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.

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CategoryLumia 550Lumia 635Lumia 640
Operating SystemWindows 10 MobileWindows Phone 8.1Windows Phone 8.1
Display4.7 inches1280 x 720 resolution4.5-inches854 x 480 resolution5.0-inches1280 x 720 resolution
Rear Camera5MP AFf/2.4LED flash5MP AFf/2.4no flash8MP AFf/2.2LED flash
Front Camera2MPf/2.8None0.9 MPf/2.4
ProcessorsQualcomm Snapdragon 210Quad-core1.1GHzQualcomm Snapdragon 400Quad-core1.2GHzQualcomm Snapdragon 400Quad-core1.2GHz
Storage and RAMInternal storage: 8GB (expandable up to 200GB)RAM: 1GBInternal storage: 8GB (expandable up to 128GB)RAM: 512mb or 1GBInternal storage: 8GB (expandable up to 128GB)RAM: 1GB
SensorsAccelerometerProximity sensorAmbient light sensorAccelerometerSensorCoreAmbient light sensorAccelerometerProximity sensorMagnetometerSensorCore
LocationA-GLONASSA-GPSCellularBeiDouWi-Fi network positioningA-GLONASSA-GPSCellularBeiDouWi-Fi network positioningA-GLONASSA-GPSCellularBeiDouWi-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.


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

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

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Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.