What You Haven’t Been Told About the Budget-Friendly Lumia 550
At a New York City press event where it unveiled an assortment of exciting new devices, Microsoft introduced not only the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, but also the Lumia 550. The Lumia 950 and 950 XL are high-end devices that show off the best of what Microsoft’s Windows 10 software offers, and the pair of flagship phones got plenty of stage time as Microsoft executives showed off the hardware, software, and what they can do together. The Lumia 550, on the other hand, was hardly a blip at the end of Lumia demonstration, and received only a passing mention, a few seconds in length.
That’s because the Lumia 550 isn’t a flagship device. In fact, it’s the opposite. The 4.7-inch Lumia 550 is an entry-level smartphone, meant to replace the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL as a budget phone for consumers in developing countries and cost-conscious shoppers in the United States and Europe. The smartphone will come with a quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 210 chip, feature a 5MP camera, integrate 1GB of RAM, and will start at 8GB of storage for $139. It will begin selling this December, and Microsoft will expand its availability in 2016.
It’s certainly not the 20MP camera system of the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, but the 5MP camera in the Lumia 550 is capable of HD video capture, features an f/2.4 aperture, and LED flash. It also features the option to choose automatic or manual exposure, add geotagging, or use touch to focus.
Unlike the higher-end smartphones Microsoft unveiled in New York, the Lumia 550 features a micro-USB port instead of a USB Type-C connector. The 550 is available in red, white, blue, and black, and echo the styling of previous low-end Lumia phones, with black glass fronts and wraparound polycarbonate shells.
As Robin Sinha reports for NDTV, the wireless connectivity options for the 4G, LTE-enabled Lumia 550 include Bluetooth 4.1, USB 2.0, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n with hotspot functionality, plus FM radio and A-GPS. Additionally, the Lumia 550 includes a 2,100mAh battery, which Microsoft says will deliver up to 28 days of standby time, 16 hours of talk time in 2G, 14 hours of talk time in 3G, or 17 hours of talk time in 4G. Other sensors included in the Lumia 550 include an ambient light sensor, an accelerometer, and proximity sensors.
Nick Statt reports for The Verge that the 550 is part of the same family of devices that Microsoft has used to bolster its market share in markets outside of the United States. And given the uncertain future of Microsoft’s mobile efforts after it wrote off assets related to its Nokia acquisition, the announcement of the Lumia 550 is an important step for Microsoft to continue aiming phones at all price points in the smartphone market.
The Lumia 550 is one of the first phones to run Microsoft’s new Windows 10 operating system, and features the new Microsoft Edge browser, a redesigned Outlook app, plus updated versions of OneDrive, Microsoft Office, Cortana, and the Glance Screen, which enables users to notifications without actually unlocking the phone or even turning on its screen.
While the Lumia 550 isn’t a phone for users who demand top-of-the-line performance — or the wide array of apps that are built for operating systems other than Microsoft’s — the Lumia 550 is an impressive phone for its price tag. Its processor and RAM will be adequate for everyday tasks, and gaining access to Microsoft’s new Windows 10 software is a major benefit for users who already use and like the company’s apps. (But don’t expect to pack the phone full of apps without upgrading the phone’s 8GB of internal storage with a microSD card.)
The Lumia 550 is the cheapest Windows 10 phone available, and will likely be a good choice for users who want a straightforward and budget-friendly smartphone, one with updated software, modern connectivity options, and enough power to take on everyday tasks. At a quarter of the price of the Lumia 950, the Lumia 550 will likely appeal to users who want Windows 10 without the price tag of a flagship phone.