A Few months ago, Microsoft introduced the Lumia 535, a budget Windows Phone device and the first that carried the Microsoft branding after the transition from Nokia. Since then, there have been a slew of budget Lumia devices, several arriving in emerging markets like India before traditional Microsoft markets like the US or UK.
The Lumia 540 is an improvement over the Lumia 535 with a better display and an improved camera, but it comes at a time where the boundaries between the Lumia range of devices are blurring and the feature-set and pricing is overlapping between different devices. The Lumia 640 that launched a few weeks ago sells at a similar price to the Lumia 540 but features better internals, although with a limited front camera.
The Lumia 540 was launched in India earlier this week, and here are my first impressions of the latest budget smartphone from Microsoft.
The Lumia 540 looks quite similar to the Lumia 535 with those rounded corners and swappable colored back covers that wrap around the phone. It sports a layered design that we saw in the Lumia 532 as well as in the Asha series. There's a translucent plastic layer around the edges at the back giving it a frosty look. It looks pretty good, although the glossy finish makes it susceptible to smudges.
Typically, the right edge of the phone features the power and volume rocker keys, and the camera button is missing like most budget and mid-range Lumia devices. The black keys offer a nice contrast in the design and offers great tactile feedback. Like the Lumia 640, the 540 doesn't feature capacitive navigation keys but instead sports the software ones.
There's nothing new about the design of the Lumia 540 compared to some other Lumia devices, but the build quality is solid and it feels great in the hand and great to look at.
The Lumia 540 features a nice, vibrant display and the 5-inch HD (720x1280p) IPS LCD with ClearBlack technology impresses on the first glance. Corning Gorilla Glass protection is missing, so the display will be more susceptible to scratches.
Powered by a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 quad-core processor and 1GB RAM, the Dual SIM Lumia 540 packs in similar hardware to other recent budget Lumia devices. In the little time I spent with the device, I did not notice any lag while launching or switching between the apps and browsing the web. The internals are similar to the Lumia 532 which was a surprising good performer.
There's 8GB of internal storage, expandable to up to 128GB via a microSD card which is pretty good for a budget device. The phone has a 2200mAh battery, which is larger than the 1905mAh one on the Lumia 535.
The Lumia 540 packs in an 8MP rear camera with 1/4 inch sensor and f/2.2 aperture, and sports auto-focus with LED flash. On the front, there's a 5MP shooter. It looks like a good combo on paper for a phone in this segment, and the Lumia Camera apps enhance the ability to leverage the device's camera to its potential.
The Lumia 540 runs Windows Phone 8.1 with Update 2 out of the box, the latest iteration of the Windows Phone operating system with the Lumia Denim firmware. There's an updated and enhanced Settings app, ability to connect a Bluetooth keyboard, and App Permissions setting. Click here for a quick tour of all the new features of the Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2.
At ₹10,199 ($160), the Lumia 540 is a decent budget-to-mid-range device with a quality Windows Phone experience packaged in a well-built device, although the Lumia 640 sits right next to it with beefier internals. A slight drop in the price, as it usually happens on the retail shelves, will make it a better buy.
The Lumia 540 is possibly one of the last ones on the Windows Phone 8.1 horizon before Windows 10 devices arrive; though recent launches have surprised. A detailed review of the Lumia 540 with real-world usage and camera performance would of course follow soon. What are your initial thoughts about the phone?