Microsoft Lumia 650 Review

Microsoft Lumia 650 Review
Microsoft Lumia 650 Review
Microsoft Lumia 650 Review
Microsoft Lumia 650 Review
Microsoft Lumia 650 Review
Introduction


Last November, Microsoft launched the Lumia 950 and 950 XL to debut Windows 10 on smartphones. With muscular spec sheets, the duo took aim at the higher-end price segment, leaving Windows 10 out of reach for budget-minded buyers. Six months later, Redmond introduced an affordable option, the Lumia 650. Featuring a slim design and markedly lean hardware, we're intrigued whether the handset is compromised in any way, punches above its weight, or simply delivers the essentials and nothing more. The answer might surprise you.

Design

A simple, understated Lumia _phone_ that's a bit taller than needed.

The Lumia 650 has borrowed understated, rectangular-shaped DNA strands from the design gene pool. Its unassuming looks aren't ones to fall head over heels with, but they don't irritate with any excess, annoyances, or baffling choices. It features a glass front, a metal frame, and a removable plastic back plate.

Removing and re-attaching the back panel is easy and secure, providing access to the battery, nanoSIM tray, and microSD card slot. The metal frame is sturdy and it won't torment your palms with sharp edges. The _phone_ itself isn't feather-light, but its weight is evenly distributed. It handles fairly well for a 5-incher, although the top and bottom bezels are long-ish, making the handset taller than desirable. The power and volume keys are placed on the right and respond tightly, without wobbling or mushing it up.

As a whole, build quality is solid on the Lumia 650, although the utilitarian look won't win fashion awards.

 

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Front view | Side view
Microsoft Lumia 650
Microsoft Lumia 650
5.59 x 2.79 x 0.27 inches
142 x 70.9 x 6.9 mm
4.30 oz (122 g)

Microsoft Lumia 650

Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (4.7
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (4.7
5.3 x 2.59 x 0.3 inches
134.6 x 65.9 x 7.55 mm
3.88 oz (110 g)

Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (4.7")

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
5.7 x 2.8 x 0.29 inches
144.8 x 71 x 7.3 mm
5.47 oz (155 g)

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)

honor 5X
honor 5X
5.96 x 3 x 0.32 inches
151.3 x 76.3 x 8.15 mm
5.57 oz (158 g)

honor 5X



Microsoft Lumia 650 Review

Display

A strong, though not exceptional showcase of what an AMOLED screen can do in an affordable device.

The Lumia 650 presents a 5-inch AMOLED screen with a 720 x 1280 resolution that falls short in some aspects. Images look crisp and colors are reasonably accurate right off the bat, save for the seriously skewed greens. Thankfully, the phone lets you tune the display's color temperature and color saturation to your liking, so tweak at will! The peak brightness output of 340 nits isn't anything to write home about, but using the Lumia 650 under bright light poses no issue. The minimum brightness of 5 nits is okay for not searing your retinas during bed reading. Viewing angles are fine, with no noticeable color, brightness, or contrast distortions. There's also an 'Always-On' feature that shows you the current time, date, and event notifications. As a whole, the display is of good quality.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (4.7") 606
(Excellent)
22
(Poor)
1:1083
(Good)
7301
(Good)
2.14
3.55
(Good)
3.86
(Good)
honor 5X 585
(Excellent)
7
(Good)
1:1251
(Excellent)
8021
(Poor)
2.19
2.9
(Good)
6.77
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 479
(Good)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6610
(Excellent)
2.04
2.52
(Good)
5.26
(Average)
Microsoft Lumia 650 340
(Average)
5
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6961
(Excellent)
2.08
5.27
(Average)
3.52
(Good)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Microsoft Lumia 650 54.1%
60%
unmeasurable
2%
0.5%
33.2%
165.9%
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 67.4%
0%
unmeasurable
1%
2.5%
114.3%
103.6%
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (4.7") 70.3%
72.7%
78.4%
2.7%
2.8%
6.8%
1.3%
honor 5X 86.3%
85.7%
84.2%
6.6%
0.5%
12.4%
4.3%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Microsoft Lumia 650 Review

Microsoft Lumia 650 Review
Microsoft Lumia 650 Review
Microsoft Lumia 650 Review
Microsoft Lumia 650 Review
Microsoft Lumia 650 Review
Introduction


Last November, Microsoft launched the Lumia 950 and 950 XL to debut Windows 10 on smartphones. With muscular spec sheets, the duo took aim at the higher-end price segment, leaving Windows 10 out of reach for budget-minded buyers. Six months later, Redmond introduced an affordable option, the Lumia 650. Featuring a slim design and markedly lean hardware, we're intrigued whether the handset is compromised in any way, punches above its weight, or simply delivers the essentials and nothing more. The answer might surprise you.

Design

A simple, understated Lumia phone that's a bit taller than needed.

