budget handsets

Microsoft launches two sub-$100 Lumia smartphones

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Microsoft announced two new Lumia devices on Wednesday, but if you were hoping for a new high-end Windows Phone, you’ll need to keep waiting.

Both the Lumia 435 and the Lumia 532 will cost under $100 when they launch in February in Europe and Asia regions. The Lumia 435 will be the less expensive of the two: For 65 euros (US $77) it offers a 4-inch 800 x 480 screen, a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm chip, and a 2-Megapixel rear camera. It’s a 3G phone, and won’t be able to tap into speedy LTE networks.

Lumia 435
Lumia 435

The more expensive 79 euro (US $93) Lumia 532 comes in single and dual-SIM versions, and it’s slightly nicer. Like the Lumia 435, it’s a 4-inch 3G phone with a 800 x 480 display, but is powered by a higher-end quad-core 1.2GHz chip. Its camera takes 5MP photos, which isn’t great but it’s a huge step up from the 2MP shooter on the 435.

Those are close to the same specs on the existing Lumia 535, the first Lumia Windows Phone without Nokia branding, which has the same processor, RAM and camera and a better screen but costs $135.

Lumia 532
Lumia 532

As Microsoft’s been doing lately, it’s packing in some of its services for free with the purchase of one of these devices. Users who activate their camera backup will get 30GB of OneDrive storage. [company]Microsoft[/company] Office is also pre-installed on the handsets. The Lumia 532 will also be powerful enough to run Cortana, Microsoft’s voice assistant.

Although Windows Phone devotees in the United States and Europe would appreciate a new high-end Lumia, Microsoft seems to understand that the best hope for Windows Phone growth is from customers in emerging markets looking for their first, inexpensive smartphone. So if the Lumia 435 and Lumia 532 are successes, expect more cheap Lumia devices.