Big is the new black. All phone manufacturers have been trying to cash in on people's desire for more pixel real estate. Even Apple grudgingly gave up and went big. Bigger is more and it is apparently better. Is it for Microsoft's Lumia range?
Build: The Lumia 640XL phablet's design is typically Lumia, built out of good quality plastic that looks and feels robust. There are no unwanted creaks as you hold it and the grainy finish on the back offers better grip for those with smaller hands. I am yet to drop it. The design remains traditional which is not a bad thing because that works. It comes in hip, glaring colors bound to make it stand out among a sea of black slabs. Microsoft played it safe and gave us the black one though.
Display: The 720p display has only 259ppi. While this is great for most purposes, the 5.7 screen means there is a little bit of pixelation when reading fine text on web sites. It's a small quibble because the on-screen colours are pleasantly loud and visibility is excellent even in sunlight. A very nifty and old-school feature is the clock that is visible even when the screen is off. It's absolutely low res so power consumption is negligible. In these wristwatch-free days, it's a missed item on most other phones.
Software: The device runs Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2 out of the box. This comes with the Lumia Denim update featuring multiple improvements and upgrades most notably for the camera app. It also includes Cortana, the voice activated personal assistant and navigator. Not all languages or regions are released yet but I got it working by selecting UK English. Best of all, it managed to identify almost all the words correctly as I spoke despite not having an English accent. When you accept the bulk of a phablet, this is a terrific device for executives who have to deal with documents on the go. The obviously bundled Office suite helped me manage all my editing flow on the go.
Power: The juice is provided by a quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chip, with supporting roles played out by 1GB of RAM. These are the contemporary specs for a mid ranger. The experience is mostly smooth and lag-free, although once in a while there is a menu response delay. I've been running the graphics heavy GT Racing 2 among other games and it has not hiccupped once.
Back-up: That big chassis should have plenty of space for backup power and the replaceable 3000mAh battery doesn't disappoint. It's good enough to power you through at least a day and a half even through heavy usage. I've run this device with Wi-Fi on all the time as well as 3G data.
Storage: You get only 8GB of inbuilt memory of which less than 4 is available to users. But the expandable slot allows up to 128GB and that is more than enough for a mobile device. If you can rely on our middling internet speeds, Microsoft added its OneDrive cloud storage of 30GB which will soon upgrade to 1TB.
Imaging: Lumia's unique selling point seems to be photography. The 13MP sensor works surprisingly well considering the price bracket and the comparable devices we tried out earlier. Photos come out best in natural light with great depth and excellent color accuracy. It does very well in low light conditions thanks to the wide 2.0 aperture. Noise is relatively low meaning pictures are almost always decent. The most recent version of the Lumia camera app provides tons of manual control and the company's Rich Capture mode which works a lot like HDR to highlight details in low light. There is a slider option providing more control on how much you want to enhance. The XL can also offer up Full HD video recording. Also, great news for those wanting to relive the now-old Oscar selfie. The 5MP front unit takes excellent wide shots.
The Lumia lives up to the 'XL' moniker beyond just the screen size. The screen is bright with excellent visibility for sharing content with friends. It passed our 'Pocket Test' meaning it fit well and slid out without snagging on the garment. It can support dual SIMs and the camera is brilliant with a relatively quick shutter so you don't miss out on moments. It also performs well in low light. The biggest feature is the battery life. Those on the go can rely on the device for entertainment and connectivity without having to run for the charger during every tea break. And to top it off, there is the eventual free update to Windows 10.The only chink in its armor is that the app store has fewer titles than the two competitors. Despite that it is what we call a terrific balance ever since Microsoft took over the Lumia name.
Display: 5.7 inches, IPS LCD (1280 X 720) ~259 ppi
Camera: 13-MP with Carl Zeiss optics, 5-MP secondary
OS: Windows Phone 8.1
CPU: Quad-core 1.3 GHz A7 Cortex
GPU: Adreno 305
Sensors: Accelerometer, proximity, compass
ROM: 8GB, RAM: 1GB
Battery: 3000 mAh
PRICE: TK. 19,999/-