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Gadget review: Lumia 640XL - Size matters

Microsoft presents an impressive 5.7-inch phablet, the Lumia 640XL, to claim its share of the Indian smart phone market. But will it do the magic? Hassan M Kamal finds out

Mircrosoft Lumia 640XL

Mircrosoft Lumia 640XL

Design: Veering from blocky designs in its previous budget phones, Microsoft has improved, visually, with the 640XL. It looks solid yet appears slimmer and more elegant than other budget Lumia phones. The corners are round; the back panel, though made of plastic comes with a matte finish offering a good grip. The front edges of the back panel are slanted and wrap around the screen; the rear is aesthetically pleasing too, with its sharp but very smooth edges. There's a Microsoft logo neatly printed at the centre, under the rear camera while the flash sits above it. The control buttons, made from glossy plastic are placed on the right, and are easy to use. A noticeable improvement in budget Lumia devices, overall.
Rating: 8 / 10

Display:
The 640XL has a large 5.7-inch IPS screen with a resolution of 1280x720 and pixel density of 258 ppi. Very low for a large screen; yet, despite this, the clarity of text and picture is better than what we have seen in 5-inch screens with the same resolution. The screen, however, shows signs of stutter while scrolling up or down a window, making reading or browsing an uncomfortable experience. Working around the screen, however, is easier under sunlight, thanks to the sunlight readability option in display settings.
Rating: 5 / 10

Connectivity: The dual-sim 640XL supports only 2G and 3G networks in India with support for dual-sim standby. However, it automatically turns off the other sim card, while on a phone call. It supports micro sim cards. There's a 4G LTE model also, but unfortunately, it won't be available in India. A big disappointment but it's nice to see features like NFC and DLNA, which can be very handy. The other connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, and Wi-Fi Hotspot.
Rating:  6 / 10

Audio: Audio quality is decent during phone calls as well as while using its external speaker to play music. Despite not offering fancy audio enhancement apps or equalizers, the audio quality left us satisfied.
Rating: 7 / 10

Camera: The rear camera is a 13MP auto focus with ZEISS Optics lens and LED flash, and supports f/2.0 aperture. Daytime light pictures were good. But we found the main camera unusable in low-light conditions; the flash was ineffective. The 5MP wide-angle front camera supports aperture of f/2.4, and is great for selfies. We were impressed with its picture quality but again, only in daylight. We also found the new Lumia Camera app difficult to work around. Though, it's stylish and neater than the previous one, the controls were difficult to access. Given a chance, we'd return to the Lumia Camera app we saw in the Lumia 830.
Rating: 9 / 10

Battery: We are content with Lumia 640XL's 3,000 mAh replaceable battery, which gave us nearly a day-and-half usage on 3G. This included six-seven hours of browsing, reading and several other tasks.
Rating: 9 / 10

User interface and OS: The Lumia 640XL runs Windows 8.1 with Lumia Denim update. Again, the interface is similar to what we saw in previous Windows phones. But the stutter we felt while scrolling up and down (perhaps due to a bug) makes using the device a tad uncomfortable.
Rating: 5 / 10

Hardware and Performance: The 640XL gets 1GB RAM, which is sufficient as unlike Android, Windows Phone 8.1 OS doesn't require lot of memory to function. The in-built storage is 8GB, which may be too little, but users can expand the storage up
to 128GB via a Micro SD card. For computing needs, the 640XL relies on Qualcomm S400 SoC with quad core processors clocked at 1.2GHz, which does a decent job, as we faced no lags, be it for browsing or watching videos, or while playing games. However, the stutter in display left us disgruntled. Connectivity to all wireless networks was satisfactory.
Rating: 7 / 10

Specifications

Display: 5.7-inch IPS 1280x720, 258ppi
Processor: 1.2 GHz octa core Qualcomm S400 Soc
Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB ROM, expandable up to 128GB
Camera: 5MP (front), 13MP with flash (rear)
Connectivity: GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 2G and 3G
Price: Rs 15,799

Overall rating
7.0 / 10
The guide VERDICT An inexpensive but impressive phablet such as the 640XL seems like a nice way for Microsoft to claim its share of the Indian smart phone market, but, when sized against devices from its competitors (Asus, Xiaomi, Lenovo and Huawei Honor) within the same price range, the 640XL falls short in three key areas — display quality, 4G connectivity and simplicity of camera app. Still, considering the no-frills performance of Windows’ phones and its long battery support, it can be your go-to Windows phablet under 16K.

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