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Phablet for the biz fleet with easy typing: Microsoft Lumia 640 XL

This business workhorse has quality and character

Review One of my surprising reviews last year was Nokia’s huge, budget phablet, the Lumia 1320. It's fairly similar to the most recent Lumia 640 XL.

Microsoft Lumia 640 XL

Microsoft's Lumia 640 XL: available in 3G and 4G versions

The previous Lumia 1320 was hard to find in the retail catalogues and even Nokia didn’t seem to care for it very much, while the prospect of Windows Phone 8 in an upscaled, trouser-unfriendly package seemed about attractive as cold porridge.

Only by using the 1320 could you begin to see the point. Typing on glass was suddenly piss easy, while the battery lasted forever. And it looked like it could take a few knocks. Like almost all Lumias, it was fairly foolproof, and the screen worked better in the cold and bright light than many more expensive models.

Reader reports were positive, too. The 1320 turned out to be a hit in Nokia's business channels and Microsoft (Nokia phones’ owner) says it’s pitching the Lumia 640 XL as its successor, with fleet buyers in mind.

As before, there are no gimmicks or wowzers. It doesn’t bundle a stylus or any split-screen tricks. The 640 XL does have a distinctive character of its own; one that’s apparent as soon as you pick it up.

Microsoft Lumia 640 XL

The big picture

Microsoft’s former Nokia team has mastered the knack of making phones with removable backs look and feel as a solid as a unibody. And that’s the first important change over its 1320 predecessor – the 640 XL has a removable battery. The battery is a bit smaller than before (3000 mAh vs 3400 mAh on the Lumia 320) but the removable bit is important for many buyers.

Microsoft Lumia 640 XL

Slimmer and lighter

It’s also undergone a slight size reduction (from a 6-inch to a 5.7 inch diagonal) and an impressive weight reduction: from 220g to an improbable 171g – and that gives it some of its character. It’s a durable slab that you think will be much heavier than it is. Pick it up, and … wheee! Is this thing filled with helium? The matt finish makes it much more grippy than glossy Lumias and is appropriate for a workhorse phone.

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