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Getting Windows 10 For Phones Cheap With The Microsoft Lumia 550

Microsoft’s insistence on calling it “Windows 10” with no qualifier notwithstanding, Windows 10 for phones (or Windows 10 Mobile, whatever you want to call it anymore) is coming to several handsets soon, and if anything saves the company’s mobile bacon, this OS update will be it.

There are and will be Lumia handsets at multiple price points loaded with the new OS, and one of those -- the Lumia 550, which was announced alongside the Lumia 950/950 XL -- is now available. Like the Lumia 950, the Lumia 550 will ship to consumers with a “final” Insider version of the OS.

At a mere $139, the Lumia 550 looks to be one of the least expensive new Window 10 mobile devices available. That price tag is not just cheap for a Windows 10 mobile device; that’s cheap for a smartphone.

However, this is a somewhat underpowered device. Where the Lumia 640 and 640 XL are budget-friendly handsets that promise reasonable performance, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 (1.2 GHz, quad core) SoC with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of onboard storage, the Lumia 550 has a Snapdragon 210 (1.1 GHz, quad core) SoC. It does, however, have the same 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of onboard storage as its bigger brothers.

Although I have not performed benchmarks, I have been using a Lumia 640 XL (single-SIM variant) for months, and anecdotally speaking, the day-to-day performance is adequate, but it’s a bit slower than one would normally prefer. Thus, one should temper one’s expectations about the Lumia 550's performance. This is not a substitute for a “flagship killer” type of smartphone.

The Lumia 550 launches today in Europe, and other markets around the world will get it “in the coming weeks,” so sayeth Microsoft’s blog post.

Microsoft Lumia 550
CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 210 (MSM8909), 1.1 GHz, quad-core
GPUAdreno 304
Display 4.7-inch (1280x720, 315 ppi) with Glance
RAM1 GB
Storage8 GB onboard, up to 200 GB microSD
CameraFront: 2MPRear: 5MP (AF f/2.4, 720p @ 30 fps, LED flash)
Battery2100 mAh (removable)
Connectivity-micro USB (USB 2.0)-Bluetooth 4.1-3.5mm stereo headphone-LTE (up to 150 Mbps down, 50 Mbps up)-GSM, WCDMA
OSWindow 10 for phones
Misc.-Changeable back cover-Glance screen (see time, notification, etc. without unlocking the phone)-Sensors: ambient light, accelerometer, proximity  -A-GLONASS, A-GPS, cell/Wi-Fi network positioning, A-BeiDou
SIMnano
Price$139 USD (plus taxes)

Update, 12/7/15, 1pm PT: Fixed typo, added clarification.

______________________________________________________________________

Seth Colaner is the News Director at Tom's Hardware. He curates and edits the news channel and also writes on a variety of topics. He would have become a professional ultimate Frisbee player, but he was born 15 years too early. 

Follow him on Twitter @SethColaner. Follow us on Facebook, Google+, RSS, Twitter and YouTube.

  • RedJaron
    Got some typos regarding the SoC specs. You list the Snapdragon 400 as both a 1.2 GHz dual- and quad-core. Actual specs on Qualcomm's site are "up to 1.7 GHz dual-core." And I'm not sure why you say a 1.1 GHz quad-core is underpowered compared to a 1.2 GHz dual-core. The iGPU on the 210 is weaker than the 400, but that's about it. The quad-core should be at least as nimble as the dual in handling the OS threads.
    Reply
  • scolaner
    Whoops, yes, thanks. There are actually two versions of the Snapdragon 400. One is dual-core and uses Krait cores, and the other is quad-core and uses ARM cores. Dual-core was listed in a spec sheet for the 640 XL (and I wrote it down), but then I did some additional research and found the two versions, and the version on the handset I have is the quad-core version. I neglected to remove the original (incorrect) core count. Fixed now.
    Reply
  • blazorthon
    Windows phone has had some of the better budget phones.
    Reply
  • RedJaron
    That's been my experience. A lot of budget Android phones are woefully underpowered and sluggish. Budget Windows phones may not have the high resolution you would like, but they are fully functioning and still feel snappy.
    Reply
  • RobertoG83
    It's a budget phone. Quite good.
    Reply
  • Quixit
    I looks ok, but it still makes me think that most people would be better served with a Moto E.
    Reply
  • gggplaya
    Windows 10 mobile will dominate the prepaid phone market.

