Skip to main content

Microsoft Lumia 550 review: The latest entry-level Lumia brings some good with the bad

The Quick take

What Microsoft has in its latest 5-series phone is actually something closer to what we'd expect from a '6' series in recent times. It's not quite a Lumia 640, but it's most definitely better than the old 635.

As a cheap phone it's mostly great news. The hardware is solid and ticks most of the right boxes. But as with the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, its the software that lets us down. Windows 10 Mobile, for all the innovation it brings, still doesn't feel like it's ready for a consumer product.

Pros

  • Great-looking display
  • The price is hard to ignore
  • Camera pretty good for the price
  • Decent battery life

Cons

  • Bland to look at, especially in Black
  • Too much top and bottom bezel on the front
  • Windows 10 Mobile still lacks polish and is riddled with bugs

Lumia 550 specifications

CategorySpecification
Operating SystemWindows 10 Mobile
Display4.7 inches
1280 x 720 resolution
Rear Camera5MP
f/2.4
720p video at 30fps
Single LED flash
Front Camera2MP
f/2.8
480p video recording
ProcessorsQualcomm Snapdragon 210
Quad-core
Up to 1.1GHz
Storage and RAMInternal storage: 8GB (expandable up to 200GB)
RAM: 1GB
NetworkGPS bands: 850 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 1900 MHz
LTE bands: Band 1, Band 3, Band 7, Band 8, Band 20
Wi-Fi b/g/n
SensorsAccelerometer
Proximity sensor
Ambient light sensor
LocationA-GLONASS
A-GPS
Cellular
BeiDou
Wi-Fi network positioning
Dimensions9.9 x 136.1 x 136.1 mm
Weight141.9 g
Battery2100mAh

Lumia 550 unboxing and hands-on

Check out a quick opening and run through of the Lumia 550 by our very own Daniel Rubino.

Lumia 550 hardware

It's impossible to please all of the people all of the time, but when it comes to hardware Microsoft has been doing mostly good work with recent releases. The Lumia 640, which was announced nearly a year ago, was one of the best examples yet of balancing specs, experience and price.

With the Lumia 550, announced alongside the twin flagships Lumia 950 and 950 XL, Microsoft appears to be heading down a similar path. The budget smartphone space is one of the most important to get right — it's here where the casual consumers can be caught. Not everyone is spending $600 or more on a phone but they still want something to be proud of.

The Lumia 550 isn't going to win any design awards, but it still feels solid in the hand.

The good news is that with the Lumia 550 Microsoft has taken the Lumia 640 path once again. It's not going to win any design awards, sure, but it's far from offensive. If you were to ask us, definitely get the white one, it's the better-looking one with its glossy rear that contrasts with the flat black front. The black version looks pretty cheap, and it's mostly a bland affair. You get a shiny Microsoft logo on the back that breaks up what's otherwise a pretty ordinary-looking plastic box. It does feel great, though. It feels solid in the hand, the plastic buttons are responsive and the angled sides just help it nestle into your palm that bit better.

The raw specs of the Lumia 550 don't read badly at all. And the on-paper appeal seems to translate pretty well into practice, particularly with the display. The decision to move to a 4.7-inch, 720p display for a 5xx phone was a smart move by Microsoft. It's the thing you spend the most time interacting with, so if corners are to be cut, the display shouldn't be one of them.

For the most part it seems comparable in quality with the older, but slightly more expensive Lumia 640. Blacks aren't the deepest you'll see but they're decent enough and colors pop nicely. And because it's 720p at 4.7 inches, text is relatively crisp unless you look really, really closely.

It's also very responsive which isn't a given, especially on a cheaper phone. But we noticed no such issues on the Lumia 550. Our only criticism of the display would be that it's pretty reflective, but thankfully the viewing experience doesn't suffer too much for it. Oh, and the bezels top and bottom are way too big. It makes the phone feel larger than it actually is, and now the navigation keys are on-screen, there's really no excuse for not slimming them down somewhat. And you get Glance Screen, which is still fantastic.

Image 1 of 5

Lumia 550

Image 2 of 5

Lumia 550

Image 3 of 5

Lumia 550

Image 4 of 5

Lumia 550

Image 5 of 5

Lumia 550

The phone is also pretty snappy, with the internals more than up to the task of every day Windows 10 Mobile life. Sure, you're not going to be playing any intense games on it with the greatest experience, but for most things it'll handle whatever you throw at it just fine.

Just like the 1GB RAM Windows Phones have done for a while now. Storage-wise you're looking at 8GB of internal with the option to expand on that with a microSD card. We'd not have expected Microsoft to leave off the expandable memory, frankly, but nevertheless we're always pleased to see it.

The Lumia 550 continue's Microsoft's practice of compelling hardware at a low price.

You get a camera on the front and a camera on the back, and — keeping expectations in check — it's about what we'd expect. There's more on the camera later, but the 5MP rear shooter is about par for the course on a phone at this price point. Or it is from Microsoft, at least. It's not phenomenal, but it's also not terrible.

One thing that is definitely worth pointing out and that Microsoft deserves big credit for is the SIM card slot. Microsoft went with the smaller Nano SIM on its cheapest phone. This is a bigger deal than you might think. But Microsoft has now committed to the size, meaning you can shrink down once and be done with it. Not all cheap phones have made the jump yet, but kudos to Microsoft for getting it done.

Ultimately you're getting what you pay for and plenty more. Microsoft has shown before that it can produce compelling hardware for not a lot of money and that trend continues. A few niggles aside there's nothing really to fault with the actual phone. And then we come to the software.

Lumia 550

Windows 10 Mobile on the Lumia 550

The Lumia 550 is one of Microsoft's first batch of phones to hit the market with Windows 10 Mobile. That's both a good thing and a not so good thing at the time of writing this review. But first, a short tale:

I took possession of our review unit shortly before Christmas. It's not a loaner provided by Microsoft, this is a retail packaged product bought from a real store sold by a real, non-PR related person. So this phone is what folks are going and spending their own money on.

