I recently bought the new Microsoft Lumia 640XL smartphone and it could well be the best smartphone ever—depending on what your criteria for 'best smartphone ever' might be.
Firstly I will cover some of the downsides, and then I will go into why the 640XL is the best smartphone ever; in my opinion anyway.
First downside—it doesn't fit that well into my highly expensive desk smartphone holder or my Subaru Forester dashboard pop-out smartphone/cup holder.
Another downside is that it is a tad big for shirt pockets. I can only just do up the button on my lumberjack shirt when I have the 640XL in the pocket. And you need to be able to do the button up so the phone doesn't drop out when you bend over (for whatever reason).
Something else that is bugging me is that I cannot find a cover for it anywhere. When I went down to Midland Gate shopping centre and enquired at all those little shops in the mall area for a 640XL cover they sort of looked at me quizzically and said things like "Is that an iPhone?" or "You mean Samsung?".
I have looked on the Web, and some Web shops actually show covers for the 640XL, but when you read the text it usually says something like "In stock in 3 to 5 weeks"—which is Web-store code for "we don't have any and we probably aren't getting any, but if you order it from us we will try and get it from someone else and send it to you—or not".
One thing I thought might be an issue but hasn't been is that it only has 1GB of system memory. But because the Windows Phone operating system is so lean in its use system memory (compared to the competition) and cleans up unused memory so efficiently, at this stage anyway, I have not encountered any problems due to the relatively small-ish allocation of system memory on this phone.
Upsides—Top 3 and Normal 3
The Top 3 upsides are so huge I am not too sure where to start.
Let's start with the battery life.
The 640XL has a 3,000mAh battery. Having such a pumped up battery is a really good start when it comes to battery life. But, being a Windows Phone running Microsoft's awesome relatively-low-power-consumption Windows Phone operating system, task-for-task the phone only draws about 85 percent of the power burnt by the non-Windows Phone smartphones.
With what I would consider heavy usage I can easily get two full days out of a charge up. Starting from waking up in the morning, this 'heavy' usage covers:
- using the alarm to wake up;
- browsing the Web in bed for 10 minutes;
- browsing the Web and checking the Facebook app while on the toilet (who reads the paper in the dunny anymore?);
- browsing the Web while having coffee and breakfast (who reads the paper at breakfast anymore?);
- listening to an audio book on the way to work in the car (40 minutes);
- browsing the Web using 3G data sitting in the car while procrastination about getting out and walking to work;
- usually calling the wife and telling her I made it into the scary City okay once again;
- walking up to work;
- listening to the in-built FM radio while at work;
- taking a few pictures here and there (see my comments later on the camera for some examples of pictures);
- the odd phone call from work;
- browsing the Web using 3G data for about 30 minutes while having lunch (who reads the paper while having lunch anymore?);
- making two or three calls after lunch;
- listening to the audio book driving home;
- checking how many steps I have done that day on the Microsoft step tracker (which has been running all day in the background);
- browsing the Web and checking Facebook for about an hour while 'sort of watching' TV;
- browsing the Web for about half an hour after going to bed; and
- downloading and listening to a podcast (usually a TWiTor NoAgenda podcast) while going to sleep.
Battery usage for the day would typically be about 33 to 40 percent.
After two days of use I will generally still have around 20 percent of battery life remaining.
Fringe-area call holding
This is a very big upside for me. I did not know this when I bought the 640XL as there were very few useful reviews on the Web, but the 640XL is amazing at holding calls in fringe reception zones.
Since my original smartphone—a very early model Motorola that I cannot remember the model name of—no smartphone I, or anyone in my house has used (any model iPhone, Samsung S3, S4, LG, Sony) has been able to hold a call—whether incoming or outgoing. Most times as soon as an incoming call is picked up it is lost, unless you attempted the mad dash outside into the pergola before the call dropped out; and making that mad dash is a safety issue. Trying to open the sliding door, then the security screen door, and then bounding up the steps into the pergola. It's a wonder someone hasn't died in an often vain attempt at trying to hold a smartphone call.
But the Lumia 640XL has no such problems. Not even a hint of a problem at holding calls inside my house up in the hill s among the gum trees under a tin roof . I can make and take calls in my study, the TV area, from the bedroom—it is truly amazing.
Since getting the 640XL I have taken and made calls, long calls, and the connection has been rock solid and continuous. What a joy.
I notice now that Telstra have actually awarded the 640 their "Blue Tick", indicating that this phone has been found by them to have better fringe-area reception than your normal smartphone. But when I bought my 640XL Telstra did not have either the 640 or 640XL on their site.
The 640XL is A$399 outright at Harvey Norman or Dick Smith stores (each have different colours available). This buys you a 5.7" smartphone with an amazingly crisp screen with solid blacks. The Lumia 640, with a 5" screen, is A$299 outright.
So after you plug this into Telstra's new $35 a month BYO month-by-month (no contract) phone plan (which gives you $300 worth of calls, unlimited SMS, and 500MB of data per month) this works out to a pretty good deal.
So they are my Top 3 reasons for the 640XL.
As this post has become a bit long I might put my 'Normal 3' plus points for the 640XL in another post, so watch out for that along with some sample pictures taken using the camera if you are looking for more information on the 640XL.