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Microsoft Lumia 540 Dual SIM Review

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While Microsoft hasn’t launched any flagship or a high-end Windows smartphone in the past few months, they have launched several budget devices. The recent addition to the Lumia family was another budget aimed smartphone, the Lumia 540.

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The Microsoft Lumia 540 was launched in India recently at a price of Rs. 10,199 and it’s another decent budget smartphone from the Redmond giant but the competition is severe. In the sub-Rs. 10,000 price range, there are a plethora of decent Android smartphones, so let’s find out if the Lumia 540 manages to hold its own.

Microsoft Lumia 540 Specs:

  • 5 inch IPS LCD ClearBlack display
  • HD (1280x720p) resolution
  • 1.2 GHz Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 8 GB internal memory
  • 8 MP primary camera
  • 5 MP front facing camera
  • Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Denim
  • 2200 mAh battery
  • Dual SIM, 3G, WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, GLONASS

The Microsoft Lumia 540 is a decent smartphone on paper but with the competition soaring, let’s find out if it is worth the bucks.

What’s in the Box

  • The Microsoft Lumia 540
  • Charger
  • Earphone
  • Battery
  • Booklets

Design and Hardware

If you have ever used a budget Lumia, you’ll see that the Lumia 540 is pretty familiar when it comes to the design and hardware. The Lumia 540 comes with the usual Lumia looks and it does look a bit boxy but it’s super solid. The device looks and feels great, which is what we have come to expect from Nokia/Microsoft budget devices. As with most other Lumias, the Lumia 540 comes in some cool color options including the glossy Cyan, Orange, White and the sole matte version in Black. While we would have wanted the other colored variants of the device, we got the Black Lumia 540 for review.

Microsoft Lumia 540 Review 8

The Lumia 540 feels solid and that’s also because it’s a bit hefty at 152 grams. While the weight is not a deal breaker, the device feels hefty and solid. The device isn’t also very slim by today’s standards and it measures in at 144 x 73.69 x 9.35 mm. Overall, it’s hefty build and thick waistline doesn’t derail the experience and the device feels solid all the way through. There are no sounds or creaks in the build and even though the back cover is removable, the design feels like a unibody design. The device is easy to use and comfortably fits in the hands, although we would have liked lesser bezels.

The front of the device packs the 5-inch HD IPS LCD display, the 5 MP wide-angle selfie camera on top along with the usual sensors. There are no buttons on the front, as Microsoft is using on-screen navigation buttons for the device.

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The back of the device features the 8 MP camera with an LED flash along with the speaker. There’s also the Microsoft logo in the center of the device’s rear.

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As with every other Lumia, there are no buttons on the left side of the device and the right features the power/lock button and the volume rockers.

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The top of the Lumia 540 features the 3.5 mm earphone jack, while the bottom features the microUSB port.

Microsoft Lumia 540 Review 6

Microsoft Lumia 540 Review 5

The Lumia 540 in the cool color variants like Cyan looks way more cooler than the Black version we received, so there’s that. The device feels boxy but it is solid and should easily take a beating. The device is hefty but some people like that and it’s not an issue, as the device is comfortable to hold. Overall, for the price, the device has great build quality and anyone buying the device shouldn’t be disappointed.

Display

The Microsoft Lumia 540 features a 5-inch IPS LCD display of HD (1280x720p) resolution. Microsoft uses its ClearBlack display tech, which should result in deep blacks, better sunlight legibility and good color output. While the display is certainly better than its predecessor, the Lumia 535 when it comes to the screen resolution and quality, there’s no Gorilla Glass here.

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The 5-inch display has a pixel density of 294 ppi, which results in the display being adequately sharp. The display outputs natural colors and there’s an option to alter the color reproduction according to your needs. Thanks to the ClearBlack tech, the display has decent blacks and the sunlight legibility is also pretty good. The brightness levels could have been better though.

Microsoft Lumia 540 Review UI 1

Microsoft has included the Double tap to wake feature, which lets you wake up the phone with a double tap. Sadly, there’s no Glance feature we have come to love from other Lumias.

To sum things up, the Lumia 540’s 5-inch HD (1280x720p) IPS LCD display is pretty good. The display is sharp, crisp and good in outdoor conditions. We were surely satisfied with the device’s display.

User Interface

The Microsoft Lumia 540 comes with Windows Phone 8.1 and the latest Lumia Denim update. While the interface remains the same with the Live Tiles and everything, the new build does add some useful features to the mix such as the Live Folders and more.

Microsoft has also added support for folders, which it likes to call Live Folders, We like the transitions on the Live Folders and it shows the live updates even from the folders, thus the “Live” moniker. There’s the ability to set your wallpapers as the background for the Live Tiles. While there’s not much to customize, you can set the accent color and shuffle between Black and White backgrounds.

Microsoft Lumia 540 Review UI 2

The locksreen is the same we’ve now been accustomed to with Windows Phone. It lets you see the notification badges at the bottom for missed calls, messages and third party apps like WhatsApp and Facebook as well.

Microsoft Lumia 540 Review UI 3

There’s the new Settings interface, which finally sorts things out. The notification panel, which Microsoft calls Action Center features four toggles, which can be set according to your needs. Sadly, the toggle list does not feature a Data toggle. The Action Center packs all your notifications but unfortunately, there are no interactive notifications yet.

