Reviewing Microsoft Lumia 640 XL - A Good Smartphone For Business Users
Microsoft Lumia 640 XL is one of two smartphones that come with Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2 installed. It aims to replace the Lumia 1320 and it's an affordable Windows Phone phablet. Microsoft hasn't released one in quite a long time. In terms of hardware specs, Lumia 640 XL stands out through its generous battery and its camera. But what about the real user experience? We took this new smartphone for a spin and we're ready to share our conclusions in this review:
Hardware Specifications & Packaging
The packaging for the Microsoft Lumia 640 XL is the same as the one used for other Microsoft Lumia devices. You can see pictures with this smartphone on both the front and the back of the box.
When you open the box, immediately you see the Lumia 640 XL.
Inside the box, you will also find the battery, the charger, user manuals in several languages and the warranty. There is no USB cable and no headphones are included. This is a bit unfortunate for a smartphone.
Microsoft Lumia 640 XL is available in two variants: 4G LTE and Dual Sim 3G. We received the 4G variant for testing. In terms of colors, it is available in white, blue, black and orange. We received the orange version.
Lumia 640 XL has a large 5.7" IPS LCD display, with a resolution of 1280x720 pixels and ClearBlack technology, that's protected by Gorilla Glass 3. Unfortunately, it doesn't include the super sensitive touch that's available on higher end Lumias. This smartphone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor running at 1200 MHz, 1GB of RAM memory and it has 8GB of storage space that can be expanded with the help of a MicroSD card. The battery is generous on this smartphone as it has a capacity of 3000 mAh. The rear camera on the Lumia 640 XL has 13 megapixels and it comes with Carl ZEISS optics, LED flash and autofocus. Also, it doesn't benefit from the PureView technology and it doesn't offer any optical image stabilization. The front facing camera has 5 megapixels and it is capable of recording Full-HD videos. In terms of connectivity, you have support for USB 2.0, Bluetooth 4.0 and wireless networking using the 802.11 b/g/n standards. Unfortunately, the Lumia 640 XL is capable of detecting and using only 2.4 GHz wireless networks. It is not able to work with 5GHz wireless networks. Also, support for the modern 802.11 ac standard is missing. When it comes to size, this is a large smartphone: it has a height of 157.9 mm (6.2 inches) and a width of 81.5 mm (3.2 inches), it is 9mm (0.3 inches) thick and it weighs 171 grams (6.03 ounces). If you want to get a more detailed look at all its specifications, go to this page: Microsoft Lumia 640 XL LTE - Detailed specifications. Overall, Microsoft Lumia 640 XL has very good specs for its price range. Its hardware should be able to deal with any apps and games that you throw at it. It's downside is the fact that the packaging doesn't include any headphones nor a USB cable.
Design & Build Quality
Microsoft Lumia 640 XL uses exchangeable back covers that you can easily remove and change. We believe it feels a lot more solid than the Lumia 1320 which felt a bit fragile when we tested it last year. Getting access to the SIM slot(s) and the MicroSD slot is very easy. Also, replacing the battery can be done with no problems at all.
The Lumia 640 XL doesn't have hardware buttons for the camera, for Back, Home and Search. For a smartphone with two cameras that have pretty good resolutions and optics, the missing camera button is quite a disappointment. The display on the Microsoft Lumia 640 XL is really good. It's definitely better than that of its predecessor: Lumia 1320. The ClearBlack technology definitely shows and you will enjoy very good black and white levels. It has good contrast and color reproduction, decent viewing angles and it benefits a lot from the ambient light sensor. You will have no troubles when using it outdoors. As mentioned earlier, the display doesn't have super sensitive touch and you can't use it while wearing gloves.
The buttons on the right side of this smartphone are very easily accessible even though the phone is quite large. However, they feel a bit rigid and you have to press a little bit harder in order for them to respond to your commands. Considering the fact that this is an affordable smartphone for business users, we are generally pleased by the build quality offered by the Microsoft Lumia 640 XL. Its strong point is the quality of the display and the weak point is the lack of hardware buttons, especially the one for the camera.
The Smartphone Experience On Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
The phone experience on the Microsoft Lumia 640 XL is quite good. The quality of our audio conversations was always good. The voice on the other end was loud, crisp and clear and the other party always heard us well. The speaker on the Lumia 640 XL is quite loud and good for a smartphone. If you would like to use it to listen to music or watch videos, you won't be disappointed. The large screen is especially good for watching video. We also used our own headphones and we were again satisfied by the quality of the audio experience that's offered by Lumia 640 XL. The operating system offers several audio enhancements like virtual surround and an equalizer. Both do a good job at enhancing your audio experience. The operating system works very well on the Lumia 640 XL. There we no hiccups in our testing and all the apps ran smoothly. The only app we had trouble with was the MultiBench 2 benchmark app that did not finish its tests successfully the first few times we tested it. After a couple of runs it did work and then we had no issues with it at all. Games will also run well on this smartphone as it offers the hardware you need to run anything that's available for Windows Phone. Business users will enjoy features like the built-in VPN access, the possibility to add their workplace accounts, the possibility to project their screens to displays that have Miracast support and so on. The Glance screen is also a plus. Windows Phone users really appreciate this feature and you will be happy to learn that it is available for Lumia 640 XL and it is as configurable as ever.
The only important downside we found is the software buttons for Back, Home and Search. They are sometimes buggy and hard to bring up on the screen. The hardware buttons are so much better and it is unfortunate that they are missing.
The 3000 mAh battery is truly impressive, as you will see both in our benchmarks later on, as well as in real life. If you are not using this smartphone a lot, the battery can last you up to two days. In most cases, you won't have issues going through a full day without charging it, even if you use it quite a lot. Another upside is the fact that the battery is removable so you can always buy a spare and change it when it runs dry.
Overall, Microsoft Lumia 640 XL offers a very good smartphone experience, especially if you consider its price. You get a good quality screen that's quite large, good audio, a snappy operating system and very good battery life. One downside is the buggy software buttons that replaced the hardware ones.
The Camera Experience On The Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
The main camera on the Lumia 640 XL benefits from its 13 megapixels and Carl ZEISS optics. It doesn't include the PureView technology and other more advanced tech that's found on the Lumia 830 or Lumia 930 but it is a good camera nonetheless. For its price, you will have a hard time finding a better camera. In the gallery below you have several picture samples that were taken with the Auto settings, on a very bright sunny day in Bucharest, Romania. The gallery also includes a couple of selfies taken with the front camera.
As you will see, the selfies look OK. The front camera is decent but not spectacular in any way. It works well also for video conferencing. The videos are OK too, especially if you are not filming very dynamic scenarios. Below you can see a video of a landscape.
And here see you can see a video of traffic in a busy city area.
The video recording is good in general but the lack of image stabilization will be noticed in more action-oriented scenarios.
Microsoft Lumia 640 XL features one of the best cameras you will find in its price range. If it only had a hardware button to start the camera, it would have been perfect.