By Rich W Woods
When Microsoft first announced the Microsoft Lumia 435, I was skeptical, to say the least. I mean, really, click the backlink. Skeptical is an understatement. After all, I remember when the Nokia Lumia 530 came out. I reviewed it and it was terrible. I still joke about it with my friend at the Microsoft Store. He even tells me that he tells customers not to buy it.
When Microsoft asked me to review the Lumia 435, I was still skeptical. It uses a dual core processor while the Lumia 530 uses the same processor, except quad core. It uses a 2 MP fixed focus camera. Could I really find something good to say about this thing? As it turns out, I can.
Microsoft Lumia 435: Specs
|Processor||Dual Core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 200|
|Display||4″, 480p, 233 ppi, LCD|
|Body||118.1×64.7×11.7 mm, 134.1 g|
|Camera||2 MP Fixed Focus, 1600×1200, VGA Front|
|Video||480p – 30 fps, Front 480p – 30 fps|
|Focal Length||36 mm|
|Storage||8 GB, Expandable to 128 GB|
Let’s take a quick look over the specs of the Microsoft Lumia 435. It was the dual core Snapdragon 200 processor that worried me, as the last Windows Phones that had dual core processors were the original Windows Phone 8 devices and those are dinosaurs on Windows Phone 8.1.
Obviously, the camera is not the strong suit of this phone. 2 MP at 4:3 is enough for a 1080p display and a VGA front camera is better than no front camera, but those are the limitations.
The Microsoft Lumia 435 uses 8 GB of storage, which made me thank God. The Nokia Lumia 530 used 4 GB of internal storage, which just isn’t enough. Users shouldn’t be forced to have a microSD card. Of course, the full 1 GB of RAM is the selling point here, as the Nokia Lumia 520, 530, 620, and 630 series of Lumias all used 512 MB of RAM.
Obviously, the Microsoft Lumia 435 isn’t aimed at users of the iPhone 6 or the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or the LG G3 or the HTC One M8 or the Sony Xperia Z3 or even the Nokia Lumia 930. It’s aimed at people who have never owned a smart phone before. It’s aimed at children. It might even be aimed at users of those phones I listed above that might want a throwaway device to try out Windows Phone on. If you don’t feel like reading the rest of this review, I can tell you that I would have no problem recommending the Microsoft Lumia 435 to any of those people.
Microsoft Lumia 435: Benchmarks
Honestly, I have never been a fan of benchmarks. They rarely provide any insight into the real world usage of the product. Typically, they only provide fuel for trolls that have created an Apple vs Android or Windows Phone vs Android war in their heads.
Readers do request them so I do provide them. I just thought I should include that disclaimer so that if you’re not familiar with benchmarks, you know that you don’t need to be.
The first benchmark is a battery test. On and Android phone or an iPhone, I would use Geekbench 3; however, Geekbench 3 is not available on Windows Phone, so I used WP Bench. I included the score from the Nokia Lumia 530, so you have a bit of perspective. The Nokia Lumia 530 is on the left and the Microsoft Lumia 435 is on the right.
As you can see, the Microsoft Lumia 435 gets much better battery life than the Nokia Lumia 530, almost two hours more battery life, in fact. It makes sense, as the Lumia 530 has a more powerful processor (1.2 GHz quad core) and a slightly less powerful battery (1430 mAh).
The next benchmark was created with AnTuTu. Lumia 530 is on the left and Lumia 435 is on the right.
Obviously, the Nokia Lumia 530 wins in CPU performance because it has a stronger CPU. I do not believe that this is reflective of real world performance as the Lumia 435 has twice as much RAM as the Lumia 530.
Microsoft Lumia 435: Camera
The Microsoft Lumia 435 uses a 2 MP fixed focus main camera. This can be a bit limiting; however, 2 MP at 4:3 is still greater than 1080p. If you’re displaying your photos on a display with a higher resolution than that, my advice to you would be to spend less money on your display and more on your phone.
