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Microsoft Lumia 640 XL review

Michael Sawh

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Reviewed:

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Summary

Our Score:

7

User Score:

Pros

  • Great battery life
  • Solid all-round camera
  • Slick overall performance

Cons

  • Too big to use in one hand
  • Windows Store content lags behind rivals
  • Get better value for money elsewhere

Key Features

  • 5.7-inch 720p HD IPS LCD screen
  • 8MP main camera
  • 5MP wideangle front-facing camera
  • 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400
  • Large removable 3,000mAh battery with wireless charging
  • microSD memory expansion up to 128GB
  • Microsoft Office preinstalled
  • Upgradable to Windows 10
  • Manufacturer: Microsoft
  • Review Price: £185.00

What is the Microsoft Lumia 640 XL?

The Microsoft Lumia XL is essentially a super-sized version of the Lumia 640. It has a huge Note 4-rivalling 5.7-inch screen, more megapixels and a bigger battery to play with than the smaller 640. Elsewhere, it’s much of the same. It runs on Windows Phone 8.1 Denim, comes with 4G and features the loudest look you can find on any smartphone right now.

Priced at £219 SIM-free, the phablet is competing with the likes of the Huawei Ascend G7 and the Alcatel One Touch Idol. That also puts it firmly in OnePlus One pricing territory.

If having a cheap phone with a massive screen is a priority, we’d say there are better options out there. If you’re specifically after a Windows Phone, then the 640 XL will have some appeal, but you could save some money going for the 640 and not miss out on a great deal features-wise.

SEE ALSO: Best Budget Phones

Microsoft Lumia 640 XL – Design

The 640 XL is a big phone. We’re talking in the Nexus 6 realms here. If people don’t notice it when you pull it out of your pocket, then they’ll most certainly spot it if you go for the model with the almost neon orange case. There are more conservative colours to go for instead, but the combination of the two make it a little embarrassing to take out and make a call.

It’s hard work using this in one hand as well. At 9mm thick, it’s slightly chunkier than the 640 (8.8mm), and about the same width across as the Nexus 6. Stretching your thumb to the side of the screen is impossible for the average-sized hand.

It’s a shame really, because Microsoft does a sound job with the build quality. There’s no creaking in the plastic design and no annoying gaps in between the screen and the trim to trap dust and pocket fluff. The blocky look is minimal and we like it. Microsoft has opted against physical buttons below the screen, while the volume rocker and standby button are easy to reach when gripping the handset. All that’s left is the headphone jack on the top edge and the Micro USB charging port on the bottom edge.

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The brightly coloured removable back has an entirely different finish to the glossy one on the 640 and it’s a good change. It’s the same matte plastic as the Lumia 930, and it’s much nicer to grip than the smaller 640. The Microsoft logo, the tiny speaker and slightly protruding camera lens are the only things breaking up an otherwise streamlined body.

Behind the clip-on back lies the 3,000mAh battery, which is removable if you like the idea of carrying around a spare. Unlike the 640, there’s no wireless charging support, but that’s not a massive loss when you consider that charging rates are still pretty slow in comparison to simply plugging it into the mains.

There’s also a Micro SIM card slot and a microSD card slot, which will come in handy when you discover there’s considerably less than the advertised 8GB onboard storage to play with. Microsoft is offering dual-SIM options as well, but the second port on our model was blocked up, so it's likely to be offered in different territories.

If Microsoft had dealt with the jump in size a little better, we could almost live with the high-vis paint job. That’s because elsewhere Microsoft has kept things simple. From a practicality point of view, though, it sadly doesn’t really cut it.

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Microsoft Lumia 640 XL – Screen

The Lumia 640 XL is packing a flat 720p HD resolution IPS LCD screen with Gorilla Glass 3 to add a layer of durability. The similarly sized (and priced) OnePlus One will get you a Full HD screen, so you can get sharper screen resolution elsewhere. Compared to the majority of mid-range smartphones, this is pretty much the norm for resolution and it’s still a great 720p phone screen.

