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Shootouts

Shootout: The best smartphones under S$350

By James Lu - 26 Jun 2015

Microsoft Lumia 640 LTE

Microsoft Lumia 640 LTE - $300

The Lumia 640 is the only non-Android phone in our shootout, instead it’s running on Windows Phone 8.1 OS, made up of big, colorful tiles that will come as a refreshing change to anyone that's tired of Android (or even iOS).

Lumia phones may be part of Microsoft’s brand today, but they look and feel almost exactly the same as when Nokia was making them. Like previous Lumia phones, the 640 has a one-piece polycarbonate design that bends around to meet the screen at the front. The phone is slightly on the thick side, measuring 8.8mm, and it’s also a bit more angular than some of the Lumia phones we’ve seen in the past, but it’s still very comfortable to hold.

The stiff polycarbonate feels sturdy and well-built, and you can actually swap out the rear cover if you feel like changing colors, or if you just want to replace your old cover when it starts looking a bit worn out. Our review unit is glossy blue, but rear covers are also available in bright green and orange, or if you prefer something more understated, black and white are also available.

The headphone jack can be found at the top of the phone, while the micro-USB port is at the bottom. The power button and volume rocker can be found on the right side, while the Micro-SIM and microSD card slots can be found hidden beneath the rear panel. You'll definitely want to make use of that microSD card slot, which supports cards up to 128GB, as the phone only comes with a mere 8GB of on-board storage.

The Lumia 640 has a 5-inch IPS LCD display with a 1280 x 720 pixels resolution (294 ppi), which isn’t as good as the Full HD models in our shootout, but is still reasonably adequate. The Windows Phone OS makes use of multiple tiles on its homepage and the phone’s resolution is sharp enough to give each tile a crisp edge. Color reproduction is fairly good with vivid colors and there’s a decent level of contrast too. Viewing angles were also quite good, but the display could probably be a little bit brighter, as it doesn’t fare that well under direct overhead sunlight.

Turn the phone over and you’ll find an 8-megapixel rear camera which, despite its fairly low megapixel count is actually quite decent with sharp focus and good, natural color reproduction. The same can’t be said of the phone’s front-facing camera, which is just 0.9-megapixels and barely usable, resulting in low-quality, grainy selfies.

Images from the 640 LTE's 8-megapixel camera were surprisingly good, with probably the most neutral color reproduction out of all of our phones.

The Lumia 640 is a bit underpowered, running on an older 32-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor and just 1GB RAM. If you’re unfamiliar with Windows Phone OS, the homescreen is made up of a scrolling list of colorful tiles that show live information, and can be resized and rearranged to your liking (for more info, check out our full guide here). The 8.1 Denim update brings some much-needed updates like a pull-down panel showing incoming notifications and settings like the screen brightness and Wi-Fi.

While Windows Phone OS is quite enjoyable to use, the lack of available apps has always been its downfall - especially local services based apps. Most of the big apps, such as, Facebook, WhatsApp, Spotify and Instagram, are all available now, but Windows Phone still receives updates later than iOS and Android, if at all.

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