Notes on Lumia 650 with Windows 10 Mobile Part 1

Close to 98% of mobile phone users have already decided on their mobile operating system of choice. This means that if you are accustomed to iOS or Android, then you're more than likely to maintain your relationship with the platform due to app purchases, preference, or more importantly, habit. This article doesn't try to "sell" Windows 10 Mobile, nor does it imitate incredibly ignorant and vacuous "tech sites" that criticize the platform. The notes on using the Lumia 650 listed here are meant to assist users who own Lumia 650, and perhaps inform users of other Windows 10 Mobile devices who experience the same issues found on the device.

This series of articles apply to Lumia 650 running Windows 10 Mobile firmware 10.0.14393.321 version 1607 with firmware version 01078.00042.16352.50009.

Note: Comparisons to Lumia 925 made use of the final Windows Phone 8.1 release 8.10.14234.375 with firmware version 3051.50009.1451.1005. The Lumia 925 never received all the features for the Denim update but was stuck with Cyan before updates were discontinued by Microsoft.

Full disclosure: Apart from my work with iOS and Android, I spent some time with one of the later working builds of the ill-fated Mozilla Firefox OS last year for a major smartphone manufacturer before it was discontinued. Although there is every possibility Microsoft will pivot and end Windows 10 Mobile due to business reasons, Windows 10 Mobile is by no means a "failed" platform as evidenced by its fanbase and users. I used the mid-range Lumia 925 with Windows Phone 8.1 for more than two years, and still use the device at home, before moving to the entry-level Lumia 650 with Windows 10 Mobile. On a personal note, I really like the Lumia 650 despite its numerous flaws and continue to use it as my primary smartphone over my Sony Xperia C3.

Both the Lumia 650 (2016) and the Sony Xperia C3 (early 2015) are entry-level smarpthones but the 650 looks more expensive.

Although this series may seem bent on exposing the numerous problems of Windows 10 Mobile and the Lumia 650 in particular, I'm certainly not going to throw away this device soon and consider it a steal for the price.

Entry-level device and performance

There is no way to say it nicely, but the Lumia 650, despite its high-quality appearance, is an entry-level device for users who already like the Windows Phone platform. The 650 runs a sad Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 and assisted by 1GB of RAM during a time when Android manufacturers are including 2-3 GB of RAM for low-end wares. For the Lumia 650's USD$140.00 (mine was 949RMB marked down from 999RMB), you get 16GB of internal memory and an 8 megapixel main camera. By today's (and even last year's) standards, it's not impressive. Take note also that in comparison to Android, which has now reached a level of polish and functionality, you are also purchasing a device with a mobile OS that is clearly still in progress.

Microsoft's Windows 10 Mobile team are still playing catch up with updates (thankfully).

Numerous online reviews of the Lumia 650 have pointed out its slow performance and blame the choice of mobile processor. However, the Snapdragon 212 is only part of the problem, since Windows 10 Mobile is still undergoing numerous consumer-focused improvements. Its base code from Windows 10 pretty much ensured that Windows 10 Mobile will be as lumbering as Windows 10 desktop.

The Lumia 650 next to an HP Stream 8. Windows 10 Mobile OS is much slimmer than a full Windows 10 installation - and performs much better on lower hardware. In fact, the Stream 8's 1GB of RAM and Atom processor performs badly when compared with the 1GB of RAM and Snapdragon processor of the 650.

To the Windows 10 Mobile team's credit, they have been vigilant about releasing updates and users have some reason to stay positive about the platform. However, make no mistake, Windows 10 Mobile on the 650 is unpolished and users will notice slow performance in almost every aspect of usage, particularly if you're coming from an HTC, Samsung or Apple device.

You may notice lag or delays when performing the following:

1. Unlocking the screen

2. Switching between multimedia apps such as Groove Music or Movies & TV.

3. Playback of MP3s and video (brief pause before rendering or playback)

4. Touch screen response for some apps such as WeChat and when device is locked.

5. Detecting and indexing content from the external micro SD card using apps such as Groove Music and Movies & TV.

VLC for Windows Phone takes awhile before it detects content on the micro SD card.

6. Previewing images after taking photos using the Camera app.

7. Displaying content while syncing notebooks in OneNote.

Continued in Notes on Lumia 650 with Windows 10 Mobile Part 2


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