The 259ppi pixel density means a drop down in clarity from the 640, but you’d be hard pressed to spot any individual pixels or fuzziness on the bigger screen. It’s still sharp, colours are accurate and generally a nice place for browsing and watching video. It’s bright as well, viewing angles are strong and you shouldn’t have a problem seeing it at night.

Microsoft uses the same ‘ClearBlack’ screen technology Nokia introduced to its Lumia range a few years ago. The biggest benefits here are the black levels and contrast ratio performance you normally associate with AMOLED screens. While we wouldn’t say they match the Note 4's AMOLED performance, it’s still a very impressive performer for the price.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

himanshu

March 3, 2015, 4:58 am

I am surprised to see you say that back camera is only 8MP. from all other sources, I get that it is a 13Mp shooter with Zeiss lens having an aperture of f2.0 and snsor size of 1/3". That makes it a pretty good camera. I wonder how many people will prefer OneplusOne over this, given Microsoft brand vs. the Oppo brand.

the_droids_we're_looking_for

March 5, 2015, 12:02 am

"but this new offering from Nokia definitely looks like it could be worth a closer look."
Well, it's Microsoft now. I think I will definitely check out this phone as I am getting very tired of Android. It's just a beautiful phone that seems to perform well and most importantly features a removable battery and SD card support. Well done Nokia, eh Microsoft.

the_droids_we're_looking_for

March 5, 2015, 12:06 am

They got it right in the video, it's 13MP.

zeroxp

April 10, 2015, 4:38 am

How trusted is this review?
Camera is 13MP not 8MP,
Can be charged wirelessly - No it can't,
3G version is €219 not LTE,
It's Microsoft not Nokia anymore.

Luthando Lukhozi

April 25, 2015, 8:39 am

If they get wrong things like the megapixels of a phone camera, then this review shouldn't be trusted.
Why would they say it's 8mp, when it has a back 13mp?
I'll go for another review!

Sam Smith

May 6, 2015, 2:39 pm

Carl Scheisse optics? Is that true or not?

AHYL88

June 10, 2015, 10:05 pm

I'll have to admit, I was expecting a better score for this. When it first came out, I thought it'd do really well and walk it like the standard 640, since it's one of the rare phones that comes close to beating or matching the Moto G 2nd Gen. But ever since the OnePlus One had its recent price cut, the 640 XL doesn't stand much of a chance, which is a shame as I do like what both versions of the 640 offers.

Aaron Abraham

September 24, 2015, 2:51 pm

6/10 for software and value while giving only 7/10 for its camera which despite the budgetery constrictions is still vgood is a bit low for me.

Aaron Abraham

September 24, 2015, 2:51 pm

Zeiss optics is true.

Milan Anshuman

December 24, 2015, 7:49 am

Dear its 13 MP Carl Zeiss Camera NOT 8 MP.
Check your Key Features.

Ade

February 19, 2016, 4:14 pm

I have had this phone for a little while and it is really good value if you like big screens and 4G with a nice camera, cost me £159.00 unlocked. Why do people go on about the windows phone not having many apps? there are way to many for me, all kinds of apps like facebook twitter and thousands more besides.

Julio Avalos

March 4, 2016, 11:19 pm

Can you tell me more details about the camera?. Is it a realiable phone in terms of price? Thanks

himanshu

March 7, 2016, 4:12 am

Well, I have been using this phone since a few days after its launch in India. I don't fully understand the term 'reliable' here. In my experience it has never deserted me in any way. It does not get hung, overheated and even the battery is good for one whole day of heavy use and even two days of light to moderate use.
With regards to the camera, it cannot be compared to Galaxy S6 or iPhone cameras. But is better than rest of the pack. I don't have a first hand experience of camera quality of latest Sony or HTC phones though. The point simply is that it is not in the league of 'flagship' phones but in this price, you won't find better picture quality than this.

Julio Avalos

March 7, 2016, 7:14 pm

With the word "reliable" I meant "trustworthy" :)
Thanks for your opinion.
Greetings from Peru.

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