The first Lumia phone to bear Microsoft’s name after it bought Nokia back in 2013 was a huge disappointment, and we were worried we might never see a decent Lumia Windows phone ever again. Indeed, the company’s latest efforts, the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, have been equally underwhelming.
Thankfully, its entry-level Lumia 640 (in addition to the excellent Lumia 640 XL) is the shining light in its Windows phone portfolio, and is arguably still the best Windows phone you can buy today. It’s getting on a bit, having been originally released in 2015, but you can still pick one up for around £125 SIM-free from Debenhams, or as little as
, making it a great buy even today.
It’s a big step up from its 4.5in predecessor, the Lumia 630, as it now has a huge 5in screen with a 1,280×720 resolution. It’s still available in the same eye-popping shade of orange, though, along with a gorgeous new cyan shade seen here. There are also more traditional white and black models, but unlike the glossy orange and blue, these have a matt finish. We’d actually prefer to see them all with a matt chassis, as our glossy review sample quickly became a magnet for fingerprints and felt quite slippery around the back.
That said, the Lumia 640 is still a beautifully made phone. Measuring 141x72x8.8mm, it’s pleasingly slim and its angular edges allow you to grip it securely even when you’re using it single-handed. It’s a much smarter handset than its overly chunky plastic predecessor, and it’s easily as good looking as its more expensive big brother, the Lumia 735.
The display also looks fantastic. This is thanks in part to Microsoft’s ClearBlack IPS display, as the Start screen’s dark inky black background almost blends seamlessly into the phone’s surrounding bezel. It’s not completely perfect, as our colour calibrator measured a black level of 0.34cd/m2, but there’s no denying it’s pleasing to the eye.
Colour accuracy was equally impressive, as previous Lumia phones tended to fall down here. The Lumia 630, for instance, only covered 84.9% of the sRGB colour gamut, but the Lumia 640 sailed past this with a very evenly spread 90.7%, leading to more natural looking images. Colours were perhaps a little flat compared to some of the more saturated screens you’ll find on Android handsets, but we were very pleased with the overall quality of our test images.
The only downside is that the screen isn’t particularly bright. With a peak white level of 376.11cd/m2, you’ll need to keep it on maximum brightness when using the phone outside, but Auto and the Medium brightness profile were perfectly adequate for using indoors. Each brightness profile is fully adjustable, too, so you can easily tweak each setting should you want to conserve a bit more energy. Contrast was also a little low at 833:1, but this is to be expected on a lower-end smartphone, and there was still plenty of detail present in our test images.
We were pleased to see the Lumia 640’s big screen didn’t put too much of a strain on the 2,500mAh battery either. While it couldn’t match the 12 hours we saw on the Lumia 630, its score of 10h 11m in our continuous video playback test is still more than acceptable for such a cheap handset.
The one disappointing thing about the Lumia 640 is Microsoft’s decision to stick with last year’s quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset instead of the newer Snapdragon 410. It’s not much of an issue in daily use, though, as Windows Phone 8.1 is still plenty fast enough, with smooth menu transitions and quick loading times.
It didn’t score particularly highly in our BrowserMark test, scoring just 510, but in practice we had few complaints when browsing the web. We were able to scroll up and down pages virtually judder free and pinch-zooming worked much more effectively than the disastrous Lumia 535. It was still a little tricky to pan round the page, but the phone as a whole is much less frustrating to use. Continues on Page 2
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