Saturday, November 19, 2016

Outstanding Cheap Windows Phone: Lumia 550

In early 2014, I bought a Lumia 920. It was a really good phone. It came with Windows Phone 8, and I upgraded it to Windows Phone 8.1 when that became available. Even by the end of the year, the phone never slowed down. Sure, it was Windows, so it crashes and has to reboot occasionally, but it worked well.

As I've written on this blog during that time, the biggest problem is the app support. Sure, you can get Evernote and Waze. There is a Kindle app, but it STILL SUCKS. You can't highlight or make notes. To me, that's a deal breaker. I'm a heavy Kindle user.

Recently, I read about a really cheap, consumer grade phone Microsoft started selling right before killing off the Lumia line: the Lumia 550. The specs are sparse: 1GB RAM, 8GB storage, 5MP camera. But it will take up to a 200GB uSD card. It was selling for around $150 initially, then Microsoft marked it down to $99. One day, on a Windows blog I follow, I saw a special for $69. Then I got an email from my wife that her son's iPhone 5s fell out of his pocket while riding his bike and got run over by a car before he could retrieve it.

For $69, I ordered 2 of them, since my stepson needed a replacement. I'm a tech guy, and I like to have experience with the different platforms so I know what I'm talking about. At one point in my 12 years of blogging, I'd hoped to gain enough notoriety to start getting tech review units shipped to me. Alas, that never happened. But in 12 years, I've never been able to keep up with the blog or a theme consistently. Seems like every time I start to average 100 views per post, I run out of ideas and stop writing for a few months.

Factoring into my decision to buy the Lumia 550 was a problem with my Note 5: the battery life tanked. If I were away from a charger for more than about 2 hours, it would be completely dead. I finally got a warranty replacement, but if it happens again I'm out of luck, so having a cheap replacement around could be useful. I haven't switched my SIM card over to the 550 yet, so I keep it in my office and play around with it.

Even with cheap and limited hardware, the 550 with Windows 10 is fast. I've had several apps open while using it, and haven't experienced a slowdown or crash.

Most apps will install to the SD card, but some are written to only work in main memory. At this point, I have about 3GB left in main memory, so if I made this a daily driver, I'd have to start watching it.

I've thought about going back to a Windows Phone next time I switch. This gave me a cheap way to keep up with the platform.

One drawback is that although iOS and Android both have "switch to" apps, no such thing exists for Windows. You can't get your text messages switched over, although any settings tied to Outlook.com, Google, iCloud, Yahoo!, etc will sync once you log into your account. And unlike Windows Phone 8.1, Google Calendar will sync to Windows 10.

If you're looking for a cheap phone that works, you can still snatch a 550 for about $100. Unlocked.
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