    Windows 10 mobile doesn't need much power, it's always been very efficient because of the simple boring user interface. Who's idiotic idea was it to use TILES????? While all your competitors are using ICONS and Widget Icons, something you've been using for years on your operating systems?
    Reply
  • RedJaron
    Spoken like someone who's never used one for any meaningful length of time.

    Tell me, what do you think is more useful, a static email icon, or an icon that will have a number on it showing unread emails? Most reasonable people will say the latter. Now which is more useful, the email icon with numbers, or one that can do that and dynamically change itself and show you previews of what the emails are and who they're from. That dynamic icon can also be changed in size to your preference, to show more or less info. Again, most reasonable people will prefer the latter.

    What are icons, anyway? They're images aligned to a grid that represent something you can tap/press/click to get to a specific program. Congratulations, tiles fit exactly into that description as well. I find it hilarious you're praising widgets while mocking live tiles.
    Reply
  • gggplaya
    17091348 said:
    Spoken like someone who's never used one for any meaningful length of time.

    Tell me, what do you think is more useful, a static email icon, or an icon that will have a number on it showing unread emails? Most reasonable people will say the latter. Now which is more useful, the email icon with numbers, or one that can do that and dynamically change itself and show you previews of what the emails are and who they're from. That dynamic icon can also be changed in size to your preference, to show more or less info. Again, most reasonable people will prefer the latter.

    What are icons, anyway? They're images aligned to a grid that represent something you can tap/press/click to get to a specific program. Congratulations, tiles fit exactly into that description as well. I find it hilarious you're praising widgets while mocking live tiles.

    Square tiles are simply boring, plain as that. And yes, i use a windows phone everyday, my company gives me one to use, but i also have a galaxy s6 android as my personal phone. I most definitely prefer android and windows phone sales would agree with me.

    I also said windows is more efficient, so don't argue efficiency and practicality when i said as much. But there is more to a UI than efficiency and practicality. That's why windows phone sucks.

    Also on android, you get an email preview in your notifications, so your point is moot.

    Reply
  • RedJaron
    17091416 said:
    Square tiles are simply boring, plain as that.
    Prove it. Cite your empirical evidence. All you're really saying here is that pretty pictures are more important to you than function.

    17091416 said:
    I most definitely prefer android and windows phone sales would agree with me.
    What are you trying to say, that the market revolves around your preferences only? You do understand that the bulk of Android market share is not made up of flagship model ownership, but international sales of barrel-bottom Android phones, many in markets that don't have a big selection, right? This is exactly what MS is trying to do, offer a better-built alternative to the dirt-cheap Androids out there. You think it's going to change overnight?

    17091416 said:
    I also said windows is more efficient, so don't argue efficiency and practicality when i said as much.
    Stop lying. No where did I mention anything about efficiency or practicality. Please try to read what I actually wrote, not what you think I did.

    17091416 said:
    But there is more to a UI than efficiency and practicality. That's why windows phone sucks.
    Interesting. You say that phone OS is more efficient and practical, but then claim it sucks. But you can't offer any quantitative or qualitative reason as to why, other than you think it's "boring." Sounds like a well-developed and supported argument to me.

    17091416 said:
    Also on android, you get an email preview in your notifications, so your point is moot.
    Moot point for yourself. You can get similar toast notifications that pop-up and disappear on iOS and Windows as well. I'm talking about having that info readily available right on the home screen, not having to go to a special notification screen.

    Reply