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Microsoft Lumia 550 unboxing, comparison and first impressions

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.

CategoryLumia 550Lumia 635Lumia 640
Operating SystemWindows 10 MobileWindows Phone 8.1Windows Phone 8.1
Display4.7 inches
1280 x 720 resolution
4.5-inches
854 x 480 resolution
5.0-inches
1280 x 720 resolution
GlanceYesNoYes
Rear Camera5MP AF
f/2.4
LED flash
5MP AF
f/2.4
no flash
8MP AF
f/2.2
LED flash
Front Camera2MP
f/2.8
None0.9 MP
f/2.4
ProcessorsQualcomm Snapdragon 210
Quad-core
1.1GHz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
Quad-core
1.2GHz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
Quad-core
1.2GHz
Storage and RAMInternal 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
SensorsAccelerometer
Proximity sensor
Ambient light sensor
Accelerometer
SensorCore
Ambient light sensor
Accelerometer
Proximity sensor
Magnetometer
SensorCore
LocationA-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
Dimensions9.9 x 67.8 x 136.1 mm9.2 x 66.7 x 29.5 mm8.8 x 72.2 x 141.3 mm
Weight141.9 g134 g145 g
Battery2100 mAh1830 mAh2500 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.

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

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.

More Info

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

252 Comments
  • Looks really good for $130 smartphone. But i prefer the 640.
  • It looks just like the $600 phones...
  • Except it's too large and think
  • Yeah, the flagships are nice, but I agree with you on the size.
  • Some mylar tape to the edges and metal ring around camera for magnetic add-on lenses - instant premium ;)
  • Thanks for the reminder. I've got some aluminium tape that's been sitting around for years. Looks like I'll finally have a use for it.
  • Wrap it in aluminum foil, and you can't tell the difference from an iPhone 6s.
  • Then they aren't good looking Posted via the Windows Central App for Android on my Frost Nexus 6P
  • Believe me, you are better of with the 640, in fact, you are two times better now!
  • truth to be told, i'm blown away by the rich capture in 550. I am really hoping MS would enable it for 730 via a firmware upate with windows 10
  • I bought one,wouldn't buy it again even for 50$. The camera of the 635 is MUCH better. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Looks like a really nice phone :) If I didn't already buy the Lumia 640, I might have considered this one.
  • 640 seems better in many aspects. Upgrade to win 10 and you are good to go.
  • I've been on Windows 10 Mobile since I got the phone :) Can't go back to 8.1 after using all the new features in 10, lol. It runs great.
  • Lol will you ever do a review for the 950XL?
  • I just assumed that I had missed it. Got mine, generally love it, and the size is not excessive. Just wish the tempered glass would stay down in the corners. Although I have now got one that let's light into the proximity sensor, and has tapered edges. Phone is now more responsive. Mozo case, in tan, is coming tomorrow or Saturday, so I am pleased. Mobile Fun and Clove finally got more stock. Battery life is fine too. Can't wait to get my dock, and see the new Central app. Any chance of a beta? 550 is kinda nice too. And UK pricing is pretty good. Keep the updates coming Gabe!
  • Realistically it's going to be more or less the same as their in-depth 950 review. Larger screen and a little faster thanks to octocore but ultimately faces the same software dilemma..
  • I don't think the XL suffers from the heat issues that seem to be the pain point for 950 owners, but yeah, similar situation. Tis a nice phone, happy with it.
  • If it were to be an honest review, many people here at WC would freak out and pick up pitch-forks and torches to burn the reviewer alive. If you want biased and unrealistic reviews, well, head over to WMPoweruser. They're experts on coming up with excuses for Microsoft's shortcomings (with the odd exception here and there). ;)
  • Oh shhh you
  • Lol yes. Especially if it was the Michael Fisher review on Pocketnow :P. Everyone would've been complaining and crying. But since its WINDOWS Central it wouldn't be as hard hitting Posted via the Windows Central App for Android on my Frost Nexus 6P
  • lol are you sure? Daniel wasn't particularly "kind" with the 950. I'm not sure a review of the 950XL would be any kinder than the one of the 950...quite the contrary :P
  • That's probably because WC claims every phone coming out of Microsoft now is some old project of Nokia. These people are happy to blame the Nokia (still?) even though Microsoft could have made the changes and saved some of these phones.. Probably this is gonna continue till the so called surface phone launch.. Then WC will be the happiest site in the world.. Probably except Jason's articles, I find many of the articles biased and favoring Microsoft. But one thing I like windows central is that they don't publish too many rumours.. WC publish stuff only if they are pretty sure about it..
  • MM is just a skeleton nowadays. Most people were fired long ago and all decisions big and small and smaller are done in Redmond. No one to blame other than Nadella on new phones.
  • Jason not biased/favoring MS? He is in love with Nadella (aka "Mastermind") - so much so that his articles are, IMHO, unbearable to read.
  • Fisher had a horrible experience with the XL, specifically the software (Outlook not loading/sending emails, store downloads not happening at all, unable to record video). He gave a very honest review, which is always a good thing.
  • That's why i love Fisher Posted via the Windows Central App for Android on my Frost Nexus 6P
  • DJ is making sense.
  • He really isn't.
  • Does DJ ever make sense? I don't think so
  • Issues are issues. I'm ok with them being stated. I dislike it when reviewers note problems that affect only a select few phones. Eg, "we couldn't get our preinstalled expidia app to work". I want to hear about your take of the OS, not a problem with 1 device.
