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Microsoft Lumia 540 review: Great battery but the camera disappoints

Performance from the rear camera is good but in low light there is excessive noise visible in the photos.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jun 04, 2015, 02.09 PM IST
Performance from the rear camera is good but in low light there is excessive noise visible in the photos.
Performance from the rear camera is good but in low light there is excessive noise visible in the photos.
Rating: ***

Price: Rs 10,199

Specifications: 5-inch IPS ClearBlack display (1280 x 720 pixels), 1.2Ghz quad core Snapdragon 200 processor, 1GB RAM, 8GB + microSD slot, 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, 8MP rear + 5MP front camera, dual SIM, Windows Phone 8.1, 2,200mAh, 152g

NEW DELHI: The Lumia 540 is yet another smartphone by Microsoft in the sub Rs 10,000 price bracket. The new dual SIM phone is aimed more towards photo enthusiasts because of the 8MP rear camera, 5MP front camera and a 5-inch HD display .
In what is now a typical Lumia design, the Lumia 540 has a polycarbonate rear panel that gives it a unibody look. The panel can be removed and hides the battery, dual SIM slots (both microSIM) and a microSD slot underneath.The design ethos is similar to other Lumia phones too: a glossy finish, rounded edges and thick bezels around the display. As expected from the glossy plastic ­ we noticed smudges and scratch marks appearing on it after just a few days of usage. At 152 grams, the phone felt to be of apt weight for keeping pockets as well as holding in hand.

One of the good things about the phone is the display. The 5-inch HD screen is great to use ­ sharp text with natural colours and excellent viewing angles. Thanks to the ClearBlack technology, the blacks on the screen look great and also make it easier to read in different lighting conditions. However, we did feel that the brightness levels could have been better.

One of the biggest issues with the Lumia 540 is that it runs on a 1.2Ghz quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor. This entry-level processor limits the performance of the phone ­ the camera app takes time to save photos, games and apps take time to load and even switching between running apps is slow. While Windows Phone as an operating system works well even with basic hardware, we felt that at this price, the Lumia 540 should have come with a Snapdragon 400 processor at least. Other hardware specifications include 1GB RAM and 8GB internal storage.

A benefit that comes out of the older hardware is that the phone's battery life is great.Even with a 2,200mAh battery, the phone easily manages to last one full day. This battery life is with constant data connectivity (3GWiFi) and mix use of phone for camera, voice calls, music playback and social networks.

Performance from the rear camera is good ­ it takes images with good details in daylight as well as indoors. The 8MP sensor with f2.2 aperture works well but in low light there is excessive noise visible in the photos. There is an LED flash, but in our usage it tended to over expose the nearby subject in the photo.The front camera is good for selfies, but we noticed that most of the images captures with the front facing camera were soft (not enough sharpness). Another issue is that the phone can only record video in 480p resolution (from both front and rear cameras) ­ this is unfortunate, considering that most Android phones at a lower price now offer full HD 1080p video recording.

One thing that we did not like was the preloaded bloatware apps on the Lumia 540. You get Cleartrip, Foodpanda, Olacabs, Snapdeal etc. that come pre-installed and eat storage space.

Overall, the Lumia 540 is a jack-of-all-trades. However, for about the same price, the Huawei Honor 4x gives you a larger 5.5inch display, better hardware and performance as well as better battery life. If you don't want a large phone, then the Asus Zenfone 5 is cheaper and offers better performance, camera and battery life in a stylish design. However, if you are enthusiastic about Windows Phone, the Lumia 640 gives you better processor (Snapdragon 400), bigger battery and camera that does full HD video recording for roughly the same price.
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