Microsoft South Africa unveiled the first Microsoft-branded Lumia smartphone, the Lumia 535, at an event held at the company’s local headquarters this morning.

Patrick Henchie, Microsoft’s head of product for Microsoft Mobile Devices, South and East Africa, introduced the phone as the first Lumia to carry Microsoft branding, pointing out its wide-angle 5MP front-facing camera (great for improved selfies, apparently), its quad-core processor and 5 inch QHD display that’s visible even in direct sunlight.

Interestingly, the phone will also support dual SIMs, great for people who like to keep their work and personal lives separate. As for its operating system, the 535 runs the latest version of Windows Phone and will support the new Windows 10 when it finally becomes available.

Henchie was quick to assure fans of existing Lumia phones – ones that still carry the Nokia branding – that Microsoft is still massively committed to selling and supporting those. But by far the most surprising aspect of the new phone is its price: Henchie told the assembled audience that the Lumia 535 will start at R1 699, and later told me that consumers should never find it priced above R2 000 (price will vary per vendor).

That’s a ridiculously small amount of money for what is essentially a mid-range smartphone that runs Windows Phone. Here’s a quick Vine so you can see it for yourself. (Please forgive the autocorrect.)

I got some hands-on time with the phone after the announcement, and I was pleasantly surprised at the build quality (excellent), the phone’s responsiveness (good) and the screen (sharp enough that I didn’t immediately notice pixels).

From what I have seen, Lumia 535 owners will get a very solid, mid-range phone that a year ago would have cost them more than twice the asking price (possibly even more). For South Africa’s very price-sensitive consumers, this is excellent news indeed.

The Lumia 535 is available for sale from today, and you can get one from all of our local cellular providers.