So, I get it home. I whip it out of the box and I set it up. So far so good and Windows 10 Mobile looks pretty good. Then I opened the Store. Tons of apps to update, one of which is the Store itself. None of them would download.

I'm not going to describe the entire first few hours with the phone, because I don't want this to turn into something that's just railing on Windows 10 Mobile. To be clear, I like Windows 10 Mobile.

I just don't like where it's at right now on a retail product that is targeted at casual, budget conscious buyers.

A Windows Central community member kindly pointed me to a 'workaround': cancel all updates and try to update the Store on its own. Then go back in and set the others updating a couple at a time. This worked, but that's not the point.

Image 1 of 2

Lumia 550

Image 2 of 2

Lumia 550

I'm relatively savvy with this stuff. But I was ready to throw it out of a window before someone pointed out the non-obvious thing that I needed to do. This wasn't the only piece of out-of-box jank, either, to which I was told a new firmware update should 'fix' most of. It then took 48 hours for the firmware update to show up, download and install to the phone.

The good news is that the Lumia 550 was much better after this. Honestly, had it not been I'm not sure how I'd have written this review at all.

The bad news is that the out-of-box experience was terrible. First impressions count for a lot and I'm tired of hearing that updates will fix things or make it better. This isn't an Insider Preview phone. This is a real thing Microsoft is asking real money for from real people.

The out-of-box experience was terrible. First impressions count for a lot, and updates shouldn't be needed to make things better.

The Lumia 950 might well be one for the fans, so you could potentially cut it some slack. Fans might be more forgiving. The Lumia 550 is for the mass market. Microsoft absolutely cannot offer this kind of experience to buyers.

I'm not enjoying writing this, but you can't hide from it, either. I will say that the Lumia 550 has been less frustrating during my time with it than the Lumia 950 that I've been using side-by-side. But all too often something will freeze, the start screen will just disappear entirely or the Store will just refuse to work.

It's not even about the so-called app-gap any more. I'm not sure what the official conclusion is. I like Windows 10, I like Windows 10 Mobile. But it doesn't leave a good first impression. It's such a shame because for some, it may end up being a dealbreaker that results in the phone being quickly returned.

If you're prepared to tough it out and go through updates, and waiting, and the occasionally absurdly frustrating experience, you'll hopefully be rewarded. When it's all working well the Lumia 550 is an excellent phone. Not just for a cheap phone, either. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between it and the Lumia 830 of 2014 which is now running similar hardware.

It's also worth reminding that the Lumia 550 doesn't support Continuum. Microsoft has been pretty open thus far about the requirement for current, high-end hardware to make it work, but it's still worth pointing out. It's not a negative on the phone, just an observation for those who may have wondered.

Lumia 550

Lumia 550 camera

If you're buying a cheap phone like this expecting anything serious from the camera, you'll be disappointed. But that's also not exclusive to Microsoft. What you do get on the Lumia 550 is a better camera than any of its direct predecessors, which is good.

It's one of only a couple of areas the Lumia 550 falls short of the Lumia 640, honestly. You get a 5MP rear shooter with LED flash and with it, of course, the new Windows Camera app.

While the Camera app may still divide opinions among the Windows faithful, it does at least work well enough on the Lumia 550. The autofocus is fast, as is the shutter response. And you also get the ever popular Rich Capture mode, something that used to be reserved for the higher-end Windows Phones.

Pictures speak louder than words, though, so check out the gallery below.

Image 1 of 9

Lumia 550 camera sample

Image 2 of 9

Lumia 550 camera sample

Image 3 of 9

Lumia 550 camera sample

Image 4 of 9

Lumia 550 camera sample

Image 5 of 9

Lumia 550 camera sample

Image 6 of 9

Lumia 550 camera sample

Image 7 of 9

Lumia 550 camera sample

Image 8 of 9

Lumia 550 camera sample

Image 9 of 9

Lumia 550 camera sample

The resulting images aren't terrible, certainly not considering this is an entry-level phone. Or rather, they're not terrible in good light. Indoors and in lower light it's pretty hopeless.

Lumia 550 battery life

For a small, cheap phone with LTE, the Lumia 550 performs admirably. There haven't been any issues making it through a full day of use on EE here in the UK with a mixture of LTE and HSPA use alongside extended periods on Wi-Fi. As is usually the case with Lumia phones of recent times, the 2100mAh battery in the back is removable, leaving you free to hot swap on the go instead of relying on an external battery pack if you do find yourself running a little short.

Since this is a cheaper phone with lower-end hardware from Qualcomm, we're not looking at any QuickCharge capabilities. But since the battery isn't the biggest it hasn't been taking too long to charge from empty. Maybe a couple of hours or so and you're back to full which isn't bad at all.

There's also no fancy USB-C here as on the more expensive new Lumias. So it'll work with all your existing cables. And since Microsoft only includes a hard-wired charger, you'll need a microUSB cable to hook it up to your computer, anyway.

Lumia 550

Lumia 550 pricing

One of the biggest weapons Microsoft has in its arsenal with the Lumia 550 is the price. As with some of last year's phones, like the Lumia 640, what you get for your relatively small outlay is pretty phenomenal.

In the U.S. the Lumia 550 will cost around $139, while UK pricing is £99.99 if you buy from Microsoft. We got ours from Carphone Warehouse where things are much more wallet-friendly by buying on a pay-as-you-go deal.

Over in India you'll be looking to spend around INR 9,199. Wherever you are, though, you're looking at good value.

Lumia 550

Lumia 550: The bottom line

So, the verdict. The Lumia 550 is an excellent, budget smartphone. Platform not taken into consideration, what you get for not a lot of money deserves a lot of credit. Microsoft once again did a good job with its entry-level product.