The main limitation to the 2 MP camera here is the fixed focus. This means that there is no autofocus. What the camera sees is what you get. Basically, close-up shots are out of the question.
Landscape shots come out better, as the Microsoft Lumia 435 has a small aperture, coming in at f/2.7. A smaller aperture results in a larger depth of field, meaning the background of the image will be more focused.
All manual settings are available in the Lumia Camera app, except for the obvious manual focus. The settings available include white balance, ISO sensitivity, shutter speed, and brightness. There is no flash on the camera and, as all of us Windows Phones hate to hear, there is no physical camera button.
To enlarge the image, click on one and it will take you to a carousel that you can scroll through. To view the full size image, there is a link in the carousel.
As you can see, it’s a great camera. The close-up photos are blurry but the further away photos look great. All Lumia cameras, even the lowest of the low end models, are great. I would refer you to the $29 Nokia Lumia 520.
The front camera of the Microsoft Lumia 435 is VGA, which comes out to 0.3 MP. That 0.3 MP records the same 480p video as the 2 MP rear camera.
The front facing camera is about as good as it could be given the resolution of the photos. The fact is that it has a front facing camera, a feature that many phones at this price point lack. It might not take the best selfies but you do have the ability to use Skype.
Then again, we don’t know the price of this guy just yet. Well, at least not in the United States. We know you can pick it up in the UK for about £39.99, which works out to around $50. This begs a very important question, which leads me into the next section.
Nokia Lumia 520 vs Microsoft Lumia 435
You can grab a Nokia Lumia 520 from the Microsoft Store for $29.99. Well, you could have. I asked my friend about it at the Microsoft Store (the same friend that tells customers not to buy the Lumia 530) if they still had it and he said it’s online only. I just checked and couldn’t find it.
Still, it begs the question. Why should I buy a Microsoft Lumia 435 when I can get the Nokia Lumia 520 for $29? The Lumia 520 has a 1 GHz dual core processor and a 5 MP rear camera with autofocus. I did a full comparison.
It provides a shockingly smooth experience
The Nokia Lumia 520 has a rear camera that is far superior to the Microsoft Lumia 435. It even has a better GPU, but that’s about where it ends. It does not have a front facing camera and the performance of the Microsoft Lumia 435 blows away the Lumia 520.
Microsoft Lumia 435: Performance
I expected the Microsoft Lumia 435 to be a Nokia Lumia 520 with a worse camera and I was wrong. In fact, it provides a shockingly smooth experience.
I tested a bunch of games, typically games that are hard on the CPU and GPU. I tested Asphalt 8, Temple Run 2, and Halo: Spartan Assault. They all ran perfectly smooth. In fact, I want to point out that the Microsoft Lumia 435 runs Temple Run better than the Microsoft Surface RT did.
I really can’t speak to the upgradeability of the Microsoft Lumia 435. Of course, it will get upgraded to Windows 10 but I don’t know how performance will be. After all, we all saw what happened when the original Windows Phone 8 phones had dual core processors and got upgraded to Windows Phone 8.1.
Microsoft Lumia 435 Review: Conclusion
As I said, I was really skeptical when I first received the Microsoft Lumia 435. I was very pleasantly surprised. The only real caveat to owning this device is remembering that you really can’t get away with taking close up photos.
Other than that, for a low end phone, the Microsoft Lumia 435 is perfect. It seems to me that it’s perfect for a parent buying a smart phone for a child. It’s a Lumia, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking. Even if it does, it can be replaced at a low cost.
The Microsoft Lumia 435 is also perfect for Android or iOS users that want to try Windows Phone. Rumor is that the new Windows Mobile 10 Technical Preview will be available this week and the Microsoft Lumia 435 will be supported.
NOTE: I will update this review if the new Windows 10 Technical Preview comes out before I have to send this back. I’ve been sitting on this review for three days now. Time to post it.