Mobiles & Tablets

A new mid-range Lumia walks into a crowd

Visvaksen P | Updated on January 24, 2018 Published on June 24, 2015

Language trouble Cortana still cannot deal with Indian accents


Microsoft’s new Lumia 540 is a solid phone but offers little that sets it apart

The war in the budget smartphone segment is heating up and Microsoft has a new entrant in the form of the Lumia 540 Dual Sim. Microsoft’s strategy of late is reminiscent of how Samsung made its name- crowd the budget segment with a multitude of barely differentiated models at roughly the same price point in the hope that the consumer stays within the family. But Microsoft has to pull the additional magic trick of convincing consumers to pick Windows over Android, the latter being an established operating system with a better ecosystem.

Build and performance

The 540 inherits the solid build quality that characterized Nokia-built Lumias. But the black Microsoft logo adorning the rear makes it clear who its maker is. The rear cover is a made of glossy plastic and comes in a range of colours. The white review unit we tested had a premium look and feel to it that belied its cost. The 5 inch IPS display had accurate and crisp colour reproduction. The built-in ClearBlack technology reduces reflections and aids visibility in outdoor conditions, making the screen one of the best in its category.


The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 200 chipset featuring a quad-core configuration of Cortex A7 processors clocked at 1.2 Ghz, paired with Adreno 302 graphics. It comes with a standard 1 GB of RAM. This combination of internals would’ve been below par for an Android handset, but Windows Phone’s superior performance at lower specs means that the 540 is mostly snappy and lag-free. It isn’t going to set any performance records, but casual users will not have much cause for complaint. Built-in storage is decidedly paltry at 8 GB, but the microSD slot supports cards with capacities up to 128 GB. The 2200 mAh battery was good for a day’s usage in our experience, which again is bog-standard for a phone in this segment.

The Lumia 540 packs an 8 MP rear camera with auto-focus and a 5 MP front camera. Picture quality from the primary camera is adequate, but shutter response time is glacial. Low-light performance was surprisingly good thanks to the presence of an LED flash. The wide-angle lens on the front camera will please the selfie-obsessed. The Lumia 540’s video recording is capped at 480p which will leave anyone but the most casual user quite disappointed.

The Lumia 540 runs Windows Phone 8.1 with Denim and will soon receive an upgrade to Windows 10. The Windows Phone platform, while extremely user-friendly and fast, is still hampered by a limited app ecosystem. Most of the must-have apps now either have official Windows versions or unofficial ports, but every user ends up needing a few niche apps and this is where Windows inevitably lets you down. Microsoft’s attempts at playing catch up with cross-platform SDKs and Android app ports, screams delicious irony when contrasted with the desktop days when Redmond used its compatibility clout to keep down competing OSs like OS X and Linux.

Final verdict

The Lumia 540 is a perfectly good phone with no major flaws. It has no major accomplishments either, going instead for a solid middling approach. However, Microsoft’s absolutely incomprehensible positioning strategy means that there are two competing Windows devices breathing right down its neck, making it very hard to recommend this one. So, if you like the Lumia 540 but want better performance you could go with the cheaper Lumia 640 at the expense of a decent front camera. Or, if you can deal with a slightly inferior rear camera and screen, you could opt for the even cheaper Lumia 535. Helping the decision in no way whatsoever is the fact that all of these phones look exactly the same.


Love: Display, snappy UI.

Hate: Limited app support, pricing

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Published on June 24, 2015
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