But it's hard to ignore where the software still feels lacking. There are times when it still feels like you're running an Insider Preview build of Windows 10 Mobile. But this isn't a preview on whatever phone you're currently using — it's something Microsoft is asking money for. And at this price point, it's going to appeal to casual consumers since it undercuts the nearest Android competition, and in many cases offers more impressive hardware at the same time.

Microsoft again did a good job with its entry-level phone, but it's hard to ignore where the software still feels lacking.

Microsoft is a big software company and resources shouldn't be short to improve upon the overall experience. But the out-of-box experience on the Lumia 550 wasn't good, and first impressions are important. Thankfully, software updates did improve the overall experience through the course of the review. But we can't go along forever waiting on the next software update.

If you're OK toughing it out though, you're going to have yourself a very good, very cheap phone.

Should you buy the Lumia 550? Maybe

There's plenty of pointers in the "buy" column. The Lumia 550 is very well priced and offers a mostly mid-range hardware experience at an entry level price point.

But if you're buying, you should know what you're going into with Windows 10 Mobile and the potential hurdles along the way. If you're the more cautious type, perhaps hunt around for deal on the older Lumia 640. The hardware is a little better, Windows Phone 8.1 is time tested and you'll be able to find one on a good deal in a number of places.

Where to buy the Lumia 550

If you're set on buying a new Lumia 550, it's gradually becoming available in more locations around the world. Check out these stores in the U.S., UK and India to get you started, and be sure to drop any great deals where you are into the comments below.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

