By Rich W Woods
Today, we discovered that AdDuplex noticed a new Windows Phone with a 5.7″ 1080p display. We also saw that the Nokia Lumia 635 is the most used Windows Phone in the United States. This news comes two days after I received the successor to the Nokia Lumia 635, the Microsoft Lumia 640.
Microsoft announced the Lumia 640 in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress. It is my understanding that the device will be sold for $99.99 in the United States, or at least the carrier locked models will. If that is in fact the case, the Microsoft Lumia 640 will deliver a heck of a lot of value.
The 6xx series of Lumias has historically hung on the border between the low end and the mid-range. Lately, I’ve considered the Nokia Lumia 635 to be a high quality low end device that packs a lot of value for its price tag, rather than a mid-range that doesn’t quite deliver on what a mid-range should. The Microsoft Lumia 640 promises to be a full fledged mid-range device.
Nokia Lumia 635 vs Microsoft Lumia 640: Specs
|Nokia Lumia 635||Microsoft Lumia 640|
|Processor||1.2 GHz Quad Core Snapdragon 400||1.2 GHz Quad Core Snapdragon 400|
|Display||4.5″, 480p, 221 ppi, IPS LCD||5″, 720p, 294 ppi, IPS LCD|
|Body||129.5×66.7×9.2 mm, 134 g||141.3×72.2×8.8 mm, 145 g|
|Camera||5 MP, 2592х1944||8 MP, 3264×2448, 1 MP Front|
|Video||720p – 30 fps||720p – 30 fps, Front 720p – 30 fps|
|Focal Length||28 mm||28 mm|
|Storage||8 GB, Expandable to 128 GB||8 GB, Expandable to 128 GB|
|RAM||512 MB||1 GB|
|Battery||1830 mAh||2500 mAh|
|Price||AT&T – $49, T-Mobile – $79, Sprint – $179, Unlocked – $129||$99?|
As you can see, the Microsoft Lumia 640 knocks down the Nokia Lumia 635 in every way except the processor. After running a battery test, I can tell you that the 2500 mAh battery gets the best battery performance I’ve ever seen from a Windows Phone.
The display is one of the main reasons I would say that a phone with the same processor has made the switch from low end to mid-range. The Nokia Lumia 635 was 480p, which looks very pixelated, but also gave the Adreno 306 GPU that extra power (which is what differentiates a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 200 from a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400). The 720p display on the Microsoft Lumia 640 really makes it clear that this device is not on the low end.
The other major upgrade in the Microsoft Lumia 640 is RAM. Historically, the 5xx and 6xx series has used 512 MB; however, Microsoft seems to be using 1 GB RAM in all of the new models. It might not sound like much, but it really is a huge deal. There are even apps in the Store that you might not even see because you’re running a phone with 512 MB RAM.
Nokia Lumia 635 vs Microsoft Lumia 640: Rear Camera
The battery, display, and RAM aren’t all that got jacked up in the new iteration of the Lumia 6xx series. The camera got jacked up as well. For one thing, the Nokia Lumia 635 has a nice 5 MP rear camera, which, I might add, takes better photos than many flagships; however, there is no front camera and no flash on the rear camera.
The Microsoft Lumia 640 has a 1 MP front camera, which is just enough for recording 720p video. It also uses a single LED flash on an 8 MP sensor, which isn’t much of a flash, but it’s still a flash.
I sort of glossed over the boost in resolution because resolution doesn’t matter. Some people will even admit that “resolution doesn’t necessarily product a better photo”. The word “necessarily” isn’t necessary. If a higher resolution photo takes a better photo, it’s a coincidence. A lower resolution photo also has larger pixels and therefore less noise. That’s why Nokia believed that the perfect photo is 5 MP, and why the 41 MP Lumia 1020 leaves the user with 5 MP images. After all, even if you’re viewing them on a 1440p display, it’s being scaled down to 3.7 MP, and that’s at 16:9. Personally, I believe the perfect image is 8 MP.
But resolution isn’t all. Aperture is defined as the opening of the lens. A smaller aperture will result in a larger depth of field, meaning the background of the image will be more focused. This typically doesn’t mean anything for smart phone cameras since there is so much software at work focusing the back of the image.
