Big screen smartphones at affordable price points have continued to drive the growth of phablet category in many markets of mobile industry. Some phablets are merely over blown versions of their standard size smartphone siblings while other have compromises in specifications and performance for sticking out to their affordable price label thus sacrificing “bigger is better” consensus in smartphone world.
Microsoft have positioned Lumia 640 XL in dead center to above two extreme ends of affordable phablet category product line. Lumia 640 XL retains most of the design from its regular size sibling Lumia 640 while at the same time actually being true to “bigger is better” with extended battery life, higher quality camera and user experience aspects with lesser compromises in key areas. I’d like to thanks Microsoft Mobile India and perfect relations team for lending me the review device for 3 weeks trial period.
5.7″ IPS 720p with ClearBlack display technology protected by Gorilla Glass 3
1.2 GHz quad-core Cortex-A7 CPU, Adreno 305 GPU, Snapdragon 400 chipset, 1GB of RAM
Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Denim, Windows 10 update coming by end of this year
13MP autofocus camera, LED flash, 1080p video recording @30fps
5MP front-facing camera, 1080p video
8GB of inbuilt storage, microSD card slot, up to 128GB
30GB of free OneDrive storage
3,000mAh Li-Ion battery
Lumia 640 XL is available in variety of colors and finishes such as matte cyan, matte orange, matte black, matte white, and glossy white. I have tested the matte cyan version which is really great looking and has firmed grip on hands.
Design and Build:
Microsoft have gone with simpler design approach with the 640 XL as the corners are rounded and a bit less curvy back in comparison with Nokia Lumia’s very attractive and popular fabula design with rounded corners and pillow like curvy back. Nonetheless, the quality of polycarbonate material and really great matte finish makes Lumia 640 XL not only nice to look at from distance and nearby but also feels very solid in the hands.
Lumia 640 XL measures in 157.9 x 81.5 x 9 mm with 171 gm in weight, which is neither too big or too chunky in comparison with similar display size phablets. Unfortunately, the 640 XL doesn’t feature dedicated camera shutter physical button which is present in all upper mid range and high end Lumia devices
The display is 5.7 inch in size which is sweet spot nowadays with such phablet devices, though with only HD resolution at around about 259 PPI and of IPS lcd technology. Full HD display would have been great for such screen size but because of its affordable price tag it misses out sadly. Fortunately with clearblack display polarized filter technology and Lumia color profiles, the display is quite sharp, colorful and easily view-able in any time of the day and even in bright sunshine outdoors.
640 XL features unique low power display notification called Glance, which is quite useful in quick glancing of time and notifications without unlocking the phone through gestures. 640 XL also has double tap to unlock and double tap on virtual buttons to lock the device, quite handy features for its affordable price!
User experience and UI:
640 XL is among few Lumia devices running Windows Phone 8.1 update 2 with Lumia Denim custom firmware. The update 2 brings mainly two big features: organized settings menu with category-wise list options and tighter app privacy options with apps accessibility control options such as microphone, camera, contacts and other privacy focused parameters.
Apart from few changes, the Windows Phone 8.1 update 2 ui is as same as the 8.1, faster, smoother and rock solid stable.
Also its worth mentioning that, Lumia 640 XL will be included in the first wave roll out of Windows 10 Mobile end of this year, which introduce awesome ui changes such as more number of tiles and tiles sizes on home screen, transparency tiles slider and support for full background images and other cool changes. Below is one such example of cool customization capability of tiles-homescreen on Windows Mobile 10.
Snapdragon 400 SoC with 1 GB of ram is sufficient enough to keep Lumia 640 XL smooth and fast in performing simple tasks. Though the gpu is bit old which means graphic intensive games like Asphalt 8 and others run bit slow with drop of frames here and there as well as “loading” lag while accessing rich capture edits and navigating through other resources heavy apps and games.
Overall, I’d rate 640 XL slightly above average in terms of the performance compare to similarly priced devices from competition thanks to optimized Windows Phone 8.1 os for low end processors.
I would definitely rate Lumia 640 XL’s 13 Megapixels camera above average compare to similar price points devices from competition as the 13 Megapixel shooter with Lumia’s wel-known Imaging algorithms and advanced Lumia camera app delivers great performance in good lighting conditions and acceptable in low light scenarios looking at its price point. Lumia 640 XL ‘s selfie camera is also quite good with 5 Megapixels and offers great quality.
Lumia camera’s user interface is simple to use and offer variety of manual controls such as focus, white balance, iso, exposure and others.
Lumia Camera’s the best feature: Rich capture (with dynamic flash and auto hdr) is pleasantly included in the 640 XL which puts the XL two steps above competition for imaging performance.
Auto HDR and Dynamic flash are the most useful camera features I have ever used on smartphones as they help to capture best shot in tricky lightning conditions as well as enable capturing images of highly dynamic colors for adding artistic feel.
There is also a cool feature integrated into camera roll called “Living Images” which displays a small animation of 2-3 seconds of preview before the storing of image captured while scrolling through captured images. Living Images has been there on Windows Phone platform since 2014 with Lumia Denim, it is superior to Apple’s live photos in user experience point of view as live photo requires steady holding of phone for 2-3 seconds even after capturing of image while Living Image doesn’t require that.
640 XL can capture videos up to 1080p resolution at 30 fps with mono sound. I found video recording quality to be slightly above average and bit less staler compare to its image capturing. You can check out sample photos captured by me with Lumia 640 XL below.
640 XL provides rich multimedia experience thanks to its massive 5.7 inch screen with great sharpness and vibrant colors for nice videos and movie watching experience. For music listening, I would rate it as ok in terms of its loudspeaker output but excellent sound output when headphones plugged in, thanks to its variety of graphic equalizer and surround sound experience.
Video playback is also smoother with up to 1080p resolution support and now with 8.1 update 2 release the default video player supports the playback of mkv video files out of the box. I would also recommend some powerful and free 3rd party video players such as Omni Mplayer and VLC player for Windows Phone.
Lumia 640 provides excellent battery life of 1.5 days for normal usage and about a full day for occasional heavy usage.
I was greatly impressed with Lumia 640 XL in terms of the build quality, strikingly cool cyan color with grippy matte finish, high contrast 5.7 inch display and finally the great camera experience especially in terms of the cool addition of Rich capture.
Performance was mostly nice and it didn’t degrade with increasing number of applications installed in storage. The battery life was slightly above average though I expected bit more.
So I’d definitely recommend Lumia 640 XL for anyone looking for a great big screen smartphone experience at an affordable price.