Microsoft’s been making the Lumia range of smartphones for a while now. They’re designed to give you the same Live Tiles and Office software that you’ll likely have on your computer at work, or home. Which means you can type to your heart’s content in Word, or work on your spreadsheets in Excel, all within a familiar operating system.
The Lumia 550 sits very much at the budget end of Microsoft’s smartphone range, but there’s still a lot to enjoy if productivity’s your thing. Word, Excel and other Office programs are all there, letting you view and edit your work with a tap of a Live Tile. While you can always download similar programs on other phones, having Office built-in makes life a lot easier. And given the cost of downloading Office separately (it’s not cheap), it makes the Lumia 550 great value from the get-go.
You’ll find the latest Windows operating system, with Live Tiles that flip and wink to show you your latest notifications. While Windows 10 isn’t to everybody’s tastes, we really like the way that it’s designed for productivity, with a little bit of personality added to the mix. If you’re a Windows PC user and want to pick up where you left off on your mobile, you’ll love it.
The screen’s gorgeous for a phone in this price range. It’s a decent size, at 4.7 inches – and colours look really true to life. Watching a video on the Lumia 550 can make you feel like you’re using a much higher end phone, while text and images are sharp and clear. You might struggle if you’re standing on a busy train, since the viewing angles aren’t all that great. But if you’re watching YouTube at home, or viewing a work document from the comfort of your local coffee shop, you’ll be fine.
The camera’s not too shabby, either – especially for a budget phone. Your shots will look natural, without being over-sharp – and selfies on the front-facing camera are fine, too. Skype shouldn’t be a problem, either. And Microsoft have clearly put a lot of thought into the Windows Camera app, with lots of settings to play with to make your photos even better. The camera’s not designed for artistic Instagram snaps, but for the price, it’s still very good.
In any budget phone, there’s always compromises to be made. And the Lumia 550’s no exception. The processor’s definitely a little bit sluggish and you might find yourself waiting for apps to open, which can be frustrating. If you keep multi-tasking to a minimum, though, life should be a lot easier. If you’d like more speed in this price range, the Moto E is faster, although you’ll give up the built-in Office applications and the superior screen and camera.
Battery life, too, is on the low side. You’ll struggle to get through a whole day on a single charge, which means you’ll need to keep a charger nearby. But if you don’t mind plugging your phone into your wall or computer over the day, this probably won’t be too much of an issue.
There’s a lot to love about the Lumia 550. The Office software is a big plus, as is that fantastic screen – and the familiar Windows interface. It’ll struggle with intensive tasks, though, so gamers and multi-taskers should definitely look elsewhere. But if you don’t mind sacrificing power and battery life for extra productivity, the Lumia 550’s one of the best value phones around.