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Microsoft Lumia 650 first impressions: striking design marred by low-rung specs and an inflated price

|February 23, 2016 |Microsoft, 4G, 4G LTE, First impressions, MWC 2016, Windows 10 Mobile

“The Lumia 650 looks even more premium than Microsoft’s current flagships, the Lumia 950 and 950XL”

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The market share for Windows mobile seems to be on a constant decline over the last few years, so much so that as per recent reports, it now stands at less than two percent. However, the Redmond giant seems to be unfazed by this fact as it continues to launch Windows-powered devices under the Lumia brand. A couple of weeks back, it took covers off its latest Windows 10 offering, the Lumia 650. We were able to check out the latest smartphone from Microsoft at MWC, and while we will let the brand decide upon the future course of its phone’s OS, here are our hands-on impressions of the Lumia 650.

While phablets have become quite popular of late, they have one big issue – the inability to use them single-handedly. Keeping that in consideration, Microsoft has made the Lumia 650 ideal for operating with one hand, thanks to the use of a 5-inch display panel. Bearing a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels, the display seems crisp, though it isn’t the sharpest out there, especially when most phones in the same range offer full HD resolution. The colour reproduction is quite good and brightness levels are adequate as well. A layer of third-gen Corning Gorilla Glass protects the display.

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The design ethos of the Microsoft Lumia 650 is similar to its siblings. The front is dominated by the display panel, which is accompanied by an earpiece, a couple of sensors and a selfie shooter above. There are no hardware keys for navigation, since they are available as part of the software interface.

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However, there’s one important change in the design of the Microsoft Lumia 650 which adds to the upmarket feel – a metallic rim running along its edges. The aluminium band not only lends it a premium look, it also offers a good feel when held in hands. In fact, we can go as far as to say that the phone looks even better than Microsoft’s current flagships, the Lumia 950 and 950XL (first impressions), which are constructed from plastic.

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The phone is also quite slim with a thickness of 6.9mm, and is lightweight too, tipping the scale at 122g. In terms of controls, both the power toggle and volume buttons are placed on the right, while the left spine is empty. A 3.5mm audio socket is available on the top, whereas the micro-USB port is present at the bottom.

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The rear remains plasticky though, and sports the rear camera along with an LED flash. While our demo unit was black, the phone will also be available in white. Prying the back panel open reveals the battery compartment, a pair of SIM card slots and a microSD card slot.

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The highlight of the Microsoft Lumia 650 is that it comes with company’s latest Windows 10 OS, which offers useful features such as universal apps, irrespective of the fact whether it’s desktop or a mobile. There's also the Edge browser and an improved keyboard. Sadly, the smartphone misses out on the most important functionality of Windows 10 – Continuum. It debuted with the brand’s flagships, the Lumia 950 duo, which allows users to turn them into a full-fledged computing device with the use of a dock and an external monitor.

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The Lumia 650 also comes preinstalled with quite a few apps from Microsoft’s stable – GroupMe, Outlook, Skype, etc. along with Audible and Facebook.

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The hardware powering the show is nothing to write home about. It comes powered by Qualcomm’s entry-level Snapdragon 212 processor, which offers four cores thrumming at 1.3GHz. The processor is mated to a gigabyte of RAM. In our brief time with the phone, it offered smooth navigation, though don’t expect the lag-free performance while running high-end games such as Asphalt 8: Airborne.

On the storage front, the phone comes with 16GB of flash memory, which offers approximately 11GB for use. A microSD card of up to 200GB can be inserted to extend the storage further.

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Handling the imaging needs on the Microsoft Lumia 650 is an 8-megapixel main camera and 2MP secondary snapper. The rear shooter also gets assistance from the LED flash to help in capturing images in dim environments. With Windows 10, the software giant has turned to Lumia Camera as a default camera app, which offers a plethora of useful features. Both the cameras can record videos at 720p resolution.

As far as connectivity goes, the dual-SIM smartphone (accepts nano-SIM cards) features 4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. The smartphone sips power from a removable 2,000mAh Li-ion battery.

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The Lumia 650 is priced at $199, which is roughly Rs 13,500. Even though the brand hasn’t confirmed whether the phone will be launched in the Indian market, we believe Microsoft will seriously need to consider reducing its pricing to make a considerable dent in the budget segment, given that the Android competition manages to offer much value for money.



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