  • Jealous because some have it?
  • Actually, there are probably many more entries on WMPU  (especially by that Allison guy) than WC that are critical of MS - which is not to say they are always on point or that WMPU would be somehow more professional otherwise. :P 
  • Well give us your take on the 950XL, DJCBS! Since you know more than anyone else about the platform, company, and hardware, than anyone else, Sir... It surely won't come off, sounding virulently anti-MS, or anti-WP/W10M. Because you're just a guy that follows Windows Phones, like the rest of us. What other reason would one come to a site called WINDOWS CENTRAL, if one was violently opposed to, say, Microsoft/Windows. That would just be trolling, and that just ain't your reason, or style, now is it, Bruv?
  • 2015 phone will be reviewed 2016. What's the hurry..
  • I agree. Are you waiting for the new firmware update, Daniel? To know if the update solves most of the phone's teething problems (including battery life)?
  • AFAIK the new firmware is not for 550, although presumably it will get a firmware update at some point (technically the phone is newer).
  • I'm guessing it was in reference to your lack of a 950XL review. It's absence tells us what you think. But sadly also speaks of the control MS has on this site. I used to use only WC but ind myself going other places more and more.
  • MS has no control over this site. What are u talking about? I have a 950xl and it's a worthy upgrade to my 930
  • The TWO BIGGEST hardware releases by MS in TWO YEARS - 950XL & Surface Book - both with some release glitches, neither reviewed by WC. Oh no. MS has no influence at. WAKE UP!!!
  • That isn't evidence. At all. You do have a brain right? Use it. ZOMG WAKE UP. moron
  • It's ok. You can still be Daniel's friend.
  • Pretty sure MS has absolutely no control over this site.
  • They did do a surface book review, if memory serves me correctly.
  • Wow another guy equating "billion-dollar corporation" with "omnipotence"
  • You do realize that there are many ways for a company to influence another company and it's employees??? They call them incentive trips, perk merchandize, etc. When at least one former editor from this site moved on to MS you simply have to recognize the potential. What other reason could there be??? I get that it is how the game is played. Just need to be aware of our sources and their possible motivations, that's all.
  • I still think 640 is the best budget phone for windows. Maybe even over all platforms?
  • Together with the Lumia 730/735.
  • I agree, the 640 is a monster device for the price. With good lighting the camera is really surprising to. I just wish our 950 ran as smooth on 10, but it's still waiting for .36
  • True. No doubt. Only downside of 640 is it feels cheap. I am using it with w10m. Not a single issue. I just miss amoled screen, I know some people prefer IPS display
  • The BLU Win HD LTE is nothing to sneeze at either.
  • It's good, but the camera of the 640 wins all around, especially in low light.
  • Is there gonna be any Windows 10 phone with capacitive buttons? Still prefer them more over on screen ones.
  • We just posted one today, the Alcatel OneTouch coming to Tmo (US).
  • Did 950/XL gets outlook latest update? though its for entire OS but i notice 950/XL users didnt get the latest update of Outlook apps like UNDO of deleted email.
    *Frustrating*
  • Yes. Just double checked on my Lumia 950. And yes it has the Undo option so my Lumia 950 (on .29) has the latest Outlook app update.
  • My 950 got the Outlook update the same day it launched, so not sure what you are complaining about.
  • Just got it for XL.
  • I did not get the Outlook update on my 640 too (India, Reliance/Vodafone)
    Running .36
  • It is easier for me to swipe from the top to show more actions instead of using Expand/Collapse. :)
  • Sorry, I missed that article :) since notifications aren't working properly for me..
  • Me too....just replaced my damaged 930 with a......930. 20mp camera, 4 mics, wireless charging, 2.2GHz processor and hard keys, etc. On W10 and not looking for a replacement until I see the rumoured "surface phone" :)
  • ^THIS!!!
  • Where is Lumia 950XL review Daniel? Posted via my Samsung Galaxy S3 Neo which isn't as much abandoned as any Windows Phone on the Windows Central App for Android
  • The best thing about Windows phone 8.1 was the fluidity and the absence of bugs. Now with Windows 10, it reminds me of Android...
  • Of Android 4.2 and earlier I'd guess....because I've never had "lags" on Android since I moved. 4.4, 5.1 and 6.0 all run way smother than WP8.1 (because of the "resuming" screens) or WP10 (any of the released builds, including the official commercial version)
  • You don't own a Samsung do you? My 635 performs better than the Note 4 I had. I would press the multitask button and it would take 5 to 10 seconds before it did anything. And once it came up most of the apps I clicked on would reload. It was not a good experience. 
  • That's your fault for picking a Samsung. Powerful devices but Touchwiz bogs it down Posted via the Windows Central App for Android on my Frost Nexus 6P
  • No problems in my case on my Note 4 at this point. However it was a little bit slower on Android 5.0.1. Now on 5.1.1 it is just as great as on 4.4.4. Hope 6.0(.1) won't hurt it.
  • "You don't own a Samsung do you?"   No. I'm not stupid :P As long as TouchWiz exists, no one should pick up a Samsung phone and specially judge Android by Samsung devices.
  • I guess I just disagree. I feel like I can judge Android based on Samsung and other manufactures.
  • That's as fair as judging Windows by a bloated filled laptop by some random brand.