Microsoft Lumia 540 Review UI 4

Not much has changed with Windows Phone and the problems that were part of the platform still persist. Some things have become worse, for example the Music app, which is certainly a pain in the back. Microsoft has preloaded the device with a lot of apps including BBM, Facebook and its various MSN apps.

Microsoft Lumia 540 Review UI 5

There are also the several Lumia apps like Lumia Beamer, Camera, Cinergraph, Creative Studio, Moments, Selfie and Storyteller. There’s also the Nokia’s HERE Mapping suite, which is my personal favourite when it comes to mapping apps.

Windows Phone should be good enough for people buying their first smartphones but people coming from Android or iOS might not find the platform favorable. Microsoft has confirmed that the Lumia 540 will be getting the Windows 10 upgrade, so that should solve some of the problems we have from the OS.

Performance

The Microsoft Lumia 540 runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor clocked at 1.2 GHz and the graphic needs are taken care by the Adreno 302 GPU. We have always expected great performance from Windows Phone devices and the Lumia 540 is no exception.

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The interface was smooth most of the times in our usage and there was no hint of lag even when we had a number of apps open, thanks to 1 GB of RAM on-board.

The gaming performance could have been better though, as graphics intensive games take the toll on the device and you see a bit of lag. Other than that, we were pretty pleased with the performance of the Lumia 540 and we are pretty sure you will be pleased too.

Telephony and Audio Performance

The Lumia 540 was no slouch when it comes to audio performance, which is great considering it’s a budget smartphone. The speakers on the rear are adequately loud and the quality was pretty good too with clean output. The headsets provided in the box are pretty ordinary, which is what we expected but the audio quality was acceptable. As with other Lumia devices, there’s a built-in equalizer along with Dolby enhancements.

Microsoft Lumia 540 Review UI 6

Coming to the telephony performance of the Lumia 540, it’s decent, as we have come to expect from modern day smartphones. The sound in the calls was adequate and the call quality was pretty good too.

Battery Performance

The Lumia 540 packs in a 2200 mAh battery, which performs decently. We expected average performance from the device and we got exactly that.

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The device should easily last you a day or more if you are a modest user but if you are heavy user, you will need to plug it in by the end of the day. Overall, while the battery performance should not be disappointing for you, it’s not going to be extra ordinary too.

Camera

The Redmond giant has equipped the Lumia 540 with some pretty decent camera units. There’s an 8 MP camera on the rear, while a 5 MP front-facing snapper graces the front.  The cameras in the Lumia devices have always surprised us, be it any price range, so let’s find out of the 540’s camera is worth the talk.

Talking about the camera interface first, there’s Lumia Camera 5 as the default app for taking a picture. The Lumia Camera app is arguably the best camera interface for people serious about photography. The Lumia Camera app offers a lot of manual controls. You can toggle various options like White Balance, focus, ISO,shutter speed and brightness. The top right options give you the other settings like timer, bracketing, aspect ratio and more.

Microsoft Lumia 640 XL Dual SIM Review Camera

The 8 MP camera on the Lumia 540’s rear is pretty decent camera unit. The camera takes some decent pictures in good light. The pictures taken in daylight feature natural colors and a good amount of detail. The pictures are a little on the fuzzy side with lack of sharpness apparent. While not as good as high-end Lumias, low light imaging is where the 8 MP camera surprises. The camera snaps some great low light photos, which although lack in sharpness but the light captured is brilliant for the phone’s price. There is noticeable noise too in the pictures but we are still pleased with the camera’s performance. Check out some of the pictures we took from the 540’s rear camera:

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Microsoft Lumia 540 Review Camera 5

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Microsoft Lumia 540 Review Camera 1

Microsoft Lumia 540 Review Camera 2

Microsoft Lumia 540 Review Camera 3

The Lumia 540 packs in a 5 MP front-facing camera, which features a wide-angle lens, so you can easily capture a selfie with 4-5 people in it. There’s a Lumia Selfie app, which lets you capture and then beautify your selfies. The 5 MP selfie cam sounds great on paper but the performance leaved a lot to be desired. In good light, the camera shoots okay pictures and in other conditions, things get bad.

If you are looking for a smartphone with a decent camera at an affordable price, the 8 MP rear cam on the Lumia 540 should please you although the front-facing 5 MP camera does disappoint.

Connectivity

The Microsoft Lumia 540 features the usual array of connectivity options like WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS. There’s Dual SIM and 3G support and Windows Phone also supports smart handling of the dual SIMs. There are separate text and call tiles for both the SIM options, which makes things a lot convenient.

Conclusion

The Lumia 540 is priced at Rs. 10,199, which is a little surprising considering the Lumia 640 is priced at Rs. 9,999 and it’s better equipped. The device competes with a plethora of great Android smartphones including the likes of Lenovo A700, Honor 4X and more which should make things tough for the Windows Phone device.

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The good thing is Windows Phone devices have been selling well in this price range and the Lumia 540 should do well for itself, although we would have liked a lower pricing. The device is surely recommendable for people buying their first smartphone, as the Lumia 540 brings solid build, good performance and a decent low light snapper.

Pros:

  • Solid build quality
  • Good display
  • Great low light rear camera
  • Good performance

Cons:

  • underwhelming front camera
  • Windows Phone is still catching up

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