone for music or upgrading from a 520.
While some may say that Windows Phone runs decently on lowly specced hardware, I’m not so sure about this. In my experience with Lumias, the lowly specced Windows Phones have all tended to give me headaches with performance and the 635 is no exception. I was met with frequent loading and resuming screens and apps did crash more than a few times. It had a lower performance threshold than the 535, perhaps due to the insufficient RAM. Microsoft may have fixed the RAM issue with a spec bump, but they’ve also fixed all the other issues with the 635 as well. That fix is the Lumia 640 which is just about set to be put through our wringer.
To end, if you’re considering buying a Windows Phone in April 2015, do not buy the 635 (or 530). Just don’t. There are better devices out there now.
Lumia 735 – The Lumia 735 is the middle of the road of the third generation Lumia devices and is an entirely balanced device that is fantastic for the price sold. It is a successor to the Lumia 720 device, and features a nice 5 megapixel camera and a decent 6.7 MP camera. It inherited the fabula design language, originating in the Nokia N9 and coming to the Lumia line with the 800 and looks and feels great as a result. The 4.7 inch screen combined with Amoled comes off as gorgeous and the size makes it an easy to use one handed.
I’ve previously called the 735 the best Windows Phone you could buy all things considered, and at this point it still is one of the best choices.
The Lumia 735 is Nokia’s killer midrange device and a successor to the Nokia Lumia 720. Aside from the processor, it sits comfortably ahead of the lower end Lumias and right beside the 830.
One of the major differentiators between high-end a low end smartphones is the camera, and the Lumia 735 is no slouch. It offers a 5 Megapixel wide-angle lens for it’s front facing camera which should beat out the front and rear cameras of many mid-low end devices in picture quality. Its rear camera is a 6.7 megapixel camera lifted from the 720 which takes excellent low-light images. Need proof? Click the link to watch the 720 demolish the HTC One in image quality.
Now, while the Lumia 735 comes with a measly 8 GB of storage, it also has an SD card which can take up to 128 GB of external storage. That is to say, it has maximum of 136 GB of storage, easily higher than the highest iPhone configuration. Previous Windows Phones that came with 8 GB were crippled by Windows Phone 8 handling of SD cards and the “Other” Storage bug but 8.1 now allows you to offload everything and anything on an SD Card (apart from a few apps). Frankly speaking, you should have no problem with storage on this Lumia.
Now, back to the processor. The Lumia comes with a Snapdragon 400 processor clocked at 1.2 GHz. Is it the fastest processor? It is not by any means. The Snapdragon 600 and 800 series outclass it. It is however enough to handle Windows Phone 8.1 when paired with it’s healthy 1 GB of RAM. It has a 720p display and a 4.7 inch screen, which means it should sit comfortably at “retina” resolution (to borrow an Apple marketing term) without being too taxing on the processor and battery life. It has a beautiful design, building off the N9 design language which when paired with its screen size, weight and thinness makes it comfortable to hold and beautiful to look at.
However, it is not without its flaws. It lacks a camera button, the glance screen and access to Microsoft’s “Hey Cortana ” feature. Your mileage may vary depending on how much these features mean to you, it is worth noting that the only Windows Phone that has all these features is the 1520 and well…6 inches man.
It still remains the most balanced phone in a sea of pseudo-flagships and low-end devices. As one of the last Nokia phones, it is still worth the money
Lumia 830 – The Lumia 830 is Microsoft’s affordable flagship device, it offers versatility and convenience, all in a nice, slim weighty package.
Design-wise, it is reminiscent of the Lumia 930, sporting the same metal edges and the coloured back, it is considered a more premium design than the previous polycarbonate Lumias. All though this comes at a cost, the metal is more prone to damage than polycarbonate, and my 830 already has a dent at the bottom left corner. If you put a case on your phone, this won’t be an issue, but those who prefer their phones to go caseless it may be a dealbreaker.
The other design deal breaker here are the size and weight. At 5.0 inches, the Lumia 830 weighhs 150g, compared to the 730s 130g and the iPhone’s 129g it is quite heavy. And while 20g may not seem like a lot, but it makes a huge difference. The 830 is taller than the 735 and 930, it is heavier than the 735 so it feels uncomfortable when holding it. My wrist still hasn’t adapted to holding it properly yet.
The Lumia 830 is broadly similar to the 735 in specs that the only differences have to do with design and camera. The 10 MP camera of the 830 is good, no doubt about it. However, the 0.9 MP camera is not, and as unfortunate as some people may think it is – both cameras in a phone are important.
The one bad thing about the 830 is the 735’s existence. While using the 830, I was asked a question (granted since I had switched through various phone models over and over in a short period of time and my family was getting exhausted), “So what’s the difference between this phone and that other one?” That’s the question that the 830 still needs to answer. The Lumia 830 has a nicer camera than the 735, and it has glance and those are the sum total of its advantages.
But otherwise, for normal use, for day to day to usage of the average person, the 735 is superior.
Final thoughts – Microsoft’s mid rangers are all decent phones, some more than others. As middle of the range phones are all that we have available now, it’s great that we can’t go wrong with many of the choices available. The 535 is a decent cheap smartphone that ticks all the boxes, the 635 is a solidly built smartphone that is compromised in all the wrong places. The 735 and 830 remain an odd bunch of fraternal twins that undermine the existence of the other. Both will provide a good experience. The Lumia 640, as one yet to be reviewed middle of the range phone is exciting for the same reason, it promises that low-end Windows Phones will now offer a powerful; experience and hints that the high end Windows Phones are going to evolve.