The camera experience on the Microsoft Lumia 650
The camera experience on the Microsoft Lumia 650 is surprisingly good for a smartphone in its price range . It does reasonably decent macro photography and good looking pictures, as long as the lighting conditions are OK. In the gallery below you can see several pictures, including some selfies that were taken with the front camera. As you will see for yourself, the results are generally good. The only important downside about the camera experience is that there is no hardware button like on the Lumia 950 to start the Camera as quickly as possible. Using the software shortcuts offered by the operating system makes for a slower startup.
When it comes to video recordings, the rear camera can shoot videos at 1280x720 pixels and 30 fps, 25 fps and 24 fps. The front camera shoots videos at 1280x720 pixels and 30 fps.
There's no fancy autofocus algorithm available and neither does it have optical image stabilisation. This is especially visible when recording videos. If you look at the landscape that was recorded below, the shaking of the hands is quite visible and it lowers the quality of the recording.
In the second video, we have filmed moving subjects so that you get a better idea of how this smartphone's camera films people and objects that are not standing still.
Overall, the camera experience that is offered by Microsoft Lumia 650 is surprisingly good for a smartphone in its price range.
Windows 10 Mobile and bundled apps
Microsoft Lumia 650 is the second budget smartphone that's sold with Windows 10 Mobile installed. The most important features that are missing are Continuum and Windows Hello!
Other than that, Lumia 650 users can enjoy a complete Windows 10 Mobile experience. Unfortunately, at this stage, this new operating system means also a couple of missing apps from the Windows Store , the most notable being the collection of exclusive Lumia apps from Windows Phone 8.1. In our view, the biggest problem is the fact that Here Maps has dropped support for Windows Phone and Windows 10. This means that GPS navigation is now a weak spot of Windows 10 Mobile because the Maps app that comes with Windows 10 Mobile is inferior to Here Maps. However, Microsoft has promised significant updates and improvements to their Maps app which should improve the GPS navigation experience in the future.
In terms of bundled apps, Microsoft Lumia 650 includes a very small number of additional apps:
- GroupMe - a mobile group messaging app owned by Microsoft.
- Amazon App - this app allows you to make purchases from Amazon.com.
- Audible - the Windows 10 Mobile app for Amazon's Audible service which allows you to listen to audiobooks while on the go.
Regarding Windows 10 Mobile - the operating system runs well on the Lumia 650 as long as you don't do too much multi-tasking and you don't get into gaming. If you have 2-3 apps opened in parallel, everything is OK. If you open 5-7 apps at the same time, things start to get slow and frustrating.
Because of Microsoft's choices regarding the hardware that's included on this smartphone, it's clear that more demanding users need to consider other smartphones. The Lumia 650 can be quite slow when you multi-task, when you play HD videos and when you play games.
Performance in benchmarks
So far in this review, we have talked a lot performance. It's time to also measure it using benchmarks:
First, we ran the Multibench 2 benchmark. It seems that this benchmark needs to be updated so that it makes more realistic measurements in Windows 10 Mobile. We discovered this issue also in our performance comparison between Windows 10 Mobile and Windows Phone 8.1.
The results we obtained for Lumia 640 on Windows Phone 8.1 in the graphics test are much higher than on the Lumia 650 and Windows 10 Mobile. The graphics chips on these two smartphones are not that different to justify such contrasting results, even though the graphics chip on the Lumia 640 is slightly better. The CPU test doesn't seem too relevant either.
However, as confirmed from other measurements, the memory and data transfer tests offered by Multibench 2 are still usable. Here we can see that Lumia 650 is slower than Lumia 640, which is a shame.
Then, we moved to the WP Bench benchmark. Again, the Lumia 650 delivered better results, which is surprising, considering the slower processor. This confirms one more time the fact that benchmark apps need to be updated for Windows 10 Mobile in order to perform more realistic and comparable measurements.
Below you can see a comparison of the results obtained in the graphics, storage and memory tests performed by WP Bench.
We wanted to see how fast web browsing is on the Lumia 650, so we ran the SunSpider benchmark. It seems that Microsoft Edge on the Lumia 650 is able to outperform Internet Explorer on the Lumia 640, which is great.
We also wanted to see how fast our data connection is on the Microsoft Lumia 650. We used a 4G cellular connection and ran SpeedTest. Below you can see that we obtained a download speed of 43.06 Mbps, which is great.
We moved to measuring how long it takes for the smartphone to boot and load the Start screen, after you press the Power button. Microsoft Lumia 650 starts in 37 seconds, which is quite a lot when compared to Lumia 640 and Windows Phone 8.1, but similar to the boot speed offered by Windows 10 Mobile on most smartphones.
For the last measurement we used the battery test included in WP Bench. This test stresses the smartphone to the maximum and uses all its processing power until the battery dies. Microsoft Lumia 650 is outperformed by Lumia 640 in this regard also.
At this time, many benchmark apps for Windows 10 Mobile need to be updated in order to offer more realistic test results. However, even so, our tests have shown that Microsoft Lumia 650 tends to be outperformed by Lumia 640 in terms of performance and battery life.
When we first used the Microsoft Lumia 650, we loved the way it looks and feels. This smartphone offers a premium design at a very affordable price. It is easy to carry, easy to hold and a pleasure to touch. Also, the cameras on this smartphone offer better quality pictures than what is offered by most smartphones in the same price range. However, all these positives are ruined by Microsoft's decision to bundle a worse processor and graphics chip than on the Lumia 640. If they would have bundled the same hardware as on last year's model, with its great design and lightness, Lumia 650 could have been the perfect budget smartphone. However, the truth is that, if you want reasonable performance, you are better served by the old Microsoft Lumia 640. You can buy that smartphone at a great price, upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile and enjoy better performance. Unfortunately, Microsoft Lumia 650 is a good choice only for casual smartphone users who don't perform resource-intensive tasks and who prioritize looks and design over performance.