We all know one thing for sure about the Windows 8 phones – they operate smooth, no matter what’s the hardware. In that case you should not worry that you can buy some sluggish and slow device, which is totally waste of money. Even the cheapest smartphones operating under Windows 8 (and above) offer smooth and pleasant user experience. So is there any point of buying an expensive device ? Yes, there is. More money means more features and better hardware of course. A budget smartphone will give you just the basic, but sometimes the basic is just enough. Microsoft makes most of its profit by selling budget devices and there’s a wide range of the 500 and 600 Lumia series. At first glance there are not so many differences except the screen size, the battery capacity and the price. But that’s not all, there are lots of differences between the budget Lumia devices. We will take a closer look to 5 of the latest smartphones, which can be called budget phones.
Lumia 530 vs Lumia 535 vs Lumia 532 vs Lumia 630 vs Lumia 635
Let’s start with the most obvious – the display’s size. Lumia 530 and 532 are equipped with 4-inch screen. Lumia 630 and 635 have slightly bigger display, which is 4.5-inch. And finally Lumia 535 comes with 5-inch screen. So the first question you have to ask yourself is – how big display do you need ? Bigger display means bigger phone as well (but it doesn’t always mean heavier). In terms of weight all phones are really close to each other and the difference is so small that you probably won’t notice. Lumia 532 – 136 gr; Lumia 530 – 129 gr; Lumia 630 and 635 – 134 gr; Lumia 535 – 146 gr. Of course Lumia 535 is the heaviest one, but it wears the biggest display among these phones.
Now let’s check something else, which is a milestone part of the specifications – the amount of RAM and the in-build storage. The RAM is used for handling applications and running the operating system. More RAM means that you are able to open more and heavier applications (but Windows has proven that the smartphones can run smooth even with low amount of RAM). Lumia 532 and 535 have 1 GB RAM, while all other models in our comparison have just 512 Mb (twice less). The in-build storage (which is used to store your applications, images and so on) is 8 GB for all phones except Lumia 530 (which comes with 4 GB). Luckily Microsoft allows its mobile operating system to store applications and data on a microSD card and all devices can use such card up to 128 GB. All of the handsets offer 15 GB free cloud storage space, but Lumia 532 promises 30 GB once you activate the camera roll back.
The processor is also slightly different. Although all phones have a quad-core processor, Lumia 630 and 635 and equipped with a slightly newer Snapdragon 400, which is a 64-bit processor. This allows faster calculations and better performance. The rest of the smartphones are running with Snapdragon 200, which is an older 32-bit version.
Two more key points – the camera and the battery. All phones are equipped with 5 MP back camera, but only Lumia 535 has a flashlight. At the same time unfortunately 530, 630 and 635 have no front camera. Lumia 532 is equipped with a VGA front camera, while Lumia 535 has 5 MP front snapper for selfies. Lumia 530 and 532 have no autofocus, which means that you can’t make any macro and close up pictures. Lumia 630 and 635 are the only ones to offer zoom feature – they have 4x digital zoom.
The battery size is as following – Lumia 532 (1560 mAh), Lumia 530 (1430 mAh), Lumia 630 (1830 mAh), Lumia 635 (1830 mAh), Lumia 535 (1905 mAh). So Lumia 535 has the biggest battery, but it also has the biggest screen and highest resolution, which means higher energy consumption. You can expect that 630, 635 and probably 532 will be the ones with longest run time with a single charge.
So what else could be interesting about these phones and could make a difference ?
Let’s check the screen first. Lumia 535 is the only one to offer IPS display (this means great viewing angles and color representation). It also packs lots of other features as Sunlight readability enhancements, Tactile feedback (also in Lumia 532), Orientation sensor (also in Lumia 532 and 530), Brightness control (also in Lumia 532) and High brightness mode. Lumia 630, 635 and 535 are equipped with Gorilla Glass 3, which grants them protection from scratches. Lumia 532 offers Refresh rate 60 Hz, which means that it’s better for your eyes.
A few words about the video recording. All smartphones can record 30fps video, but with different quality. Lumia 535, 532 and 530 can record 480p video, while 630 and 635 can do 720p. Only Lumia 635 and 630 are capable of zooming, while shooting a video.
What about the GPS ? All smartphones have GPS with A-GLONASS, A-GPS, Cellular and Wi-Fi network positioning. However Lumia 630 and 635 also support BeiDou as an extra GPS positiong system.
Let’s move to the connection. All phones work on 2G 850 MHz 900 MHz 1800 MHz 1900 MHz. All of them support 3G in 900MHz and 2100MHz, but Lumia 635 supports also 850MHz and 4G FDD 800MHz, 1800 MHz, 2600 MHz. All smartphones work in wifi WLAN IEEE 802.11 b/g/n, have Bluetooth 4.0 and can support wifi hotspot with up to 8 other devices.
And here’s the price comparison. They are all budget devices, but not all of them have the same price. Some are really cheap and brings the true meaning of a budget device. Lumia 532 is expected with a price around 90$. Lumia 530 cost $80-$85. Lumia 535 has a price of $120-$130 and it’s the same for Lumia 630. Finally Lumia 635 sells for $160-$170. The choice is all yours.
We will try to summarize each phone’s strong features
Light (129 gr) and compact
Decent battery life considering the small screen and low resolution
30 GB free cloud storage
Decent battery life considering the small screen and low resolution
Brightness control, Tactile feedback, Color boosting, Refresh rate 60 Hz
So which is the best phone ? It’s all up to your needs. If you are looking for something cheap, which works well, then go for 530 or the new 532. Looking for a big screen device, which has good camera for selfies – then Lumia 535 should be your choice. If you are looking some something a little bit better and you’re willing to spend a few more bucks, then you could pick 630. And if you need 4G connectivity, you could consider buying 635.
One thing is for sure – Microsoft devices (and Nokia of course) for a tiny budget performs way better, than Android for the same money. If you are looking for a good device, which is lag free and made by one of the big names in the industry, then no other can offer you so smooth performance as the budget windows devices. Of course you can always look for some Chinese cheap android, because you can find lots of smartphones in the range $100-$150. For example the new Xiaomi Redmi 2 and its upcoming enhanced version with 2 GB RAM. Or maybe the cool Cubot S200 for just $100 with big screen, good camera and decent battery. The list is really long – super long battery life under $100 with THL 4000 or the beautiful IP67 certified Doogee Titans2, and so on. It’s really difficult to choose between two operating systems, manufacturers and brands. But sometimes it’s better to bet on big names like Microsoft. You should not forget about the upcoming Windows 10 update, which probably will be available for most of the devices. It promises lots of new features and will definitely make Windows Mobile a better operating system. Perhaps Microsoft can even still some market share from Android and iOS, but there are still a few months until we see the update officially released.