Microsoft Lumia 435 and Lumia 532 are the lowest reaching additions to the already rich in entry level devices Lumia series. With the WindowsPhone OS increasingly targeting budget-conscious users there is some very solid logic behind this.
But while playing it safe and not walking off the beaten path might pay dividends in the short run, we are not sure it's the best decision for Microsoft in the long run. The company would certainly like to return to the premium segment eventually, but focusing so hard on the race to the bottom runs the risk of making everyone think of WP as a budget-only platform even if it helps retain some market share.
It's been over a year since the last Microsoft flagship, the Lumia 930, made the rounds and despite fan pleas Microsoft is still only focusing on the other end of its range. It's clear that this won't change before Windows 10 comes out but at this point it's costing the Remond giant dearly to continue playing this waiting game.
Anyway, we are not here to judge Microsoft's business strategy, but merely decide whether the Lumia 435 and Lumia 532 are worthy purchases. The cheap, small handsets run Windows Phone 8.1 smoothly and offer decent battery life - that a pretty solid foundation. Add the full-featured Office package and offline navigation and things are certainly starting to look up for the duo.
The Lumia 532 is more powerful adding two more CPU cores and thus loading some apps faster. Its 5MP camera turned quite alright, while many will enjoy the available Glance screen. On the other hand if the camera isn't of importance for you and you are OK with the few seconds loading times for some apps, then you can save some cash by opting for the Lumia 435.
You can have the Lumia 435 and Lumia 532 in dual-SIM editions with dual standby mode. Don't you worry, you won't be loosing the microSD or any other feature because of the dual-SIM connectivity. The Lumia 435 costs about €10 less than the 532 model, while their dual-SIM flavors cost extra €5-€10, depending on the market.
We think Microsoft has gone beyond the reasonable limit of developing entry-level phones and we can already find virtually the same phones, but using different model names. Microsoft Lumia 435 is absolutely the same device as the Lumia 430, its battery is just a whisker smaller.
The Lumia 530 adds some extra pixels to its screen for FWVGA resolution but comes with half the RAM at just 512MB. The phone has been launched a while back and costs about €20 less than the Lumia 532, so it's probably a better bet than the Lumia 435 if you are on a tight budget.
Leaving the Windows camp you see that there are only a few smartphones at the same price on the market. There are the Android-powered Samsung Galaxy V and Tizen-based Samsung Z1. Both phones pack 4" displays, run on dual-core processors and offer 3MP snappers. They both offer TouchWiz interface - the Galaxy V has it on top of Android KitKat, while the Tizen UI on the Z1 model was inspired from TouchWiz. Neither of those is an easy recommendation hower with the Lumia 532 providing a more rounded experience with that kind of hardware.
In fact, the only Android that we can say matches the performance of the Lumia duo in this price range is the first generation Moto E, which comes with a bigger and higher resolution 4.3" qHD display. It has a lowly dual-core processor, but Motorola's light Android skin and timely updates makes sure it doesn't lag too much, while still giving you far superior customization options. This is certainly the key rival to the Lumia duo and the handset most worth considering if you didn't like what you saw in the review.
All in all if you want a 4" compact smartphone the Lumia 532 will do the job for you without the breaking the bank. The 435 is priced too close to it to be a smart purchase but perhaps they won't be meeting in most markets with Microsoft releasing one or the other.