Smartphones come in all shapes and sizes, although they do tend to follow the same standard rectangular design language. The differences between smartphones boil down often to features and price, rather than design and uniqueness, as there’s only so much one can do with a touchscreen-format. The Microsoft Lumia 640 and Lumia 535 are two of the most recent smartphones launched under the Microsoft Lumia brand name which has emerged after the Nokia name was dropped at the end of last year. Although the Microsoft Lumia 640 and Lumia 535 are mid-range and low-end smartphones directed mainly at first time smartphone users or light users, there are a lot of benefits in owning a Windows smartphone.
The Microsoft Lumia 640 and Lumia 535 are budget-friendly, affordable smartphones that can be either bought as the first smartphone for a younger crowd or as daily drivers for light users who rely on other hardware for more important tasks that these phones cannot accomplish. One thing that I personally admire about Microsoft Lumia smartphones is the software, because it has proven itself much more stable and bug-free than Android or iOS. There are limitations to what you can do with a Windows phone, though.
For those of you lodged in a Google or iOS ecosystem, it would be rather difficult to get used to a Microsoft Lumia 640 or even Lumia 535 and still manage to be part of the ecosystems that you’ve been accustomed to in the past. Switching from an Android or iOS mobile device to a Windows one is not cumbersome, but it does involve a few days of prodding and poking around the software in order to get a good feeling of what one can and can’t do with a Windows phone.
This week, I’ve found myself much more drawn to budget-friendly and low-end smartphones because they offer all that an average user like me would need from a phone, all the while keeping the price point down. Affordable unlocked smartphones are hard to come by, and most of the time they’re Android smartphones which compromise a lot on hardware to be able to stay affordable. Windows phones are a good alternative, as both the Microsoft Lumia 640 and Lumia 535 are very affordable but still manage to offer a user experience that is admirably good, in my opinion.
The fact that people are starting to experience flagship fatigue proves that many of us have grown tired of constantly chasing after discounts on flagship smartphones or need to turn to carriers’ year contracts in order to be able to actually afford a high-end device. Flagship smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy S6, HTC One M9, One M8, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Sony Xperia Z3 Compact tend to cost more than $500 unlocked, which is a sum of money many would rather invest in a convertible tablet like the Asus Transformer Book T100 Chi, Microsoft Surface 3 or even in a Lenovo Yoga Tablet Pro that comes with a built-in projector.
That reasoning is behind my more recent fascination with budget smartphones like the Microsoft Lumia 640 and Lumia 535. The Microsoft Lumia 640 is one of the best examples of a good quality budget-friendly smartphone and it has been a rather popular device in the past few weeks. Although there aren’t many out there who are already in possession of this mid-range smartphone, there are many who are planning to buy it in the future. The Microsoft Lumia 535 was launched in November 2014, so it’s the more popular budget-friendly phone that Microsoft launched under the Microsoft Lumia brand name. This comparison will focus on highlighting the good features of each of these phones, comparing their prices and concluding a winner based on bang for buck.
The Microsoft Lumia 640 price is set at around $230, which is a price that lies between the lines. It can’t really compete with phones in the Android One line-up for example, as those are all priced below $150 each, unlocked. Seeing as the Microsoft Lumia 640 is double that price, one would expect double the hardware. The Microsoft Lumia 535 on the other hand is priced much lower, at about $150 unlocked, which does point out which of the headliners of this comparison is the more budget-friendly smartphone.
When doing price comparisons between smartphones, and this time between the Microsoft Lumia 640 and Lumia 535, the price can be explained away with a demonstration of features or lack thereof. I will demonstrate, thus, what features the Microsoft Lumia 640 has that the Microsoft Lumia 535 doesn’t and why those features would be worth the extra bucks or why they wouldn’t be worth it, depending on user case.
To start off, the first pro for the Microsoft Lumia 640 is the fact that it comes with LTE Cat4, which means that users will be able to access high-speed data connection. That feature is missing from the Microsoft Lumia 535, as that is only equipped with a 3G antennae. Already, we are seeing one bonus for buying the Lumia 640 over the Lumia 535, Even though there are people out there who don’t have access to a 4G network or don’t feel the need to use it, most people would be better off having 4G on their smartphones and I suppose we can agree on that aspect. As such, if you are looking for a budget-friendly smartphone with a high-speed internet connection, the Microsoft Lumia 640 will be perfect for that. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a cheap smartphone but aren’t planning on paying for a very good data plan but still want a good internet connection and data transfer rate, the Microsoft Lumia 535 will suffice.
When it comes to the Microsoft Lumia 640 design and how it compares to the Lumia 535 design, we aren’t seeing that much of a difference. They are roughly of the same size and weigh the same amount, so the difference is negligible. Still, the Microsoft Lumia 535 is a tad bit more appealing on a first look because it has a slightly better screen to body ratio. The bottom bezels on the Lumia 535 are slightly thinner than on the Lumia 640, which is a plus in my book because I enjoy the “less is more” theory when it comes to bezels. But my honest opinion would be that both these phones look rather good in their plastic bodies for the price they’re being sold at.
