Lumia 640 review: Lumia’s latest great midrange device

The Lumia 640 is the latest midrange phone from Microsoft and it’s important to clarify that this phone deserves to be called a mid-range phone and not be mixed up with the new Lumia 540 and Lumia 435. In addition to a jump in features such as Glance Screen, NFC, and SensorCore, you also get a solid processor, battery, and 4G connectivity. I’ve used the Lumia 640 as my primary phone for about a month now and here’s my review.

Body

The first thing I noticed with this device is how good it feels in your hands. In my unboxing video I pointed out how thin and light the device was and after using it for a month that’s become even more clear. It feels very natural in your hand and is never cumbersome.

Lumia 640 rounded edges

The shape of the device feels smooth as well. The rounded edges and corners allow it to fit comfortably in your hand and the size is just right for me.

Lumia 640 buttons

In terms of looks you can get it in a few colors including the bright orange that I chose, blue which while being labeled cyan is darker than I expected, black, and white. The volume rocker and power button are black that match the Microsoft logo and form an attractive contrast with the main body color.

There are no hardware navigation buttons on the device. The back, start, and search “button” are on the touch screen itself. They can be shown or hidden by swiping from the bottom. They take a bit of getting used to if you’re coming from a phone with dedicated buttons but it’s likely a matter of preference.

Performance and Internals

The Lumia 640 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor that clocks 1.2 Ghz. It also has 1GB of RAM so you aren’t limited in your choice of apps. I had no trouble running the vast majority of my applications on the device. Even heavier duty apps such as Slingplayer performed well. The only times I ever felt lag was when I was doing photo editing. That isn’t a feature I use often but when I did use it, it was noticeably slow.

The Lumia 640 matches higher ended Lumia such as the 735 and 830 when it comes to RAM and processing speed so you can feel comfortable running just about anything you throw at it. Though the Lumia 640 only comes with 8GB of internal storage that’s expandable with a MicroSD card. I did this myself since just the system apps take up 3.52GB for me. With Windows Phone you can store music, videos, podcasts, photos, apps and downloads on a MicrosSD card which is a great way to make sure you have enough storage.

Display and Touch Screen

The Lumia 640 sports a 5 inch 1280×720 screen which comes to a pixel density of 294 ppi. Generally speaking the screen is good enough that you rarely have a complaint. There’s a wide color spectrum and pictures look good on it. There are occasional times that text appears pixelated and diagonals weren’t smooth but that’s only some of the time and only on a few of the applications or webpages I use, namely MSN News and Sport, and NextGen Reader and the Discus loading circle on WinBeta.

If you’re switching from the higher end screens on the market such as the Lumia 930 or Android and iPhone flagships you’ll notice a change but that’s a completely unfair comparison if you consider the price difference between devices.

The display isn’t a selling point of the Lumia 640 but to the vast majority of buyers it shouldn’t be much of a deterrent.

Usually I wouldn’t include touch screen in a review but there are a few things worth noting. The back, start, and search buttons being on the bottom of the touch screen do take getting used to and I found the back button less fluid than the dedicated buttons on my Lumia 930. Additionally there were times that trying to touch a small item on the screen such as the favorite button on Tweetium that I had to make sure I was careful to touch exactly where the phone wanted. I wouldn’t say that it’s a bad thing as much as a very minor inconvenience. The issues only seemed to be there at the very edges of the screen.

Battery Life

Battery life may be one of the greatest deciding factors when purchasing a phone. Your phone can have more RAM than a computer or the Hubble Telescope as a camera but if it dies while you’re still out, it doesn’t do you any good. There are ways to handle bad battery life such as external batteries or plugging your phone in frequently but the easiest and least stressful is to just have a phone with good battery life.

Lumia 640 battery life

The Lumia 640 delivers on this front and then some. I averaged 15 hours and 30 minutes of battery life in my testing that included 39 charges. That’s enough to carry someone from leaving the house for work at 6:30am all the way to 10pm without needing to recharge. Your own personal use may vary but my girlfriend wrote a piece for us where she exchanged her iPhone 5 for this Lumia 640 and she had the same, if not better, results.

It has a 2500 mAh battery, the biggest of the latest Lumia line that isn’t a phablet, and it shows.

If you prefer hard number analytics instead of personal use tests, Microsoft lists the Lumia 640 as having 10.8 hours of “max Wi-Fi browsing time” compared to Lumia’s best scorer on that analytic, the Lumia 830, which gets 14 hours, and the worst performer, the Lumia 1020, which gets 6.7 hours.

Camera

There are two camera on the Lumia 640, the main 8 megapixel camera on the back and the 0.9 megapixel front facing camera. There isn’t a dedicated camera button but you can have camera as one of your shortcuts to make accessing it quicker and easier.

Street art in Nottingham

The main rear facing camera performs very well. As you can see in the photo above of a man making art on the street, the main camera shows high amounts of detail and allowed me to get a great shot to share. They say the best camera is the one that you use and for many of us that’s our mobile phones. Everyday shots on the Lumia 640 look great and with the Lumia camera app and Rich Capture it’s easy to get solid shots with a good amount of control.

The front facing or ‘selfie’ camera at only 0.9 MP yields better pictures that I expected. While some close up photos and Skyping can seem grainy, longer shots show of the background well enough to share with your friends and family, as an example you can see me below by the Nottingham City council building.

Selfie by Nottingham city council building

Front facing camera demands vary from person to person. If you’re looking for a way to show your mates where you’ve been and don’t need high amounts of detail, then the 640 is just fine. If you need really high quality from your front facing camera for Skype and Instagram then the 640 doesn’t stand up against its cousins the Lumia 540, Lumia 640 XL, and the Lumia 735 which sport Lumia’s oft advertised 5 MP front facing cameras.

Call quality

While it may not be the primary use for mobile devices, they are at heart, a phone. The call quality on the Lumia 640 is crystal clear and quite impressive. If you’re going to use the phone for calls or Skype you’ll be clear to the person on the other end and hear them clearly as well. It may not seem like a big deal but if call quality was ignored on newer smart devices it would be frustrating for a lot of users.

Final Thoughts

Overall I love this device. It’s sleek, light, and performs well in just about every area I need a phone to. I can honestly say that I’m surprised I got this nice of a phone for only £120 (about $180).

There were a few minor issues that I didn’t love such as the edges of the touch screen and rendering texts on a few select apps but those don’t affect my view of the phone negatively that much.

It’s a solid device for anyone who wants a smartphone but doesn’t need some of the luxury features such as a massive megapixel camera.

Where I think this device would really shine is with parents shopping for their children. The push to get the latest and often ridiculously priced smartphone can be very high with kids. If you’re a parent looking for an inexpensive smartphone that looks nice and performs well for your child and will last them all day then this is definitely a device to look at.

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