Recently, Microsoft launched a new budget smartphone: the Lumia 435. It's the "first of his name", as there never has been another Lumia 400 series before. Microsoft Lumia 435 is a low priced smartphone that promises not to compromise and, at the same time, offer you a complete Windows Phone 8.1 experience. Furthermore, Microsoft promises to deliver even the Windows 10 upgrade later this year, for free, for all Lumia 435 owners. As you can imagine, when we received this smartphone, we were quite anxious to see what less than a hundred dollars can buy. If you are too, don't hesitate to read this review:
Hardware Specifications & Packaging
Nokia accustomed us to seeing small and colorful packages for their Lumia devices. Microsoft also continues this tradition even though they have decided to change the packaging when compared to other Lumias. As you can see in the following picture, Microsoft Lumia 435 comes in a very small and colorful box.
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Inside the package you'll find the smartphone, its battery, a charger and a user manual. There is no USB cable or any headphones included, but that is to be expected. After all, we're talking about a very inexpensive smartphone.
The Microsoft Lumia 435 is available in two versions: Single SIM or Dual SIM. The model we received in tests is the Dual SIM variant. Besides offering support for one or two SIM cards, the two variants are otherwise identical. The smartphone is powered by a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor and 1GB of RAM. It also offers 8GB of internal storage space that you can expand by adding a microSD card of up to 128 GB. The screen uses a 4'' LCD panel with a resolution of 480x800 pixels, but no IPS technology. A nice thing is the fact that Microsoft included an ambient light sensor, so you won't have to fiddle with the screen brightness whenever you walk outside or when you get back into your office. This smartphone offers a 2 megapixels rear camera with fixed focus and a 0.3 megapixels front camera. There is no zoom, no flash and no dedicated hardware camera button. Also, it can record videos at a maximum resolution of 800x448 pixels at 30 frames per second. Both the main and the secondary cameras are of low quality and won't be of much help if you intended to use this smartphone for taking pictures or shooting videos. The 1560 mAh battery might not seem like much, but it should be decent considering the hardware found inside the Lumia 435. Heavy users will be happy to learn that the battery is replaceable. If you need to, you can change it with a spare battery to increase the smartphone's autonomy. Lumia 435 also includes an FM radio chip that you can use to listen to radio stations without a working Internet connection. However, you will need a headphones set to act as an antenna. Because the default package doesn't include any, you will have to buy one. The Lumia 435 is 118.1 mm (4.65 in) long, 64.7 mm (2.55 in) wide, 11.7 mm (0.46 in) thick and it weighs 134.1 g (7.73 oz). Overall, these dimensions make this smartphone rather bulky. You can find all the specifications of the Microsoft Lumia 435, here: Microsoft Lumia 435 - Detailed specifications.
Design & Build Quality
The Lumia 435 comes in a polycarbonate case. As is Microsoft's custom, the case is available in multiple colors: black, white, green and orange. You'll surely notice the Microsoft logo printed on the back cover. In the picture below, you can see what the orange version that we tested looks like.
The back cover and the battery are both detachable. That means you can easily change the cover if you no longer like its color or replace the battery if it should become faulty. Also, if you're a heavy smartphone user, you can keep a spare battery close and, when needed, switch batteries.
By removing the back cover and the battery, you get access to the microSD slot and the micro-SIM slot (or slots if you have a Dual Sim variant).
The buttons are all positioned on the right side. You'll find the power button and the volume rocker. There is no dedicated camera button available, but the Lumia 435 with its 2 MP camera wasn't made for taking pictures. The audio jack is found on the upper rim and the USB connector is available on the bottom of this smartphone.
Microsoft Lumia 435 uses an LCD display of poor quality. It's not an IPS panel and there's no ClearBlack technology. The viewing angles are bad and the color reproduction is very poor. The only good aspect about the screen is that Microsoft included an ambient light sensor. This sensor allows the display to automatically adjust its luminosity depending on the lightning of your surrounding environment. However, another bad side of the screen is its high light reflectivity. Even if you're using the high brightness profile, the display is almost unusable outdoors in direct sunlight.
While the screen isn't good, we were satisfied with the design and build quality Lumia 435, considering its very low price.
The Phone Experience On The Microsoft Lumia 435
During phone calls, the Lumia 435 works decently: the sound quality is OK and the volume is high. We didn't notice any signal drops either. The audio quality while listening to music or watching videos is also decent, but only when using a headphones set. Of course, you'll have to buy your own headphones, as there aren't any included in the package. The speaker is of low quality and, even if it's quite loud at its maximum volume level, the sound is distorted and high-pitched. The Lumia 435 comes with the Lumia Denim update, which offers some audio enhancements and an equalizer. You can use these features to try to compensate a bit for the poor audio quality of this smartphone. On the storage side of things, Microsoft Lumia 435 offers 8GB of internal storage space, which can be expanded with a microSD card of up to 128 GB. The operating system and the default apps take some of that internal storage space, but you will still have 4.50 GB of free space at your disposal. That should be enough to have all your favourite apps installed. However, if you're a music addict or want to play lots of games, you'll have to add a microSD card.
The Lumia 435 is equipped with both a rear camera and a front facing camera. The front 0.3 megapixels camera offers a VGA resolution and is only useful for phone-to-phone video calls. Even if the phone comes with the Lumia Selfie app pre-installed, don't use it as the camera won't take any flattering pictures of yourself. It's simply bad! :) The rear camera is a 2 megapixels camera with fixed focus and no flash. You will be able to shoot photos at 1600x1200 pixels and capture videos at 480p and 30 fps. The low resolution and the fixed focus translate into pictures that lack details, have blurry edges and washed out colors. The only thing worth appreciating is that such an affordable smartphone has a camera. Even more, it has two. :) The album below includes some samples of what you'll get from this smartphone in terms of photo quality.
We also used the Lumia 435 to record two videos. We used the Auto settings. When you record videos, you can only set the white balance. You don't get the detailed configuration options found on more expensive Lumias. The first video is meant to show you how the camera handles movement. As you can see, the low resolution (480p) and the fixed focus don't help at all. This video is blurry and lacking in details.
The second video we recorded is a bit more static. Even when trying to capture a panorama on video you need some good hardware in order to get a decent result. A camera with 2 megapixels and no autofocus cannot give you a good recording, as you can see for yourself.
Overall, the Lumia 435 has the worst cameras found on any Windows Phone we've tested. However, keep in mind that the Lumia 435 is also the least expensive Windows Phone ever launched. The battery life on Lumia 435 is good and above average. The 1560mAh battery capacity doesn't seem like much, but we were able to use this smartphone for 1 to 2 days in normal usage scenarios. However, if you'll use power hungry apps like games or GPS navigation apps, the autonomy will drop a lot and the battery won't last you a whole day.