-Smooth OS and interface
- Mediocre Cameras
Small. That’s the word that comes to mind when holding the Microsoft Lumia 430. Even though it lacks the “Nokia” branding it certainly brings about a feeling of nostalgia while you grip it, reviving memories of those tiny, ancient, indestructible phones that were all the hype only a few short years ago. After having toyed around with the bigger Lumia 535, I had a forlorn sense of hope that the 430, though small, may have packed a punch.
A dual core 1.2GHz processor powers the minuscule Lumia 430 along with a single GB worth of RAM. It’s a no brainer that this phone isn’t suited for anything other than checking your mail or replying to texts.
Again, like the Lumia 535, Lumia 640 and other phones produced after the acquisition of Nokia, the Microsoft logo now sits in place of the Nokia logo on the front, as well as engraved on the back cover. The back cover itself encompasses both the back and sides of the phone, with hardly any space to slip a fingernail into the sliver of space between it and the phone. As a result, popping of the back cover can be slightly frustrating to a newcomer, and isn’t something to be done when you’re in a rush to get to the airport. Despite Microsoft’s intentions of bringing back removable batteries, the back cover still does feel like a lazy attempt to combine a phone cover and a battery compartment lid into one. However, it also does come in neon orange as well as the habitual black, unfortunately the orange cover is the only other colour variant for this phone which is a sad fact since the vibrant colours available to the Lumia 535, for instance, truly make it stand out in the sea of conventional coloured phones.
The body of the smartphone itself is tiny, measuring at 120.5 mm length wise, 72.4 mm width wise and 10.6 mm in thickness. It tips the scale at roughly 128 grams. It’s small size and weight marks this as one of those phones which make you constantly plunge your hands into your pocket to see if it’s still there. If you’re accustomed to using two hands to navigate a smartphone you’ll have to get accustomed to using only your primary hand since there just isn’t enough space to use both thumbs to navigate the screen; doing so makes you feel as if you’re playing “thumb war” with yourself.
High up on the back side, sitting squarely in the middle rests the rear camera, however a surprising feature which most people take as a given is lacking: there is no flash light. If you plan on taking pictures in a dark room you might have to belong a conventional torch. The micro USB port sits at the bottom of the phone, in a slightly precarious place since the gap the port presented in the removable cover made it the ideal place to prise the cover open; with extended use the port can easily be damaged this way. The small speaker port is placed at the back of the phone, resulting in some muffling when your phone’s resting on a flat surface while playing “City of Angels”. The 3.5 mm headphone jack sits on the top of the phone.
Unfortunately, rather than integrate the navigational keys into the interface itself, they instead sit below the screen, which is unfortunate since they don’t light up, making navigating the Lumia 430 blurry eyed and sleep deprived at 3 AM a right bloody pain the ass.
The screen itself measures 4 inches across and has a resolution of 800 x 400 pixels. This actually offers a slight edge over the bigger Lumia 535 in terms of pixels-per-inch (PPI) however it still does not amount to much. Colours suffer when viewing the screen from an angle meaning you can’t discretely play Subway Surfer during boring meetings, not without suffering from epilepsy at the negative colours. The small amount of pixels results in a lack of clarity (you won’t be able to appreciate a picture of the Mona Lisa with this phone) and often makes text look fuzzy. Tilting the phone also results in the screen transforming into a mirror, making you feel like an intelligence officer as you use the highly reflective screen to read a person’s newspaper. Then again for a measly price of roughly 300 Dirhams, it’s what you’d expect.
The main, rear-facing camera has two megapixels to it’s name and an uninteresting fixed focus camera focus type. As earlier mentioned, there’s no flash to accompany the camera, which I suppose would make it ideal for stargazing, though I doubt with the resolution available that stars would appear on the screen. The camera’s software itself is unimpressive, you’re given the choice to change the ISO, resolution (between 4:3 and 16:9) and changing the scene mode (between night, sports and auto). Don’t expect to take panoramic pictures with this, in fact you’d be struggling to take chic pictures of your Starbuck’s coffee.
The front facing camera doesn’t impress either. It’s VGA and offers 0.3 mega pixels, dazzling absolutely no one. If you’re the sort of person who frequently uses their smartphones front facing camera to check if you look presentable, I’d recommend not doing so with the Lumia 430. In fact it would be better to turn the screen off and look at your reflection off the screen instead of using the camera.
Battery, External Storage and Dual SIMs
Prying open the back cover reveals the removable battery as well as the slots for the dual SIMs and the external microSD.
The battery itself has a capacity of a 1500 mAh which powers the device for up to 9 hours according to Microsoft, with 3G enabled of course. However I found that at the end of a day of medium usage, it’s battery life would be around 20%-30%, without the battery saver enabled, of which I had to enable on one occasion due to the rapid drain on the power when using it to stream videos. Internet sharing to my Nexus 5 drained the battery, though not as fast.
A slot for an external microSD card is also available and can house up to a 128GB worth of extra space, something you’d need since the internal 8GB won’t cut it; nearly 4 GB is already being used by system files and pre-installed apps. Also available is 30GB of cloud storage, with 15 GB being the standard amount on One Drive and an extra 15 Gb available if you activate the camera roll backup.
The dual Micro SIM slots are adjacent to the depression for the battery, allowing you to remove and add SIMs without having to remove the battery or turn the smartphone off, not something I would recommend by the way since there is no quicker way of frying your SIM. The interface is designed for dual SIMs in mind, making switching between the two SIMs fluid and without problems. Just like the Lumia 535, this is a great phone for people juggling between personal and work lives, though the Lumia 430 is more suited to just being an email checker than for streaming episodes of Silicon Valley on the go.
The Microsoft 8.1 Lumia Denim is easy on the eyes and easy to navigate with only a single home screen interface, with the other interface being an alphabetical list off all the apps and features available on the smartphone. The colourful tiles, the preset colour being blue in this instance, are please on the eye while the live tiles flick through all manner of things such as pictures of my contacts or unread notifications for the Facebook tiles.
Much like the Lumia 535 I reviewed recently, the software features are mostly the same, with the absence of navigational keys in the interface. The notification panel is the usual drag from the top style, with the usual array of quick settings such as brightness, WiFi and Bluetooth. The camera can also be accessed through here.
Luckily the Lumia 430 I was testing came with Cortana, Windows version of a personal assistant, like Siri. Speaking to Cortana made using the 430 far more easier and was quite fun. Cortana is still in Beta however so don’t expect it to come without a few bugs. Furthermore, don’t expect it to be on smartphones in Dubai since it’s only shipping to a few select regions as of now, though it will no doubt become widespread.
Performance wise the Lumia 430 suffered quite a bit. Playing games resulted in the system slowing down a lot and I often found that in between switching apps, the system would lag and stutter. At one point after I’d closed YouTube, the system displayed the loading screen for five seconds. In addition to this, screen taps were often not registered at all, selecting Cortana to play my name back to me required multiple taps before both the screen and phone caught up.
Again like all Microsoft Phones, one of the major let downs is the app store. It still has to receive love from app developers, though hopefully that will change soon.
Despite having a price tag of around AED 300, the 430’s software and design does impress the casual user, however the smartphone is still underpowered and in my opinion, potential buyers would be better off looking at better smartphones, such as the Lumia 535, which though slightly more expensive, is a budget phone that ticks all the boxes.