Microsoft Lumia 535 is powered by the low-end Snapdragon 200 chipset. It has four Cortex-A7 processor cores clocked at 1.2GHz, Adreno 302 graphics and 1GB RAM. While we've seen this CPU perform adequately across the Windows Phone gang, its graphics performance is usually underwhelming.
First, we ran the multi-platform compound test BaseMark OS II, which takes in consideration CPU performance, graphics, web benchmark, and memory. The Lumia 535 posted a mid-range score, slightly lower than its S400-powered Lumia siblings. We noticed the dedicated graphics score was the one to blame for the overall lower rating.
Higher is better
Then we ran AnTuTu for Windows Phone, which also gauges the overall system performance. Here Lumia 535 is pretty much on par with the Snapdragon 400-running Lumia 635.
Higher is better
Lower is better
Higher is better
When it comes to summing up the Lumia 535 real-life performance, we'd rate it as OK. Windows Phone 8.1 is smooth and lag free but we could notice some longer loading times. There were some minor UI hiccups, but those didn't ruin the overall good impression.
All default apps and the Office suite did great, but you shouldn't expect more than an average performance with the 3D games because of the low-end GPU. It will do the job for popular platformers, but you should probably tune your hopes down for Halo.
Given the Lumia 535 price tag, it performs well for the class and that's what matters.
Cortana, which premiered on Windows Phone 8.1, is Microsoft's answer to Siri, S Voice and Google Now. It does a pretty good job with voice recognition and it has the potential of helping you out on a number of occasions throughout your day.
Cortana is very similar to Siri. The voice comes courtesy of Halo's Jen Taylor and is probably the most human-like sounding virtual assistant we've encountered. It recognizes your voice commands and questions in natural human language and provides voice feedback.
So, what can Cortana actually do for you? First you need to personalize it in order to utilize its full potential. The Settings are called Notebook and are divided into Interests, Reminders, Quiet Hours, Inner Circle, Places, and Music Searches. In Interests you can assign literally everything you like and Cortana will help you track specific news, plan trips, find restaurants or bars, and more.
Cortana supports reminders including contact-based ones - you can tell her to remind you of something next time you call some of your contacts. It also supports reminders by location (home, work, university, stores), so it can remind you to wish a coworker a happy birthday before starting with the work-related questions.
Cortana can also remember places, important people to you (it can even suggest such people based on your activity), plus it can actively control your quiet hours mode.
Cortana can fully interact with your phone and carry out all kind or commands related to it - make a call, send a message, add appointments, take notes, set alarms, play specific music or playlists, navigate you to locations or simply search the web. It can also turn on/off settings or give you straightforward answers to simple questions.
Cortana is also capable of checking the traffic in your city and it will remind you to leave early or warn you if your bus or train has been delayed. It can also provide alternatives routes to avoid traffic jams.
Unique among virtual assistants, Cortana can also forward your commands to third party apps, so you can for example ask it to open Skype and call some of your contacts. Only Skype, Facebook and Twitter currently support this functionality, but others should follow sooner rather than later.
As far as the speed of voice recognition is concerned, WP's virtual assistant does a fine job. Words are recognized almost in real time, and the accuracy has greatly improved since its earlier iterations.
Siri can do a lot more than Cortana today, while Google Now with its automatically appearing cards is probably the most useful of the bunch, but those two have quite a head start. Microsoft does remind you that Cortana is still in beta, so we expect even better performance and functionality once it's finalized.
Microsoft has been working hard to bring Cortana in more regions and languages as the US, UK and China are the only ones supported for now. It recently became available in early alpha version in Australia, Canada, India, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain, and it's progress but lots of people worldwide are eager to try it out. The good news is you can bypass that limitation by simply changing your region in the settings menu - no complicated hacks required.