What the larger aperture of the Microsoft Lumia 640, as well as the larger sensor size means is better low light performance. I should also point out that the difference between f/2.4 and f/2.2, and the difference between 1/4″ and 1/3″ is pretty substantial for each.
And that’s not all. The Microsoft Lumia 640 uses Windows Phone 8.1 GDR2 with Lumia Camera 5, which means that it has all of the nifty features previously reserved for flagships and higher end mid-ranges, such as the Nokia Lumia 830. They did, however, tell me at Mobile World Congress that they eventually plan to bring Lumia Camera 5 to all Windows Phone 8.1 Lumias.
Lumia Camera 5 comes with a great feature called Rich Capture. This lets you use a slider to manually adjust the exposure of an image. If you use it with a flash, it lets the user pick between the image with a flash, one without, or anywhere in between. So next time you take a picture with a flash and you notice that the subject is super bright and the background is super dark, know that you have choice.
Now look at that. I’ve written about 800 words about how much the Microsoft Lumia 640 is improved over the Nokia Lumia 635, and we haven’t even looked at a single picture yet. Let’s have a peek, shall we?
Please note that in order to enlarge the images, simply click or tap the image. Don’t tap the image if you don’t have a touchscreen. That won’t open them. It will only make your computer angry and it will come to life and eat you. Also, if you want to view the full size image, there is a link in the carousel.
|Nokia Lumia 635||Microsoft Lumia 640|
We can see quite a few things from these images. First of all, the Microsoft Lumia 640 is clearly better in low light conditions. You can see it in the first nighttime shot easily; however, in the second nighttime shot, they appear to be both pitch black but if you look closely at the shot taken with the Lumia 640, you can see the gazebo. Not the case with the Lumia 635.
I would also point out that the images taken with the Microsoft Lumia 640 are much more saturated than the images taken with the Nokia Lumia 635. This is something I’ll need to do further testing on. I need to compare it to some other phones to see if the Microsoft Lumia 640 is oversaturated or if the Nokia Lumia 635 is undersaturated.
Of course, cameras that saturate images can be a good thing or it can be a bad thing. If you’re a professional photographer, you don’t want saturated images; however, for most, you want that eye catching photo that you can post to Instagram. Take a look at HTC. They marketed the One M8 around an oversaturated camera.
As I mentioned earlier, the Nokia Lumia 635 doesn’t have a flash, nor does it have a front camera, so here are some samples of those nighttime shots taken with the Microsoft Lumia 640 with the flash, as well as the front camera.
As we can see, the gazebo is more visible; however, not to the point where if we had a dual LED flash or a xenon flash, which we’ll see when we compare the Lumia 640 to the Lumia 1020 and the Lumia Icon.
Nokia Lumia 635 vs Microsoft Lumia 640: Benchmarks
I don’t put a whole lot of stock into benchmarks. They so rarely reflect real world usage. Unfortunately, it’s the best tool that we have at putting the performance of a device on paper.
Typically, I do battery tests in Geekbench 3; however, it’s not available for Windows Phone so I use WP Bench for that. The other is AnTuTu.
|Nokia Lumia 635||Microsoft Lumia 640|
As you can see, the Microsoft Lumia 640 is a substantial improvement on the Nokia Lumia 635, in both battery and performance.
It is quite a relief to me to see the successor to the Nokia Lumia 635 outperform it by such steep margins. When the Nokia Lumia 530 succeeded the Nokia Lumia 520, I was really bummed out. The camera on the Lumia 530 sucked, it had half the internal storage, it was thicker and heavier. It was just bad. I think they were trying to make up for that when they made the Microsoft Lumia 535, a phone I’ll also compare the Microsoft Lumia 640 to, which should probably be even more interesting. Until then…
CORRECTION: Originally this post said that the Nokia Lumia 635 is the most used smart phone in the United States. That was an error. It is the most used Windows Phone in the United States.
CORRECTION: Originally, this article stated that the sensor size of the Lumia 640 was 1/3″. It is 1/4″. I was thinking of the 640 XL at the time.