Microsoft Lumia 640 XL review: Budget phone, big screen

£184
Price when reviewed

Since Microsoft began placing its name on the back of the once Nokia’s Lumia series, it’s focused its attention primarily at the mid-range market. With the Lumia 640 XL, that decision holds fast: it’s a phablet for less than £200, and while it won’t blow other phones out of the water for features and performance, Microsoft has certainly built a smartphone that is sure to turn heads.

Microsoft Lumia 640 XL review: Budget phone, big screen

Design and looks

The Lumia range has always stood out from the crowd – bright cases and clean designs have caught the eye in a market full of silver and black slabs. With the Lumia 640 XL this ethos hasn’t changed one bit.

Microsoft Lumia 640 XL review: 13-megapixel camera

Our review unit was orange, but if that isn’t your thing then the 640 XL in also available in a baby blue, crisp white and a matte-black finish. Personally, I don’t know why anyone would want to order a 640 XL in any colour other than orange. It looks good.

Size-wise, this 5.7in phablet is a beast. At 82mm, it’s a touch narrower than Google’s Nexus 6, but wider than Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus. Combine this with a height of 158mm – and that bright-orange shell – and the Lumia 640 XL is hard to ignore.

Despite the generous proportions, Microsoft has managed to keep the thickness to a minimum. The phone is a mere 9mm from the screen to the rear of the case, although a rear-camera housing protrudes to 11mm. It weighs 170g, meaning it’s hefty enough to not feel cheap in the hand, but not so much that you notice its weight.

Meanwhile, clip off the shell and you’ll discover that the 640 XL offers a removable battery and room for storage expansion up to 128GB via microSD.

Microsoft Lumia 640 XL review: Bottom edge

Display

To match the 640 XL’s simple yet striking appearance, Microsoft’s Lumia has a fantastic screen, with the company’s ClearBlack Display technology helping it to perform well in direct sunlight.

Graphics and photos leap from the display, with colours appearing vibrant against a black background. A contrast ratio of 1,064:1 puts the 640 XL in the same ballpark as the latest Motorola Moto G 2 or Sony Xperia Z3, with screen luminance reaching a maximum 582cd/m². It’s among the brightest displays I’ve seen on any smartphone, and it’s superbly readable outdoors.

However, there’s no ignoring the low resolution of 720 x ,1,280, which when stretched across 5.7in delivers a pixel density of only 258ppi. Look at this screen from closer than 13in and you’ll be able to see the pixel structure.

Microsoft Lumia 640 XL review: Front, facing left

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