With second hand iPhones costing more than Microsoft’s Lumia 435 and 532’s prices of $129 and $149 outright, and Windows Phone 8.1 delivering a far safer and more iOS-like experience than similarly priced Androids, Microsoft is really striking back against the iOS and Android empires with its latest models.
Now boasting over 500,000 apps, Windows Phone is catching up fast to the admittedly still 1 million plus app libraries that iOS and Android enjoy.
In any case, Microsoft knows it has had the greatest success with Windows Phone sales in its lowest priced bracket, with the company finally upgrading these entry-level priced models with decent mid-range specs to ensure these lowest priced Lumias still have plenty of performance.
For $129 it is Microsoft’s lowest-price Lumia yet, and offers a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 4-inch 800x480 screen with 233 pip, 2 megapixel rear camera, 0.3 megapixel front camera, 3.5G (DC-HSDPA 42.2Mbps), 8GB storage, microSD card that works with up to 128GB cards, 1560mAh battery with up to 11.7 hours of 3G talk time, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, Windows Phone 8.1 (upgradeable to Windows 10 according to Microsoft’s Win 10 launch), 30GB of OneDrive cloud storage, Cortana, the Lumia Camera app, HERE maps, a weight of 134.1g and plenty more.
For $149, it has almost the exact same feature-set as the Lumia 435, but has a 5 megapixel rear camera instead, has 12 hours of 3G talk time and weighs 136.3g.
You obviously also get access to Microsoft’s services such as an inbuilt, mobile version of Office, Skype and more.
Steve Lewis, GM of Microsoft Devices in Australia and New Zealand said: “Innovation is for everyone, and we’ve consistently worked to bring meaningful innovation to even more accessible price points.
“The Lumia 435 and Lumia 532 appeal particularly to those looking to buy a smartphone for the first time, both incorporating an operating system that is intuitive and deeply personal.
“With the launch of these devices we are bringing more consumers the best of Microsoft by providing all the core smartphone features, the latest Windows Phone software, hundreds of thousands of apps and Microsoft’s industry-leading services - all at an incredible price,” Lewis concluded.
Microsoft’s statement on where both models can be purchased could have been a litle bit clearer.
The company says the Lumia 435 is Dual SIM, which seemingly means no single SIM variant, which is fine by me! No-one is forcing anyone to use both SIM slots in a dual-SIM model. If there is a single SIM variant too, Microsoft hasn’t specified this.
What we do know is that the Dual SIM Lumia 435 will be on sale from ‘major retailers including Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi’ from early March, in ‘black, orange and green colour variants’. I've asked Microsoft if this means, as it would appear, that the Dual SIM 435 is network unlocked.
Then there’s the Lumia 532. While this will be available in a Dual SIM variant, Microsoft doesn’t specify where it will be sold.
The company does say that the 532 will be available from Optus, exclusively in white, from early March. It will also be available from Telstra in black, but wil be sold via Big W and Woolworths. These two units are presumablt single SIM variants - Microsoft doesn't make this clear.
So, I’ve asked Microsoft for clarification on the above, and whether Optus or Telstra will also have a dual SIM 532 in stock.
I’ve also asked whether the Optus and Telstra versions of the 532 are network locked - and how much it costs to network unlock these devices if so.
My final question to Microsoft for additional details is whether a dual SIM 532 smartphone will be unlocked, or not.
Once I have answers to these questions I'll update this article, but it is good to know that very low-cost Lumias with a decent amount of power and memory are very nearly here at long last.
It should ensure Windows Phone's marketshare rises in Australia again, as we saw in Kantar's most recent smartphone stats, as you can read here, as well as giving a boost to its global market share.
Microsoft still has much work to do, however, to truly grow market share at rates that will much more seriously challenge iOS and Android, but at least Microsoft is making the right moves and is selling at very tempting prices, although just how razor-sharp the profits are is another question.