Product Review: Microsoft Lumia 640 XL

Product Review: Microsoft Lumia 640 XL

I've delayed writing this review for a week or so for a very selfish reason. The Lumia 640 XL that I've been testing is a review unit and once this review is complete I have to ship it back. I don't want to give up this smartphone.

Truth told, I've never been a fan of big phones. I've been very vocal about that. There's nothing more comical to me than watching people in public get a phone call only to stick something the size of a cinderblock to their ear. I call them purse phones, because you clearly can't carry these things in a front pocket. Even in my First Look article for the Lumia 640 XL, I bashed the size of this device, comparing it against the HP Stream 7 and the Kindle Voyage. But, that was from my initial impressions after hefting the phone from its packaging like unsheathing a massive medieval sword.

What has transpired over a couple weeks of testing has altered my perception a bit. Not completely, mind you. I'm not ready to buy pants with bigger pockets or start toting around a European carry-all just to transport a phone, but the Lumia 640 XL is something special.

This is not a feature-by-feature comparison review. Those are a dime a dozen. You can read through the full specs in the First Look article. Instead, this is about how the Lumia 640 XL is a device with enough screen landscape to potentially alter a belief system that a phone has to fit within a certain form factor to be completely functional.

Screen

First off, the screen is amazing. It's large and clear. I joked that Microsoft should've named this model the XXL because of its size, but clearly there are phones bigger than this. In the 640 XL, I think Microsoft has made the right decision in screen size. I can't count the number of times in the past couple weeks when I opted to pick up the Lumia to answer emails, read Facebook, and work within Tweetium instead of my daily driver, the HTC M8 Windows Phone. The text is crisp, colors are vibrant, images are inviting, and the size is a great compromise between a tablet and a smartphone.

Size

Despite the larger size, the Lumia 640 XL is easy to handle. One of the best features for any Lumia device is how the buttons are configured on the side, enabling one-handed operation. And, even though the Lumia 640 XL is bigger, I was hard pressed to find the weight any more than the standard-sized Lumia 640 I reviewed a few weeks earlier. So, the one-handed operation was completely comfortable even for long periods. Maybe it’s the larger size, but the 640 XL didn't suffer from the same heat issues I experienced with the 640. The larger size could be providing better heat dissipation.

Battery

Battery life was much better than I experienced with the standard 640, too. The 640 came running on Cricket, which uses the AT&T network anyway, so you would think the battery life would be close to the same. The 640 has the 2500 mAh battery while the 640 XL comes with a 3000 mAh battery. That doesn't seem like a huge leap in capacity, but it clearly makes a substantial difference in both usage and standby time.

Camera

Lumia's are known for good cameras, but the 640 XL's primary, 13.0 MP camera with 4x digital zoom, auto focus, and ZEIS optics is incredible. Combine that with a full 5 MP HD front-facing camera with 1080p resolution and you're outfitted with top recording device for both video and stills. It's like Microsoft added a smartphone to a solid camera, instead of the other way around.

Bottom Line

The Lumia 640 XL is another fantastic Lumia device. If you're one of those that don't mind a larger phone, the Lumia 640 XL is tough to beat. And, clearly if I wasn't so form-factor fickle, or so self-professed too manly to carry a purse, I'd use one of these every day. I can also see these larger smartphones becoming more important for me the older I get and the more degraded my eyesight becomes.

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