Microsoft Lumia 650 review: Dress for less

Dress for less

GSMArena team, 30 March, 2016.

Hardware overview

There is no denying that the Lumia 650 is a really gorgeous phone and in a very non-Lumia way, not necessarily appealing to traditional Lumia design fans. It really looks like the 650 isn't exactly related to any other offers in Microsoft's current lineup, like the Lumia 950 or 550. It is rather in a league of its own - slick, slim, light elegant, with just a touch of metal. Rounded corners and sloping edges have given way to a lot straighter and sharper lines and colorful, glossy plastic is nowhere to be found, just a black or white, mat finish all around.

Microsoft Lumia 650 review

This new push towards a more serious, business exterior seems to be an ongoing Microsoft trend, as it tries to move its lineup, or at least parts of it, away from the youthful approach, but the Lumia 650 really takes it to the next level.

Clean front side - Microsoft Lumia 650 review Clean front side - Microsoft Lumia 650 review Clean front side - Microsoft Lumia 650 review Clean front side - Microsoft Lumia 650 review
Clean front side

We keep raving about the metal frame and we mean every word of it. It runs all the way along the sides of the device and has a dark steel finish, combined with shining silver edges on the front and back. Even the power and volume buttons on the right side are made of metal.

Of course, it's not all sunshine and roses. The shiny surface of the frame is split at two spots - by the 3.5 audio jack on the top of the unit and the microUSB port on the bottom. These two are surrounded by regular plastic and are an eye-sore.

A soft finish plastic back and nicely made insides with metal plates - Microsoft Lumia 650 review A soft finish plastic back and nicely made insides with metal plates - Microsoft Lumia 650 review A soft finish plastic back and nicely made insides with metal plates - Microsoft Lumia 650 review A soft finish plastic back and nicely made insides with metal plates - Microsoft Lumia 650 review
A soft finish plastic back and nicely made insides with metal plates

The Lumia 650 is not only flaunts the metal proudly, but also combines it with a slim profile, measuring only 142 x 70.9 x 6.9 mm. Despite the thin waist line, the Lumia 650 still has a removable back cover that grants access to the 2000mAh battery pack. This is one of the few drawbacks of the design, as it did leave very little room for power cells. The strive for a lightweight body didn't help either, but the results speak for themselves - at 122 g, the Lumia 650 feels almost unnaturally light.

Metal all around, sadly, minus the ports - Microsoft Lumia 650 review Metal all around, sadly, minus the ports - Microsoft Lumia 650 review Metal all around, sadly, minus the ports - Microsoft Lumia 650 review Metal all around, sadly, minus the ports - Microsoft Lumia 650 review
Metal all around, sadly, minus the ports

As for build quality and choice of materials, it is a mixed bag. We really can't complain about the plastic either. The front of the device has a really deep piano black or pure white finish that both work great with the OLED display. And as for the back, It is extremely thin and with a soft-touch finish, also quite flexible, but it appears pretty rigid once it's on the phone.

The only real complaint we have with the build quality is the way the back cover attaches to the back of the unit, which leaves a few gaps here and there. But, that just seems like nitpicking, considering the overall excellent picture.

Microsoft Lumia 650 in hand - Microsoft Lumia 650 review The retail box - Microsoft Lumia 650 review The phone ships with a 2.75W charger (5V, 0.55A) - Microsoft Lumia 650 review The phone ships with a 2.75W charger (5V, 0.55A) - Microsoft Lumia 650 review
Microsoft Lumia 650 in hand The retail box The phone ships with a 2.75W charger (5V, 0.55A)

Display

OLED panels are far from a novelty in the Lumia realm, but it is always a welcome sight to see the technology in a budget-friendly handset. With a current asking price of a little over $200, we wouldn't exactly call the Lumia 650 an entry-level device, but it is a solid mid-ranger, which should be its true place in the lineup, considering the Lumia 950 and the Lumia 550 on either side.

Microsoft Lumia 650 review

Going by this logic, it is great to see that Microsoft has managed to keep the OLED technology from the higher tier and leave it in the Lumia 650, giving it a clear neck up from its lower-end sibling. It also makes sense if we consider the handset as a spiritual successor to the Lumia 640. The 5.0-inch panel is nice and bright and also visually quite sharp, despite its 720p resolution.

As for the panel itself, it is decent albeit quite old, as it is of the Pentile variety. Maximum brightness is only average and the minimum white brightness is a little high for our taste. Sunlight legibility, on the other hand, is excellent. Color accuracy on the unit is surprisingly good, as well, so it has that going for it. Contrast, of course, is infinite thanks to the OLED technology, which is able to turn off the black completely.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Microsoft Lumia 650 0.00 333
Microsoft Lumia 950 0.00 328
Microsoft Lumia 950 (max auto) 0.00 626
Microsoft Lumia 950XL 0.00 335
Microsoft Lumia 950XL (max auto) 0.00 705
Microsoft Lumia 550 0.57 546 963
Microsoft Lumia 640 0.49 508 1034
Nokia Lumia 735 0.00 363
Nokia Lumia 930 0.00 347
Huawei P8lite 0.45 362 802
Samsung Galaxy A3 0.00 470
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek) 0.42 403 953
ZTE Blade S6 0.46 457 946
Moto G 3rd gen max manual 0.43 430 1009
Moto G 3rd gen max auto 0.53 539 1017
Meizu m2 note 0.42 473 1108

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Microsoft Lumia 950XL
    3.837
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Microsoft Lumia 650
    3.772
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    3.567
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    3.547
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • Lenovo Vibe K4 Note
    2.254
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • ZTE Blade S6
    1.927
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    1.311
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Meizu MX
    1.221

Battery Life

The Microsoft Lumia 650 packs a rather small 2000mAh battery. The Snapdragon 212 SoC, combined with the 720p OLED display both spell power efficiency, but oddly enough, the handset eats through the available charge quite quickly.

It only managed to get an overall endurance rating of 55 hours. This is still better than the 43 hours its Lumia 550 sibling managed to clock in, but sadly also quite a bit less than the 76 hours the Lumia 640 earned last year. However, the latter is understandable, considering the 500mAh difference in battery capacity and the drastically new OS.

Microsoft Lumia 650 review

The fact is that the higher-end Lumia 950 only scored 48 hours of endurance in out battery tests, despite its 3000mAh battery. The top-of-the-line Lumia 950 XL managed to ramp that up to 62 hours, but only through the use of an even bigger 3340mAh pack.

So we are inclined to point a finger at Windows 10. While ambitious, Microsoft's latest cross-platform OS effort is still far from optimized or stable. Don't get us wrong, it shows great promise and has really taken usability and the UX to a whole new level, which we will touch upon in the following section. However, despite the fact that the OS is now rolling out officially to all supported handsets, problems are still plentiful - especially from stability point of view.

We found ourselves having to restart the Lumia 650 on several occasions as it had frozen quite badly. On one occasion, we even had to go as far as removing the battery, which, frankly, isn't really acceptable on a mature mobile platform in 2016. All this considered, it is no wonder that battery usage is less than ideal, but hopefully, future optimization will patch most things up, in the otherwise very impressive Windows 10.

Make note that our proprietary score also includes a standby battery draw test, which is not featured in our test scorecard but is calculated in the total endurance rating. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties.

Reader comments

  • 13

Build it and they will come.

  • Anonymous

Brings back memories of the terror called Windows Mobile 6.5. Battery thirsty, unreliable and unfriendly little things. And wheres the progress, win mobile 7 isvstill yhe best, it gets worse with every generation and is now dipping below the "useless...

  • Nauman sohail

You are right dear