We get hands on with the Microsoft Lumia 550, the first entry-level smartphone to run Windows 10.
Microsoft has grown its position within the smartphone market over the past few years, particularly at the entry level point; and the company’s recent moves to create platform convergence across PC, tablet and phone with Windows 10, is evident in some of its most recent device releases, including the Lumia 550. But does it work? Let’s find out.
The Lumia 550 comes with a 4.7-inch screen, which has a 720P resolution – quite impressive for its price point. Visually the screen is pretty good, it's bright and crisp. The phone supports 4G (LTE) and sports a 5MP main camera – all pretty standard for a phone of this price. The casing of the phone is polycarbonate, which fans of Microsoft phones will recognise and again proves to be the perfect solution – it’s simple, light-weight and practical. OK, so we might expect something a little sturdier from Microsoft’s flagship handset, but for the Lumia 550 it's perfectly suited.
The processor is a Snapdragon 210 chipset which is not the most powerful on the market but luckily the Windows Phone OS is light and resource efficient, allowing the phone to remain speedy and maintain performance with less RAM and processing power. In fact, the Windows Phone OS seems to be able to out-perform many of its Android counterparts making it more than adequate for most users. Another obvious positive is that the chipset is less power hungry, meaning you get a longer battery life – not a bad trade off.
The Lumia 550 display operates at 720 x 1280 resolution. This results in a pixel density of 315ppi. It might surprise you to know that the Apple iPhone 6s has Retina Display with a pixel density of 326ppi (pixels per inch).
At this price bracket you cannot help but be impressed; colours render crisply, viewing angles are fine and text and images are clear; brightness is also very impressive.
The Microsoft Lumia 550 comes with a 2,100 mAh Li-Ion battery. From our tests, the phone managed to last about 45 hours.
With the brightness tuned down to 50% the screen is still perfectly viewable; even more so than quite a few of its competitors.Video playback however, only lasted five hours total – somewhat disappointing, but still, enough to get through most movies. Total 3G talk-time came in at almost 12 hours.
The main camera in the Lumia 550 is 5MP with autofocus. The Lens has a f/2.4 aperture and it has a 1/4-inch sensor. It also has an LED flash. The camera interface offers customisable white balance, ISO, focus, exposure and shutter speeds. 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios are available for pictures. Images taken with the 5MP camera are quite good. One thing we would point out however is to make sure to activate the white balance, it makes all the difference.
The Microsoft Lumia 550 for all intents and purposes looks like a normal low-cost smartphone, and it is. But it’s also a milestone device: the first Windows Mobile 10 smartphone. The key elements of the phone are its 4G support, the screen, the camera and of course the price point. It's a little disappointing that the phone doesn’t offer Microsoft's Continuum function (cross device continuity), but that's only a small negative against a phone that is building on Microsoft's success within this area of the market; providing genuine build quality and user experience at an attractive price.
The Microsoft Lumia 550 is available at Carphone Warehouse from as little as €79.99 on pre pay. Buy it now.