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Big, cam-proficient and cheap, the Lumia 640 and 640 XL show what Microsoft is all about

Redmond’s first flagship Lumia may still be down the line, but these two ultra-affordable mid-end soldiers are a bold statement of what’s to come.

Lumia 640

Who said budget-friendly gear has to be boring? Not Nokia, despite the financial woes that attracted its downfall, and certainly not Microsoft, which was recently passed the torch. Many feared the low-cost Lumia magic of yesteryear would be messed with, but that’s definitely not the case.

Not yet, as the just-announced Lumia 640 and 640 XL look by far like the most respectable handhelds in their price range. That’s EUR 139 and 189 respectively for 3G-limited European versions, and €159 and €219 for LTE-enabled models. Directly converted to US currency, it’d stem retail costs of between $155 and $245, but the hope is MS will stop at $139, $159, $189 and $219.

The bad news is the standard Lumia 640 will only begin its global rollout in April. On the bright side, the 640 XL goes on sale later this month. And all in all, the XL is clearly the more desirable device.

Lumia 640 XL

It’s not just unapologetically larger, at 5.7 inches, but it’s also a cash-strapped shutterbug’s wet dream, with a phenomenal 13 megapixel Zeiss-lens rear camera in tow. Not to mention it’s good for selfies too, thanks to a 5 MP front-facing snapper, and should last you a while between charges, with a 3,000 mAh battery backing the not-overly-demanding 720p screen.

Meanwhile, the 5-inch Microsoft Lumia 640 delivers the same exact display resolution for a superior ppi, but considerably lowers the photographic bar. True, 8 megapixels are still pretty good for sub-$150, but they’re not 13. And the 1 MP front shooter can’t take a decent self-portrait if your life depended on it.

Lumia 640 XL camera

Of course, the battery is a lot smaller as well, at 2,500 mAh. Otherwise, the 640 and 640 XL look like two peas in a pod, on the outside and inside, with rounded corners, a bunch of playful paint jobs to choose from, quad-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 processors, 1 GB RAM (each), 8 GB native storage (each), and complimentary one-year (each) Office 365 subscriptions.

Oh, and let’s not forget they both run Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Denim out the box. Windows 10 upgrades are only a matter of time, and Technical Preview support is likely coming soon.

Sources: Lumia Conversations (1), (2)

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