Nokia Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL with Windows 8.1 hands-on review

The Lumia 640 has been on the market for some time, but its larger (big boned) sister, the XL ‘phablet’ version complete with Windows 8.1 is yet to reach stores. Techworld gets a feel of both devices pre-release.


The smaller Lumia 640 comes in a variety of bold, hard and shiny rear covers. It has a 5” HD display, which is enhanced for viewing in sunlight. It weighs 145g and sits pretty nicely in the hand, although I had some issues with fat finger-typos after moving from my usual Sony Xperia model.


The XL version is, clearly, a bigger piece of tech. It’s worth bearing in mind that the XL essentially does everything a bit better than its predecessor – inside and out. Design-wise it has a 5.7” HD display. I was reviewing a prototype, so I can’t speak for the rear cover. The only struggle is getting the back off, but once you give it a whack it comes off in your hand to fit the SIM card in.


The Lumia 640 has a 2500 mAh battery, compared to 3000 mAh for the XL. You get a days worth of juice when using applications on each, and extensive battery saving settings help extend life even further. Both phones run on a 1.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, which allows the devices to handle multi-tasking pretty well. Office 365 functioned quickly while I had other apps running in the background, for example. 


Pictures were great in both devices. The XL uses a 13 MP, LED flash camera. It’s front facing camera is 5MP – for a really clear selfie should you be so inclined. The Lumia 640 uses a respectable 8MP with a 1MP front-facer.


Here’s where I had issues. I’m a Microsoft fan, and the user interface on both models was pretty intuitive. However, many popular apps aren’t available. Instagram is only in beta version – often rotating your pictures automatically and offering no option to rotate them back around.

If you’re a serial online dater, this phone might not be for you. Tinder and Happn developers have not created a version for Windows 8.1.

Similarly, some news applications and sites aren’t quite optimised for the OS. BBC News often throws up an error page.

Hopefully in time, developers will get on board to boost the choice in the app store. Otherwise, not having my favourite apps is a real flaw for me.


Great value for both devices. The XL comes in at £219 SIM-free in matte cyan (bright blue), orange and black, as well as matte and glossy white. While the smaller Lumia 640 costs £99.99 or £15.50 per month on contract in cyan, orange and matte black.


The input from Cortana and a really intuitive interface give the Microsoft OS a thumbs up, but occasional closure of the FM radio app starts to grate. Meanwhile the XL is a brilliant option for someone looking to use their phone in a business scenario like taking HD photos on the go and using Office tools with a large screen. However, a lack of popular apps could stop the device from moving past an enterprise device to one I can’t live without.