The Microsoft Lumia 550 is a low-cost smartphone and it looks like one. There's little on the outside to suggest you're dealing with an important milestone in smartphone history such as Windows Mobile 10.
By now it should be clear what Microsoft has been focusing on with the Lumia 550: the screen and camera. The Snapdragon 210 is an OK chipset, but it just doesn't like to get nudged into action. LTE is duly covered though and we can hope further optimizations to Windows 10 would result in a smoother overall experience.
Speaking of Windows 10, it comes with a few tricks up its sleeve and a number of improvements both on the surface and under the hood. For the first time it ties together the App Stores of the mobile and desktop OS to bring Outlook, Office, Cortana, OneDrive and Xbox all under the same roof.
Microsoft was clearly reluctant to splash on the chipset but the Lumia 550's display is great for the price. It's sharp and lets you further tweak the colors for an almost calibration level color accuracy, which not many low-end smartphones offer these days. What you'll have to deal with, and pretty soon too, is the 8GB of internal storage. It's of little use, considering Windows 10 takes more than half of it. A microSD card will be an obligatory purchase with every Lumia 550.
The Microsoft Lumia 550 is in the sub 150 category and will inevitably face fierce competition from the Android camp. Let's see what the Lumia 550, which has it's price recently slashed to sub €100, has to deal with.
Samsung has a few comparable offers and some start cheaper than the Microsoft Lumia 550. The Galaxy J2 has a slightly more powerful chipset and a similar 5MP camera, but it cannot match the cool 720p display of the Lumia 550.
The slightly larger Galaxy J5 is better in every way, but its price tag matches the specs. If you're willing to spend 60 more, you're in for a Super AMOLED screen, Snapdragon 410 chipset, a larger 2,600mAh battery and a 13MP camera.
Finally, the Galaxy Core Prime is even cheaper than the Lumia 550, but not by much. Here, you're sacrificing the display with a 4.5" WVGA screen. However, a Snapdragon 410 and a similar 2,100mAh battery will do their best to bring things back into balance.
The LG Leon is similarly priced and rocks WVGA resolution on a 4.5" display. The Leon is equipped with a smaller a 1,900mAh battery, but has a Snapdragon 410 chipset. The 5MP camera also records 1080p, which isn't a small feat in this price range.
LG also offers the Magna, a 5" 720p smartphone with a Mediatek MT6582 chipset and Cortex-A7 quad-core CPU. Sounds like it's worth the 10-20 on top of the Lumia 550's price.
Sony has the Xperia E4 Dual and Xperia E4g Dual in the budget range. The Xperia E4g Dual sports a 4.7" qHD display, but is powered by a MediaTek MT6732 chipset with a quad-core Cortex-A53.
The Xperia E4 Dual is larger with a 5" qHD screen and sports a quad-core Cortex-A7 CPU and 1GB of RAM. Its 5MP main camera records 1080p, while the front cam does 720p. Both phones are similarly priced as the Lumia 550, but we aren't fans of qHD displays anymore.
Finally, there's the Xiaomi Redmi 1s, which is an excellent alternative for nearly half the price. It's not so easy to get one but the package is nearly impossible to beat: a 4.7" 720p screen, a Snapdragon 400 chipset and an 8MP camera. It runs a rather dated Android 4.4 KitKat though.
In comparison, the Lumia 550 is rocking a brand new OS even though it just cannot take advantage of all the benefits of Windows 10. Yet, the very fact is certain to bring more attention to the budget handset, which looks like a perfectly good phone for the price.