145 Comments
  • Most bang for the buck
  • I would say that it is the best 5xx Lumia ever! Yes, I said ever.
  • I tried this phone and was pleasantly surprised how much I liked the size and design. It's not the fastest but W10 is very smooth. At the price I consider it an absolute bargain.
  • Why ? It's a worse phone than the 540.
  • Nope.. It is not
  • No it's not, it's better than it. Stop only looking at the processor, and also, megapixels aren't everything. By the way, the 540 doesn't have Glance, too.
  • Bigger display, better camera, faster CPU, slower GPU, bigger battery, slimmer phone, lighter phone. The 540 may indeed not be actually a better phone than the 550, but the 550 is not an overall improvement.
  • Yes the CPU is very slightly slower, but it is also much more fully featured. It supports 4G, LTE. It supports recording of HD video (the SD200 maxes out at FWVGA, or 480p), and it supports playback of full HD video (the SD200 can barely cope with 720p, with either dropped frames or displays a green screen with Audio at 1080p). ​The weight of the Lumia 550 (141g) is lighter than the Lumia 540 (152g)? It is also worth remembering that the Lumia 540 was released in only a few territories (India and some parts of the middle east and Asia), whereas the Lumia 550 is a globally released handset, where it is an upgrade to the Lumia 535 (which is a much worse handset than the 550).
  • But still they should have taken the 5MP front and 8MP rear from 540. It's kinda bad for those who know about 540. They won't see the phone's performance but all they would care about is less megapixels and then declare that the phone doesn't deserves to be bought.
  • Fair points but at the same time as @chancooluk said, that phone isn't availale everywhere so not everyone can compare.
  • Actually, last year's Lumia 535 is still a better bang for buck. It has a cheaper $129 launch price, and while it only has a 950x540 screen and 1905mAh battery, it matches the 550 in every other way and even beats it in that it has a 5-inch display, Gorilla Glass 3, and a 5MP front camera.
  • The camera quality isn't as good though, neither is the screen. I would rather have a nice screen over a washed out one.
  • Eh... Lumia 640 is an all around better phone and it costs less. It doesn't have Windows 10, but the mainstream rollout for that is getting closer and closer.
  • I Love Windows Phone.For past three years I have been the only one with windows phone among my friends and family.Why I am saying all this-I Just ended up ordering Moto G Turbo as my next Phone.The Reason-My lumia 520 running on windows 10 got its screen cracked and I could not find one online portal in India where 640 was available while 730 is still pricey. Lets Be Honest,The 550 is not an inspiring enough to have me interested when I can get all MS services in a better phone on android.I hope they launch more devices like 650 (i cant wait till april with a broken phone).I know I will be back after an year or two but please MS "Its Really Time To Treat Windows Mobile as One Of Your Own" Make Loyal Fanboys Like Me Love Windows 10 Mobile like Windows 10 on PC-at least that is where I will stay(not to mention OneNote,Outlook..... :) )
  • I'm coming with you but not to Moto, waiting for Xiaomi Mi5 to launch and then I'm gonna ask my dad for it after a good performance in my annual exams.
  • I'm sure there is some other decent phone to replace a 520 much.
  • Fair point but if you have a carrier locked phone, we'll have to see if they allow it through, officially. On one hand, I feel this way but on the other one, I don't think T-mobile will so if I want something official (as in no insider "preview" builds), it's easier to get a phone without all of that to worry about.
  • I can still buy a 640 for $40 - so no, it most certainly isn't.  
  • From where?? BB and MS Store selling it for $60
  • Walgreens down the street. Recently took the place of the 635 they had been selling at the same price.  
  • Exactly! The 640 is, at MOST, $60, and is often even less expansive. How anybody could say that the 550 is a good deal is beyond me. Microsoft put Windows 10 on a phone with worse specs and the reviewer calls it a good deal? Please. At lease some of us are tech-savvy enough to upgrade a 640 to Windows 10, but anyone buying a 550 is just getting ripped off.
  • Good phone but waiting for a 750/850
  • You'll be waiting a long time.
  • LOL
  • And this makes no sense.  They should have bumped the specs on the 650 instead of making a near identical device to the 550.
  • The phone just needs a 410 or 415.. Rest is good
  • The same as WC UWA.. :P
  • Hey Daniel Rubino, what is taking you so long to post Lumia 950XL review?
  • WMPowerUser authors are spreading rumours... They sucks when it comes to internal news from MS..
  • I don't see 750 coming anytime soon but i feel 850's gonna come MS had even said in one of their posts that they are going to bring continuum n other flagship features on non-flagships phones.. 850 is a non flagship and has a 617(as per leaks) so it can run continuum.. Hope they launch the 850..
  • "mid-range specs come to entry-level prices" Hmmm I will have to disagree, the cammera, proccessor and RAM are actually low range.. In my humble opinion, a midrange should have a 10-12mpx cammera, a better processor and 2GB ram. This is a lowrange phone. A nice one, I agree... but nothing more.
  • Megapixels don't equal anything other than how big the image is. Go look at a Sony Xperia with a 23MP sensor for a great example of that. Gets beaten in most ways by phones with 12-ish MP cameras.
  • Agreed
  • I agree with that but, judging by the image quality, those are not the pictures from a midrange phone. And the rest of the specs are still a bit on the low end in my opinion. Of course, I am used to the 1020 so maybe I'm just spoiled hehe :P
  • ...see Richard's comment below. Or above mine, I'm too slow, lol.
  • What about Xiaomi Redmi 3 (http://www.xiaomidevice.com/xiaomi-redmi-3.html)? $139.99; Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 Octa Core; 16GB; 2GB of RAM; 5.0 inch; 1280*720 pixels; 5.0MP BSI front camera; 13.0MP BSI back camera with flashlight and auto focus; Support TF card up to 128GB extended; 4100mAh Battery
  • This is what mid-range really means!
  • That's android man,those aren't mid features,they're android essentials,have you tried to use android with anything less?,and that's just 4.4. Try updating it.Granted,the hardware Google puts out does wonders with specs they have,but let's face it,their hardware is entry level,so more features means more overhead,hell just adding sd card octa'z your problems...
  • What? Moto G 2013 (first generation) have SD400, 1GB of RAM and runs great. Explain me how all of this hardware, "that is essential to Android", is cheaper than the one found on Lumia 550? Look at the PRICE!!!! "Windows 10 Mobile doesn't need this hardware" -> So the price should be cheaper for this inferior hardware ¬¬
  • Listen bro.....Xiaomi Redmi 3 good smart phone but itz boring then Lumia 550 is good and interesting 
  • Very nicely said. You want a mid range phone look for the ones with the Snapdragon 600 series with 2-3 gigabytes of RAM with good 13+ megapixel cameras. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android on my Lumia 950 XL
  • Yeah. this is entry-level spec device with arguably mid-range to entry-level prices depending where you are. Snapdragon 2XX are aimed for entry level devices, the 1GB RAM is commonplace in Android cheap phones nowadays, 5MP camera, and heck it still can't even record at least HD videos (I'm not sure why entry-level SoC still not capable of this, this is Qualcomm issue though not MS) making older Lumia X20 series better at video recording. Maybe because on Windows Phone/Mobile universe, some of these features, better and extra hardware are used to be just for mid-range phone such as 640 series. Features like Glance, better hardware like HD screen and extra hardware like camera flash. If we look in Android devices, having flash and higher resolution displays on similar price point are common, some even cheaper.  
  • In which universe does this device qualify as mid range?
  • Agreed... Not even close
  • Have you used it as a daily driver?
  • As I have said in several comments.. It's a good phone with smooth experience ... But it's specs are low end and let's call it a Good Low End device... If we call this phone as midrange ,What are we gonna call a real midrange Lumia ??.. ;)
  • I have used it as a daily driver, it does what I need it to do decently.
  • The universe of lowered standards (ie the Microverse).
  • Midrange specs??.. Seriously?.. :D
    .
    Update : Article title has changed and there is no need to debate about whether it is a midrange or low end device
    .
    The title should have been
    .
    "Lumia 550 : A good entry level device with solid 'midrange' like W10M experience "
  • So which of Microsoft's mid-rangers from recent times are significantly higher up in terms of hardware? You're clearly seeing "210" and assuming it's immediately terrible, low-end stuff. When in actual fact, this phone is closer in every way to the likes of the 640 than most of the previous 5xx phones were to the mid-tiers.
  • The definition of mid range is not confined to Microsoft devices.
