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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Microsoft Lumia 650 review:

Good looks at the right price, but Windows phone buyers beware

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The Good The Lumia 650 has a great design and a price that can't be beat.

The Bad It's missing some key new Windows phone features, like Continuum and Windows Hello.

The Bottom Line As budget phones go, the Lumia 650 ticks most of the right boxes, but with Microsoft's phone future looking dim, you may want to pass.

CNET Editors' Rating

6.8 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 7.0
  • Camera 7.0
  • Battery 6.0

If Microsoft isn't killing off the Lumia brand, it's certainly tamping it down -- this fact isn't official, but the job layoffs to its phone business are a clear sign. If that's true, then the Lumia 650 might well be the last of its line, and while it's a fine phone for its price, this prospective swan song would end the range with more a whimper than a bang. It's hard to recommend a smartphone from a company with a shaky smartphone future, but if your budget-phone needs must be met, then read on.

First things first, the 650 looks the business. From the anodized aluminium frame to the bright and crisp 5-inch OLED screen, the Lumia 650 has a more premium look than the flagship Lumia 950.

But pick it up and you begin to realise how Microsoft can put such low $199 or AU$199 (roughly £135) price tags on it. It's just 6.9mm thick, but at 122g (4.3 ounces) the weight feels so light that CNET editors I showed the phone to kept asking if the battery was inside. Coupled with the flimsy plastic back panel, the lightness makes it feel cheap.

The screen might look good, but the HD 1,280x720-pixel resolution is a let down in a world of Quad HD displays, and the low-end Snapdragon 212 processor isn't exactly a powerhouse. Perhaps more sadly, it lacks support for the biometric security system Windows Hello and the turn-your-phone-into-a-PC Windows Continuum. One bright spot: Despite performing poorly in our battery test, the 2,000mAh battery actually did very well in real-world scenarios of moderate use.

If you're set on a halfway decent phone with a truly budget price, the Lumia 650 does give you a solid Windows experience with better looks than most phones in the range. It just isn't clear how many updates and how much support Microsoft will be able to offer down the line.

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