The Lumia 650 has borrowed understated, rectangular-shaped DNA strands from the design gene pool. Its unassuming looks aren't ones to fall head over heels with, but they don't irritate with any excess, annoyances, or baffling choices. It features a glass front, a metal frame, and a removable plastic back plate.

Removing and re-attaching the back panel is easy and secure, providing access to the battery, nanoSIM tray, and microSD card slot. The metal frame is sturdy and it won't torment your palms with sharp edges. The phone itself isn't feather-light, but its weight is evenly distributed. It handles fairly well for a 5-incher, although the top and bottom bezels are long-ish, making the handset taller than desirable. The power and volume keys are placed on the right and respond tightly, without wobbling or mushing it up.

As a whole, build quality is solid on the Lumia 650, although the utilitarian look won't win fashion awards.


Front view | Side view
Microsoft Lumia 650
Microsoft Lumia 650
5.59 x 2.79 x 0.27 inches
142 x 70.9 x 6.9 mm
4.30 oz (122 g)

Microsoft Lumia 650

Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (4.7
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (4.7
5.3 x 2.59 x 0.3 inches
134.6 x 65.9 x 7.55 mm
3.88 oz (110 g)

Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (4.7")

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
5.7 x 2.8 x 0.29 inches
144.8 x 71 x 7.3 mm
5.47 oz (155 g)

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)

honor 5X
honor 5X
5.96 x 3 x 0.32 inches
151.3 x 76.3 x 8.15 mm
5.57 oz (158 g)

honor 5X



Microsoft Lumia 650 Review

Display

A strong, though not exceptional showcase of what an AMOLED screen can do in an affordable device.

The Lumia 650 presents a 5-inch AMOLED screen with a 720 x 1280 resolution that falls short in some aspects. Images look crisp and colors are reasonably accurate right off the bat, save for the seriously skewed greens. Thankfully, the phone lets you tune the display's color temperature and color saturation to your liking, so tweak at will! The peak brightness output of 340 nits isn't anything to write home about, but using the Lumia 650 under bright light poses no issue. The minimum brightness of 5 nits is okay for not searing your retinas during bed reading. Viewing angles are fine, with no noticeable color, brightness, or contrast distortions. There's also an 'Always-On' feature that shows you the current time, date, and event notifications. As a whole, the display is of good quality.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (4.7") 606
(Excellent)
22
(Poor)
1:1083
(Good)
7301
(Good)
2.14
3.55
(Good)
3.86
(Good)
honor 5X 585
(Excellent)
7
(Good)
1:1251
(Excellent)
8021
(Poor)
2.19
2.9
(Good)
6.77
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 479
(Good)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6610
(Excellent)
2.04
2.52
(Good)
5.26
(Average)
Microsoft Lumia 650 340
(Average)
5
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6961
(Excellent)
2.08
5.27
(Average)
3.52
(Good)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Microsoft Lumia 650 54.1%
60%
unmeasurable
2%
0.5%
33.2%
165.9%
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 67.4%
0%
unmeasurable
1%
2.5%
114.3%
103.6%
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (4.7") 70.3%
72.7%
78.4%
2.7%
2.8%
6.8%
1.3%
honor 5X 86.3%
85.7%
84.2%
6.6%
0.5%
12.4%
4.3%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Interface and Functionality

Windows 10 has been patched up, but there's still a few breaches in that ship's hull.

When we first experienced Windows 10 on the Lumia 950 & XL last November, the operating system was a mess. It was a bit sluggish, inconsistent, and using it was downright frustrating at times. Thankfully, Microsoft has smoothed out the roughest edges over the last few months, and our first moments with the Lumia 650 made for a smooth sailing.

However, we were puzzled once we got to opening various apps, such as the Office suite or the Calculator. See, rather than heading straight for the app, Windows 10 took us to the Microsoft app store for no apparent reason. The apps were already installed on the device, therefore they ought to work, right?

Not so fast, Speedy Gonzales! First, the phone needs to go through a lengthy app updates queue, which happens in the background without giving you a clue. Anyway, getting around the OS is straightforward and we like the choice of customization options over how certain functions and services work. If there's something you don't like about your experience, chances are you will find a toggle to disable it somewhere in the 'Settings' menu.

Windows 10 is in okay shape now, and works fine for the basic communication and connectivity tasks that the Lumia 650 is designed to pull off.

Processor and memory

The conservative spec sheet delivers a basic level of adequacy and speed with nothing beyond that.

The Lumia 650 is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 212 processor, which comes with four CPU cores ticking at 1.3GHz. It's paired with just 1GB of RAM, but Windows 10 is designed so that modest spec sheets don't put it at a serious performance disadvantage. Moreover, Qualcomm didn't skimp on essential features for its leanest chipset, including support for up-to-date Bluetooth, NFC, and Quick Charge standards. There's also a capable modem in the processor, supporting Cat 4 LTE speeds (150Mbps DL, 50Mbps UL) and all global networks. Storage-wise, we're looking at 16GB of eMMC 4.5 flash memory in the base model.

