Microsoft Lumia 550 Review – High Specced Budget Phone

Microsoft Lumia 550 Review: The Lumia 550 was released at the end of 2015 and was a replacement for the earlier models of Microsoft Lumia 540 and Microsoft Lumia 535. Although notionally lower-end budget smartphones (with releases such as the Microsoft Lumia 950 targeted at the high-end), by this year the gap between the top and bottom had narrowed significantly.

The initial asking price for this model was under £100 on a pay-as-you-go deal, an astoundingly low price for a specification of phone that would have been close to the top under 2 years before. One of the bigger reasons behind this keener pricing was that the Lumia phones ran on Windows Mobile software, and by this age Android and Apple had gained very loyal users.

The Lumia 550 comes with a punchy spec: the IPS 4.7 LCD screen being a particular highlight – this comes at a 720 x 1280 resolution – not up with the latest quality but very acceptable for consuming media. This was a remarkable upgrade on the Nokia Lumia 530 – a similar base handset from 2014 (480 x 865 resolution).

There is also nothing missing from more expensive phones: we have all the usual functions such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, memory card slot, all powered by a quad-core processor.

Full specifications here.

Notably, this was perhaps the last device in this range Microsoft released, and the company ceased making handsets two years later.

Microsoft Lumia 550 Review: Pros

At this price range, the screen was excellent. The Moto E was one of the best budget Android phones, and the resolution here was far superior.

Integration with Microsoft’s other Office apps is high, particularly Outlook – making this phone a good choice for business.

The camera is of good quality, and the Camera app allows plenty of editing options. The front-facing camera is of a high 2MP resolution as well, allowing for good quality video calling.

Unlike the more expensive Apple phones, customising the Lumia 550 is much easier. The back pops off, allowing this to be changed to a different colour, or the battery replaced. A much more maintenance friendly option.

Microsoft Lumia 550 Review: Cons

The major bug-bear for the average user was the operating system. By this time, Android and Apple had converged to copying each other’s good bits. Microsoft Mobile was the odd man out in comparison, and took more learning to get the hang of.

The lack of native Google apps is also definitely a downside: for instance Chrome and Maps were the best in class.

Battery life was not great on the handset and definitely one needing a charge every day. Further optimisations would take some time to come.

Current Pricing and Future Prospects

The Lumia handsets are still fully useable as phones, although security updates for the phones died out in 2019, although clearly they are worth only a fraction of their original price. Design-wise there is very little to distinguish between phones. However their sheer utility value should see their value supported.

Where can I get one?

Both Ebay and Amazon have second-hand and refurbished models.

Interested in more phones? See a list of phones I own here.

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