Windows Phone may not be anywhere near Android or iOS, but it seems Microsoft has realized they need to target the entry-level market if they want to gain market share. We’ve already seen how popular the Lumia 520 was, and in the past few months, we’ve seen a handful of budget-friendly Windows Phone offerings from the software giant, as well as a few other OEMs globally — thanks to its free licensing program for smaller devices.
If you’re thinking about getting your hands on a cheap Windows Phone handset just to use as a spare phone, or simply want to give Microsoft’s operating system a go, here’s a list of some of the worthy Windows Phone offerings which are not too tight on the budget.
1. Lumia 535
Lumia 535 is what my colleague Fahad Al-Riyami describes as “The selfie-oriented budget smartphone done right” and to be honest, it is. The handset offers a decent display size, a selfie-focused 5MP front-facing camera and most importantly, 1GB of RAM on board which is one of the woes from many Windows Phone fans out there since many apps and games require users to have at least 1GB of memory.
The handset is also the first Microsoft-branded phone, and is available for around $140 depending on the market. The handset is reported to have some screen sensitivity issues, but the company did roll out an update to fix it, and you can further improve it by tweaking some settings.
2. Lumia 635/630
As I’ve said before, Microsoft has introduced a handful of affordable Windows Phone devices in the past few months, and Lumia 635 is one of them. It offers a decent quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, a slightly bigger display and runs Windows Phone 8.1 as its operating system, and yes, there’s 4G LTE connectivity on board as well. Technically, the Lumia 630 is identical in terms of hardware, but it doesn’t offer 4G support, and costs a little less. But, if high-speed connectivity matters to you, it’s wise to go for the Lumia 635 — it costs $99 at Microsoft Store at the moment, but the pricing may vary for different regions.
3. Blu Win HD
Blu did release a few Windows Phone handsets last quarter, including the Blu Win HD and Blue Win JR. Blu Win JR is an entry-level option featuring a similar set of specifications as the Lumia 530, but we’re more impressed with the Blu Win HD. It costs $149 at Microsoft Store, and comes with a very decent set of specifications, rocking a 5-inch 720p display, 1GB of RAM, Snapdragon 200 processor, 8MP camera and runs Windows Phone 8.1, and yes, it comes in several catchy color options.
4. Xolo Win Q900S
Going to the Asian market, a local Indian OEM released the Xolo Win Q900s which comes with an extremely affordable price tag and offers similar specifications as the Lumia 535 and Blu Win HD, but it features a smaller 4.7-inch HD display. It’s available through several retailers in the region, and costs around $120.
5. Lumia 530
Lumia 530, the little sibling of the Lumia 535, comes with its own set of drawbacks, but it’s cheap. It offers a smaller form factor — 4-inch display — and comes with a similar set of specifications as the Lumia 535 albeit lesser RAM. It costs $49 at Microsoft Store, so there’s nothing too impressive to expect from it, but it still can be a good budget-friendly offering.
These are some of the devices. Microsoft did introduce two additional devices earlier this month, the Lumia 532 and Lumia 435, touted as the cheapest Windows Phone handsets, but they are not yet available in the market. Both devices are expected to hit retail next month. Once they do, Lumia 532 could very well be an excellent option since it makes Lumia 530 way lot better by adding 1GB of RAM while maintaining the same form factor.Further reading: Lumia, Microsoft, Windows Phone, Windows Phone 8.1