  • Google Now Launcher. Why people complain about TW boggles my mind. Just saying. Posted via the Note 4/Nexus 7 (2013)/Lumia 1020/Lumia 2520
  • Yeah, it depends on the manufacturer. I have the same problem with the Samsung S4, Nexus 5, and now the Nexus 6p. But I don't have it with my HTC One. I also have a resuming issue on my 920, but it depends on the app...which I find weird.
  • If you attempted to fix the issues that make Touchwiz slow, you would never say the Lumia was better performing. Decrease the animation speed and turn off S-Voice. Boom! Note is as responsive as ever. Use Google Now Launcher and your golden, SPen functionality will still work. That Lumia can't compare to the Note 4. Posted via the Note 4/Nexus 7 (2013)/Lumia 1020/Lumia 2520
  • I was running Nova Launcher and had s voice turned off and had animation speed turned to .5x. Still had issues with it.
  • @DJCBS people are going by what they experienced back on android 2.1 from 6 years ago or what they read on the interwebs somewhere... They don't understand as of 4.1, 4.4, 5.1, 6.0,  Android has gotten 100X better and runs smooth as anything out there. ignore the 550 and get the 640
  • Sure it does, as is apparent by the 3-4 android phones I fix each week for my friends. Why don't you just go to androidcentral and stop trolling windows articles?
  • Android no longer requires an app killer or anti-virus software now, I'm guessing....
  • Yes it does. You also should root it and change distro since stock sucks from all manufacturers... Then you might get a phone that works almost as good as Ios/W10m oob.
  • No it doesn't. So clueless Posted via the Windows Central App for Android on my Frost Nexus 6P
  • Yeah... still does. Talked my wife into getting the LG G4 instead of a Samsung (yay!), but still she needed anti-virus software and especially the app killer. Drains the battery like crazy without the app killer.
  • Antivirus is useless on Android, because each app uses its own sandbox, giving it certain functionality and for an antivirus to work like one on Windows, you would need to give the antivirus more access to the phone, opening up to vulnerabilities to malware infecting the device. You only really need it if you installing apps from another source other than the Google Play Store, so that way the antivirus can just scan those apps (that's really the only thing it can do on Android) and if its malware, it'll warn you. You also should probably be wary of downloading mms, they can be exploited and put malware on the Android device and transferred very easily to another Android device. This is one reason why I use a Windowsphone.
  • I never said antivirus on Android was smart lol Fwiw, I don't use Android. I only use Windows Phone/Mobile (for some reason I always choose the systems that are going down the drain - Blackberry, Garnet (Palm), WebOS (again Palm).... not a good track record). I was just mentioning that my wife still has to use these type of apps on her brand new Android, that are not necessary on Windows Mobile.
  • Hi there. Used an m9.still sucks.
  • Your taste in phones sucks. It's more your fault than anyone else...
  • I think the M9 looks very nice and it has excellent hardware (at time of release). I don't think you can really fault the phone internals when it's Android that makes the hardware suck (camera being the exception, not sure how HTC screwed that up).
  • Android does not compare to Windows 10. Especially Jellybean 4.3+ and Windows 8.1 isn't bugless. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android on my Frost Nexus 6P
  • Is that a Frombie piece their ??
  • £49.99, including compulsory £10 top up = £59.99, at Carphone Warehouse.
    http://www.windowscentral.com/ext?link=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.awin1.com%2Fcrea...
  • While the 550 looks like a decent phone and the 650 shapes up to be respectable too, I wonder what the Lumia 7xx/8xx owners will upgrade to. I'm still hoping Microsoft or another manufacturer will come up with a midrange Windows 10 device.
  • "I'm still hoping Microsoft or another manufacturer will come up with a midrange device."
    My bet is MS sets the bar for high and low and lets OEMs fill in the gaps. CES is next week, may have some more news then.
  • May, will or hope?
  • Hope. And likely in vain other than maybe a couple other 3rd/4th tier OEMs. Well, I am sure there will be some announcements but they won't change much,  I am afraid. What I am most worried about is MS losing the little momentum and share Nokia helped build for WP in several EU countries and e.g. Brazil.
  • can't wait to see if there are any windows phones from 3rd parties.... next thursday will be fun (yes, i have passes)
  • I had a chat with our MS rep and it sounds like there are only going to be three ranges, 9x,6x and 5x. Moving forward there will be no 7x or 8x.
  • I'm curios on the price of the 650. I may just pick up a used 640XL if its a better value in comparison.
  • 820 -> 640 a month ago. At that time there was nothing "official" on 650 but I don't regret choosing 640. If 650 (or 550) has full Glance and gyro then maybe a bit ;)
  • Thought it would ship with a 212 Qualcom
  • You're thinking of Lumia 650.
  • 212 is rumored to be housed in 650 sadly.
  • But why? So they can jam a 400 in their "midrange" I.e. 750, 850?
  • Sorry, but 750 and 850 got cancelled ages ago.
  • Ah yes, you're right! Thank you for the reminder :D    
  • So i notice that 550,950/Xl has a brightness controller on action center like 0%,25%,50% etc. Hope it will come to all old windows phone instead of high,medium,low.
  • I think that is a firmware/hardware limitation, not a software/OS issue.
  • I thought that but 550 hasnt better hardware than 1520. Its look like OS issue cz every phone has that except new devices.
    Do have 950?
  • The 950 has continuously variable brightness settings. Of course, it also 'features' a bug that seems to disable the automatic brightness adjustment whenever you boot the phone ;P
  • Yes! In my case it doesn't disable the auto-brightness, it sets both the brightness and automatic setting to default with every restart. (so auto on at 50%.) And it is very annoying, especially with all the random reboots. I am hoping that both of those are things fixed in the new firmware that we don't get in the US yet. (The release notes do mention automatic birghtness fixes as well as SD fixes. And I assume the random reboots are the result of the SD card.)
