Lumia640_7What is the Microsoft Lumia 640?

The Lumia 640, runs Windows Phone OS 8.1 (Denim), out of the box. But is well placed as the ultimate selfie phone thanks to an ultra-wide, 5-megapixel front-facing camera. But it’s also a capable, 5-inch mid-range smartphone that includes 4G, NFC and even supports wireless charging with additional accessories. It has some wrinkles, but it’s free on contracts from £18 a month or £189 SIM-free, making it a decent value option if you fancy something different from the Android rivals like the Moto G 2 or Sony Xperia.
Just last week we reviewed the Lumia 1520 and I must that big beast, while, great to use the Lumia 640 is a joy to hold.

In The Box

  • Microsoft Lumia 640
  • Battery
  • MicroUSB Charger and Cable
  • User Guide

Key Features:

5-inch, HD720 (1280 x 720); 1.2GHz Quad core Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 400, 1GB RAM, 8GB storage; microSD slot; NFC
Manufacturer: Microsoft

So let’s get down to business and look at just what the Lumia 640 gives you.

Design & Features

The Lumia 640 sticks to the standard Lumia formula: The casing is plastic and true to Microsoft it’s colourful. Coming in what now seems to be their standard colours of,  Green, Orange White and Black, which are bold. Of the four colours we were sent the blue one.

The design is smooth, with a curved shape that is comfortable and the Lumia 640 has an unfussy quality that instantly endears itself. There are slightly chamfered slab sides and gently pillowed contours on the back, plus a slight bump for protection for the camera glass, all stretched slightly to accommodate the 5″ screen The  volume rocker is at the top with the power/standby button in the middle, both on the right edge. What we can’t understand is the lack of a camera button to take quick selfies.

There’s a microSD card slot in there as well, so you can expand the 8GB built-in storage by adding 128GB microSD.

The back cover is removable and the battery is user replaceable, this is required for the wireless back shell (as the Lumia is not wireless charging) to be attached if you choose to buy one. Another benefit to the removable rear is that you can buy an optional Wireless Charging Shell and Microsoft Wireless Charging Plate, they’re neat options to have, even if they cost extra. Likewise, the Lumia 640 is unique among phones this price in including NFC.

In theory this allows for wireless payments, though in practice you’ll use it more for speeding up pairing with NFC equipped Bluetooth devices. That includes another upcoming accessory, the Microsoft Screen Sharing tool, which will let you beam your phone’s screen to a TV wirelessly using NFC to pair.

All of which means the Lumia 640 is a feature-packed phone for the price. They’re not all the kind of features you’ll use all the time, if at all if you don’t buy the accessories, but few phones at this price can match it.

The Lumia 640 is powered by a 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, has 1GB RAM and includes the usual niceties such as Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and 802.11n Wi-Fi. There’s even an FM radio, a feature we don’t see often anymore. The cameras are 6.7-megapixels at the rear and 5-megapixels on the front, which means the rear one is unusually high and the front one is unusually low. We’ll get onto those in detail a bit later.


It’s a 5-inch, ClearBlack, IPS LCD screen with a 1,280 x 720 resolution is one of the better screens you’ll have seen, particularly among mid-priced phones. Blacks are completely black, but colours, while rich, are overstated.

This combination means photos and videos look rich, deep and full of contrast, but also unrealistic. Skins tones have a ruddy, tanned complexion that’s out of character, something we noticed most when viewing photos taken on the phone than in online videos and films. We also found the screen tends to ‘crush’ the dark parts of videos so that, in one example, someone wearing a dark shirt seemed to merge into the dark background.

The other issue is that the Lumia 640’s screen doesn’t look as sharp as its 1,280 x 720 resolution suggests. Despite squeezing in 294 pixels per inch (ppi), only slightly less than the 326ppi of the new iPhone 6, it has a slightly grainy, pixelated quality. This is down to the way the sub-pixels are arranged (referred to as PenTile), which means the screen falls short of Moto G and Moto G 2 whose 720p LCD screen look sharper.

These issues make the screen sound worse than it really is, though. Yes, colours are too much sometimes, but some people will like the punchy, contrasty look — it certainly works well with Windows Phone’s standard dark and colourful interface. Moreover, the most recent Lumia firmware update lets you tweak the colour settings, so you can tone down the colours somewhat. On balance, it’s a better screen than on the Sony Xperia M2 (960 x 540, 229ppi), it’s just not as good as the Moto G 2’s sharper, LCD display.

It also works well when outdoors. Again, it’s not quite as bright as the Moto G 2’s LCD screen, but it handles bright sunlight well and remains usable and the auto brightness system does a good job picking the right setting for the conditions.OS update


Mid-range phones seem to have settled on the exact same formula recently as the Lumia 640 is yet another phone to use the 1.2GHz, quad-core Snapdragon 400 chip. It’s backed by the standard 1GB of RAM, which judging by Android phones should be ample to keep things ticking over at a decent speed.

Most of the time, it is. Windows Phone runs smoothly for general tasks and web browsing with only occasional hiccups — mainly when waiting for slow internet connections to catchup. That said, we did encounter a couple of issues, the severity of which will depend on your perspective.

We found the Lumia 640 started to chug a little when downloading apps in the background, particularly if it’s a large app or there’s several in the queue. This is mostly trivial, but we felt the keyboard lagging and animations stuttering on these occasions.

