Overview
Introduction
Design
Display
Hardware
Software and apps
Camera
Audio and video
Performance
Battery life
Conclusion
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Microsoft Lumia 540 Dual SIM Review

A surprisingly high priced smartphone with underwhelming hardware.
By Samir Makwana on 2015-08-26
Key Features
  • 5-inch 720p display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 mobile chipset
  • Upto 128GB microSD card
  • 2,200 mAh battery
What we like
  • Smooth OS experience
  • Good built quality and design
  • Impressive sound output
  • Better front facing camera
What we don't like
  • Below average video playback capability
  • Not meant for gaming 
  • No 4G LTE support
  • Washed out images from front facing camera
6.9
Our Score
Introduction

In order to be able to compete in the sub-Rs. 10,000 category that is predominant with Android devices, Microsoft has been fuelling its energies on pumping entry and budget level dual-SIM smartphones. The Lumia 500 and the Lumia 600 series of smartphones were introduced specifically for this reason, to make up for its lack of presence in the budget segment. The Lumia 540 dual-SIM, released a couple of weeks ago, is one such smartphone from this series. 

At this moment, the competition is very stiff for several devices such as the Lenovo K3 Note, Xiaomi Redmi 2 Prime, and Huawei Honor 4X are standing out to be the challengers at that price. Microsoft has set a price of Rs 10,199 for the Lumia 540 Dual SIM to be sold in India. With this, Microsoft takes a step ahead in the Indian market on the mobile devices front as the new handset market formally. We took a closer look to see whether the Lumia 540 Dual SIM is ready to fight against its strong rivals. 

Microsoft Lumia 540 Introduction

Design
7

Microsoft uses the new refined design language for the Lumia 540 dual-SIM as well, which offers flattened back and sides. The black variant of this phone, which comes with a matte finish, looks quite similar to the Lumia 640 dual-SIM. You get this device in black, blue, orange and white shell color options. The Volume settings buttons and power buttons are placed on the right side. At the rear comes the 8MP camera with the LED flash to its left. A microUSB port rests at the bottom in the middle, while the 3.5mm port is on the top right of the phone. The earpiece rests in the front at the top, while the front-facing 5MP camera sits on the left. A microphone has been placed smartly at the edge of the bezel at the bottom.

The rear shell conceals the two dual-SIM card slots, a memory card slot and a removable battery. The design is quite non-obtrusive and the matte finish gives a good grip on the palm. In the sub-Rs 10,000 category, this phone is certainly not the slimmest at a thickness of 8.6mm, and isn’t too light either at a weight of 152 grams. In comparison to its competition, the Lumia 540 dual-SIM stands out from the regular placeholder-like Android smartphones.

Microsoft Lumia 540 Volume and Power

Display
6.5

Microsoft uses a 5-inch IPS LCD display with 720x1280 pixel resolution to deliver pixel density of 294 pixels per inch on this device. Since the display is made using IPS panel technology, it delivers great viewing angles. The multi-touch display also supports Lumia Color profiles but does not have Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. Though the display appears to be a better quality panel compared to its predecessor, the lack of Gorilla Glass protection is indeed suprising. Thankfully the ClearBlack makes it a tad bit anti-reflective and thus usable under direct sunlight. In our opinion, the phone has a slightly below average display. 

Microsoft Lumia 540 Display

Hardware
6

The Lumia 540 Dual SIM comes powered by a quad-core 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 mobile chipset, packed with 1GB of RAM and 8 GB of on-board storage. However, only 3.2GB out of 8GB, is available to the user. Thankfully, up to 128GB expandable storage is available via a memory slot. In terms of connectivity, the device is powered by Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n standard chip support and the dual-SIM slots support micro-SIM cards. But only one 3G capable SIM can be used at a time. The phone has a proximity sensor and an ambient light sensor to turn off or dim the screen depending on the lighting near the device. Bluetooth 4.0 is handy for faster files transfer and pairing accessories. The on-board GPS chip delivers accurate location services with the help of A-GPS and GLONASS support. 