  • Do you know for a fact that the backlight controller hasn't been improved to support continuously variable brightness in the 550 vs. what is in the 1520? It may be that WP8 didn't support continuously variable brightness so they didn't bother paying extra to have the hardware support it in the 1520. For example the 550 has Glance, but the 930/Icon doesn't. The 930/Icon are certainly a higher end phone but Nokia/Microsoft didn't put all the high end features in it. My 640 running 10586.36 still just has low/med/high, why would Microsoft do that if it could have just a single UI for the brightness control?
  • Thats what im thinking why still that? Maybe Gabe Aul forget to see that :'(
    We have to Give feedback about this kinda little issues
  • ^This guy gets it. Not everything on a higher-end phone is "greater than" in every respect. Things in technology advance, so most things are equally linear in progress.
  • It is. It's why it could never be done on older devices like my 920.
  • Actually, that was and probably still is available in W10 Mobile but you would have to go to the brightness settings is what I recall.
  • Im impressed by the camera quality. It looked better than I thought it would... Thanks for the review!
  • I have no beef with this new fresh 550 at that price point. But I have Lumias all over the office and laying around the house and the 640 running on W10M 10586 is an outright steal!  We use them for our devloper platform at corporate. If the corporate apps run good on a $30-50 Lumia, we are thrilled, since we can outright GIVE them away.   A review for the 950XL?  It doesn't really matter what Daniel says about it, does it? The comment thread for that article will be overwhelmingly negative and trash the phone and Microsoft ad nauseum. :) Me personaly, I did my own review. The thing is wicked. Best Lumia ever. (not withstanding the Single SIM 950, that is)  Of course W10M is a bit fresh and flaky in places. But it stands up to my daily driver requirements with pure power and enough elegance. If it didn't, I have a few 1520's sitting here that would gladly accept my default SIM.
  • Loving my 950, but it's already a handful. Can't imagine maneuvering the XL version, and I have big hands (Hello Ladies). To each their own though. It's great that MS gave us the option to choose between two great new phones, now perhaps three!
  • I need big gloves too.
  • Agree with snake, doesn't really matter what WC and team say, the phone rocks (950xl) loving it more each day, after I stopped micro managing the battery life(checking battery apps, waking up the phone every 2 minutes) battery life has normalized and I easily get a full day and then some whereas before I would try and go all day without charging when that's not how you use a smartphone real world.
  • The only cons with the phone are the buggy issues with win10 and somewhat the lack of the top ten apps. I say somewhat due to the fact that the only top ten app I'm missing is boa. Once that app rains down I'll be all set.
  • My friend finally got the mozo back for the 950xl, after some hands on, I'll be ordering mine, love the customized back covers, allowing you to change the phone. Takes phone covers to another level.
  • Well a simple way to maximize battery life is to simply carry around a 2000maH-3000maH portable battery, they aren't to pricey.
  • Where can I get the blue 640 with black side buttons? :O
  • Ebay
  • I believe that is Cricket's exclusive color, unless you find a cyan/blue back cover to buy. They exist, but good luck finding one that fits like OEM.
  • So its impossible to get it in Europe?
  • Nope, check ebay, that would probably be your best bet.
  • I'm gonna miss Mid range lumias... But MS have to step down a little to give 3rd party OEMs a space to breath.. That's what best for W10M.. Will wait to see how it turns around.. All my bet is on Xiaomi
  • Or maybe some folks like Acer actually offer higher than midrange hardware but at lower than flagship prices? If devices like the upcoming "Jade" hit the market and perform as the hardware suggests, we, the consumer, might start to get access to lower priced upper mid-range\lower-flagship devices.   Hopefully the $299-$450 slot gets some great choices. And don't forget the predictions that they will be GIVING 950(XL)'s away someday soon since everyone thinks they are garbage. :)
  • I don't have any problems with my 950XL battery is excellent SD Card works perfect and no reboots it's a much better phone than my 930 and 1520.
  • I was being facetious. I too have a 950XL. And it's the best phone I've ever had. Took 2+ years for someone to build a better phone than my 1520. But they finally did. (Not saying there aren't some 950XL's with serious issues. But I got a great one)
  • Yeah, having the removable battery and SD card was one of my issues with the 920. And finally having a 5.7in screen is awesome. Finally, the liquid cooling means the phone never has a meltdown like my 920, or the memory problems either with more ram. It would never remember where I was on a page.
  • There's that Katana phone from Japan that looks like a decent upgrade to the mid-range Lumia 830/730. Sadly that's only for Japan so far.
  • I can't lie, for £60 that's a bloody good phone!
  • Since the 550 (along with the eventual 550XL) will be for the low-end spectrum of users, and the 950/950XL is meant for the high-end spectrum, any ideas what could be the mid-end device? (the odd numbers indicate it could be the 750/750XL)
  • Actually rumors indicate Microsoft is going to leave the mid-range segment of the market to OEM's and focus on exactly what they said they would: low-end, enterprise, and fans.
  • My "why?" for the 550 isn't in comparison to the 635 or 640, but rather the upcoming 650.  The rumored spec differences are minimal (210 vs 212, 4.7" vs 5" display,) so unless MS pulls an 830 and overprices the 650 because of its metal sides, I don't get why they'd make both phones, seemingly competing against themselves.
