Dual-SIM Lumia 540: An HD display on a budget

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There’s a new Lumia in town, at least, there will be sometime in the future, but we can’t be quite sure when. On Tuesday Microsoft unveiled the Lumia 540, a dual-SIM smartphone with a 5-inch HD display that’ll cost $150 at launch, but just when it’ll land in South Africa and what it will cost remains to be seen.

We reached out the Microsoft SA and were told they can’t confirm pricing or local availability, but we’d expect to see it in the next month or two and, assuming the rand doesn’t commit complete Seppuku before then, we’re guessing it’ll cost between R2,000 and R3,000, depending on a ton of variables, like demand, operator order numbers and who knows what else.

The Lumia 540 runs Windows Phone 8.1 (upgradeable to Windows 10 when it launches, though some features may not be supported, of course), includes a front-facing 5-megapixel snapper for generation #selfie and an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with an LED flash for the rest of us. There’s no support for LTE or 4G, but this is, after all, a phone for the budget-conscious so some corners had to be cut.

It’s great to see so more dual-SIM devices landing in South Africa. For years the only way to get one was to import it because none of the local operators wanted anything to do with them. What, let consumers take advantage of rival operator’s specials with ease? Yeah, not likely.

Of course, with both Vodacom and MTN announcing price hikes in recent weeks, the advantages of dual-SIM devices may soon be eroded if Cell C and Telkom follow suit.

On a lighter note, in keeping with its heritage, the Lumia 540 includes a removable back cover, available in cyan, orange, black or white at launch. There’ll no doubt be plenty of third-party covers to choose from, too, in due course.

Specifications wise, the Lumia 540 ticks all the boxes you’d expect for its price bracket: A Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of onboard storage (expandable by up to 128GB via microSD).

We’re holding thumbs that it gets here sooner rather than later, because low- to mid-range phones are, for most people, where the real action is. And while Lumia’s were once a curiosity, they’re now real contenders thanks to a respectable app line-up, solid cameras and great styling.

If you can’t wait for the 540 but are in the market for smartphone that won’t break the bank, check out our look at some of the best current contenders over here.

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