As entry-level smartphones go the Lumia 435 is about as entry-level as you can go. How low? Well its currently available on PAYG in New Zealand for $69 - including a $19 credit, making the phone's real price $50 - or about £20 at today's exchange rates.
For that price you get a 4" screen at WVGA, 2mp rear and 0.3mp front facing cameras, 8GB of storage and 1GB of memory. There's a micro-SD card slot for expanding that storage by up to 128GB, ensuring that you'll always have space for your media and files. The processor is a dual-core Snapdragon 200, a first in a Windows Phone. The absence of 4G is unsurprising, however HSPDA+ should keep things ticking along nicely and, as a bonus, will be much more battery friendly.
The 435 will be one of the phones which receives Windows 10 Mobile first, likely to be sometime around the end of October. The promise of ongoing updates at this end of the smartphone market is something unique and, frankly, at this price if your only reason for buying one was to have a second phone to try out Microsoft's new OS it would still represent a great buy.
This is an entry-level phone, so performance must be entry-level too? Fortunately not. Windows Phone is famously kind to hardware specs and on the 435 it is as buttery smooth to use as it is on other more powerful devices. I don't imagine that you'll be playing too many high end games on this particular Lumia, but the sort of games that you would play on a mobile - Crossy Road, 2048, Angry Birds - all work perfectly. Smartphone apps like email and web browsing are lag-free and
If the performance is okay, that screen must be pretty poor then? Not at all. I've seen other reviewers complain that the 435 has a dim screen, however I can report that the phone that I have is bright and has good colour reproduction. The resolution is 233dpi - which may sound low in today's world of super high resolution screens, but again Windows Phone's design means that sort of resolution works well on a 4" screen running WP8.1. There's even automatic brightness control, something that just doesn't appear on phones anywhere near the Lumia 435's price point.
Most of the features that make Windows Phone so good to use on more expensive phones are present here - double tap to wake, sunlight super-brightness, Lumia Camera and Cortana are all present and correct.
Lumia 435 buyers get 30GB of OneDrive space added to there accounts for free, paired with the onboard Office apps means that you can get some work done here. More likely users will use that space to support OneDrive music streaming for which the 435 is a very capable performer. The audio through headphones is good - although you will have to supply your own - and the rear firing speaker is loud and has acceptably good reproduction of audio for a device at this end of the market.
Battery life is good, depending on the intensity of the tasks you're asking of it the 1600mAh battery will last between one and two days. You could conceivably buy a second battery and swap them around if you need greater longevity, but to be honest, at this price you might as well buy two phones and just swap your SIM card over when the battery dies in one. The removable battery and micro-SIM slot are accessed behind an easily removed cover and Microsoft ships two in the box: a sober black one for working days and a bright (green or orange) one for livening up the phone at the weekend.
Aside from the cameras - which again are more than acceptable at this level - this is a fully fledged smartphone in a value package. Its well built - inheriting an unbreakable feel that betrays its Nokia heritage - and has a good feel in the hand.
As a first smartphone, a phone for a child or even a smartphone for less intensive smartphone users this is an absolute winner. It outperforms Android phones at two or three times its price, and the promise of continuing OS updates isn't something you get with an Android phone at ten times the price.
Microsoft has had plenty of success with its value handsets, with the Lumia 435 I see no reason why it shouldn't continue to do so.