Moving on to display, we are seeing considerable differences here. The Microsoft Lumia 640 and Lumia 535 come with the same IPS LCD 5 inch display, but the resolution is different. The Lumia 640 display comes with a 720*1280 resolution that adds up to 294 ppi pixel density, while the Microsoft Lumia 535 resolution is much lower at 540*960 which adds up to just 220 ppi pixel density. As you can probably tell, the Microsoft Lumia 640 has a much better display resolution, which is an important aspect in my opinion. Although you can’t see individual pixels on the Microsoft Lumia 535 either, unless you look really hard, the Lumia 640 display does look much better, crisper, sharper and brighter, so that’s another good reason for paying a bit extra.
Still, if you’re on a tight budget or if the Microsoft Lumia 535 is intended to be a gift as a teen’s first smartphone, the resolution should not bother you. It’s not bad, but it’s not good either. You will still have a good experience viewing photos and videos, although you will notice the occasional pixelated panel. In my opinion, it is truly a trade-off for the cheap price, but it does work as a good display and does provide a decent viewing experience, so for $150, I would say go for it.
Since the Microsoft Lumia 640 is a mid-range smartphone and the Microsoft Lumia 535 is more of a low-end smartphone, you can already imagine that processing power and performance will be different. The former comes with a Snapdragon 400 CPU clocked at 1.2 GHz, backed by 1 GB RAM and 8 GB internal storage, with a microSD card slot that supports cards up to 128 GB in size. The Microsoft Lumia 535 on the other hand, gets and older, less powerful Snapdragon 200 CPU clocked at 1.2 GHz, but backed by the same amount of RAM and internal storage, with the same type of microSD card slot available for expansion.
Although performance is not exemplary on either of these phones, they can both manage daily use pretty well. You will not encounter crashes or lost connections or even overheating on either the Microsoft Lumia 640 or the Lumia 535. Both these smartphones can run the average social media and networking apps without a problem, although the Lumia 535 will get tired with prolonged use, if you know what I mean. Battery optimization is also very good on both these smartphones and they will last well into the second day of medium use. Still, if you tend to fiddle a lot with various apps in the social, photo, video, music departments, then the Microsoft Lumia 640 might be more suitable for you.
On the other hand, the Microsoft Lumia 535 can handle the general socializing apps just as well. It might stutter when it comes to switching between a lot of apps and toggling video and music play at the same time, but not as much as to make the user experience unbearable. For the price, it offers a decent performance and a decent user experience for light to medium users. Power users on the other hand will not feel comfortable with this phone. As a daily driver, it handles tasks well and always seems to be responsive and speedy, which is valid for the Microsoft Lumia 640 as well. If I were to choose, I would definitely recommend the Microsoft Lumia 640 for the average user, but a new smartphone user will be satisfied with what the Lumia 535 has to offer as well.
Since both these devices are mid-rangers and do not belong in a category where you would praise all the features, the cameras are not excellent. The Microsoft Lumia 640 camera is an 8 MP shooter on the rear complete with autofocus and an LED flash and a 1 MP shooter on the front. You will be able to record video in 1080p at 30fps, which is pretty neat for such a mid-range phone. The photos coming from the Lumia 640 turn out pretty well, surprisingly well on occasion and one thing that I really loved about it (and about all Lumia phones) is low-light photography. The Lumia 640 takes on low-light and tackles it. Not always, but it can handle dimly lit spaces with its chin up.
The Microsoft Lumia 535 on the other hand is not that bright. It comes with a 5 MP camera on the rear with autofocus and an LED flash and a much larger 5 MP camera on the front. Clearly, the Microsoft Lumia 535 would fit someone who is just getting into Instagram and Facebook very well, which is why once again I feel obligated to reiterate that this would be the perfect first-phone for a teenager. The selfie camera is admirable, although not exemplary, and the rear camera is great for occasional snapshots. It’s not something that makes you go “awe”, but it will satisfy basic needs.
The cameras on both these phones are fast and super responsive, which is a plus for both of them. I would consider the camera battle between the Microsoft Lumia 640 and Lumia 535 a tie, because while one has a decent rear camera and a rubbish front camera, the other has two decent cameras and that’s about it. You won’t be getting a lot of artistic, higquality photos out of either of these, but you’re probably not looking for a good smartphone camera if your budget is tight. For budget-friendly phones, these two do quite well in the camera department.
All that’s left to discuss about these two are features. The Microsoft Lumia 640 has NFC, which can be quite helpful, but it is not yet a feature that nobody can live without, which is why I’m not going to hold it against the Microsoft Lumia 535. Both these phones come with an FM Radio, which I absolutely condone. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are a given, speakers are not too good on either, and battery life is acceptable on both. Still, the Microsoft Lumia 640 does win here once again, with the whole lot larger 2500 mAh battery. The Lumia 535 battery only measures 1905 mAh, so it will not last as long as the Microsoft Lumia 640 battery, unless you’re using LTE on the latter rather often.
As a conclusion, the biggest differences between the Microsoft Lumia 640 and Microsoft Lumia 535 are: price, LTE, camera, display and NFC connectivity. The choice that you make will reflect one of two things, in my opinion: either you are looking for a phone that will do the bare necessities for you or a new smartphone user, or are looking for a good LTE-equipped phone that will provide with good performance and shelf life. I would definitely recommend the Microsoft Lumia 640 as a daily driver and in my opinion, it is worth the extra cash compared to the Lumia 535. Now it all boils down to what you, the user, needs.