During use, we were happy not to have any accounts of stutter, lag, and freezes. Windows 10 is reasonably swift in everyday usage, and that goes for the Microsoft Edge web-browser as well. Pages are rendered fairly quick and navigating, zooming, and panning them goes smoothly. App loading times aren't obnoxiously long, although the camera app is a bit slow. App switching happens without strain, although multi-tabbed browsing will make short work of the little available RAM memory. Also, heavy 3D games are completely out of the Lumia 650's reach.

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 35638.33
honor 5X 35183
Microsoft Lumia 650 31844.33
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (4.7") 22181
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 14
honor 5X 15
Microsoft Lumia 650 5.6
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (4.7") 9.4
View all


Camera

The 8MP main camera delighted and frustrated us to an equal degree.

The Lumia 650 comes with an 8-megapixel main camera with a single LED flash, F2.2 aperture, digital zoom and auto-focus features. The front camera is a 5MP unit. It's a modest setup that delivers surprisingly good results, but with significant caveats.

Photos taken with the 650 turn out fine across almost all lighting conditions. Daylight photos look quite crisp, even zoomed at pixel level. Of note is the moderate use of sharpening and noise reduction compared to most smartphone cameras today. Where other devices, including 'premium' ones, tend to dramatically oversharpen images to the point of turning objects like tree crowns into a pixelated mess, the Lumia 650 preserves the subtle details. The automatic exposure isn't always correct, as we had many photos in which the sky looks great, but objects such as buildings appear darker than they should.

Moreover, photos turn out excessively blue, which can make them cold and moody.

We also observed that the camera can be a bit slow to focus. Night images are understandably harder to focus and may come out blurred, though photo quality on properly focused photos is pretty good for an entry-level phone. The LED flash on the Lumia 650 isn't particularly strong, though it does the job at illuminating the scene.

And as for selfies, they turn out quite good with the 5MP front camera.


Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
honor 5X 3
3.5
556
506
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 3
4
390
237
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (4.7") 4.2
No data
528
448
Microsoft Lumia 650 4.5
4.8
178
167
View all

Video recording


Limited to 720p resolution video, the Lumia 650 isn't the camcorder of your dreams, but that's not the reason we're completely thrown off by it. The image stabilization on our unit is completely botched, making the image twitch with the slightest of hand movements. Sound quality is also poor, with recordings sounding heavily filtered. Hopefully, Microsoft can fix the issues with a software update, because the smartphone is barely usable as a camcorder in this state.


Multimedia

With a display and speaker of good quality, the Lumia 650 will entertain you with the rest of them.

With its nice 5-inch display and front-facing speakers, the Lumia 950 is a fine device to watch videos on. With the ability to tune the screen's color temperature and saturation, you will be able to make the colors pop as much as you want them. Microsoft's music and video players are straightforward and competent enough, with all the basic filters and adjustments you'd expect.

The Lumia 650's speaker punches loud. Although sound quality isn't remarkable, you can still get a small room dancing. You can also plug in your favorite pair of earphones, confident they will be adequately driven by the phone's amplifier.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 0.55
honor 5X 0.52
Microsoft Lumia 650 0.52
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (4.7") 0.406
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 74
honor 5X 73.7
Microsoft Lumia 650 71
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (4.7") 78.9
View all


Call Quality

Hey, are you okay? You sound a little filtered!

Microsoft Lumia 650 Review
We're pleased with the call quality on the Lumia 650, for inbound calls sound quite clear. The earphone isn't the loudest around, but it should suffice for most applications. On the other end, callers didn't point out anything unusual with our voices. There's still the issue of talkers sounding a bit thin due to the noise cancellation, but it's nothing to make a ruse for.

Battery Life

With its modest specs and power-efficient AMOLED screen, the Lumia 650 could easily last a day of normal use.

Microsoft Lumia 650 Review
Having a power-efficient AMOLED display and an economical processor, the Lumia 650 can last a day of consistent usage. The, the 2000mAh battery should prove sufficient for the majority of this phone's target user base, which certainly excludes heavy multi-taskers and gamers. However, battery life could diminish with time as apps and services pile up, fighting for their slice of CPU and battery power.

Conclusion


The Microsoft Lumia 650 provides a mostly adequate experience, making it a solid choice for an entry-level Windows 10 handset. It's nicely put together and handles well. The screen and speaker are of good quality and make for enjoyable multimedia. The hardware is competent enough to ensure smooth basic functionality, though it isn't capable of more than that. For an entry-level phone, the Lumia 650 delivered better photo quality than we expected, but then there's the borderline unusable camcorder.

At a MSRP of $200 for an unlocked 16GB unit, the Lumia 650 is a nice, but not necessarily enticing proposition. Other than its operating system, which is pleasant but still a bit rough around the edges, the Lumia 650 simply lacks unique qualities to stand out.

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