If, like me, you’d never considered trying a Windows phone then the Microsoft Lumia 640 is well worth a look. Packed with great features and easy to set up, it’s a great alternative to the leading budget smartphones.
Disclosure: Microsoft sent me a Lumia 640 on loan for two weeks for review purposes, however the opinions in this post are my own and unbiased.
I find that it’s very easy to stick with the technology you are used to at the expense of trying out new products. For years, I was a complete Apple fan with my iPod, iPhones and iPad – I really didn’t want to change at all. Then I was convinced to try out an Android phone, and never looked back. Now I’m very happy using my Moto G.
So when Microsoft asked if I’d like to trial the Microsoft Lumia 640, I thought ‘Why not?’. I’d honestly never considered a Windows phone for myself so this seemed like the ideal opportunity to try one out and see how they compare to my current phone. The 2nd generation Moto G regularly tops surveys of budget smartphones, so it makes for a good comparison.
The Microsoft Lumia 640 has a slim plastic case, similar to the Moto G, and is available in four colours – blue, black, orange and white. I was loaned a phone with a black case and it looks pretty good. It has a 5″ screen which is Gorilla Glass just like my Moto G, so I already know it’s pretty tough! The quad core processor opens apps at a reasonable speed and the camera on the back of the phone is 8MP, with a 1MP front camera.
The phone I had was installed with Windows Phone 8.1 but Windows 10 is now available. The Microsoft One Drive has 30GB of cloud-based storage which does make Google Drive’s 15GB look a bit stingy!
The Microsoft Lumia 640 costs £129.99 SIM-free, and there are currently deals available on PAYG from around £109.99 and contracts starting from around £10.50 per month. This makes it great value and puts it at the budget end of the smartphone market. So it’s definitely more appropriate to compare the Lumia 640 to the Moto G rather than the iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy 5, for example.
The Good Points
So how did I get on with the phone? I liked the look and feel of the phone which certainly exceeds what I’d expect from a phone at this price. I really like the tiles layout of the Windows Phone 8.1 operating system. It makes a difference from the icon-based layout that I have been used to from smartphones. The display on the Microsoft Lumia 640 is bright and crisp, and it is slightly larger than the Moto G that I am currently using. It was easy to set up the phone to my preferences, and I liked being able to get Facebook updates and news headlines right there on my home screen.
The Lumia 640 only comes with 8GB of internal storage, around half of which is taken up by the OS and apps. This is the same as the Moto G, but on the Lumia you can add up to 128GB of additional storage via the microSD slot. And let’s face it, if you have a further 30GB of storage available in the Microsoft One Drive, you’re unlikely to run out of space!
If you like a hands-free assistant on your phone, then the Microsoft Lumia 640 has Cortana – its equivalent of Siri or Google Now. I’m usually not a huge fan of these, they never seem to be able to understand my accent, but Cortana is actually pretty good.
The battery life is very good, easily lasting through the day, and the battery is removable. This is a marked improvement over the Moto G. Technically, I think the Lumia 640 is a very good phone, and is excellent value for money.
I wasn’t completely sure about the camera. It loaded up quickly, and it was easy to make adjustments to the exposure. The 8MP back camera is pretty good, but I wasn’t blown away by the quality of the front-facing camera. It is only 1MP compared to the 2MP camera that I have on my current phone. I also don’t like the bracketing function (similar to HDR on other phones) and couldn’t find how to turn that off. But I don’t use the standard camera app on my current phone, preferring to use a third-party app, and I would probably want to do the same on a Lumia as well.
Which brings me to the main sticking point on this phone – the availability of apps. As a blogger, I am a heavy user of social media and I couldn’t find all of the apps I need available for a Windows phone. The Instagram app is still in beta, and there is no Periscope or Snapchat app available. And although there are apparently work-arounds, the Google apps that I rely on heavily are not available either. This stopped me being able to give the phone a full road-test, because I wasn’t able to use the phone exactly as I would use my current model.
However, it took me only a short time to get used to Android after years of iOS. So I am very sure that if I were to make the switch to a Windows phone, I would quickly and easily get used to the Microsoft alternatives.
Microsoft Lumia 640 – the verdict
The Microsoft Lumia 640 is an excellent budget smartphone, which is great value and compares very well to the Moto G. It would make a very good choice as a first smartphone for a teenager, where you wouldn’t want to go in at the upper end of the market. It looks good and has great features and although the internal storage isn’t amazing, it’s about what I would expect. Plus the cloud-based storage more than makes up for it.
Would I buy a Microsoft Lumia 640 today? No, partly because I don’t plan to replace my mobile til next year and partly because of the issues with apps that I have outlined above. However, I am very sure that this situation will continue to improve and more apps will come on board.
When I do look for a replacement for my current phone, I will definitely be happy to look at the Windows phones on the market at that time.