Microsoft Lumia 550 Review, Young and Strong

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The new Lumia 550 is the young “padawan” of the Microsoft universe. Basically, this baby signals the fact that Microsoft will try even  harder than before to enter and take over  the mid-range smartphone market, just like Nokia tried in its last years of existence. With very limited success I might add, if I may talk “bad” about the dead…

So, basically, the Lumia 550 is an entry-level WP 10 running smartphone which is offered at a highly competitive price.

And that seems to be a niche in which WP devices are doing a very decent job,the mid-range that is. That’s because Windows Phone is very different from Android in terms of consumption, i.e. it’s not power hungry and the hardware is well optimized for running on the respective software.

Hence, even an entry level WP running smartphone will work great, the same philosophy being applied in iPhones: the OS and the hardware are in an almost perfect symbiosis.

The only drawback of Windows Phones may be regarded in terms of apps, which kind of suck at the moment, as developers were not very enthusiastic about the platform. Just to get a general idea, Skype, which is a Microsoft made software is better optimized for Android than it is for WP, and that’s weird, to say the least.  I mean, even Microsoft admits in this way that WP is not their main priority, at least that’s how it looks from where I stand.

But I am ranting.

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Microsoft Lumia 550 profits enormously from the light and highly resource-efficient operating system which is Windows 10, and it looks like Microsoft managed to refine the perfect formula for what it’s currently described as “best bang for the buck”.

As the Lumia line already proved it time and time again, a Microsoft running smartphone will match the performance and the speed of an equivalent Android device using less RAM or/and processing power. And that means you get more for less, in terms of dollars vs performance, and that’s absolutely great!

The Lumia 550 is the first budget smartphone to run on Windows 10 and that’s a small step for Microsoft, but a huge step for a potential first time WP user (the phone is basically free on any voice/data plan on a reputable carrier).

Given its price bracket, the main thing that boosts confidence about the Lumia 550 is the 4.7 inches wide screen with 720p resolution, the LTE support and the 5 megapixels camera which is basically the same as in the previous gen. And that means it’s pretty damn’ good!

Other things like the tough, good looking and practical poly-carbonate body were not changed also, because you know that saying: if it works, don’t fix it!

And I must tell you, this all-plastic finish which looks almost like an unibody chassis (the built quality is very good for such a cheap device) fits perfectly with the design and especially the budget of the Microsoft Lumia 550, it’s a match made in heaven to be honest.

A quick glance at the specs will convince you that Microsoft did a good job with this tiny fellow, even if the choice of a Snapdragon 210 System on Chip may seem rather…cheap for a 2015 device. Maybe the high resolution screen comes with a price. But let’s not anticipate, and look farther into the Lumia 550’s specs.

Measuring  136.1 x 67.8 x 9.9mm and weighing 142 grams, the 550 looks and feels very similar with the last year’s favorite Lumia 640, and that’s not a bad thing. Okay, it may be a tad on the “fatso” side with that 142 grams of weight, which is unusual for a device that comes with a relatively small battery, of only 2100 mAh, but that’s not a deal breaker, pretty far from it.

What’s the most important thing for the regular smartphone user, constantly pecking at the precious? Well, the display, right?

In the screen department, Lumia 550 really shines with a sharp and vivid 720p resolution display of 4.7 inches and 315 pixels per inch density, very close to Retina territory in terms of ppi, as the iPhone 6s has just 326 ppi density.

I couldn’t wish or hope for more in this price bracket, truth be told. The contrast is average, but the colors and viewing angles are excellent, also the 546 nits of maximum brightness. Despite being a tad reflective, the screen has an above average screen light eligibility, which again, it’s outstanding given the price range of the device.

The battery is not very impressive, with an endurance rating of 42 hours, yet it will definitely last you for at least a day with heavy usage.

The UI of the Windows Phone 10 is very familiar if you’re coming from WP 8.1, but it was polished and refined, being more user friendly and intuitive.

Even if you’ve never used a WP device before, the similarities with the desktop version will make you accommodate quickly with the Lumia 550 and you’ll appreciate Microsoft’s strategy of unifying the mobile, game (X-box) and desktop versions in “one Windows 10 to rule them all”.

Familiarity when using smart devices ranks high on my priority list!

The 5 megapixels camera does an OK job, having a 1/4″ sensor-type and auto-focus and also a LED flash for low lighting conditions.  The stills are pretty good for a 5 MP snapper, but the video-quality is unfortunately sub-par, and that’s a damn’ shame, since the old Nokia Lumia 520 was excellent in the video-department.

The Microsoft Edge web browser aka the Spartan (that was its previous denomination) looks similar to IE 11 but it’s simpler, lighter and faster, and that’s awesome.

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The Lumia 550 comes with a rich bundle of pre-installed apps, like One Note, Word, Power Point and Excel, obviously the latest versions. Hence, in terms of productivity, the device plays with the pros.

You also get Windows Maps which are based on Here map data, an updated X Box app, One Drive with 30 gigs of storage space (free) as an alternative to Dropbox and other goodies.

As my final conclusion, I must add that if you want a low cost smartphone with a good display,which performs great, has a good build quality, looks neat and simple and runs smooth on WP 10, this is the one!

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