  • Because it is cheaper and good enough. The 550 is aimed at the low end, the 650 is aimed at businesses. Two different markets.
  • Aren't we at the point where "low-end" phone specs are solid enough to be business spec?  The specs of these two phones are nearly identical.  If the 550 had absolute bottom of the barrel, food stamp phone specs (as another amusingly put it) and an even cheaper price, I could see its existence, but as-is it seems like it's going to be very close to the 650 all around.  I'd have skipped this 550 and just offered the 650/XL and 950/XL as low and high end options.
  • Maybe Microsoft polled their big business customers and they said that the all "plastic" 550 wasn't good enough for them, so the 650 was designed to fill that specific need. We still don't know how much they are going to charge for the 650 do we? Or maybe because business customers are expected to have more, bigger, apps running in the background they need the extra 0.2 GHz that the 212 will offer. Bottom line: I am sure that Microsoft has their reasons for the models that they are creating.
  • Continuum, maybe? Maybe only on the 6xx line and above?
  • I knew I was forgetting something, that is probably exactly what the difference between the 550 and the 650 will be. Slight faster, slightly nicer looking, and supports Continuum... (And a higher price tag.)
  • Oh you can bet that if the 650 is indeed made of metal and glass it will be overpriced. But then again, not stupidly overpriced (like, for example, a Nexus 6P). They'll overprice it enough to make less losses on it and sell more to enterprise which is what I believe the 650 is going to be aimed at.
  • The Nexus 6P is no where near overpriced. It's powerfully speced and perfectly priced. You can say the 950 XL is AND the Priv. The Nexus 5x on the other hand should be about 100 dollars cheaper Posted via the Windows Central App for Android on my Frost Nexus 6P
  • Nexus 6P is overpriced? Lmao. It has near identical specs to the 950, and yet is $100 cheaper, and the 6P is made out of metal and glass whereas the 950 is the plastic fantastic.
  • Omg 150 dlls phone comes with headphones my 700 dlls XL doesn't.
  • But it does come with continuum dock with it's extra Usb c cables and free shipping, a $108.50 value. ("but wait, there's more...")
  • Really great phone for this price :)
  • Will this play nice on Sprint?
  • Probably not, because, like Verizon, they use nonstandard networks outside of LTE.
  • Verizon and Sprint do use a standard for their network, just not a standard you like.  However GSM liked it enough to switch their networks from TDMA to CDMA, just a different form of CDMA.
  • But virtually nobody else uses the same CDMA bands in Europe or other countries; it just raises costs to develop a unit that works on sprint. Verizon isn't playing anymore.
  • Here's a little tip for you, people who live in the US who are on Verizon don't live in Europe.  Shocking I know.  Verizon also accounts for 43% of all US cell phone subscriptions and there exists universal modems that contain ALL bands in a single chip.  The Nexus and other phones have them.  In fact, the 950 and 950XL have them, they merely disabled the Verizon and Sprint bands.  So in fact the cost was already paid to have the phones work on Verizon and Sprint, they just decided to do extra work to make them not operable on those two networks.
  • Assuming they make Lumia 550 firmware for W10M, is OTG supported? It might reflect what older Lumias may get for updated firmwares.
  • Huh? The Lumia 550 comes with W10M, so it would only make sense that the firmware it comes with is for W10M....
  • In a parallel universe Alcatel sells the Idol 3 models with Windows 10 mobile, just like Motorola sells the moto g and samsung the J series.. Sigh
  • Is my Lumia 635 the last windows phone to have cdma radios?
    I would love a 640 or 640xl, but poor att and no tmobile where I live.
  • No other country in the world uses CDMA, they represent only part of the US market and it seems the big two CDMA were not happy with MS carrier independent plan. So yep, no more CDMA phones from MS, maybe from third party.
  • In India we don't have one but four operators providing CDMA services.
  • You do realize GSM is a form of CDMA right?  When Verizon implemented CDMA it was the best standard out there and GSM switched from time division to code division.  But they switched after Verizon had already implemented it so the GSM version of CDMA is slightly better in some respects.  However, what is the point of Verizon spending tens of billions of dollars to switch their 2G and 3G network when it will all be gone in a few years?  Also, them being CDMA has never hurt them as they are still the number 1 carrier in the US.   As for no more CDMA phones from MS, that is all on MS disabling the parts of the radios that support it.  The 950 and 950XL have univeral modems that can support EVERY standard.  MS merely chose to ignore 43% (more when you add in Sprint customers) in the US by not paying a few thousand dollars to get the phone certified on Verizon's network.  They wouldn't have had to have sold it in the Verizon stores.  They could have sold it for full price on the Microsoft Store site.
  • Verizon had that spat with MS, presumably over carrier control of updates or something annoying like that. Sprint hasn't had a phone since the HTC 8XT, 2012 afaik. No carriers seem to want an all-carrier highend, apparently. Thank god the XL and 950 come in unlocked variants, gotta get above this carrier bullshit in the US.
  • Exept Microsoft put universal radios in the 950/950XL and then disabled the Verizon and Sprint bands on them. There is no doubt Verizon has not treated Microsoft well, but all Microsoft had to do was sell Verizon compatible phones through their own store and bypass Verizon entirely.  The fact that Microsoft would ignore 43% of all cellular subscribers (and yes, that is how much of the market Verizon has) is rather telling that perhaps Microsoft was never serious about these two phones.
