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Full Review

Microsoft Lumia 650 Review

While the Microsoft Lumia 950 and Microsoft Lumia 950 XL are impressive phones, the Lumia range has always had more luck at the low end. So we were excited to see what the Microsoft Lumia 650 would deliver.

This is a phone which costs just £159.99, yet has an attractive design and a big, fairly sharp screen. So it sounds like a winner, but does it live up to the hype?


The Microsoft Lumia 650 certainly makes a good first impression. Unlike other low end Lumia’s, such as the Lumia 640, it isn’t purely clad in plastic. Sure, the back is plastic, but the frame is metal, giving it a surprisingly high-end appearance.

It’s very slim too at just 6.9mm thick and the choice of white or black colours give it a classy look. This isn’t just one of the best looking cheap Lumia’s, but, remarkably, one of the best looking Lumia’s full stop. It’s slightly too plain and the bezels are larger than you’d tend to find on a high-end phone, but otherwise the design here is really impressive.


The screen is almost as impressive as the design. The Microsoft Lumia 650 has a large 5.0-inch 720 x 1280 display, giving it a pixel density of 297 pixels per inch.

That’s pretty sharp, especially for a budget phone and it’s an AMOLED screen, with bright, vivid colours. The flip side to that is that they’re not always completely lifelike, but they’re close and they really pop out of the screen.

The brightness also helps in direct sunlight, ensuring you can still use your phone when outside on a sunny day. There are bigger screens and sharper screens, but this strikes a great balance for the money.


Sadly, the performance of the Microsoft Lumia 650 really lets it down. There’s 1GB of RAM, which is okay but the same sort of spec you’d get in far cheaper phones and that’s paired with a 1.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 212 processor.

Microsoft Lumia 650 Review

It’s this aspect that’s really baffling, as it’s a lower end chip than even the older and cheaper Lumia 640 uses.

Unfortunately, the performance is also worse as a result. Windows 10 doesn’t need a huge amount of power to run comfortably, so it’s still not awful, but it’s noticeably slower to launch apps and there are also judders and pauses when using the phone in general.

Even at this price we’d expect better performance. In fact, we’re at a point now where even most entry-level smartphones are quite smooth to use, which the Microsoft Lumia 650 isn’t. It’s a real shame as it badly hurts what’s otherwise a great handset.


The camera on the Lumia 650 isn’t amazing but it’s not bad either. There’s an 8MP snapper on the back and a 5MP one on the front, which is a fairly standard spec for the money.

In practice shots are fairly detailed, but the photos tend to look a little dull and sometimes even washed out. The video camera only shoots at up to 720p, so quality there isn’t amazing either. These are the sort of compromises we can live with at this price, but it’s worth being aware of if photography is a key focus for you.

Interface and features

The main feature of the Lumia 650 is its operating system, as it’s one of a small but growing number of new handsets to ship with Windows 10.

Microsoft Lumia 650 Review

While this isn’t as popular as Android or iOS it certainly has its fans and is powerful enough to be a real boon to business users. That’s especially true given that the latest version of Microsoft Office comes installed on the phone. Plus, with Cortana you have a powerful voice assistant at your disposal too.

It’s worth noting however that the Continuum feature that essentially turns Windows handsets into PCs isn’t present here. Presumably because the phone is so underpowered.

Battery Life, Memory and Connectivity

The Microsoft Lumia 650 has a 2000 mAh battery. That’s not enormous but it’s big enough that the phone can generally last around a day of use.

However, the Lumia 650 is being heavily targeted at business users and productivity and for that a bigger juice pack would really come in handy. As if you’re relying on it for work you can’t afford to have it die on you, which it could well do if you use it heavily.

On the plus side the battery is at least removable, which is something we’re seeing less and less often.

Memory comes in at 16GB and there’s also a microSD card slot, supporting cards of up to 200GB, which is pretty handy. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC.


The Microsoft Lumia 650 is almost a great phone. It’s impressively well designed, especially for a budget handset, and it has a good screen and a low price. But the processor just doesn’t cut it, especially not when older, cheaper Lumia’s have it beat.

That makes it hard to justify paying £160 for and leaves the Lumia 650 feeling like a phone that puts style over substance, but if style is what you want this has it in spades.



  • Dimensions (mm): 142 x 70.9 x 6.9mm
  • Weight (g): 122g
  • Battery capacity (mAh): 2000 mAh
  • Colours: Black, White
  • Screen size (inches): 5.0-inch
  • Resolution: 720x1280 pixels
  • Pixels per inch (PPI): 297
  • Processor: 1.3GHz quad-core
  • Processor make: Snapdragon 212
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Internal storage: 16GB
  • Expandable storage up to (GB): 200GB
  • Camera: 8-megapixel and 5-megapixel
  • Operating System: Windows 10

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