Microsoft Lumia 435 review

A different breed of Windows Phone

Microsoft Lumia 435 review

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The story of the Microsoft Lumia 435 is one of sacrifice. Coming in with a sub-par screen, a small battery and poor camera, this phone isn't going to please the high-end crowd.

Yet at roughly a 10th of the cost of a new iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S6 or LG G4, competing at such a level is not a priority for the Lumia 435.

As more budget devices arrive touting 4G, Quad Core processors and 720p screens, it is difficult to tell if the Lumia 435 will continue to have a place in the mobile phone market.

Microsoft Lumia 435 review

We liked

The build quality of this device, for the price level, is excellent. The unit feels very solid and could most likely survive the extended attention of a clumsy child. With no flex or give, and the ability to buy new back-plates, this would make a great companion for the accident-prone.

Despite the device's lower-end specs, using the Windows Phone OS was a fluid and enjoyable affair. Juggling various email accounts with texting and instant messaging proved to be a good experience overall, with the battery lasting through a busy day of communicating.

Music playback proved to be something of a treat. As an MP3 player, this device is a strong pick, especially with the option to add more storage via MicroSD. The speakers reach satisfyingly loud volume levels, making rocking out all the easier.

Microsoft Lumia 435 review

We disliked

Gaming performance, as a whole, is under par. Subway Surfers, which has been optimised for budget devices, becomes unplayable in its later stages, when faster reaction times are required, as the processor simply can't keep up.

The screen is very difficult to view in sunlight, often whether it is bright or not. This is made worse by the auto-brightness sensor, which is confused very easily. Viewing angles are also poor, and reading text can become a little difficult on certain webpages.

Apps on the Windows Phone store remain sparse. What options are available are rarely updated, navigating the store remains a chore, and with universal apps on the way later in the year, it is yet to be seen how many developers will choose to port their apps over.

Final verdict

The Microsoft Lumia 435 is a funny little phone. With its eye-catching looks and a sturdy, comfortable design, it makes a great first impression.

In day-to-day use, this mostly remains. Navigating the OS is a relatively painless affair and listening to music is something of a treat. The fact that this phone will receive Windows 10 also makes it a tantalising offer for those who want to try something a little different later in the year without breaking the bank.

Yet with a poor screen, bad cameras and laggy performance in many tasks, this is a device that has many drawbacks.

What it all boils down to, however, is price. The Lumia 520 became the most popular Windows Phone handset not because of its obvious superiority or wonderful good looks, but because of its price. By the end of its shelf life, Microsoft was practically giving them away. This is where the 435 is intended to sit, and as a phone meant to be sold in shovels, it is well worth a look.

First reviewed: April 2015

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