  • Writing on my 550 as we speak. Much better display and touch than my old 535 :)
  • Yess, the display is really good, it feels like no compromises have been made there.
     
  • Hi Dan...what do you do with all the phones after reviewing them..curious
    My Outlook mail won't lemme sign in with my account on .1511 update
  • Is it an AMOLED or LCD display? WindowsCentral is the only site saying it's AMOLED--everywhere else I've checked says LCD.
  • Lumia 550 has LCD display, according to it's official Microsoft Website, but it is not specified as TFT or IPS LCD screen; Lumia 550 doesn't have ClearBlack display technology and no Gorilla Glass 3.
  • What? I sware it has clearblack, I have the Lumia 630 and both screens are the same so the Lumia 550 does have clearblack display technology
  • Clearblack is not a screen technology like Amoled or Lcd.. It is an addition to a screen which makes them far superior to other screens. :)
  • Yay thank you for this Daniel and Mark! I had it in my hands to try, and I have to agree with what you said on everything. It's a pretty decent device, for sure. Even though it is at the low end, it also isn't garbage like the 530 was.
  • There's such a weird history between these 3 devices. Those last low-end Nokia-branded devices (630/635) made some really penny-pinching compromises on RAM, sensors, display, and cameras. And as you point out, they weren't even that cheap. Then Microsoft seems to have wanted to wipe the board clean at the low end with the 640 because all of those compromises went away and we got great specs for the price. The only thing wrong with the 640 was the ridiculous lack of availability (at least in the US). It took so much waiting and checking to get mine on T-Mo. And it was like a two-month window when T-Mo was selling them. Now we see the specs on the 550 and the rumored specs on the 650, and it seems like they've set the bar lower. Sure, these are budget phones, but so was the 640. It's even stranger in the context of the space Microsoft is intentionally leaving in the midrange: there will now be nothing between the 650 (Snapdragon 212) and the 950 (808). I guess we really will have to hope for those other manufacturers to come through!
  • It seems like a decent value smartphone, but I got a Lumia 640 for way less and it generally has better specifications. Then again, the Lumia 640 has been out for a while and I got mine on sale (half off) so it was a serious steal.
  • I think best budget smartphone on the planet is the Lumia 640 for it's price,if the Lumia 550 had an iris scanner then it would've been complete budget phone,I got few spare Lumia 640s running Windows 10 mobile
  • Do you think the 640 will ever get updated to WP10 officially and not as an Insider ?
  • Around the world, I believe it's possible since it has been promoted as a device that will get it when available. On the US side, I seriously doubt it. It could be possible, but I would be shocked if this happened, especially from T-mobile.
  • I saw alot of blogs, saying it will come as early as February (yes for the unlocked, carrier free), but wanted to get the readers opinion
  • It will. All eligible Windows 8.1 devices will be upgraded in 'early' 2016 carriers aside though Posted via the Windows Central App for Android on my Frost Nexus 6P
  • We'll see if cricket and T-mobile decide to release it officially. I'm kind of expecting for my T-mo 640 to be a reserve phone, since I doubt it will be updated.
     
  • Hi Dan, is the glass Gorilla?
  • It's been said to be gorilla glass 3
  • Thanks Redwolf   Also is the display AMOLED, IPS, or just TFT?    
  • FINALLY!!! I have the Lumia 550 and it is a good phone. The 640 is way better but the pricing of the 550 and the features you get, that's why it's so good.
  • I agree, it's a solid phone! The only thing I would personally change if I could, is how it does video in low light. That is very niche though, but I did like it a lot otherwise.
  • Btw, Dan
    You could get a Black,Blue,White back cover for the 640 LTE (not XL) in MATTE , it is awesome... Got all 3 colors, the Matte black is the best.
    Had to look a lot... For the Matte covers, but found them, I really recommend it
  • Why Microsoft is limiting internal storage to 8gb???...out of box only nearly 5gb is available. Some apps install only in internal storage. However apps stored on sd card can cause lags,crashing,making phone non responsive...I think Microsoft should think on this lines..
  • Think of the cost Ranjeeth , meaning the selling price that's why .
  • Yeah, thinking of cost they should offer minimum of 32gb.
  • MS has turned a bling eye towards low cost Android phones, that not only improve adroid market share but alo play a pivotal role in increasing the smartphone market share as a whole. It only sees apple and consider itself an apple competitor and hence believes it has the right to charge higher tham most other manufacturers for the same specs. Unfortunately it is chasing a company that has reached saturation and will sturggle to regain market share itself. Following that company will only cause more failures for Microsoft.
  • I'm using a 640xl just now. When is Windows 10 coming to it? And whatever happened to the original 620. It was a killer when it came out. Should have had a better camera, more Ram and a better Cpu. Why did Microsoft(Nokia, then) abandon it's development.
  • "if you are a Microsoft"
  • I thought I was the only one that caught that.
  • Nothing at all wrong, in the context as used.
  • Lol.
  • I own Nokia Lumia 520 right now ! Is it good for me to switch to the newer Lumia 550 ???
  • Yes, it is. I would recommend this upgrade, because you will be gaining a LOT.
  • If you can find a 640, get it instead. Upgrading to a 640 from a 520 is mind blowing.
  • I would agree with this, but the size difference from the 520 to the 640 is noticeable for sure! At least with the 550, it is somewhat noticeable. I find myself missing the small phone factor all the time, and when I tried out the 550, it felt like I just about hit the sweet spot.
