Product Review: Microsoft Lumia 640

Product Review: Microsoft Lumia 640

The Lumia 640, running on the Cricket network, dropped into my lap on Friday of last week. With our kids' school winding down, a couple birthdays and a college graduation, this last weekend was one of our busiest in a long while. I absolutely had no time to relax, and spent much of Monday just trying to recover from all the joy. But, for a product review, that actually turned out to be a good thing. I suspended use of my regular handset (the HTC M8 Windows Phone) and opted to use the Lumia 640 as my primary mobile device all weekend long. Interestingly enough, my hardware review actually turned into a test of Cricket wireless. But, I'll get into that in a minute or two.

For specs and pictures, check out First Look: Microsoft Lumia 640, and instead of going into a full, bit-by-bit of the hardware and services, I'll just give you an overview of the good, bad, and strange.

Good

Solid unit. The construction is solid and could take a bump or two.

Camera is fantastic. Compared to the HTC M8 that I normally carry, the 640's camera is wonderful. And, the camera's output is enhanced by the Lumia camera software – which is also stellar. I was able to take some wonderful shots over the weekend for each celebratory event. HTC could actually fix its camera woes with an update and better software.

Bad

A bit slippery. You'll definitely want a case that provides better grip and traction, or this thing will shoot out of your hand like a bar of soap.

A bit too wide. Blame it on small hands, but the 640 is much more difficult to hold comfortably than the HTC M8.

Heat. I used the camera constantly over the weekend, which also resulted in automatic picture and video uploads to OneDrive. This didn't make the 640 impossible or painful to hold, but the extra heat was definitely noticeable, particularly when I'd slide it into my front pants pocket.

Battery Life. My use of the 640 included photos, video, phone calls, text messages, Twitter and Facebook. Maybe I'm just spoiled by the HTC, but battery drained pretty quickly – at least a LOT quicker than what I'm accustomed to.

Strange

Molded power adapter. Though the 640 can charge using any USB connection (like any other smartphone), the adapter that comes with it has a molded cable connection. As you can see in the gallery, a second, smaller USB cable is included, but why include an additional cable instead of just supplying a single cable that can be separated from the power adapter?

Absent headphones. This unit comes with no headphones, which seems to be a standard, free option for most new phones these days. I have drawers full of old headphones, but still…

Motion Settings. The 640 is the first unit I've tested that comes with the Motion Settings feature. In essence, using built-in sensors, the 640 will keep track of steps. This is particularly useful for Microsoft Band owners, as it can fill in the gaps when not wearing a Microsoft Band. The 640 constantly shows about 500 more steps (and more) than the Microsoft Band does. So, there's a discrepancy and it makes you wonder which one to actually trust. I'd put my money on the Microsoft Band.

Bottom Line

The Lumia 640 is a standard handset – nothing special. Like most smartphones these days, it has some positives, but also has some drawbacks that you have to decide whether or not you can live with. For me, I could live with the width and heat issues, but the battery life is something I can't overlook. Of course, maybe I'm just spoiled by the HTC M8, and for anyone who hasn't had experience with the HTC line of Windows Phones, the 640 could be a significant step up from what is in use now. For me, I'm happy to go back to the HTC.

You can get unlocked versions of the Lumia 640 from Amazon: Lumia 640 Dual SIM black LTE factory unlocked

The more interesting thing for me, though, was that the 640 review unit came supplied with service through Cricket wireless. I have to be honest, a name like Cricket wireless makes you assume it’s a fly-by-night, kitschy service. I had never given the service provider a second look. Where I live and where I travel most, Verizon wins the day. I've been a Verizon subscriber for years and years. AT&T doesn't even work here.

So, when the Lumia 640 arrived connected to the Cricket network, I had the chance to review both the Microsoft hardware and the Cricket service. I was actually pretty shocked to find that Cricket outperformed Verizon in speed, connectivity, and availability. Just because of this happenstance, my family is now considering a move to Cricket, and if I wasn't stuck on Verizon due to corporate constraints, I'd make the same move.

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