Over the last few weeks, we have seen the new Microsoft Lumia 550 begin to sell around the world. Unfortunately, in the U.S. there does not seem to be any carrier support for the release, so we had to buy ours from B&H for $150.

So, how does it stack up? We're wrapping up our full review for the Lumia 550 hopefully by week's end, but for now, you can watch our unboxing and hands-on video.

In the video, I'll also compare the Lumia 550 to the aging Lumia 635 (which is still being sold) and the newer Lumia 640.

The takeaway? The Lumia 550 brings a lot of nice features that were previously found in only higher-end phones to the budget arena. Between the HD display, decent rear camera, 2MP front-facing camera, and Glance screen, the Lumia 550 is a solid phone.

Some have been dismissive of the budget focused device, but there are some considerations to keep in mind. For one, the phone ships with build 10586.0, but it had an update for 10586.29 ready to install. That update along with the 34 or so app updates seemed to have improved the user experience. Throw on the even newer Insider build of 10586.36 and we are sure things will get even better.

Microsoft Lumia 550 front

Category Lumia 550 Lumia 635 Lumia 640
Operating System Windows 10 Mobile Windows Phone 8.1 Windows Phone 8.1
Display 4.7 inches
1280 x 720 resolution
4.5-inches
854 x 480 resolution
5.0-inches
1280 x 720 resolution
Glance Yes No Yes
Rear Camera 5MP AF
f/2.4
LED flash
5MP AF
f/2.4
no flash
8MP AF
f/2.2
LED flash
Front Camera 2MP
f/2.8
None 0.9 MP
f/2.4
Processors Qualcomm Snapdragon 210
Quad-core
1.1GHz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
Quad-core
1.2GHz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
Quad-core
1.2GHz
Storage and RAM Internal storage: 8GB (expandable up to 200GB)
RAM: 1GB
Internal storage: 8GB (expandable up to 128GB)
RAM: 512mb or 1GB
Internal storage: 8GB (expandable up to 128GB)
RAM: 1GB
Sensors Accelerometer
Proximity sensor
Ambient light sensor
Accelerometer
SensorCore
Ambient light sensor
Accelerometer
Proximity sensor
Magnetometer
SensorCore
Location A-GLONASS
A-GPS
Cellular
BeiDou
Wi-Fi network positioning
A-GLONASS
A-GPS
Cellular
BeiDou
Wi-Fi network positioning
A-GLONASS
A-GPS
Cellular
BeiDou
Wi-Fi network positioning
Dimensions 9.9 x 67.8 x 136.1 mm 9.2 x 66.7 x 29.5 mm 8.8 x 72.2 x 141.3 mm
Weight 141.9 g 134 g 145 g
Battery 2100 mAh 1830 mAh 2500 mAh

For comparison, the Lumia 635 was sold off-contract on T-Mobile for $168 and that phone lacks a front-facing camera, proximity, and ambient light sensors, and had no Glance or rear flash, and a much lower resolution display (854 x 480 vs. 1280 x 720 in the Lumia 550).

For $150 a Lumia 550 owner is getting a lot more bang for their buck these days.

Microsoft Lumia 550 5MP camera

As to why Microsoft should even sell this phone? The answer is simple. If you are a Microsoft, you want to be able to stock store shelves with a low-cost Lumia phone with Windows 10 Mobile. The Lumia 640 and Lumia 635 still ship with Windows Phone 8.1 and many retailers are no longer selling those phones (which are getting long in the tooth). Sure, for the hip power user getting an 'old' Lumia 640 and installing an Insider preview may be an option, but for regular people just looking for something new, you need something new to sell them.

Also, going forward, Microsoft will continuously update this phone with Windows as a Service (WaaS) likely bypassing carriers with monthly OS updates. Unless you are an Insider the same cannot be said for the Lumia 640 or Lumia 635.

Is it a good value? You can get a discounted Lumia 640 with Windows Phone 8.1 for pretty cheap these days in the U.S. But out the gate, a new phone likely can't compete on price with a phone that has been on the market for nine months already.

Pricing

Microsoft Lumia 550 side

In the UK you can grab the Lumia 550 for £59.99 ($89 USD), in Ireland it's €99 ($108 USD), and in India for ₹9,199 ($138 USD). Clearly there is a large gap in pricing reflective of each market. Regardless, in using the Lumia 550 for the last day, I can't say it was a terrible experience.

Sound off in comments if you have a Lumia 550 or are considering one and let us know what you think. Stay tuned for our full review in the coming days.

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