One thing is for sure is that Microsoft are not short of low end phones at the moment. Since the transition from Nokia to Microsoft there hasn’t been a flagship Lumia but what there has been is a good selection of low end budget phones.
The Lumia 435 is the entry level Lumia priced at around £49 on pay as you go or £69 off contract, is it value for money or just another cheap phone? The first thing I noticed about the 435 is the Microsoft branding on it, gone is the Nokia logo to be replaced with Microsoft and this obviously is makes no difference to the phone but it is good to see.
The 435 is a small phone with a 4 inch display and a little chunky looking. It is a little thicker than some of the other Lumia devices (like the 635) and has squared off edges as opposed to the smooth curves of the 635, 930 and other phones. The removable back comes in a range of colours which really make it stand out, my review unit was bright orange and looks great. I really like the bright colour designs which makes the phones standout from the boring black slates of many Android devices. The back comes off so you could swap it for another colour back, it also has a removable 1560 mAh battery.
It doesn’t feel cheap at all, it feels well-made and solid. My daily phone is a 6 inch Lumia 1520 and it dwarfs the 435 but I have to say I really like the little phone, it fits in the hard very well.
The 4 inch screen runs at 800 x 480 and is nice and clear perhaps not as crisp as my Lumia 1520 but is very useable and is as good as my other test phone a Lumia 630. One thing I do like is the double tap to turn on feature, something I use a lot on my 1520 and isn’t support on many of the low end phones so it good to see it on this device.
The Lumia 435 has a Snapdragon 200 CPU running at 1.2GHz and the nice thing about Windows Phone is that it doesn’t need a high spec processor for it to work well. I had no problem running Minecraft pocket edition on the phone and switching between apps is very fluid. It has 1GB of RAM which means that you don’t get the app compatibly problems associated with 512MB devices (like the 635).
There is 8GB of storage which you can augmented with an SD card, the phone will take cards up to 128GB and Windows Phone works very well with SD cards so only having a small amount of on board storage isn’t really an issue. I should point out that it is not 4G LTE compatible so its 2G/3G/3.5G only for the phone.
One other difference I noticed with some of the other low end phones is it has hardware Back, Windows and Search buttons and not the on-screen type on the 630 and 635. I would rather have the hardware buttons but the 435 the buttons are not backlit so in the dark you have to go off memory to locate them. The buttons should either be backlit or the on-screen type.
There are two cameras on the 435, there is a 2MP rear and a 0.3MP front facing camera and no flash at all. The camera is probably where you can see the phone is a budget device, there is no dedicated camera button so you have to use the app or a shortcut from Action Center.
The camera launches quickly and its fixed focus so not many options for setting up the photo. You can adjust the while balance, ISO setting, shutter speed and brightness but I expect most of the time you would use it in auto mode. The photos are reasonable quality, as you can see but in low light settings you are going to be missing a flash. The front camera is even more basic, I guess the target market for this phone will be taking selfies and there is a dedicated app for that, it is also fine for using with Skype. With the Lumia camera app you get Smart Sequence for recording a sequence of photos and then you can create action shots with them later.
It has an FM radio and the phone is pretty good for watching videos and listening to music on. The speaker has a reasonable volume range and for a small phone is fairly loud.
The Lumia 435 comes with Windows Phone 8.1 Update and Lumia Denim. So you get the latest version of Windows Phone which includes Cortana and Live folders. You get a good selection of Lumia apps including Lumia Camera, Lumia Selife and Lumia Storyteller an app for creating photo stories.
If you are looking for the next flagship high end Lumia phone then obviously this is not the phone for you but if you are looking for a budget phone that runs the latest OS and will support Windows 10 in the future this is a great phone. It is a really nice little phone and highlights how well Windows Phone works on low end hardware. My review unit was the dual SIM version but it also comes in a single SIM version for European markets.