The one consistent aspect about Microsoft in my life, other than my Xbox One, is the fact that I really, really want to use the company’s mobile platform. Windows Phone, or Windows 10 Mobile now, is something that I want to use, and it’s a platform that I’ve wanted to make my daily driver ever since it was first debuted all those years ago. For a variety of reasons, from not liking the phones the platform has been available on, to wanting apps, that dream just hasn’t come true.
But, I keep trying. And I tried again just recently with the Lumia 550, a mid-range device with Windows 10 Mobile pre-installed and ready to go. I thought about going with another phone, like the Lumia 920, and trying to figure out a way to get Windows 10 on there, but I realized my best bet in that case would be the Insider Program, and pre-release software didn’t feel like it was the right way to go.
I wanted to give Windows 10 Mobile a real shot, so I went with the Lumia 550. At just over $160, after taxes and shipping, it seemed like the best way to test out the platform without shelling out too much in the process, just in case. Plus, my experience with Windows Phone 8 and 7 has always been consistent, no matter the specs the platform was being powered by.
It was honestly one of the things I loved about Microsoft’s mobile OS. It worked, and it didn’t need ridiculously powerful processors, or a lot of RAM, to get the job done. Even if one wanted to say that the Lumia 550 is a low-end device, and it probably is, the history I've had with Windows Phone suggested that shouldn't matter.
That’s not the case anymore, apparently.
My time with the Lumia 550 has been abysmal. I honestly haven’t been this dissatisfied with a phone in a very, very long time. First, it’s slow. Across the board, the device is slow to open apps, close apps, respond to taps, and even Live Tiles seem like they’re inching along when updating content for apps like Facebook, Facebook Messenger, or even the built-in Messaging app.
And speaking about the stock text messaging app. My last day with the phone, and the primary reason I ditched it after becoming increasingly frustrated with it, the text messaging app just stopped working altogether. I had a Live Tile on the Home screen, and when I went to tap on it, nothing happened. So then I unpinned it, thinking it was just a little bug, and went to go re-pin it. Except that the app wasn’t there anymore. That’s right. Windows 10 Mobile just flat-out removed the messaging app from my phone, which meant that I not only couldn’t send text messages, I wasn’t even receiving notifications for them, either.
I finally found my way into the Windows 10 Store, where I had an update for Messaging + Skype. An update, which meant the app was on my phone — I just couldn’t find it by searching, and it wasn’t listed in the apps installed and available on the device. So I tapped update and … it just sat there. I tried for an hour, pausing, canceling, restarting the phone, pulling the battery, and anything else I could think of to get it to update, but nothing worked.
That was the straw that broke the camel’s back, as they say. Any other issue I had with the phone paled in comparison to the text messaging app going away. A built-in service, just gone without any warning. Yes, it’s a fluke and probably completely rare, but it was just one of many problems.
More than anything, I’ve tested Windows 10 Mobile on a Lumia 950, one of the “flagships” Microsoft launched last year, and the experience was fine. Everything was smooth, and it worked like it should. That’s not the case I discovered with the Lumia 550, which, honestly, works worse than a mid-range device running Android.
This will honestly set me back quite awhile from wanting to use Windows on a smartphone again, even if I know the experience will get better if I spend more money on the phone. But I’m not ready to do that, especially since the platform is still just squeaking along when it comes to apps.
Maybe one day.