"The Lumia 640 is a big improvement over its predecessor, but can it stand up to the competition? Our review has the answer"
Microsoft’s new duo of mid-range smartphones, the Lumia 640 XL and Lumia 640 recently went on sale in India. While the former is targeted at Windows Phone users looking for a big-screen smartphone, the Lumia 640 caters to more conventional tastes with its compact 5-inch display. The two devices are very similar, sharing the same processor, memory, storage and screen resolution. The main differences lie in their screen size, cameras, battery, and of course, price. We’ve already explored the Lumia 640 XL in detail through our review, camera review and FAQs. For the Lumia 640, we’re going to take a look at how it stacks up against its bigger sibling, as well as the Android competition.
Looking at both smartphones side by side, the Lumia 640 looks like a shrunken version of its bigger sibling. Design-wise, they're both identical. The front of the smartphone features the secondary camera, Microsoft logo, earpiece and sensors above the display. The chin is bare except for the primary microphone, since the phone incorporates a virtual navigation bar on the screen. The port and button placement is a standard affair, with the 3.5mm audio jack on top, the micro-USB port at the bottom and the volume rocker and power button on the right.
The back panel is removable, and comes in the same colour options of white, black, orange and cyan. Towards the top of the rear shell you’ll find the primary camera and LED flash, and a Microsoft logo at the centre. The loudspeaker placement is slightly different, moving from the top to the bottom.
The back panel can be easily removed to reveal the 2,500mAh user-replaceable battery, dual micro-SIM card slots and the microSD card slot.
Powering the Lumia 640 is the same configuration of a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, paired with 1GB of RAM. There’s an identical 8GB of internal storage, expandable up to 128GB via microSD. On a fresh reboot, you get 3.63GB of free storage, which is on par with what the Lumia 640 XL offers. In terms of performance, the Lumia 640 is able to handle day-to-day tasks with ease, and is capable enough for most casual users.
It can play 720p videos without any hiccups, and handles graphics-heavy games like Asphalt 8: Airborne without any lags or stutters to mar the experience. Unfortunately, it displays the same sluggishness as the Lumia 640 XL when it comes to multi-tasking and opening apps.
Both the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL run Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2 with Lumia Denim. As we mentioned in our Lumia 640 XL review, Update 2 brings with it an improved settings menu which now organises the various options under category heads. There’s also a new App Permissions setting which lets you control what permissions apps have access to. The pre-loaded content is also the same, with several third-party apps and the usual Microsoft additions present. The Lumia 640 also features SensorCore technology, which tracks your motion, distance, location and more to transmit fitness and activity data to compatible apps.
The Lumia 640 is a dual-SIM device with dual-standby. It supports 3G networks on both SIMs, and lacks 4G compatibility just like its bigger sibling. Other connectivity options like Wi-Fi, DLNA, Bluetooth and GPS are standard across both devices, with the only difference being that the Lumia 640 misses out on NFC support, a feature that the 640 XL has.
The Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL both feature HD resolution screens, but on the latter’s large 5.7-inch display, this translated into a lower pixel density, and subsequently compromised sharpness. On the Lumia 640’s smaller 5-inch display, you get a decent pixel density of 294ppi. The differences are clearly visible, with the 640's display looking much sharper than that on the 640 XL. The screen responsiveness, viewing angles and sunlight legibility however, are on par with the Lumia 640 XL. Both displays offer ClearBlack technology, Gorilla Glass 3 protection and the Glance Screen feature.
The Lumia 640 features a 2,500mAh battery, as compared to the larger 3,000mAh unit on the 640 XL. Despite the smaller capacitiy, we found that the phone easily lasts until the end of the day with regular usage comprising of an hour or so of phone calls, WhatsApp, social networking and gaming. While the 640 XL often lasted us into the next day, the Lumia 640 will need to be refuelled every night.
One of the biggest differences between the two Lumias is in their camera department. The Lumia 640 XL is considerably well endowed with its 13MP primary snapper and 5MP wide-angle front shooter. The Lumia 640 in comparison, downgrades to an 8MP camera at the rear, and a 0.9MP camera in the front. The primary camera takes good photos in daylight, with natural colours and good sharpness. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the low-light prowess of its bigger sibling, with images shot in darker environments appearing very grainy. The front camera can take a usable selfies in natural light, but results are often noisy and lack detail. In terms of the camera software, you get the usual Lumia Camera app packed with Rich Capture, Dynamic Flash and Living Images features, just like the 640 XL.
Here are some image samples taken with the primary camera.
When you compare the Lumia 640 to its predecessor, the Lumia 630 (review), it's apparent that Microsoft has worked on improving the specs of its affordable line-up. It’s priced at Rs 11,999, which is almost the same price the Lumia 630 was launched for last year, but manages to pack in a better display, camera and battery, among other upgrades. But what Microsoft hasn't taken into consideration is the competition. At a time when Android manufacturers are vying to offer their smartphones at the lowest rates possible, Microsoft has stuck to more premium pricing. The Lumia 640 is significantly more expensive than its closest rivals, the Lenovo A6000 Plus and Xiaomi Redmi 2, which are both priced below Rs 8,000. For it to have been a truly competitive product, we felt a price below the Rs 10,000 mark would have been appropriate.
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