Lumia640_Colour_1 Lumia640_Flowers_1 Lumia640_Flowers_4


Microsoft is rightly proud of its pedigree for making good cameras for phones, and it’s not afraid to break with convention. The Lumia 640’s cameras demonstrate both traits. The main, rear camera has what is now coming it seems as Microsoft’s standard at 8-megapixel resolution.
Main camera

    • Main camera: 8.0 MP
    • Camera Focus Type: Auto focus
    • Camera digital zoom: 4 x
    • Sensor size: 1/4 inch
    • Main camera f-number/aperture: f/2.2
    • Camera focal length: 28 mm
    • Camera Flash Type: Led flash
    • Camera features: Backside-illuminated image sensor, Dynamic flash, Rich capture
    • Camera minimum focus range: 10 cm

While the front-facing is a HD 0.9 MP wide angle with a wide-angle lens.
Front-facing camera

    • Front camera: HD 0.9 MP wide angle
    • Front camera f-number/aperture: f/2.4
    • Front camera features: Still image capture, Video call, Video recording
    • Front camera video resolution: 720p (HD, 1280 x 720)

Video recording

    • Main camera video resolution: 1080p (Full HD, 1920 x 1080)
    • Camera video frame rate: 30 fps
    • Camera video zoom: 4 x
    • Video recording features: Video zoom, Continuous autofocus, Video light
    • Video recording formats: MP4/H.264

Video playback

    • Video playback frame rate: 30 fps
    • Video playback codecs: H.263, H.264/AVC, MPEG-4, VC-1, Windows video
    • Video streaming: YouTube browsing and video streaming, Streaming from video services and internet, Progressive video download
Lumia640_Colour_4 Lumia640_Flowers_2 Lumia640_Flowers_3

Anyway, if you do take lots of selfies or groupies then the Lumia 640 is a good phone to have. Its wide-angle lens really does help fit people in, as this rather unfortunate office effort attests. Shots in normal light are perhaps a tad noisy, but you’ll only notice this at full resolution — at Facebook friendly resolutions shots look great. It copes well with gloomy lighting, too, which is perfect for nights out.

The Microsoft Selfie gives you lots of ways to tweak and improve your selfies, including a decent selection of filters and some dubious additions such as the ability to make you smile more or appear slimmer. Still, it’s easy to use and quickly compare your embellishments before sharing them.

The main camera is good, too. Its limited 8-megapixel resolution means it doesn’t capture much detail, but it’s a good camera if you care more about sharing decent photos with friends than showing off your photography skills.

Lumia640_Colour_2 (1)

Battery Life

The Lumia 640’s 2,500mAh battery is a little disappointing, as we would have liked to see a 2,800mAh. For a normal day’s outing, if you combine music, some light gaming, web browsing and general use, it gave us to around 20 to 30% of spare capacity after a 12-hour day. You’ll get a little more from it if you don’t play games, which left us with 30 to 35%. But probably just not enough to forgo charging it every night.

  • Maximum standby time: 36 days
  • Maximum talk time (2G): 26.5 h
  • Maximum talk time (3G): 17.5 h

This is good enough for most people, though the Lumia 640 isn’t the fastest charger. It typically charges at around 30% per hour, which means it takes a little over three hours to charge fully. It does have wireless charging Qi standard. You can buy a wireless charging plate (HD-10) here. Headphones (WH-308)are £12.99

Call and Sound Quality

Call quality is fine. The Lumia 640 has active noise-cancelling and the earpiece is loud and clear, if a little muddy. We didn’t suffer any dropped calls or poor connections, even when calling from a moving train in an average signal area.

Sound from the built-in speaker is less impressive. It’s at the back and while it reaches reasonable volumes, it tends to distort and reverberate in the case slightly. This is most noticeable when using the phone as a sat-nav, where instructions sometimes sound slightly garbled and clipped. It didn’t cause us to miss any crucial instructions, but you need to pay attention more to hear the instructions.

Unsurprisingly, this means music sounds tinny, muffled and generally unfit for even very casual listening.


There are plenty of good reasons to consider it, particularly at its sub-£130 SIM-free price.The rear camera is decent, it looks smart and there lots of things to like about Windows Phone if you spend a little time with it.

The Lumia 640 is a very good buy. It takes great selfies, good-looking photos and only let’s itself down when playing more demanding games.

A very good phone for sharing photos, but less so for games. But if you don’t play games there are few reasons not to buy one.

If you’re considering buying a Microsoft Microsoft Lumia 640 smartphone. The Lumia Denim software came pre-installed. Although I did get an OS update, detail below featured specs.


Featured Specs

OS Windows Phone 8.1
Processor 1.2GHz quad-core
Screen 5 inches
Resolution 1280 x 720 pixels
Memory 1GB RAM
Storage 8GB
Micro SD compatible? 128GB
Camera 8MP rear-facing, 0.9MP front-facing
Video 1080p
Connectivity 4G
Dimensions 141.3 x 72.2 x 8.8 mm
Weight 145g
Battery 2,500 mAh

From the Microsoft forum post:

We have started rolling out a new software update for Lumia 640 & Lumia 640 XL:

Latest software release for Lumia 640 is Lumia Denim (02177.00000.15184.36xxx/8.10.15148.160):

  • Voice over LTE support enabled for selected operators.
  • Native Wi-Fi calling support enabled for EE  UK and T-Mobile USA.
  • Additional improvements to stability, audio quality, Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity, national roaming, and more.

Note: Microsoft have listed the phone for £129 SIM-free, less than the £230 at third-party stockists.

Detailed specifications for the MicrosoftLumia 640

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Dave Thornton

Senior Editor

Senior Editor
Been involved in technology for many years, more than I care to remember. Live in Dundee, Scotland. I like Android, Windows Phone OS, BlackBerry OS and iOS, and love writing about all things techie. Currently have a Honor 6+, Elephone P6000, Nexus 5, Chrombook C720, HTC One M7, Nokia Lumina 625, Microsoft Lumia 435, Blackberry Q10, HTC Hero and iPad mini