Microsoft Lumia 550 review
Windows 10 at an affordable price
Microsoft is about to launch the Microsoft Lumia 550 and this will be its first cheap smartphone, at a price approx. £90-£100, to offer the Windows 10 operating system. View all Lumia 550 deals here
The Microsoft Lumia 550 sits comfortably in the palm of the hand and a good grip is possible thanks to a body that is 9.9mm thick. The most distinguishing design element is the Windows logo, that is imprinted onto the back case in an opposing colour, and the back case is exchangeable.
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The 4.7” display has a very good resolution with 1280 x 720 pixels and this equates to 315 pixels per inch, which is more than plenty for web browsing and gaming. Eye-strain is removed thanks to the sunlight readable display and all of this tech is packed into a phone that weighs only 142g.
Looking for a bigger display? Take a look at the Microsoft Lumia 650
Further aiding performance is a quad-core 1.1GHz processor with 1GB RAM and there is an 8GB internal memory. For those that download apps or save loads of pictures, then this can be boosted with a microSD card of any value up to 200GB.
Phone Set Up
Windows 10 is ready to go straight out of the box and is offered with free OneDrive Cloud storage, for those who wish to save images or files online or have them synced across multiple Windows devices.
All of the major social networking apps are pre-installed, so you need to only log-in to get these up and running.
Cortana is the standout feature of Windows 10 and this digital assistant runs in sync with any other Windows 10 devices owned. This means that when a reminder is created on a Windows 10 PC or laptop, then it automatically appears on the Lumia 550. This is particularly useful for location based reminders.
With natural voice commands, Cortana can also make internet searches, provide traffic information, give weather reports and manage your schedule.
The Microsoft Lumia 550 has the new EDGE Browser. Its most practical feature is the Reading Mode that removes adverts and any other web page clutter for a pure reading experience. News stories and articles of interest can also be added to a Reading List, for perusal at a later time.
The final new trick of the new EDGE Browser in the ability to draw on, type on, erase and crop web pages. These can then be saved to the Reading List or as a OneNote file. OneNote is the new NotePad app, which finally delivers more than simple text editing.
If desired, Microsoft Lumia 550 owners can set up an Office 365 subscription and this gives access to Word, Excel and PowerPoint, which have now been optimised for mobile phone use. The Outlook Mail app is another superb inclusion and this really makes life easier for those who use multiple email accounts, as they can all be accessed from this one app.
The built-in GPS comes with free maps and yet again we see Microsoft make life easy with the option to pin places to the Start screen. While viewing maps, nearby points of interest can be found by simply tapping a label such as Eat & Drink, See & Do, Hotels and more. Real-time traffic updates, speed warnings and turn-by-turn navigation for those on foot, are all available.
Groove Music and MixRadio offer access to musical entertainment and of course the Windows app store is loaded with apps to download.
Camera & Video
The 5MP camera delivers perfectly acceptable results and these are aided by a touch focus, LED flash and manual control over elements such as exposure and white balance. The camera can shoot video at a quality of 720p and continuous focus and a video light ensure good results here too.
The secondary camera has a 2MP resolution and can be used to take selfies, record video at a quality of 480p or make video calls, through apps such as Skype.
The 2,100mAh battery is also no let-down and can quite impressively give up to 28 days standby or 14 hours talk time. The Microsoft Lumia 550 can play music for up to 60 hours, browse the internet over Wi-Fi for up to 10 hours or play video for up to 7 hours.
The Glance Screen helps to save battery life by showing notifications without turning on the phone and if needed, the Battery Saver mode can be used to make the battery last longer by shutting down non-essential tasks and apps that are running in the background.
Microsoft Lumia 550 verdict: This smartphone is a great buy and it makes perfect sense to own a smartphone that runs on Windows. The exchangeable covers will also make the Lumia 550 extremely popular with younger viewers.
Looking for a premium Windows 10 phone? Check out the Microsoft Lumia 950 XL review
Written by: Michael Brown