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Microsoft Lumia 640 - Review


Microsoft Lumia 640 - Review

The Microsoft Lumia 640 is a mid-range Windows Phone which is offered with optional LTE and dual-SIM connectivity. Despite offering the handset at an affordable price, the Lumia 640 also comes with a decent camera. Let's now take a deeper look and see if the Lumia 640 is a phone you may consider picking up.

PROs CONs
  • Affordable with a $130 price
  • multiple color options for a more personalized experience
  • Good call quality
  • Decent camera quality
  • low internal storage
  • plastic build
  • Snapdragon 400 is not great for high end gaming

Ever since Microsoft purchased Nokia's smartphone division, the company has continued to release affordable Windows Phones into the market, without any attempt to compete in the high end segment. With the rise of popularity in mid-range devices like the Motorola Moto G, Microsoft is attempting their own entry into a new category with the Lumia 640 and its larger sibling, the Lumia 640 XL.

The Lumia 640 is essentially offered as three different models. The base model offers two SIM slots and 3G connectivity, but there are LTE-enabled versions with single or dual SIM slots. Besides the connectivity options, all three models have the same features.

HARDWARE

Design

Unboxing the device itself was not that exciting, as the packaging contains very little. Besides the phone, you get the usual guides, manuals and a charger with a detachable microUSB cable. As expected, you won't find a headset packed with "an affordable" smartphone.

The Lumia 640 itself feels somewhat tall for a 5 inch smartphone, which is surprising considering the lack of hardware keys below the display. It's a little disappointing to see how wide the bezels on the device are, considering how compact the phone could have been. Still the Lumia 640 is easy to handle and feels comfortable in the hand.

The 5 inch glass panel on the front device has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection for scratch resistance, while the rest of the body is made of polycarbonate (aka plastic) which wraps around the device. This shell has either a matte or glossy finish, depending on which color you pick. Colors range from Cyan, Orange, White, and Black.



The entire colored cover of the device can be detached for access to microSD, SIM cards and your battery. These covers don't feel as premium as the more expensive Lumia devices, but are still fairly durable and don't feel cheap.

Above the display you have a 1MP camera which captures video at 720p. This may not be the best for selfies or Skype video, but its adequate for well lit situations. The top also features a proximity sensor, which automatically turns off the display during calls. You also get an ambient light sensor which automatically adjusts the display brightness based on its surroundings.

The only hardware buttons on the Lumia 640 can be found on the right side, built into the phones shell. You get a volume rocker, and the power button, but the camera shutter continues to be omitted.

On the top of the device, you will find the 3.5mm universal audio connector

Below the device Microsoft has put in a microUSB 2.0 port for syncing and file transfer with your computer.

Display

The Lumia 640 comes with a 5-inch ClearBlack IPS LCD display which has a 720 x 1280 pixel resolution and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. While this panel is OK for general day to day use, its not ideal for heavy media conception or reading as it lacks the sharpness and detail for it.

Camera

While Lumia devices are generally known for offering great cameras, the Lumia 640 specs are quite humble in that aspect. You get an 8MP camera on the rear with a 1/4" sensor, an f/2.2 aperture lens and a single LED flash. In the front you have a 0.9MP camera for selfies for video calls which is as basic as you can expect.

The Lumia camera app can be found with the same style and layout we are familiar with from past devices. You can even slide the on-screen shutter key to the left to reveal the detailed manual mode, which lets you adjust focus and shutter speed for each photo.


The photo quality is pretty decent overall to store and share memories online. Just not the type of device you would use for editing photos. The color department is where the Microsoft Lumia 640 impresses the most, as shots typically have a natural, slightly vivid appearance. Using its Rich Tone mode, it’s able to compensate contrasting areas where hard lighting blends with darker areas of the scenery, but in the process, it’s obvious that it favors an extremely artificial looking composition.



Low light photography on the other hand may not be ideal, as you will see smudgy details and bland colors.

The camera is also capable of 1080p video capture. While the quality is decent, it doesn't offer the best results we've seen. We also noticed that the microphone doesn't pick up audio as well as we would have liked during video capture.




Call Quality

For the most part, the Lumia 640 handles phone calls with reasonable quality – so voices have enough emphasis on our end, while our callers experience something similar on their end. Our only complaint, though, relates to the slightly low volume output of its speakers, which can prove to be troublesome under noisy conditions.

Battery

The Lumia 640 comes with a 2500mAh battery, which easily takes it through a day of normal use. While this is ideal for average users, power users, will find themselves recharging it frequently if they intend on getting through a work day with it.

Processor and Storage

By in large, Windows Phones have been known to be responsive, so we’re not all that surprised to see the Lumia 640 falling into the same boat as well. Ticking under the hood is a quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chip with 1GB of RAM – the kind of thing we’d expect to power this extremely affordable smartphone. Sure, it’s pretty smooth with its performance just navigating across the platform, but there are times when apps take some time to load. Putting it through some intensive stuff, such as 3D gaming, the phone’s performance clearly crumbles.

Packaged with 8GB of internal storage, it’s hard not to complain about its capacity, especially taking into consideration its pricing. Luckily, though, there’s a microSD card slot to help ease things.

Connectivity

The GSM unit we reviewed works well on AT&T’s network domestically, but it’s assured to work with other GSM networks as well. Its other connectivity features include aGPS with Glonass, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and also NFC.


SOFTWARE

The Lumia 640 runs Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Denim, which means it’s accompanied with Cortana integration and the entire suite of Lumia branded apps. Purists of the platform will find it familiar, naturally, seeing that the experience is identical to every other phone running this version of Windows Phone. We won’t get into the specifics of it all, but we can simply say that it’s always a work in progress – in the way that it’s still reaching, or catching up to its peers, but it definitely has that base functionality to compete.

Regardless, it has its perks to appease a wide array of users. On the productivity side, it’s preloaded with Microsoft Office to ensure we can edit and create documents and spreadsheets while on the road. Best of all, it’s on tap to receive the Windows 10 update when it comes out – so there’s peace of mind that ensures that owners won’t be left in the dust when the newest version of the platform is launched.

Internet Explorer serves its purpose well here with the Lumia 640. Combining its LTE connectivity, ample sized screen, and responsive navigational controls, it has all the elements necessary to deliver a pleasant web surfing experience. It might not have Google Chrome’s depth, but it serves its purpose on a superficial level.

Multimedia

When it comes to music, we have two options to choose from – the usual Xbox Music app or MixRadio. Both handle the task of playing music, as they both employ Windows Phone’s Modern UI design style. Unfortunately, the audio quality from its rear speaker is pretty shrill in tone, almost as if it’s straining. And it’s somewhat underpowered at 68.7dB. Interestingly, though, the quality can be enhanced through the MixRadio app because it features plenty of equalizer settings to choose from.

More than capable of handling video playback, you’ll want to make sure you’re looking at the display straight on due to the distortion that pops up at various angles. It’s not terrible, but can be a distraction with its washed out looks.


CONCLUSION

The Microsoft Lumia 640 is an entry level handset meant for basic use. Priced at just $130 as a prepaid option courtesy of Cricket Wireless, its a great option for someone looking for a regular smartphone that will get things done for you. Its a great alternate to folks disappointed with what Android is offering in the budget market, and is gives you all the basic functionality of a smartphone without making too many compromises.
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