At first glance the new Microsoft Lumia 640 looks like a larger version of the iPhone 5c with it's 9mm thin colourful casing with rounded corners.
But the 5 inch screen being a whole inch larger than the "kid's iPhone", as Apple's phone was dubbed by many, the comparison ends right there. This is a totally different animal.
In fact The Lumia 640 is actually the smaller of two versions. You can also buy the Lumia 640 XL which has a 5.7 inch screen. There are also dual sim versions, although we will probably never see those in the UK.
No more Nokia
You will notice that the name above the screen now says Microsoft and not Nokia, which instantly tells you this is a Windows phone. Don't be put off by that - Microsoft have simply purchased Nokia's mobile phone division so nothing has really changed except the name, and the admirable build quality that Nokia's Lumia handsets are renowned for is still prevalent here.
Big screen - small price
Microsoft have catered for the ever growing audience who want a big screen without a big price tag, but amazingly still managed to slot in a HD screen. It's 720p HD rather than 1080p but it's hard to tell, such is the high quality of the ClearBlack IPS LCD display, which is ably protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3.
The remarkably low price of the Lumia 640 means you will expect to find low end specifications. You won't find any, which makes this new Microsoft handset even better value than it first appears to be.
Enhancements include sunlight readability, and an easy clean, fingerprint resistant coating which your fingers will simply glide across.
The 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon quad core processor is more than sufficient to keep the Lumia 640 smoothly responding to your commands, with Windows Phone renowned for being light on memory use, and the gradual move away from 512MB processors in low end Lumia handsets is in readiness for Windows 10's arrival.
The 8 megapixel camera is excellent, and offers sharp and clear photos with some of the best low light shots we have seen, assisted by the LED flash. Complimenting this is a wide angle "selfie" camera on the front. Your HD photos and videos are automatically backed up to OneDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage app, and you can choose to back up over Wi-Fi so saving your data allowance.
Storage, storage everywhere
Storage won't be an issue, with 8GB on board as well as 30GB cloud storage provided through OneDrive, which seamlessly syncs your files, music and photos with your Windows laptop wherever you are. If that's not enough for you, you can add a memory card with up to 128GB storage capacity so you get the best of all worlds.
An array of sensors includes a proximity detector, which shuts down the screen when the phone is close to your ear so you are not inadvertently touching the screen during calls. The ambient light sensor automatically controls the brightness in light or dark situations, should you wish it to do so.
An accelerometer automatically rotates the screen into landscape mode when you turn the phone on it's side, which is perfect for viewing photos and video while the magnetometer acts as a compass and is especially useful when used in conjunction with Here Maps. You can have the map face North, so you know you're always heading in the right direction.
The feature that caught our eye, already on more expensive Lumias such as the superb Nokia Lumia 930, Lumia 735 and Lumia 1520, is SensorCore. You won't read much about, or even see this hidden sensor on your phone but it helps the processor collect motion data without using additional battery power.
More information about SensorCore can be seen in this review from Windows Central, a great resourse for Windows Phone owners.
SensorCore collects things like GPS data, time and motion so is useful in apps such as MSN Health and Fitness. This allows your phone to act as a pedometer for example, or can show you a map of recent places visited without the need for you to fire up the HERE Drive sat nav app every time.
Outstanding battery life
The battery itself is also worthy of note. Offering up to 3 days standby or over a full days' talk time, you can also use your Lumia 640 for almost 11 hours Wi-Fi browsing, a massive 86 hours music playback or over 8 hours video playback under optimum conditions.
Beneath the replaceable rear cover, should you wish to try a different colour casing from the choice of dayglow orange, blue, black or white, the generous 2500mAh battery itself is replaceable too.
We can't help talking about a Lumia Windows handset without mentioning the WordFlow keyboard. This works by sliding your finger from letter to letter, instead of having to lift your finger and press each key individually. Similar versions have appeared on Android and Apple phones, but there is nothing to beat this.
WordFlow works remarkably well and makes typing short messages a pleasure rather than a bind, to the point where you will actually enjoy using it.
That goes for the rest of the phone too. The Windows Phone operating system, with it's colourful, easy to move and resize live tiles and simple menu system is a delight to use. If you haven't tried a Windows phone yet you are now in perfect hands with Microsoft's logo on the cover and you will probably be left wondering why you waited this long.
Windows apps and features
Need apps? No problem. All the big names are on board now and with well over a quarter of a million to choose from you will always find what you need. Most paid apps have a free to try before you buy trial version which isn't always the case with other platforms.
You get Office 365 Personal preinstalled on your Windows phone too.
The best feature though is undoubtedly the wonderful Cortana, Microsoft's voice controlled virtual assistant. You have all seen the TV ads, but if you missed them take a minute to watch the video...
Other exciting features include double tap to wake. This wakes up the screen. Even in sleep mode, the Glance screen shows you the time and date on a large clock plus notifications of your choice from messages, emails, weather, missed calls etc. while the screen is turned off.
What is nothing less than astonishing is the asking price for all this - less than £120 on Pay As You Go at the time of release, which by any standards is incredible value for money, bearing in mind that on top of the 5 inch HD screen and impressive camera you also get 4G capabilities and a guaranteed upgrade to Windows 10 when it arrives.
Dare we say it, it is so impressive for the price that you would be almost foolish not to make this your first foray into the world of Windows phones. Microsoft are determined to get a bigger foothold in the market with generous pricing for generously specified handsets and it is well worth taking advantage.
We are always impressed with Windows phones here at 1st Mobile UK and
yet again the Microsoft Lumia 640 offers superb value for another excellent Windows handset.
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