  • The definition of Windows Central is however confined to the Microsoft ecosystem. If you're considering Android phones we have a superb site for that.
  • @Richard "WC is however confined to the Microsoft ecosystem, If you are considering Android phones we have a superb site for that"
    ..
    Well well... So why do you guys compare the camera ,performance, number of apps, design between Samsung S6, iPhones and Lumias? ... We have Pocket Now to see all those... Be confined to Windows Only.. /s
    ..
    As a WP user.. We can't just close our eyes and say it's dark.. The reality is that W10M can work seamlessly even with low end spec.. But app experience defers.. It's a good phone.. But not a midranger... May be we can compare it with last year's midrange devices.. But time has passed and that's not the benchmark to compare..
    .
    Lumia 550 a GOOD LOW END W10M device.. That doesn't make the device bad.. It's a solid phone for the price..
  • Calling this mid-range because of a lack of an actual mid-range offering makes exactly as much sense as seeing it as the low-range device that it is and calling the 950/XL offerings mid-range devices. Which is to say it makes no sense.
  • Snapdragon 210 doesnt support miracast.Right???
  • I have this phone and it works fine miracasting to my LG Smart TV and ROKU stick.
  • MS is not competing with it's past.. MS is competing with Android OEMs... And these specs are considered as low end ... It's a good phone.. But not a Midrange..
    SD2XX Low end
    SD4XX mid range
    SD6XX affordable high end
    SD8XX high end
    This ^
  • Exactly. 4 cylinder cars today may perform like 6 cylinder cars of five years ago, but 4 cylinder cars today compete with other 4 cylinder cars. This is a low end phone.
  • Waiting for the Lumia 650, nice design
  • Looks like no apps and games coming for windows phone even years and years are going on... Next phone will never be a Lumia
  • What are you talking about? New Universal Apps are being announced every week
  • Richard, you are the best! Thanks for this great review! I agree with everything that you have said here. It's kind of annoying to read comments of people putting down this phone, when it really isn't a bad experience at all. I bought one and then I returned it back...to then decide to buy one again. And yes, I have the 640, but the size draws me to it a lot. It's a solid phone.
  • "It's kind of annoying to read comments of people putting down this phone."
    .
    L550 is a good solid phone.. The review is also honest.. But the point is that it's not a device with midrange spec.. That's all...
  • That is a fair point, but for that comment, I mean in a general sense. Every time we have an article about the 550, there are always people calling it junk, or "why did they even release this?" or similar thoughts. Because of such comments, we have people who are geniunely curious about the device, thinking that it is bad because of the LOUD opinions who show up in every article about this phone.
  • Agreed
  • When will W10 Mobile be launched publicly? Posted via Windows Central app for W7
  • Bad review. It worse than 640.
  • How is this a bad review? It's an honest review, and actually Richard has reviewed the 640 as well, so I would think that if anyone can compare, it would be him and Daniel.
  • What's fun about reviews is there are opinion and really can't be wrong. People differ on what is good and bad in the world.
  • @Ashish I disagree.. But it's not a midrange device.. It is almost as good as 640..
  • Ummmm....It's in 5XX series, it doesn't have to be better than 6XX series. If 650 isn't better than 640 overall then that's bad. This 550 is a legitimate upgrade from 540.
  • Your comments on the OS are absolutely on point. First impressions mean so much and sales mean nothing if the devices just get returned to the store.
  • Indeed! This is also the factor makes current 950 series fell, not much because of its hardware specs but it's because W10M still isn't ready. Even 950 series are "for the fans", it's still expensive hardware competing against other flagships. Lumia 950 and 950 XL will be available on stores with price tag on it that any consumers (not just geeks or fans) can buy. It's available to the public, not an invite-only for hardcore fans. If the software quality isn't there (and even the hardware looks), it will affect the overall satisfaction and experience of the product, leading some might even returned it and tarnished the brand even more. First impressions do matter, for regular consumers this tends to last long.
  • Great little phone, one downside is battery but that's not a major thing
  • So sad that MS couldn't get the out of box experience right. I've been using 10 for a while now, but for a phone that ships with 10 it should have been more smooth. Sadly, my android test isn't fairing to be a much better experience than what we've been getting from MS, well except for having app support...
  • It's a very good looking device. I almost purchased one but swung for the 640 instead (£10 more expensive ay Carphone warehouse UK). The last phone I used with a 5mp camera was the 625 and that was playing on my mind - wish I would have waited for this review because it actually looks a billion times better on the 550. Great review Richard. How much weight do you think Windows Central pulls with Microsoft? This isn't the first windows 10 mobile device review I've read where the out of box experience is slated.
  • Hmmm...what to do, what to do.  512 ram on my 635 is becoming painful, especially with how some things are on W10m (I hate you Edge!).  I can't justify $600-$700 on a W10m phone just yet - way too many bugs and things that exist that shouldn't in the 21st Century (especially from a software company as old and experienced as Microsoft).  This phone sounds okay but still keeps the same ugly design that I hate about the 635.  Why hasn't a company designed a shell that fits your Lumia but changes the shape and design of the outter edges?!
  • Are you looking to get a flagship?  If not, you could probably upgrade to the current 640 XL and be fine.  Heck, you could buy a used 830 for sub-$200 and still get a lot of value from it.
  • Thanks for the replies.  Yeah, the 640 sounds workable.  I'm hoping to get on to Tmobile since I can't use MMS on Sprint without having to go to 3G and Tmobile is cheaper than AT&T for the plan I sign up for.  I saw a post where Tmobile stopped selling the phone on their site.  Any one know if I can still find the 640 from Tmobile?
  • If you want a regular 640 (not the xl), your best bet would be ebay for a used one possibly, if you are looking for the t-mobile one. However, you have 2 choices. You can buy an unlocked one (which will have band 12) for less than $200 or get the at&t one that doesn't have it for $60, and unlock it. People have said that they used it without issues on t-mobile.
  • Thank you for the info.  I'm going to do some searching and see what's out there.
  • Yeah I agree with Libra. I suggest buying an att gophone 640 for $60 or less from places like wal-mart then unlock it through att.com/unlock if you want a new phone, or just pick up a used tmo one and maybe save a few more dollars. I'll most likely do one or the other in the near future. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • The 640 is definitely a valid alternative option to the 550. Now I'm speaking from my own experience, having just acquired it in Denmark where the price was quickly lowered compared to the release. About 1/4-1/3 slashed off - moreover I was able to buy it even cheaper used p, from someone who had used it for less than two months, so in total about half the price compared to the initial pricing set at the release. This was what made the ultimate factor in my decision to buy the 550 over the 640. 640 was indeed one of the best releases in the 40s generation: packing a lot of punch for the price, which still makes it an interesting choice. Overall I was very surprised by the experience for the value - coming from two 930 (both stolen) and the 925 before that. I experienced none of the "first impression difficulties" described in the review, so maybe they have fixed that since this review or I was just lucky. If you - like me - can't afford one of the flagships or just won't pay that price, I'd definitely argue that 550 and the 640 are the best options (I can't really compare with the 650 with it being just released and all, and on paper looks like only a slight upgrade to its predecessor and to a price that haven't dropped yet).  So yes, ultimately the choice being between the 550 and 640 makes a lot of sense. Summarised I find the actual experience of the 550 to be great (regardless on whether you class it as a lowend or midrange. The actual user experience in daily use definitely offers more than what "the numbers on paper" suggests, and "on par" with the 640. Ultimately you should decide based on your personal preferences, and the reasons you mentioned makes good sense for why the 640 is the right one for you. Honestly they both have a lot to offer at their current prices, and after the price drop of the 550 the choice is really a subjective one in my opinion. I realise I've answered an old post and I apologise for that, but hey: let me know which one you ended up with instead ;)
  • Buy a Lumia 640 and sign up for the indsider program....You will running WInMobile10 on great device for less then this device will cost you
     
