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Hands-on with the Microsoft Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL

Microsoft’s first flagship Lumia won’t launch until after Windows 10. The last few Lumia phones we’ve seen have been mostly Nokia’s work. Still, as time wears on, it’s impossible to ignore Microsoft’s role in the production and launch of these phones. Sure, anything released in the months after the acquisition was finalized last April were likely very much Nokia phones, but almost a year on, it would be naive to think Microsoft doesn’t have some say in these devices.

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This morning, the company announced two new phones, the Luma 640 and the Lumia 640 XL. These are, to precisely no one’s surprise, budget devices and Lumia to the core in terms of design. They follow on from last year’s 630 and 635 and the 640 XL is the first phablet-style Lumia we’ve seen since the Microsoft takeover. The 640 packs a 720p 5-inch display, while the 640 XL features a larger 720p 5.7-inch display with ClearBlack technology for deeper blacks.

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Both phones come in 3G or LTE flavours and pack a quad-core 1.2GHz Snpadragon 400, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage. Camera and battery is where these devices differ: the 640 packs an 8MP camera in the back, a 1MP camera up front and a 2500mAh battery, while the 640 XL boasts a 13MP camera in the back, a 5MP camera up front, and a 3000mAh battery.

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Over the last year or 18 months, Lumia phones have proved to be reliably mid-range or even low-end affairs, but, thanks to their Nokia heritage, they’re also reliably solid in terms of construction. We didn’t spend long with the new Lumias but we already know that these devices are no different to the numerous other budget Lumias we’ve seen in terms of build or style.

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Though they’re on the cheaper end of the scale, neither feel creaky in the hand, even with the shiny plastic backing of the smaller Lumia 640. That’s something that’s becoming increasingly important as low-end smartphones become more powerful and therefore more attractive to those in the developed world. It’s got softer, rounded edges compared to its bigger brother and the shiny plastic is more cheerful than cheap, sort of like the iPhone 5C.

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The XL matches the Note 4 in screen size, and had the potential to feel lumbering and comically large, but its rounded corners, gently sloping back, and matte plastic casing go a long way towards making this phone feel comfortable in the hand.

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Starting at about $195 CAD for the 3G Lumia 640 and topping out at about $307 CAD for the LTE 640 XL, these devices are extremely affordable. We’ll wait for review units before passing final judgement but these phones will be available globally and will be eligible for Windows 10 mobile updates when the time comes. This, combined with their low price tags, make them very respectable choices for first-time smartphone users. We’re even more excited to see how much of the Nokia Lumia spills over into Microsoft’s own flagship Lumia down the line.

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