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March 17, 2015

Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL: first impressions

The tech media recently got an up-close and personal look at the new Microsoft Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL, smartphones that give a superior experience at an affordable price. Here’s what they had to say.

Earlier this month at Mobile World Congress, Microsoft launched the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL–powerful devices that won’t break the bank–and the tech media gave the smartphones a thorough going-over.

They handled the candy-colored devices, tested their specs, kicked the tires, and looked under the hood. Their verdict?

Over all, the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL got a positive nod, mollifying those reviewers hoping to see a more high-end flagship device (stay tuned!). As a signal, the new smartphones won several awards at MWC.

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Here’s a sampling from around the Web of media reviews on the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL.

First, there’s Ars Technica, whose headline and sub-headline read: “Hands-on: Lumia 640 ought to be enough for anybody: A well-rounded smartphone experience for less than $250. Why pay more?”

The reviewer noted the value of the phones, stating that for the money, “they look good, feel good, and work well, and it makes us wonder about how much a $600-$700 flagship would really offer.”

He then brought up the still-popular Lumia 520 and highlighted why the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL will also have staying power:

“The Lumia 520 was relatively successful because for as little as $30 … it did all the things a smartphone needed to do—it had a browser, it ran apps, it took pictures, it had a nice e-mail client.

“The 640 and 640 XL take that to the next level; they do everything a smartphone needs to do, plus they have the most important bells and whistles … It’s going to be rare to meet a smartphone user who truly needs anything more.”

Engadget found the new devices “pretty tempting” especially since both phones “include some compelling upgrades that were previously relegated to higher-end phones.” The reviewer also found, to his surprise, that “they both felt pretty comfortable in my hand,” even the larger Lumia 640 XL, which has a 5.7-inch screen.

He concluded, “While they’re not as flashy as the latest high-end phones … Microsoft’s new Lumias prove one thing: It’s going to be a pretty damn interesting year for budget phones.”

The Verge took special note of the camera specs on the Lumia 640: “Microsoft is using an 8-megapixel camera with LED flash at the rear. Such a camera would have been found on most high-end smartphones only a couple of years ago, so it’s encouraging to see this tech pushing down to more affordable price points.

“Microsoft isn’t skimping on the front-facing camera either, with a 1-megapixel shooter with wide angle lens … Even more interestingly, Microsoft is bringing its Lumia camera software to the Lumia 640, so you get all the great flash adjustments that we were particularly impressed with during our testing.”

CNET said that the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL are “packed with higher quality components and bearing prices designed to attract budget-conscious customers in both emerging and Western markets.”

And the one-year Office 365 subscription that comes bundled with the phones? CNET called it the “extra cherry on top.”

The Gizmodo reviewer didn’t expect to be wowed by the design and performance of the Lumia 640 and 640 XL.

“I was honestly surprised by how Microsoft has managed to put such good-looking screens on such affordable phones,” he said, adding that the new phones “excel at what Microsoft does best: affordable phones with a decent spec sheet and a good overall experience.”

The New York Times, noting emerging phone markets such as India and the growing prepaid phone market in the United States, said this of Microsoft’s strategy of delivering “low-cost” phones:

“At a show and in an industry dominated by the release of high-end, high-priced and high-powered phones … it is the more accessible models that might find broader success.”

What do you think, readers? Did the media give the phones a fair shake?