Microsoft Lumia 540 Hardware

Software and apps
8

The Lumia 540 dual-SIM comes pre-loaded with the Windows Phone 8.1 wrapped in Lumia Denim package, which is possibly the most refined and tweaked version so far. The obvious change is the Notification Tray and the new Action Control, which has four customisable toggles on top. It is very easy to use the dual-SIM feature on a Windows phone since it creates separate tiles with clear numerals on the top left corner. The device comes pre-loaded with several Indian third-party apps such as BBM, Cleartrip, Foodpanda, Gaana, Ola Cabs, Paytm, Snapdeal and Starsports. Users can simply sign up and start using them. The Lumia Denim also offers the Storyteller app which allows the user to create a video using audio files, images and even short video files on the phone. Speaking of files, the file management woes have been taken care of with the new Files app. The smart digital assistant Cortana is pre-installed but not usable in India yet.  

In case you have an Xbox LIVE account, you can view your activities by logging into the Games app. If not, your scores from current games get added to your account. You may have to download additional apps to tweak your avatar to match your profile. Microsoft has also integrated the Office apps to work flawlessly for creating new documents. For those who wish to make these accessible from anywhere, an Office 365 subscription comes in handy. The Lumia Denim also brings better app management to the device, giving users the control to select the apps that can run in the background and block the ones that take too many resources as well as data.

Camera
7

Packing an 8MP camera with 1/4-inch sensor size, the Lumia 540 offers f/2.2 aperture for capturing wide angle images. It performs well in bright daylight conditions, just like any other mobile camera. The Slow focus, however, needs to be fixed. In low-light environments and at night time, the phone retains a certain level of detail in the images, but however, some amount of noise manages to creep in. 

Microsoft lumia 540 camera sample

Microsoft has included a 5MP front facing camera, which comes as a surprise since the Lumia 640 has only a 0.9MP one in the front. The Lumia Selfie app takes a while to load and delivers kind-of washed images. With the Snapdragon 200 and Adreno 302, we don’t have very high hopes for video capturing, which is restricted to FWVGA (848x480) pixel resolution. There is an Audio Bass filter, which cancels out engine noises and other low frequencies, that adds up in making a slight difference to the final video quality.

Microsoft Lumia 540 Camera Sample 2

Audio and video
6

In terms of the music player, MixRadio continues to steal the limelight from the native Music app. With ready-made mixes and capabilities to make a custom one on offer, music is easily taken care of. The Adreno 302 GPU manages to play 720p HD videos, that too in avi format, but nothing higher than that. The audio output is as brilliant in this phone as in other models of the Lumia 500 and Lumia 600 series. Therefore, MixRadio works as a good music player but as a bare minimum video player.

Performance
7

The native system on this device, undoubtably gives a very snappy and consistent experience. Even third party apps take barely a couple of seconds to load. In terms of gaming, the Lumia 540 dual-SIM runs casual games normally, but not much can be expected otherwise. The Adreno 302 doesn’t pack the graphics muscle to handle games such as Asphalt 8: Airborne. The sound output and audio quality of the speaker is decent and music is thoroughly enjoyable over a regular pair of earphones. Voice call quality is slightly above average. 

Microsoft Lumia 540 rear camera

The typing experience on this device has improved significantly with the new Word Flow keyboard which offers contextual word suggestions as well as emojis. Video playback is likely to be an issue for movie watchers and tv shows buff. For those who are not familiar with options such as Action Center, it will take a while to familiarize oneself with the new settings. The overall performance of the Lumia 540 dual-SIM handset is quite mediocre and there is nothing outstanding about this device to challenge its Android based rivals.

Battery life
8

This Windows Phone device packs a 2200mAh battery which easily runs for a day and a half on a single SIM. Note that this is a 3G network supporting model. Regular activities such as calling, messaging, web browsing, listening to music and checking social networking apps allow the battery to easily last for more than a day. We excluded video playback in the list of activities, but if you add that too, then the run time easily dips by a couple of hours. However, the battery runs for a longer time when using the music mode, so this device can act as your portable jukebox.

Microsoft Lumia 540 box

Conclusion

Microsoft launched the Lumia 540 Dual SIM in India for Rs 10,199 and is now selling it officially for the Rs 9,999. When pitted against powerful rivals such as the freshly launched Lenovo K3 Note, Huawei Honor 4X and Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G, the Lumia 540 dual-SIM falls short by miles. With the lack of 4G LTE support, insufficient number of popular apps, below average video playback, and an average camera, this phone doesn’t stand much of a chance amongst its competitors. 

However, having said that, this handset is perfect for those wishing for a smooth OS experience, decently sized display, good audio experience and a good battery life, thus making it ideal for students or folks with very basic requirements such as calling, messaging, using social networks and web browsing.

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