  • I want to like it, I really do....but I like my new Lumia 640 so much better. LOL
  • I'm not enjoying writing this, but you can't hide from it, either. I will say that the Lumia 550 has been less frustrating during my time with it than the Lumia 950 that I've been using side-by-side. But all too often something will freeze, the start screen will just disappear entirely or the Store will just refuse to work. I find it fascinating how poorly Windows 10 runs on the newer devices, each requiring a firmware update just to get to an acceptable level.  Those are the sort of problems that I used to have on early tech preview builds.  Windows 10 on my 1520/830 seemingly runs fine (individual apps notwithstanding).  C'mon MS, your quality control is slipping. 
  • Give it some time.. After all it's completely a rewritten OS..
  • Give it some time?  These are consumer products being sold to regular people, not preview or beta products.  It is inexusable for the production OS to be this buggy.
  • Apple had to introduce iOS9 to fix iOS8 and there are still issues. Android too has issues. But, I would have liked W10 to be better than described in the article for general release - a lot better actually!
  • Well software tends to have bugs, not surprising even iOS and certainly Android have issues too. Difference is those two are dominant in the market and these issues isn't much a threat, only that some people will just refuse to get update but they still use iOS devices or Android devices. Heck now that W10M is way buggier than WP, plus the app gap issues still exist that it's way harder to even recommend it to most consumers. Windows Phone problem is mainly the lack of apps and some features missing. Windows 10 Mobile have more features but still have app gap issue and now we got issues with bugs and overall polish that are still non-existent on current state.
  • All taken into account I still prefer W10 on my phone and SP3 to other OS's. The simplicity and cleanness with Live Tiles compared to rows of dead icons or pages of widgets and dead icons always makes me happy.
  • They had a hole year with this OS and Mobile wasn't their priority. 
  • No offense, but do you really know what "completely rewritten" actually means?
  • It really feels like that their quality control these days are somewhat lacking if not completely. Both Windows 10 and W10M quality still quite poor even after few months. Even my colleague who recently upgraded her ultrabook to Windows 10 performs not as polished and great as it was from Windows 8.1, boot times is even noticeably slower/less snappy (slower on about 3-6 seconds with glitchy transition, gone are the days of smooth and animated transitions). W10M is way worse than W10, if you're unlucky enough the experience might be even a hell. The most difficult part is several issues are inconsistent to other people, not everybody experience similar issues thus if someone is claiming they have a bug, other dismissed it because they didn't experience it at all. On the other hand, they themselves might even experience different issues that doesn't exist or noticeable to other users. It seems like Windows 10 isn't really ready for another few months or even a year. I think they should make extension on making it free upgrade for another few more months or even year. Sometimes it's tricky to recommend to some people to upgrade to Windows 10 when their current version of Windows even in 8.1 are well polished and performs almost perfectly (unless on some cases they perform badly too), it not really because of Start menu fiasco.
  • No bro, not a good phone for value for price.
    It does not matter if windows can run in low specs.
    If you are giving low specs then price should be low. It is a phone of 100-110 $ not 139$. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • For that price and ONLY having 8GB of internal is just unbelievable... This is the same problem i have with te 640XL... even 16GB would make this worth of the asking price, but with internal storage as cheap as it's getting something has to give... you lose close to 3/4 of the internal storage to the OS and an increasing number apps will not install on the memory card... it may seem like an awsome budget device, but when you research just a tiny bit it losses all of it's appeal... just like the 640/XL did
  • I kind of agree with you, but when compared to Android phones of similar specifications the cost of the Lumia 550 it's basically 'throw away money'. You cant sell a phone as capable as Windows handsets for so damn cheap and expect lots of storage - something has to give and I think Microsoft has found a perfect balance to give total value for money. Though I agree that more storage would be nice, the old saying still rings true "you pays your money, you takes your choice". You want more? You pay more.
  • Totally agree with your review Rich. My Lumia 550 experience was sooooo bad initially. The OS (10586) and apps (all versions from early October 2015, some of which are Alpha quality) are so broken that it made just using the phone completely impossible... The dialer would litteraly crash every time it was opened. ​After updating the OS to and apps to the latest versions the situation is significantly better. Still not 8.1 better, but it's getting there. Microsoft should never have released the Lumia 550 with such terrible software. It will probably be the most returned phone of 2016. Even putting a leaflet in the box explaining that an update is required would help the situation.
  • But u get a 640 with that price. Its bad bcoz Microsoft isn't keeping up good specs compared to android OEMs. I'm saying its bad bcoz it wont help Lumia sales. 640,630 helped Lumia sales a lot bcoz they were well featured with proper price. Microsoft just released this phone not seeing what others are offerring at that cost. They aren't doing anything to attract ppl in low end range Lumias like the 520 did.
  • I like how people forgot that at launch, the 520 was around this price unlocked...
  • In the UK the 550 was available for £49 + £10 top up, or as low as £29 if you had an eligible PAYG SIM for an upgrade. The price has since increased. The lowest price the 640 has been to is £79.99, so the 550 is at least £20 cheaper over here.
  • I missed the Carphone warehouse 550 sale by a day. The 640 was still in the sale and only £10 more so I snapped that ***** right up. But i was all geared for the 550 originally.
  • The 640 is a step up from the 550 and has double tap to wake and close as well as glance and the better processor - I would say you got a bargain there with the 640 price :)
