Microsoft Lumia 640: Our first impressions of the beloved 635 successor

Can it possibly dethrone the Motorola Moto G?

The Lumia 640 and 635

The Lumia 640 and 635

“The beauty of the Lumia 635 is someone with a flagship smartphone could pick this little Nokia up and still have all their needs met,” went the verdict of our Lumia 635 review.

“The screen and camera idle at mediocre, but between the quad-core CPU and the rich Windows Phone 8.1 software, this proves to be one of best-rounded smartphones on sale.”

That is high praise and a tough act to follow, but the unveiling of the Lumia 640 this afternoon left us feeling confident.

Two versions of the smartphone were revealed. There’s the typical follow up with the Lumia 640, and a phablet variant called the Lumia 640XL. This article focuses on the smartphone and not the phablet variant.

The Lumia 640 and 635
The Lumia 640 and 635

Many changes have been made to the Lumia 640 and, much in the same way Motorola revamped its Moto G, Microsoft has focused on improving the smartphone’s multimedia repertoire.

The screen is a larger 5-inches and has a higher 1280x720 resolution. The resulting 294 pixel-per-inch (ppi) density is greater than the 218ppi achieved by the Lumia 635. Cramming more pixels into each inch improves the clarity of the software, photos and videos.

Something that isn’t clearly quantified on smartphone spec sheets is the depth of blacks. We quickly realised the Lumia 640 has a nice, black screen when inactive, and this increases its appeal by blending the display in with the bezel. The uniform shade strikes a stunning contrast against the coloured polycarbonate body, though we’re not keen on all of the colours.

Read more: HP Stream 8 tablet with Windows 8.1

Letting the Lumia 635 down was the omission of a flash and a front facing camera. The successor tends to both of these shortcomings and then some by increasing the resolution of the rear camera. It takes photos at 8 megapixels and records Full HD videos. The front camera appears basic with a single megapixel resolution for photos and 720p video recording capabilities.

We were impressed with the battery life of the Lumia 635 and now Microsoft has upped the capacity. The 2500 milliamp-hour battery in the Lumia 640 is 36 per cent larger than that of its predecessor. The jump is substantial enough to offset the larger screen and resolution so that the inexpensive Microsoft phone should maintain its exemplary battery life.

Beyond the glitz of the colourful exterior is familiar hardware. The 640’s RAM is doubled to 1GB, though it still has a 1.2GHz quad-core CPU and 8GB of internal storage. Microsoft’s executives claim the smartphone’s hardware is capable enough to run a microSD card 128GBs in size.

It certainly is capable of running the Windows 8.1 operating system. It continues to feel refined, although we previewed a demo smartphone with little storage used.

Microsoft’s ‘ambition’ is to have every Lumia smartphone running Windows 8.1 receive an upgrade to Windows 10. The commitment to future support is another point in the ‘buy’ column for the Lumia 640.

Our criticisms listed in the review of the Lumia 635 were as follows: “low resolution screen and camera”. The Lumia 640 looks to tend to these gripes, and provided the Australian pricing keeps it in contention, it – and not some flagship – could help spur the adoption of Windows smartphones.

Good Gear Guide will reveal more insights into the Lumia 640 as soon as possible in our review.

Tony Ibrahim travelled to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona as a guest of Microsoft

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Tony Ibrahim

Tony Ibrahim

Good Gear Guide

@slicktonyi

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