The day-glo Lumia 435 is Microsoft's cheapest Lumia yet but, rather remarkably, it's also one of the Lumias that will be upgradable to Windows 10 once the OS arrives. So do you get from a smartphone that retails at a mere £60?
Microsoft Lumia 435: The hardware
The Lumia 435 echoes the neon styling that you see elsewhere in the Lumia range: the review model we tested had a glowing, bright orange shell. Other options including a miserabilist black are available, but for me the fluorescent shells are a cheeky distinguishing feature of the Lumia range.
The 435 is quite a boxy and thick handset at 11.7mm, but perhaps because of its dimensions, the device fits more comfortably in the hand as a result (although the corners were a little sharp for my liking). When sat on a desk, the cambered back give the 435 a little bit of that floating-on-air look too. All in all, it's a light and sturdy, if rather dinky, package.
Inevitably with such a cheap handset, there are some compromises: for me, the most obvious of these is the screen.
In contrast to the brilliant shell, the four-inch 233 ppi display is rather dowdy. I found it immediately necessary to boost screen brightness to the highest of its three settings and even then I found it too dark, muddy, and lacking in sharpness, with limited viewing angles.
The 435's battery is removable which for some will be an attractive feature; others will be impressed by the expandable memory up to 128GB and microSD support, not common in a budget device like this.
Another compromise is the camera, which is slow to load, taking around six seconds to launch the Lumia Camera app.
The rear camera has a two-megapixel fixed focus sensor and takes a reasonable picture (sample shots from the main camera are shown below). You might mock the 0.3 megapixel (yes really) front-facing camera and sure, the images aren't sharp, but having a forward-facing camera on a phone at this price is pretty impressive - giving it one up on the 630 - and means video calling is an option too
Microsoft Lumia 435: The software
The Lumia 435 runs Windows 8.1 with Denim, bringing Cortana with it.
I'm personally quite a fan of the Windows Phone UI, and the 1.2GHz Snapdragon dual-core processor keeps those customizable tiles scrolling smoothly, but when you get beyond that, you do hit some delays. As mentioned above, the camera is slow to open and apps tend to take a heartbeat or two (or several) longer to fully open than you might expect, but mostly performance is surprisingly good.
The 435 comes with the standard set of Microsoft apps on board which are more aimed at business use than consumers: Office, OneDrive and OneNote, plus Skype, Facebook, and Twitter. For any more choices, you'll have to dip into the Microsoft app store, which has a smaller range on offer than you'll find in the Apple or Google equivalent (at least for now) so it's best to check if there's an app you just can't do without.
Microsoft Lumia 435: Conclusions
The 435 is being sold in Europe and also across Asia-Pacific, India, the Middle East and Africa, targeting mostly first time smartphone owners. Lumias have been selling well - perhaps unexpectedly well - at the budget end of the market and the 435 will build on that.
While you'll not be swapping your iPhone 6 or Galaxy S6 for one of these anytime soon, if you were upgrading from a dumbphone you'd quite impressed.
Sure, it's missing the 4G, NFC, and fingerprint readers you'll find on high-end handsets, but bell and whistles like that are just noisy, battery-sapping distractions for many users.
With the Lumia 435 Microsoft has clearly tried to provide something a slightly different definition of an entry-level smartphone by including a front-facing camera, expandable memory, and removable battery.
Cheap the Lumia 435 is, but throw-away it is not: it will also be interesting to see how Windows 10 performs on this modest handset when it arrives later this year.
Microsoft Lumia 435: The specs
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