  • Is the screen oled or lcd please?
  • LCD.
  • I thought it was CRD
  • The ms page says lcd. https://www.windowscentral.com/e?link=https%3A%2F%2Fclick.linksynergy.co...
  • Needs a little bit mor bezel.
  • Oh please stop looking your navel ! Nothing mind blowing or standing out from the crowd with this, honestly. ​
  • its not even mid range device...its low end....
  • I like the honest and brutal truth in your review.  Thank you.  MS has a lot of work to do and they need to do it fast.  They are starting to lose even the most loyal fans to other ecosystems because of their incompetence.  I have started using my iPhone more because I'm just ready to try something else again.  I want that something else to be W10M but with all it's problems I'm not doing it.  My 1520 is still my daily driver but I'm starting to shift.
  • I will stick with the awesome 640 and 8.1. everything works. MS can keep that buggy windows 10 off my phone.  They need to stop making each OS "new from the ground up". Yet another reason why they have no developers / apps.   I wish MS could do something to get some market share. I frackin LOVE windows phone 8.1 OS. I just want my apps I have on my iPhone and android phone. .....  I would use a WP and an iPad mini combo but since MS won't let me curse in my text messages using Cortana, I won't ever try that combo.  Remove the language filter and I would use the WP as my daily driver. 
  • Just been to Carphone Warehouse to grab a couple of these to replace a 435 and 535 we use as our cabbies work phones. What a bargain! As mentioned in the article, for the outlay, they are great. Just doing the updates now, apps and firmware. Like the 640, my mate who works for CPW, says these are selling quite well, along with sim only deals which can save the cost of the phone in a few months. I like them. For the intended market they are bang on. The white does look better, but had to go black so the magpies couldn't see them when the lads are out working. Best thing of all???? GLANCE screen!!!
  • I agree, aside from the 532, there is no phone on the lower end that has glance. It's amazing that the 550 has it.
  • Nokia did a fine job (this is Nokia phone as WC has always told), pity that MS software is so buggy.
  • Sorry if I missed it, but does the 550 (being x50 series) suport USB OTG for HID / storage?
  • I don't think it does.
  • I just bought one of these and I like it. Previously I had the 930 and although it was faster and had a better camera, those aren't really things I miss. I do like that it's lighter, the lower screen resolution really isn't that noticeable either. Having glance again is a big bonus. The only real issue I have with it is the battery life, though I'm not to into playing on my phone all day as I was a year ago.
  • Yeah the screen is actually the same as the 640s in size and also being hd. just no clearblack tech.
  • It's slightly smaller than the 640 (4.7" vs 5"). There is some of the clearblack tech included on the Lumia 550. It defintely has a sunlight polarizer. Putting the 550 next to the 535 and 540 you can see the difference when the screens are off. The 550 is black, the 535 and 540 are grey.
  • Dear Microsoft, please put Intel Atom X5 (Cherry Trail) on Lumia starter phones, just like OEMs put Atom on small tablets.  My 7" Windows 8.1 tablet purchased last year, has a Octane benchmark of 5500, while the Snapdragon 210 gets less than half of the results, leaving the chip too slow for a 2016 phone 
  • Spek masih mending 540.....
  • "Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between it and the Lumia 830 of 2014 which is now running similar hardware." You may be right of course since you're the one reviewing it,  but I'm having hard time seeing it when the 830 has a Snapdragon 400 and a more stable os. This phone is cheaper (literally and figuratively) in every way.
  • The Snapdragon 210 and Snapdragon 400 are the exact same processor, based on the same Cortex A7 processor design, with the same feature set. The only difference is the max speed of the 400 is 1.2Ghz, and the 210 is 1.1Ghz (the top speed it 100mhz slower on the 210). That's enough to make a difference on android, but not enough to make a difference on Windows.
  • Exactly, acording to Qualcomm page, the S210 is a "downgraded" version of the S400, only with lower clock speed.
  • If it ran nice and stable 8.1 instead of the constant fail in progress W10M I would give a damn.
  • Phone is great ! Just need good marketing and the presence of fully featured apps. The way to win ! Pretty unhappy with few days with Android. Only in one week lg g2 become laggy. While 640 remained smooth for infinite time and in fact I had installed more apps in Lumia 640 than g2. Going to buy 640 again or may be 550. But honestly, even Microsoft apps are better in Android, pathetic but true. Whatever, i like windows OS.
  • I hate to hear the 550 is a bit recalcitrant out of the box. Thats enough to scare me off. Ive been considering getting the 650 next spring or early summer. Hopefully the os will be better stabilized by then. I really hate issues. So 8.1 and 640 untill something better comes along.
  • What​ is the reason for the 550 to exist? It offers about 80% of the quality and performance of the $59 Lumia 640 but the 550 costs twice as much. Buy a 640 and upgrade to Windows 10 with the Insiders app.
  • The 640 is only that cheap in the US, and only on one carrier. In other parts of the world, the 550 is usually significantly cheaper.
  • The Insider app really isn't meant to be used like that, so it's not recommended for everyone to do. The 550 is unlocked originally. The 640, you can get software updates but not really firmware. Also, Microsoft needed a native device with W10 that wasn't a flagship.
  • Got my parents one each (one black, one white) and they look almost identical to their Dell tablets too (also one black and one white) which is great. Free phone and cheaper per month than their current sim only deal, absolutely amazing price. Lots and lots of phone for your money!! And of course they love that it's Windows 10 so the same as their tablets. Buying them both these phones and the tablets are definitely by far the best purchases I could have made for them.
  • I'll probably just get a 640 as my test and Internet phone. I use a 520 now. I considered the 550 as a replacement or even a temporary replacement for my main phone to give me a few extra months to see what comes out after the 950, but I think the 550 is more a first time Windows Phone user phone. Really Microsoft needs to have the mentality of always replacing and improving on their previous products. There shouldn't be a single new product that comes out and can be bested by an old one for the most part. Basically a low-end phone from this year should be better than a mid-range from two years ago, maybe even a Flagship from 3 years ago. Don't just repackage the same old product
