Lumia 550 is the first budget Windows 10 Mobile from Microsoft which recently went on sale in India for Rs 9,100. After using it as my primary phone for over a week, I am sharing my experience with you all.
Design, Build & Display
Lumia 550 comes with a design that looks like a mix of Lumia 640 and the Lumia 630, and it looks beautiful. The corners are rounded, with little slanting edges. I tried both the white and the black version, and if you manage to grab a white, go for it.
While the White back panel comes with glossy finish, the black is matte and made of plastic. The annoying part is that they are huge fingerprint magnet, and they don’t go off that easily.
On the right side of the phone you have volume knockers, followed by power button. In the rear, you have the camera module, dual tone flash, speaker grill at bottom right, audio jack on top edge and charging point at the bottom-edge.
Talking about the build quality, I found it be good. The rear panel fits really well, and delivers a solid feel. It is almost of the same quality that we have seen on the 640. As a matter of fact, it is better than the quality of back panel on the Lumia 950 XL which is terribly bad.
Coming to the screen, I totally loved it. Finally Windows Phone users have a beautiful 720P screen with 315 PPI on a 4.7 inch screen. This combination makes sure to deliver sharp text, images look vibrant and the level of blackness is great for a budget phone. When it comes to sunlight readability, you will need to bump up the brightness level to 100%. Those who are very curious would be happy to know that it supports Glance screen.
The only thing that annoyed me all time was its attraction to fingerprints, dust and oil. Make sure to keep your hands clean, when using it.
Part of 4.7 inch screen is taken up by on-screen navigation controls. I would have rather loved captive buttons as there is a lot of bezel space wasted both on front and bottom. Nevertheless less, Windows 10 Mobile offers one-handed mode operation, and with this size of screen, you won’t struggle much.
Hardware & Software
The phone is powered by Snapdragon 210 Quad core processor @ 1.1 Ghz with Adreno 304 GPU. You get 1 GB RAM along with 8 GB of internal storage. You get 2100 mAh user replaceable battery.
It is a single SIM phone which supports LTE , and you will a nano SIM. 4G worked fine on this phone along with calls and network receptions. The call audio is loud and clear.
Two things surprised me here. First the phone is a single SIM version, and second LTE support is only for 1800 band. In India we do have 2300 band as well. While it worked just fire for me on the Airtel SIM i had used, I am not sure how its going to impact for 2300 band.
Lumia 550 runs on Windows 10 Mobile, and when you first connect to internet, be ready to download ~ 1 GB of OTA update along with 40 apps that wait in the queue.
The first update took at least an hour, and most of the time it was waiting for download to begin. I tried it over a faster network, but it was of no use. Call this a starting problem, and it needs to be based to update your phone to 10586.29.
Performance and Battery
When I first heard that Snapdragon 210 is onboard the Lumia 550, I didn’t like the idea. Till date, low-end Lumia phones were running on Snapdragon 400, and switching to even lower, though latest, processor didn’t make sense. The performance of Lumia 550 is decent, but it slows down when you start using a lot of apps. I am assuming that problem is two ways. Windows 10 Mobile as on OS still have bugs to be levelled, and the low-end processor isn’t able to keep up. You will notice a performance hit as soon as you start heavy apps or have multiple apps running in the background.
I was using the phone only on Mobile data as I was traveling most of the time last week. Surprisingly, the battery lasted decently even with performance issue. It goes around for 14 hours with 3 hours of screen on time. I usually charge up phone at night, and use it all day, and put it back to charge at night.
This phone is ok for users who are looking forward for a casual usage, and want to have Windows 10 Mobile on the phone officially. Unless Microsoft fixes the performance issue, I would suggest more than casual users to skip this. If you are interested to know about Windows 10 Mobile as an OS, I will strongly suggest to check on our review of Windows 10 Mobile, and the list of new features. It will give you a clear idea on what you get with Lumia 550 from software perspective.
When it comes to gaming, the phone performed decently with Asphalt 8 : Airborne in medium settings. The phone did get warm, but not hot. In high settings, the lags were pretty visible and resulted in poor performance. Other casual games including Candy Crush, Subway Surfer, Temple Run, etc worked fine.
Lumia 550 houses a 5 MP rear camera with dual tone flash, and 2 MP front camera. While there is not much to expect here except for the day light pictures which comes out decent, the camera app supports Rich capture which sets a difference in the result. There is no shot to shot lag when taking pictures quickly, thanks to the post processing.
Some of the pictures have surprised me big time. Take a look below:
Those who aren’t aware, Rich capture feature in Windows Camera allows you to adjust flash after taking a picture. This means pictures taken in low light aren’t over exposed, rather can be manually set with the right amount of light. Take a look at the picture sample below, and judge yourself
Audio and Video Experience:
Lumia 550 delivers beautifully when you listen music, and videos over earphones, specially with equaliser in-place. Online streaming with Gaana & Saavan, Offline music streaming with MixRadio, and local music playback using Groove works great. Though you will be disappointed on the speaker front which is not up for full blown music playback.
Video Playback turned out to be pretty decent. I was able to playback most common formats like MKV, MP4, and videos with resolution of 1080P without any hiccups. This is new high for low end Lumias which have always disappointed, and needed third party players.
If you want to try Windows 10 Mobile platform, and looking for a phone for casual usage, this is a good phone to start with. The phone comes preloaded with Windows 10 Mobile, the screen is just great, with decent build quality, and it can be an awesome secondary phone, if not primary.
So is it perfect phone? Answer is no. However, I am positive that when the bugs in the Windows 10 Mobile are ironed out, the phone would just perform as expected.