  • Oh, yeah. The 520 screen is so tiny and frankly feels a little slow by now, once you play with a 640 even. 
  • So I bought a lumia 640 for AU $300.00; no earphones! Won't talk about the USB cable. Jade Primo am I waiting? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Using 550 for last day wasn't terrible experience??? Then how bad it is?
  • What a comparison u forgot about the main feature of the phone ...the phone is 4g brother don't forget Daniel that...thumbs down
  • He mentioned that in the video though that with their sim, they were getting LTE.
     
  • I just got another Lumia 640 to screw around with, new in box, for $40.  That to me seems like the bestphone price/performance/value phone mix on the market.
  • So, the 540 is a better phone than the 550, it appears.
  • Compare it with 640 with both cameras and display quality and app open speed .
  • I believe that will probably come in the full review. From my experience, the 640 cameras win (especially in low light). The display is pretty much the same, just a little brighter. App open speed doesn't have a drastic difference, just a slight one.
  • I have to admit that the 640 ruined me. RUINED ME. It's just dirt cheap and runs really well. Being an Att customer, I love picking up a $50 go phone, unlocking it and loading W10 within an hour of hacking that damn clamshell packaging apart. And my god is the 640 easy to repair. I can do a full teardown and rebuild in less than 5 minutes. The phone reminds me a bit of an older cooperate dell laptop where every component is accessible from the bottom panel or under the keyboard. I'm not sure Dan could answer this, but is there really enough money saved on making this phone over the 640 to justify all the R&D and manufacturing? If I were MS, I would just change the battery case color, pre-load W10, call it the 640 Alpha and call it a day.
  • No, make it start with an S to make everything more confusing. The S640, S6, 6S, etc.
  • I would rather read another 950 cof* cof* 950 XL review than this, Dan's opinion after weeks with it might be interesting
  • I think it would be like a magic 8 ball: "outlook not good". The hardware is fantastic but the OS needs some time and attention.
  • I need to replace my damaged 930 so had a look at the 550 and 640 working live in a local store. I actually loved the design of the 550 and was about to buy one but found a used 930 going cheap. With the 2.2GHz processor, 20mp camera and wireless charging it win out. I did however really like the 550. Yes, it may be slower but the OS is smooth and it feels great in the hand and is a lovely design. The 640 has double tap to wake and switch off as well as glance. With the more powerful processor it's snappier but they both have advantages.
  • Be careful on the service support on older models. In my case I had a 925 that had a board issue , a new 925 is now very cheap but problem is its main board is no longer fabricated . Any problem and the phone can't be repaired . I bought a 640, don't regret it .
  • I agree with this! I liked the 550 too, it was really nice.
  • Notice the stupid speaker opening placement on all 3 :) When the phone is on a table it's awfully silent. Either the sound should be routed to areas that are not flush with the back (820 speaker is almost at the same position but body and shell create a channel to the bottom) or there should be small nub or grille to raise the body a bit...
  • I really wish MS would do a varient of their front facing SP4 speakers on their phones. (need better dust protection), because those would be nice. The XL has it next to the camera hump, but dual FFS would be way better.
  • 8" full-HD Android tablet with 2GB RAM and 16GB storage + micro SD, LTE and Intel processor that costs about the same than 640XL has also stereo speakers on front. Scale down below 6" and call it a mobile phone - same cost, less features ;)
     
  • I really like my Lumia 540, but I lost it when it dropped out of my pocket. I think that phone has a pretty solid specs compared to 550. The only difference is that 550 comes out of the box with Windows 10. The camera of 540 is better than the 550.
  • MP doesn't mean as much all the time, it really doesn't.On paper, the 640 front camera has less MP, so one will assume that the 550 camera would be better than it. Not the case. Same with BLU, not the case.
  • Daniel
    Carrier support is not only absent in the US but here in Asia virtually inexistant for ALL Lumias . In Malaysia no telcos has a single Lumia , in Singapore Singtel only proposes the 930 but have to pay some extra I suppose as is not a low or mid range model . If I sign a two year contract I get an android phone totally free or even a blackberry (leap) also free . So the market is totally saturated with free Android phones . I had to go the shop to buy my 640 unlocked . Microsoft has to address the carrier issue . The 550 looks like a great phone for the mass market but it needs carrier support .
  • The 640 is probably the first Lumia that has all that the market wants , comes in 2 size versions , LTE, micro SD , removable battery , dual SIM , huge battery life , a stable OS WP8.1 . And all these at a very reasonable price , especially after 6 months . Hope Microsoft will replicate those ingredients on the 650 and at least some like the battery life on the 550.
  • it's not impressive if u look at L640
  • Finally, they bring back the headphone.
  • It's great that Microsoft relentlessly pursue and some day may even 'dominate' the mid to low range handset market but it would sure be great if we could say the same for the high end devices!! .....seriously recently tempted to get the 950....baring a couple of extra features I didn't think it was any better than my 930 which has been running Win10 since launch date on the insider programme, how old is the 930 now ?....skipping the 950/950xl for good.... Let's see what Acer's attempt will be like or the proposed surface...!!!!
  • 550 making awfull pictures. Bought it for my mum as 635 upgrade but the 635 is MUCH better :( Don't buy the 550!!! Go for the 640 !! Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • 850 and 550 are totally garbage, buyer beware better invest your money in the LG V10 (650$) or LG FLEX 2(250$) Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • So what is it ,Lumia 640 or Lg flex crapdroid ? Make up your mind , troll.
