There’s a great deal of competition as far as high end flagship phones go, but the entry level segments are rather mundane with Android phones dominating the market with their boring black or grey versions carrying outdated software. Microsoft is certainly hoping to draw in consumers who are tired of those jaded models and are looking for a little more variety – with their Lumia 640. In this review, we take a look at how the phone stacks up against the competition.
The Lumia 640 is designed in the tradition of its predecessors, with a colorful plastic body that somehow doesn’t feel cheap. In fact, the design looks very much like the Lumia 635, with the soft rectangular shape, rounded corners and glossy finish making it visually appealing. The back is removable and you can choose from a variety of colors including the glossy cyan and orange if you don’t like the usual white or matte black. Below the back panel lie the microSIM and microSD slots, the microSD slot making up for the lack of basic internal storage 8GB.
The Lumia 640 is quite a big phone, measuring 141mm long, 72mm wide and is 8.8mm thick (5.5x 2.75×0.34 inches). The 3.5mm headphone jack sits at the top, the sides carry the volume and power buttons, and the microUSB port sits at the bottom. There is no dedicated shutter key for the camera, which was a regular Lumia feature in the past. Plus, the absence of the camera hump at the back makes it more convenient to lay it down on the desk.
As far as the display goes, the Lumia 640 comes with a 5 inch 720 x 1280 ClearBlack IPS-LCD display resulting in a density of 294 pixels per inch. This does not produce the greatest sharpness and detail that you expect from other higher resolution screens, but it’s perfectly acceptable for a device in this price range. It gives the Windows tiles a crisp look and even small text on the browser looks perfectly readable. The colors are vivid and there’s a decent level of contrast that makes for good movie viewing although it wouldn’t fare well in the bright outdoors.
Under the hood is a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with 1GB of RAM. While this is great for casual browsing, taking it through some intensive 3D gaming is not recommended. Other features of the device include a 2500 mAh battery, GPS with Glonass, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and also NFC. The 2500 mAh battery can last all day long, even with extensive use. One striking feature of the Lumia 640 is that it’s a dual SIM phone that supports 2 LTE SIM cards and that’s not something you see in a phone that’s as affordable as this one.
Lumia devices have always packed great cameras and one of the first things people look for in any smartphone is its camera capabilities. Despite not being a high end product, the 640 is fitted with an 8MP camera with a single LED flash in the rear and a 0.9 MP front camera. The image quality from the rear camera may not be spectacular under low light conditions, but its pretty good. The Lumia Camera 5 app brings the popular Rich Capture feature to make photos look more vibrant and alive.
While most shots are perfect, at times the white balance does seem off and requires manual adjustments. The front facing camera is nothing great to talk about. It lets you take selfies and do video chats via the pre-installed Skype. If you enjoy taking shots in the landscape mode, you may not find the positioning of the front facing camera (at the far left) convenient. Finally, the video recording capabilities of the Lumia 640 are fairly decent. The rear camera is capable of shooting at 1080p at a continuous 30fps with auto-focus.
Overall, the hardware is predictable, but entirely dependable.
Onto the software section where you’ll find that despite the rollout of Windows 10 Preview for phones, the Lumia 640 comes with Windows 8.1 codenamed Lumia Denim. This means you can expect to see the entire collection of Lumia branded apps including the Lumia Camera 5 app on board. Fans of Cortana can enjoy interacting with the virtual assistant while Office users should know that Microsoft is giving away a years’ worth subscription of Office 365 for free so you can do basic editing and creation of documents and spreadsheets while on the go. The biggest perk with the Lumia software is that it is Windows 10 Ready so you know you’ll be using the latest software as soon as it launches.
The Lumia 640 is not the big bang Lumia we expected to come out of the Microsoft Magic hat, heavy on the specs sheet and feature rich. Rather it’s a low cost entry level phone that is a fantastic option for anyone who is jaded by the inept low-end Androids that are hogging the market today. With a vibrant screen, colorful body, good camera and dependable hardware and software, the Lumia 640 is everything you can hope for in a phone of this class. If you are willing to compromise on the app market, don’t want an Android or are just looking for a phone to introduce you into the smartphone world, the Lumia 640 is a pretty good choice to get you started.