  • This 550 is a low end device no discussion about that...why not something this MS? : Low end : SD212, 1 GB RAM , 8GB ROM with SD-card, 5MP back with flash and 2MP frontcam, 4,5" 720P IPS clearblack with Glance, 3000mAH battery with wireless and QC. Mid range alias 650 : SD415, 2 GB RAM, 16GB ROM with SD-card, 8MP PV back with flash and 5MP selfiecam, 5" 720P IPS clearblack with Glance, 3500mAh battery with wireless and QC Mid range 2 alias 750  : SD617, 2GB RAM, 16 GB ROM with SD-card, 13MP PV back with flash and 5MP selfiecam with flash ,5" 720P OLED with Glance, 4000mAH battery with wireless and QC. continuum High range alias 850 : SD805, 3GB RAM, 32GB ROM with SD-card, 16-20MP PV back with dual flash, 5MP selfiecan with flash, 5,5" 1080P OLED with Glance, 4500mAh battery with wireless and QC Windows Hello, continuum. - Bring back the Nokia colors. - Dedicated camerabutton om all devices - And metal from the 650 on all devices.
  • This may be a good phone, but Windows 10 Mobile is a trainwreck. Microsoft apps have taken huge steps backwords (MSN Health-gone, MSN Weather- no lock screen, doesnt follow you, Outlook Mail- my Hotmail will not sync, Outlook calander- Hotmail won't sync, Making an appointment can NOT be done while in week view (it always puts your event on sunday of that week) appointmentsneed to be done in day view also, the Live Tile Shrinks the day and date when there is an event on that day( thereis NO reason to shrink the day and date, there's plenty of room on the tile). Constant app crashes. Live tiles straight up not working. Weeklly/ sometimes daily reboot are needed. WP 8.1 had none of these issues. It really feels like MS wants Windows Phone to fail.    If I wanted an Android, I would have bought one. Honestly, if they don't fix Windows 10 Mobile, I'm done. 
  • I bought this phone about a week ago and I am pleasantly surprised by how well it works. I was waiting to buy the 950 XL. But for the price it doesn't seem like a good value because it doesn't work as good as the price they are asking for. The general public doesn't really buy phones based on specs, they buy phone that they can afford because most users won't even notice Most of the things that inside the phone . Most general users just want to know if Facebook will work. Snapchat will work and Instagram will work that is all they care about. Overall, I am satisfied with the 550.
  • There is no snapchat app on Windows Phone
  • can anyone explain to me why this phone shots better photos and is faster than my iPhone 5S?
  • The blu win hd LTE is dual sim, has 410 processor , 1gb ram 8 storage, lovely 720p screen micro sd and is £59 in UK. Sadly not win 10 yet though. I bet the build quality is better on the 550, and you get windows insider, choice is good, but at a budget blu win hd lte is hard to beat
  • "Sadly not win 10 yet" Based on this review, I don't think it's sad.
  • i've been using my 550 for several weeks now. down from a 735, which was down from a 1020. i now carry a camera, so the pphone camera almost never gets used, so this doesn't matter. i enjoy the phone, it's simple and easy, and it's mostly used as a music player as it's cheap and has micro sd support. app wise, i now have a gopro, and the companion apps are not available here. likewise for my canon camera, no windows phone apps. but do i need those? so the first 48 hours were a nightmare. i've never had such a terrible time with a windows phone. i was tempted to send it back. even the microsoft help people couldn't help, being that it was just recently released. but after numerous resets and restarts, we got there, and now i can't complain too much. there are a few crashes here and there. so i would not recommend windows 10 to anybody really. but it wasa dirt cheap phone with expandable storage, value for money!
  •     Not a bad phone. I'm curious about the 650 though. Hopefully, Microsoft will have the out-of-box experience ironed out when that phone is released in a couple of weeks.
  • Hey, Thanks for the review, Richard. Historically, I have owned two Nokia/MS Lumias (the 800 and the 1520) with iPhone 5 - 6 Plus as my regular rivers. Due to my experiences I have had to consider Windows Mobile more of an exotic experience, rather than solid platform (sorry folks, it has always left me craving for more, especially in the 3rd-party apps department). That being said, I have always enjoyed MS' design language. I really think that they have nailed it. The problem has been, as always, getting the market traction; it's non-existent at this point and that fact is simply outrageous; Windows (10) Mobile offers a real alternative to iOS and Android. Plus Bing & Maps that have dramatically improved. With all that in mind I have recently decided to get the 550 as my backup device; I bought it unlocked last week (Microsoft Canada offers it unlocked at $189) and with carriers like Public Mobile it simply begs to try it out - at this price point, why not?! Naturally, there has been some trade-offs in the specs game (who cares?), but the fact that it is a full-fledged LTE unit with a decent camera (judging by the pictures) and latest software and expandability, it feels kind of natural for some budget-savvy shopper to give the 550 a whirl. For the amount that you have to pay you are NOT going to lock yourself with a two-year contract! I will post a follow-up once I have used the device for some time; right now, the expectations are pretty low (it's a budget device, not a high-end iPhone), and IF it surprises me here, or there, I will be very pleased. Cheers!
  • ** regular drivers ** there have been some trade-offs
  • The Lumia 550 may not have all of the bells and whistles that techies enjoy, but for someone like me who just wants a phone with extras it is awesome. Great price and with Windows 10, which I also use on my laptop. The voice quality on phone conversatoins is very superior to my last two Iphones. Not to mention the price. For someone who wants a really good phone, with extras and at a great price, you cannot beat the Lumia 550. Also I am not one of those people who believes that Microsoft will leave the cell phone business. It is the future and Microsoft I am sure knows this. They have a good foundation and will be around for a long time in this market.