  • (1) There is no 850, so no idea what you're talking about (2) Let's compare a $100 phone to LG V10, which no one is buying btw, or the LG FLEX 2? That's probably the dumbest thing I read today, thanks.
  • Why should I get this when my 535 works good enough, at this state I'm not really waiting windows 10 mobile.and I wont install it until I'm sure it will work as good as 8.1 or close enough. And I haven't major issues with 8.1 on Lumia 520,625 and now 535. So I will wait for a while until it will be fixed.
  • I believe you will see the difference if you were to try it out.
  • Amazing that the 550 is so much worse than the 635 It's like night and day. What a shame, never saw such a bad camera in a smartphone. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • 550 has rich capture? Hows that possible
  • OTG....?
  • Best chance for Microsoft to attract new buyers all over the world is to get current Android and Apple users to switch to Lumia OR for young people for which it's their first smartphone to chose Microsoft . With phones costing more then $200 , that's very difficult , especially now with the US exchange rate . At less then that , both category of users may be willing to give it a try ,well carrier support would help a lot . The 950 is for Microsoft fans on carrier contracts, for the most part and only in the US and EU , not a mass market . Satia knows what he is doing .
  • This is one of those things where you wonder if instead of designing and building two separate phones, should they not have done minor revisions to the 640 to prep it for Win 10 and called it good. Call it the 641. Leverage all the existing tooling, accessories, documentation, boxes, ... used all that to push the "641" price down further.
  • Why is the camera in the 635 so much better than the 550? On paper same specs, but really it's like night&day. Must be the OS.?! Really disappointed, the 550 was meant to be an upgrade for my mother's 635. How is picture quality 635 vs. 640? Because we give the 550 back and want buy the 640 LTE instead. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Hw does this compare to the Lumia 735?
  • 735 wins without question, the only "loss" is Glance.
  • It's worse than the 640, which is $60 or even much cheaper on sale. The 640 has no trouble upgrading to Windows 10 mobile either.
  • I don't understand you guys. Daniel has made comments about this in his article and even in the video, and there are still SO many comments about this. There isn't much that is "worse" actually. I have a 640, and for a moment, I considered keeping the 550. The only thing that held me back was the cameras performance in low light, or at least that was the biggest thing.
  • We have both, the 550 and 635. The 635 wins, hands down. I think the 640 is better than the 635? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Why compare with 635? I guess it's better to compare it with a lumia 535! Anyway these are decent devices and value for money but snapdragon 210 is useless and can't handle windows 8.1 update even properly. Microsoft should have set a lowest benchmark of snapdragon 4xx and 1 gb ram for low-end devices. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Hey. Check out this video; Windows 10 running very smoothly on low end tablets (Winbook 7" TW700)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K74xkaPq0wk
    It's amazing how Windows could be very convenient to some tablets yet cause a lot of trouble when running on surface tablets!
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K74xkaPq0wk
  • Is it true that Indian online retailers have stopped selling the 640? I could not find one on Flipkart or Amazon. I would have preferred a 640 anytime over 550. 640 is a superior phone I feel, regradless of what the reviewer says. It has got better processor, battery and more sensors. I would have preferred to buy 640 and upgrade to windows 10 when it is available. I do not like this strategy of MS forcing us to go for 550.
  • The pricing will kill this phone for sure. Yes, it will get updates more frequently in the US, but as compared to 640, it has a smaller screen a less powerful battery and a poorer processor. These things wont be compensated for anythign else least of all, earlier updates. More so when many of these updates are problematic themselves. On top of it if one is willing to spend just a little extra (and if they want a big phone) they can get the 640 XL which, along with all the benefits of 640, has even better camera(s) and even bigger battery. What MS needed to do was to launch it at a considerable delta vis-a-vis 640 and more closer to current street price of 540. Having it at the same price bracket as that of 640, MS is going to destroy the sales of both of these devices. Even with the Lumias of the past (particularly the failedd ones) MS made a terrible mistake with its pricing and is repeating the same now. If they continue this way and price the surface phone like a iPhone, they will kill the windows phone ecosystem sooner than anyone could imagine. Common MS, loosing money in margins is still much better than massive billion dollar writeoffs. The proposition becomes even more enticing if the increased market share supports your other 'more important' offerings.
  • We had decided weeks ago we would purchase this for my mom if offered in the US. Now that it is, we plan to slap family members on the home page for speed dialing, plus the People, Allrecipes, Map, Camera, and Weather app on the home page and she is absolutely good to go, nice!
  • Thinking of buying this phone. Can anyone tell me does it vibrates continuously while the ringer is on?
  • Is it bad that I think the 550 looks better than the 950?
  • This is nice, but the 640 is around the same price, if not cheaper, and has better specs. Right now, the 640 is the best budget phone in the Lumia line.
  • From what the comments have said, it depends where you are in the world pricewise. In some places, you can't even buy a 640 for sale anymore, or they are close in price. I would agree about the 640 being better though.
  • I'm curious how the Snapdragon 400 squares off against Snapdragon 210.  Honestly, the 400 is a very capable and efficient mid-range processor.  I had both the 635 and the 640 and I'm currently running Windows 10 Mobile on the latter.  It's a nicer experience than running it on the higher end 920.  
  • I keep looking for a better phone than my Virgin Mobile Kyocera Hydro-Vibe. Nothing in the $100 range has an equivalent to it's 8 Mp camera. That's my starting point and the Lumia 635 and 550 are 5 Mp.