Review: Microsoft 640XL: Size and other matters!

| Updated on: Apr 15, 2015




Microsoft is trying to bring back Nokia’s USP in the build quality and pricing of the new 640 and 640XL. Will that click?

Microsoft's 640 XL, at 5.7 inches, is a phablet. But the difference between Android and Windows phablets is huge and we don’t mean just the display size. This could be mainly because of the design philosophy- what was once called 'Metro' or modern design language. The entire 5.7-inch screen is filled with Live tiles, and the very nature of the tile design (with hardly any space between tiles) makes the UI look imposing on the large screen. The screen has a 1280x720p screen with 259 ppi pixel density. This does not make a big difference unless we compare it with phones with higher resolution. Also remember that this is a mid-range phone.

Bigger and better?

The phone looks and feels huge. It is much bigger than the Samsung Note 3, which also has a 5.7-inch screen. Accessing spreadsheets is a joy on this device, but will users be ready to use it as their default phone for talking and texting? The size certainly makes it a little cumbersome to hold and talk. The matted cover ensures there are no smudges even after repeated handling.

Removing the cover could be cumbersome as there is no indicator or groove to pull it out. We had to take the manual's help to find out the correct spot to lift the cover out without damaging the cover or the screen. It turned out that we had to apply slight pressure to and pull the cover after prying it off the edges. The removable battery is one of the largest we have seen in a phone and is almost the size of a small phone! There are two SIM slots and a microSD slot. Again, there is no groove to pull out the battery (to insert the SIMs and microSD card) and we had to take extra care to ensure we didn't damage the battery.

The phone has 8GB of memory (extendable up to 128 GB) and 1GB of RAM. Though others in this price range come even with 2 GB RAM, the Windows Mobile OS does a fairly good job without cornering all the RAM.

The build quality is top-notch and the ergonomics is great, something Nokia (now Microsoft) has come to be known for. The 15 MP camera protrudes a little, so protecting it maybe a good idea. The 640 XL comes with the Windows 8.1 Update 2. It is mainly visible in the Settings menu where instead of the usual tabbed menu, we have one long menu, with a search option. It is also possible to pin a settings option to the home screen (a long press brings up the pin option).

Ups and downs

There is no dedicated camera key (like in Lumia 1020). The easiest way to access the camera(s) is to have them as live tiles. The problem is of plenty. There are several cameras like Lumia Camera, Lumia Refocus and Lumia Selfie. This is a problem with the Lumia series itself. It will make it easier for users if Microsoft combines all its camera apps into just one or two. Microsoft seems to have taken a step in this direction (in Update 2) with the camera settings option displaying the various cameras and lenses.

The 13 MP camera with Zeiss optics is one of the best in this price range. It performed equally well in sunlight and low lighting. The Lumia Camera comes with the trademark menu where the ISO, white balance, focus or shutter speed can be altered. The Lumia Selfie is a fun feature to use for selfie lovers. It offers a bunch of filters and additional features like making the face thin, enhancing or making the eyes bigger, changing complexions, enhancing the smile etc.

As with other Lumia mobiles the performance is smooth; even with multiple apps open the device didn’t lag at all. The voice quality is top notch and so is the speaker’s output. The 3000 mAh battery gives two full days on 2G with two emails on push mode, about 30 minutes of gaming and 30 minutes of browsing. Despite constant use, heating wasn’t an issue either. For a budget phone, the 640 XL is definitely above par in performance. But with other manufacturers (mostly Android) coming out with more and better features in a price range that is only slightly above, we feel this might be viewed as being a bit pricey.


Love: Easy to edit Office documents, great camera

Hate: Oversized form, bit pricey

Published on January 23, 2018

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