We’ve taken a look at a few budget smartphones here at Techaeris lately, alternatives to pricier flagship phones that cost hundreds of dollars. We’ve also taken a look at a couple of Microsoft’s Lumia devices while still bearing the Nokia name, and we recently had a chance to put one of the first Microsoft branded Lumia budget smartphones through its paces. Find out how it stacks up in our Microsoft Lumia 435 review.
- 4″ 800×400 (~233ppi) LCD display
- Qualcomm MSM8210 Snapdragon 200 Dual-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 Processor
- 8GB Storage
- 1GB RAM
- Rear 2MP (1600×1200) camera; Front VGA 0.3MP (640×480) camera
- MicroSD expansion slot expandable up to 128GB
- Sensors: Accelerometer, Proximity
- 1560 mAh battery
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n with hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, microUSB 2.0
- FM Radio
- Dual micro-SIM card slots
- GSM 850/900/1800/1900
- HSDPA 900 (Band 8)/2100 (Band 1)
The Microsoft Lumia 435 doesn’t look overly thick at a glance, but has an interesting shaped hump on the back that adds about 50% to that thickness. The screen is still set slightly above the body of the phone, and the entire back and sides are one plastic piece which comes off to access the dual SIM slots, microSD slot, and battery. The power and volume buttons which sit on the right side of the phone are also part of the plastic piece. The microUSB port is at the bottom of the phone and the headphone jack sits right in the middle of the top of the phone. The rear camera sits centered on the back of the phone near the top, and the speaker is centered near the bottom. The Microsoft logo is also stamped across the back, and the Microsoft wordmark appears on the top of the front of the phone solidifying the Microsoft branding.
Our demo unit was green, but it is also available in Black, Orange, and White, and you can pick up the other coloured backs to swap out as you see fit.
While I don’t expect much out of budget smartphone displays, the screen on the Lumia 435 suffers when viewed at an angle. It’s decent enough in a regularly lit room when viewed straight on but tilt it to far one way and the lighter portions almost turn silver, tilt it too far the other way and the screen darkens making images and text unviewable. Other budget smartphones that I’ve reviewed haven’t suffered from this issue.
When viewed straight on though, text is readable with no issues and colours seem pretty accurate.
As with other Windows Phone devices, Windows 8.1 on the Lumia 435 flows nicely, is easy to navigate, and also includes the Cortana alpha app. The Live Tiles on the home screen displayed relevant information, and the ability to resize, add, remove, and position the home screen tiles provided more than enough customization for quick access to frequently accessed apps. Aside from the default installed apps, the Lumia 435 also includes an FM Radio app and functionality. For even more storage, Microsoft is also offering 30GB of OneDrive cloud storage.
Because it uses the Windows Phone store and apps, as I mentioned previously in my Nokia 830 review, there is somewhat a lack of available apps. While there are versions of the more popular apps, there isn’t Google app support or less popular apps. That being said, the inclusion of the Xbox Games brand with Windows Phone is a plus if you own an Xbox and want to boost up your Gamerscore with Windows Phone games.
The speaker on the Lumia 435 is pretty decent for a single speaker and video, music and games are acceptable sounding on the phone – albeit with a general lack from the bass end of the spectrum.
The Lumia 435 performed surprisingly well. As I’ve found with other budget Windows phones, the operating system runs smoothly and without delays or stuttering. Video playback was smooth as well, and most games ran fine (with reduced graphics). The occasional game had some stuttering issues but that seemed to be limited to the menu portions of the app and not during actual gameplay.
When I first saw that the Lumia 435 sported a 2MP camera, I thought it was a typo as other budget devices I’ve tested still manage to squeeze in a 10 or 13MP rear camera and 2 or 5 MP front cameras into their devices. Unfortunately the Lumia 435 does come with a lowly 2MP rear camera – without a flash – and a VGA (640×480) front camera. While the phone does take o.k. photos outside in the sun, inside shots are very low quality, and trying to take selfies is even worse. I honestly felt like I was back in 2001 using my Canon PowerShot A20 camera or a cheap webcam when viewing the quality of the images.
If you’re not planning on taking indoor shots or selfies, and only the odd outdoor shot then you could probably get away with it but I wouldn’t plan on being able to print photos taken with the Lumia 435.
Battery life on the other hand is really good and will easily last you a couple days when used for checking email, web browsing, watching the odd video and playing a few games here and there. The standby time on the Lumia 435 also seems decent as the phone only dropped a few percent in battery remaining after five days of being on but not used.
The Lumia 435 is being offered in the UK starting at £25 on a pay as you go plan or £50 SIM free price. An unlocked version can be had for about $100 on Amazon as well. Given this is a very inexpensive smartphone, even with the issues with the screen and the camera,s one could argue that the value for what you pay is there.
The Lumia 435 is definitely on the low end of the budget category and isn’t a smartphone that is going to blow you away, or even impress you much. That being said, for the price it is a great alternative for someone wanting a cheaper device that does just the basics and I’d go so far as even suggesting it would be a good starter phone for kids and young teens. While it would be nice to have a better camera, the battery life and performance for the price is more than acceptable and if you’re looking for a starter budget smartphone you may want to consider the Lumia 435.
*We were sent a demo unit of the Microsoft Lumia 435 for the purposes of this review.
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