Microsoft Lumia 435 review

A different breed of Windows Phone

Microsoft Lumia 435 review

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The four-inch screen of the Microsoft Lumia 435 is standard for devices of this price class, and unfortunately it does not impress a great deal, even by such low standards.

With 233ppi pixellation on small text is quite noticeable, meaning that reading web pages can be quite a difficult proposition. Outdoor lighting also presented a number of problems, and the milky blacks on offer meant that holding a WhatsApp conversation while on the go required the use of a second hand for shade.

Despite this, auto brightness is available, something omitted from last year's budget Lumia models. It isn't the most sensitive, but its mere presence meant that I wasn't constantly forced to manually adjust the screen lighting throughout the day, making things a little more convenient.

Microsoft Lumia 435 review

As might be expected, viewing angles on the Lumia 435 are poor. Colours fade away and light levels drop rapidly when viewed from odd angles, though overriding the auto-brightness can occasionally make things a little better. Back-lighting is also a little uneven, and this becomes very noticeable under certain lighting situations.

Despite these issues, the screen is nice and sensitive; I had no problems with touch responsiveness.


Microsoft Lumia 435

Though much improved from years ago, the Windows Phone app store still lags behind its rivals. Microsoft likes to trumpet the gains made in this area, and indeed progress has been quick.

But Windows Phone 8.1 still lacks the app 'culture' that draws in developers and ensures quality native apps, rather than poorly coded ports.

When apps do arrive, they are often updated irregularly, and with the introduction of universal apps and Windows 10 Mobile later in the year, things are set to change again.

Navigating through the Windows Phone store on the Lumia 435 helps to compound the problem – despite typing 'Wordpress' verbatim in an attempt to find that particular app, I was presented with a number of completely unrelated options, finding the app in question involved a mobile web search.

Apps may come to Windows Phone when Microsoft's grand vision of Windows 10 Mobile comes together, but, for the moment, the platform still struggles.

As the Lumia 435 has been confirmed to be one of the first handsets to get Windows 10 Mobile, it will be interesting to see if universal apps will cause a renaissance for the Windows Phone app ecosystem - which the Lumia 435 will benefit from.

OneDrive to rule them all, one Office to bind them

Part of Windows Phone's appeal as a mobile operating system has been the promise of easy, integrated connectivity with all of Microsoft's software offerings.

OneDrive has long been Microsoft's answer to the likes of Dropbox and Google Drive, and bundled with the Office functionality baked into Windows Phone 8.1 on the Lumia 435, this made working within my Microsoft ecosystem a very fluid experience.

Microsoft Lumia 435 review

The OneDrive app itself has a very clean interface and is laid out sensibly. When camera upload is activated, images are launched into the cloud with a moment's notice, with a minimum of waiting.

Images uploaded to the camera roll folder do not count against the storage limit, meaning that keen shutterbugs can get quite a lot of mileage from this service.

Working with Office, it was easy to create, edit, upload and share files on the go, including Powerpoint and Excel files. Though the appeal of this is admittedly niche, having the option was certainly pleasant and offered a tangible improvement to my daily routine.

With the likes of Dropbox being the only real cloud-storage competitors in the Windows Phone space, it is easy to dismiss OneDrive, yet this is a real bonus for users.

Owners of the Lumia 435 will receive 30GB of free OneDrive storage from Microsoft, making this potentially quite an attractive offer for some.


Cortana, Microsoft's little nod to Halo fans, is touted as a main selling point of Windows Phones such as the Lumia 435. Is 'she' worth the attention? The answer is complicated.

In daily use, Cortana makes for a pleasant comparison. Lacking the robotic sterility of Google Now and possessing a few more features than Siri, Cortana is certainly entertaining. Ask her for a joke and you will most likely laugh.

Microsoft Lumia 435 review

However, her insistence on using Bing for search is unfortunately seemingly incurable.

The app launches quickly on the Lumia 435, displaying relevant news for the day based on what interests you have selected. From there, you can type or speak a command or search request, after which you'll be taken through the depths of Bing to lands (often) unknown.

By selecting the hamburger menu on the top right, you are given access to various options in Cortana's Notebook, where all of the information on you is stored. There, you can edit things such as interests, quiet hours and frequent places to personalise the experience of using Cortana.

She also sports a reasonably accurate music recognition functionality, something which should occasionally come in useful when a catchy song comes on that you don't know.

By far the most useful feature is quiet hours, which allows you to specify times that you do not wish to be disturbed. As default, this will come on during meetings detailed in the calendar, but can also be triggered manually, making a good night's sleep a little easier.

Cortana is still in beta, and there are still a few growing pains (not least when trying to understand my Scottish burr) for her to get through. For the moment, however, it is a solid feature, though whether a voice assistant alone can sell phones is an unknown.


Microsoft Lumia 435 review

Given the price point and the youthful demographic this device is aimed at, music playback is a major concern, and luckily the Lumia 435 does not disappoint.

Though lacking the high-end Dolby audio options of other, more expensive, Lumia models such as the Nokia Lumia 930, the 435 makes for a great little music player. With a good pair of in-ear headphones inserted, bass and treble were nicely layered and volume was excellent.

As the speaker is rear-firing, it would be a reasonable assumption to make that audio reproduction would be poor. This is mostly true, but for the price it is difficult to beat.

Definition is lost in higher treble and lower bass frequencies, but this speaker can really crank up the volume.

If you like to host impromptu back-of-the-bus parties, the Lumia 435 is likely a phone for you.

When Windows 10 Mobile comes along the Music app will be turned into Microsoft's new Groove Music application. Despite its slightly cringe-inducing name, the app offers some nice new features, and allows you to upload your songs to a OneDrive cloud account for your own personal music streaming service.

Sean is a Scottish technology journalist who's written for the likes of T3, Trusted Reviews, TechAdvisor and Expert Reviews.