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Battle of the Microsoft phablets: Lumia 950XL vs Lumia 640XL

lumia 950xl vs 640xl 950 xl features iris jpg
Image used with permission by copyright holder
The Windows flagship everyone has been waiting for is finally here. The Microsoft Lumia 950XL is the best Windows Phone we have seen in a while. It’s a phablet, if you will, but Microsoft is no stranger to large-and-in-charge phones. The Lumia 640XL launched earlier this year with the same size 5.7-inch display. How does the Lumia 950XL compare to the Lumia 640XL?

Lumia 950XL

Microsoft Lumia 950XL Thumb
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Lumia 640XL

Lumia 640XL Thumb
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Size 5.98 x 3.09 x 0.32 inches 6.22 x 3.21 x 0.35 inches
Weight 5.82 ounces 6.03 ounces
Screen 5.7-inch AMOLED 5.7-inch IPS LCD
Resolution 2560 x 1440 pixels, 515 ppi 1280 x 720 pixels, 259 ppi
OS Windows 10 Windows 8.1, Windows 10 upgrade available
Storage 32GB 8GB
SD Card Slot Yes Yes
Processor Octa-core Snapdragon 810 Quad-core Snapdragon 400
RAM 3 GB 1GB
Connectivity Wi-Fi (a/b/g/n/ac), 4G LTE, HSPA+ Wi-Fi (b/g/n), 4G LTE, HSPA+
Camera 20MP Rear PureView, 5MP Front 13MP Rear PureView, 5MP Front
Video 2160p 4K UHD 1080p
Bluetooth 4.1 4.0
NFC Yes Yes
Fingerprint sensor No No
Iris Scanner Yes No
Water Resistant No No
Battery 3,340mAh 3,000mAh
Charger USB Type-C Micro USB
Quick Charging Yes No
Wireless Charging Yes, Qi No
Marketplace Windows Store Windows Store
Avg. Price $649, $200 with a two-year contract $250, $1 with a two-year contract
Color Options Red, White, Blue, and Black Matte Cyan, Orange, Black, Matte White, Glossy White
Availability November 2015, AT&T AT&T
DT Review Hands on review Hands on review

 Microsoft

 Amazon | AT&T

Power

Both phones use Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, but there is a big difference between the two. The 950XL’s Snapdragon 810 is an octa-core processor that is super fast. On the other hand, the 640XL sports a dated Snapdragon 400, which is a quad-core chip that’s normally found in mid-range phones. Windows 10 is pretty lightweight, so most people probably won’t notice a difference with normal use. However, the 950XL uses the extra power for Windows Continuum, which allows the phone to operate like a desktop computer. It’s a very neat feature that you won’t find on many other phones at this point in time.

Winner: Lumia 950XL

Display

Size doesn’t always matter. You will find a 5.7-inch display on both phones, but the 950XL is a lot more pleasing to the eye. The 950XL features AMOLED technology and a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels. That translates to a whopping 515 pixels-per-inch. The 640XL is more mid-range with it’s IPS LCD display and 1,280 x 720 pixel resolution. While most people don’t pay attention to every pixel, most consumers will notice a difference between these two displays side-by-side. The Lumia 950XL is significantly sharper and brighter.

The other plus with the 950XL is the AMOLED technology, which means that the phone can conserve battery life by only lighting the pixels that it needs. For example, the lock screen notifications will barely impact battery life since the entire display won’t be lit.

Winner: Lumia 950XL

Productivity

Having a great display and a lot of power doesn’t always translate into productivity. However, the Lumia 950XL might be one of the most productive phones we have ever seen. With Windows Continuum, you can attach the phone to the optional display dock and it will transform into a Windows 10 desktop of sorts. Windows 10 apps will automatically adjust to a larger monitor, and you will be able to use a full keyboard and mouse. Now that’s productive. Unfortunately, the 640XL doesn’t have the same ability, but then again, not everyone is looking for that feature from a phone. Still, there’s no denying that the 950XL will serve your productivity needs better.

Winner: Lumia 950XL

Camera

Both phones feature PureView cameras, but the 950XL gets a nice upgrade with a 20-megapixel sensor vs. the 640XL’s 13-megapixel sensor. We know it’s not all about the megapixels, but the 950XL also features an aperture of f/1.9 and optical image stabilization. On top of this, the 950XL is capable of recording 4K video, while the 640XL is limited to 1080p. At the Microsoft event, we saw some amazing pictures taken with the Lumia 950XL that showed impressive detail when zooming into the shot. It’s too soon to tell for sure, but it’s just about a certainty that the 950XL will outperform the 640XL in sheer quality.

Winner: Lumia 950XL

Design

Picking the best phone in terms of design is difficult, since it’s such a personal thing. Both phones feature plastic bodies, so neither one is going to blow you away. The 950XL does sport a larger camera lens, which might offer a more premium look for some. The one noticeable advantage of the 950XL is that it’s little smaller even though it has the same display size. Still, we can’t see anyone choosing either phone over the other for styling alone. The two Lumias look quite similar in style, after all, though the 640XL does come in lots of fun colors.

Winner: Tie

Extras

The 950XL provides a few extras that make it even more attractive. On top of a bigger battery, the 950XL also supports quick charging, which means that you can charge it from 0 to 50 percent in only 30 minutes. The 950XL also supports Qi wireless charging. Security is another area in which the 950XL shows its prowess. Microsoft added an iris scanner that works with the Windows Hello Beta, too. This means that you can unlock the 950XL by just looking at it. Of course, it doesn’t work yet, though it will soon. Unfortunately the 640XL doesn’t offer any of these features.

Winner: Lumia 950XL

Conclusion

It appears that we have a clear winner, but it really comes down to your needs. If it’s a flagship Windows 10 phone with a lot of power and features that you want, then the Lumia 950XL is the phone for you. However, if you don’t think you need to use your phone as a desktop computer and don’t care about having the most high-end specs, the 640XL is a good choice, considering it still has a decent PureView camera, very good battery life, and is eligible for the Windows 10 upgrade. Plus, you can get it for $400 less off contract or $200 less on contract.

Robert Nazarian
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Robert Nazarian became a technology enthusiast when his parents bought him a Radio Shack TRS-80 Color. Now his biggest…
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