|Style & Handling|
|+ Low price||- Weak front-facing camera|
|+ Great screen||- Limited storage|
|+ Good extras||- Dated processor|
Verdict: With a big screen and a low price the Lumia 640 makes a great first impression, but does that impression last?
There are so many affordable Lumia phones now that choosing between them can be a minefield, though given that most of them are actually pretty good they don’t make for particularly dangerous mines.
Still, some are better than others and the £129.99 Lumia 640 look like it could well be one of the best yet, with a big 720p screen, 4G and some generous extras bundled in with it. So is the Lumia 640 the phone to go for? Read on to find out.Design
The design of the Microsoft Lumia 640 could prove divisive, but it at least stands up to other affordable Lumia phones, which make up its main competition.
Its plain plastic shell is a little uninspiring and with such a similar look to most other Lumia phones it’s hardly unique either, though the range still manages to stand out from any non-Lumia phone, so no-one is going to mistake this for a Samsung.
It’s also quite colourful, with cyan and orange options, though you can opt for white or black if you’d prefer and as the back is removable you can always swap it for a different colour if you want a change.
It feels well put together and solid too and while at 8.8mm thick it’s not slim, it’s not fat either. At this price plastic is almost a given and the Lumia 640 isn’t an unattractive phone, but if you’re bored of the Lumia look this won’t change your mind.Screen
The 5.0-inch 720 x 1280 IPS LCD screen on the Microsoft Lumia 640 makes a great impression, it’s got a pixel density of 294 pixels per inch, which is a match for the second generation Moto G- a phone we’re huge fans of.
While we’re tempted to say a slightly smaller, sharper screen would have been preferable this is great for anyone who wants a fairly big display. It also displays colours accurately, though it’s not the brightest screen around, which means it’s not ideal for use outdoors.Power
There’s a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor powering the Microsoft Lumia 640. That’s ok, in fact it’s once again a match for the Moto G, but in both cases it’s less powerful than we’d like. It’s an entry-level chip and a slightly dated one at that as it’s been superseded by the 64-bit Snapdragon 410.
Despite that though performance is generally fairly slick and is aided by 1GB of RAM. Put it side by side with a more powerful phone and you’ll notice apps take slightly longer to load and the whole thing isn’t quite as smooth, but used in isolation it generally feels fine.
It also supports 4G, which is an ever more vital feature now that there are widespread 4G networks in the UK.Camera
The Microsoft Lumia 640 has an 8 megapixel camera on the back, which is a spec we’re increasingly starting to see at this sort of price but is still fairly impressive, allowing it to take detailed photos and it even fares reasonably well in darker environments, with photos displaying less noise than you might expect.
The 1 megapixel camera on the front is less impressive though. It’s just about forgivable at this price but it’s not really up to much. You won’t want to use it for more than the occasional selfie or profile picture.Interface
Like all recent Windows Phone handsets the Lumia 640 runs Windows Phone 8.1 and it also comes with the Lumia Denim update pre-installed. As such you get Microsoft’s distinctive live-tile focussed interface, the Cortana voice assistant and Action Centre, where you can quickly access notifications and tweak settings.
It’s an intuitive system and not lacking for features, though the Windows Phone Store isn’t as well stocked with apps as rival services.
On a more positive note you can look forward to Windows 10 making its way to the phone once it launches.Features
We’ve covered most of the features of the phone itself but when you buy the Lumia 640 you don’t just get the phone, you also get a one year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 Personal.
This gives you full access to all of Microsoft’s Office software and not just on the phone, but also on a PC and a tablet. Plus you get 1TB of OneDrive storage, which should be enough to keep just about all of your files and media in the cloud. The subscription also includes 60 minutes of free Skype calls each month.
So that’s a whole lot of added value. In fact that one year subscription has an RRP of £60 on its own, so it’s not bad at all as an extra with an already affordable phone.Battery Life, Memory and Connectivity
There’s a 2500 mAh battery in the Lumia 640, which delivers adequate but not amazing life. Like most phones at around this price you’ll get through a day on a single charge with moderate use, but not much more than that.
If anything it’s slightly above average though, as with lighter use, for example using the phone for a few calls and a bit of social networking but largely leaving it alone, you could get closer to two days.
There’s just 8GB of storage, which again is a common sight when spending less than £200, but it’s not really enough, especially as some of that is used up by the operating system. There is at least a microSD card slot though and it supports cards of up to 128GB, for massive expansion.
Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC, which makes for a pretty good selection.Conclusion
There’s no such thing as a perfect phone, let alone a perfect budget one, since in cutting the cost specs and features inevitably get cut too, but the Microsoft Lumia 640 gets pretty close to what you could realistically hope for from a £130 phone.
It has a big HD screen, a solid build, 4G, decent battery life and an enormously generous selection of extras. The processor is a bit dated but it still runs well, the front-facing camera is weak but the rear one impresses and it’s got a lot of longevity thanks to the promise of an update to Windows 10.
But the best thing we can say in its favour is that you probably won’t find a better phone for the money and almost certainly not a better Windows Phone. The second generation Moto G gives it a run for its money if you’re ok with Android, but even then this does a great job of standing up to it.
Microsoft Lumia 640 Specification