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[Try The Tech] - Lumia 640 & Microsoft Band

by on ‎13-10-2015 09:33 - last edited on ‎20-12-2016 09:40 by Community Manager (6,223 Views)

Well first off a huge thanks to the O2 community team (@Toby @Anonymous) for being able to Try the Tech (Microsoft Lumia 640 & Microsoft Band) Having been an on/off fan of Window Mobile since its old days, it is always interesting to return to an old favourite.

 

I have also watched, with interest, the developments at Microsoft’s recent announcements, with particular interest in the Band 2. Having read varying reviews on the band 1 I held off purchase, as various reviews cited battery concerns along with comfort when worn day in day out, well here’s my chance to try it for myself.

 

[Unboxing]

 

The Microsoft Band comes in quite a small and compact box with just the band, charging cable and a quick start guide, the quick start guide shows you most of the basic ‘need to know before you begin’ items such as how to charge, buttons, quick application overview, and how to wear the band. On the side of the box is a sizing guide, this is flaky at best. When Microsoft originally launched the band it was available in 3 sizes (small, medium, large) and users could print a sizing guide online, wrap it round their wrist and it would advise which size you required. Based on the online guide I would need a small, based on the markings on the box I would need a large (you get the picture here…) the one sent from O2 was a medium, and low and behold, it fits perfectly. Charging the band is quite straight forward, just connect the magnetic charger to the elements behind the screen and into a USB charger and away you go.

 

Unboxing the Lumia 640 was a joy in itself, so neatly presented, I had an orange 640 (be warned it’s quite a loud orange, so certainly noticeable when out, but it’s nice… in an orange kind of way…). Also in the box is a mains charger.  Of note is that there are neither headphones nor a data transfer USB cable in the box. Headphones I can understand as a lot of users use their own since phone headphones are usually a little on the cheap side, however since a number of users listed to their own music and videos on their phones the lack of data USB was a bit of a shame (luckily I have spares, and they are easy and cheap to acquire).

 

[The Hardware]

 

The Lumia 640 carries a 5 inch display at 720 X 1280 resolution, with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of built in memory (with around 6 GB for the user), there is an added bonus in that unlike a number of competitor phones the handset does support MicroSD cards up to 128GB. All of this is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad code CPU at 1200MHz

 

There are 2 physical hardware buttons on the phone down the right hand side, these are power and volume rocker, sadly the camera button is missing on this device which was one of Microsoft’s trademarks in the original Lumia ranges.

 

The phone has a user replaceable battery (rated at 2500 mAh) which is a feature a lot of power users will certainly appreciate , along with user changeable back covers (anyone remember the old Nokia’s (3310, etc) which made these cool). Removing the cover reveals the MicroSD slot and the Micro SIM card slot.

 

The band carries a 0.43 X 1.30 inch display with 64MB of internal memory; there are again 2 physical buttons, a power button, and an action button. It is powered by an ARM processing unit, and carries a number of sensors to monitor your day to day activities including heartrate, UV senor, GPS and accelerometer.

 

[Wearing the Band]

 

Now, this part is interesting, the manual advises the band can be worn with the screen above the wrist, just like a wristband, or underneath the wrist, neither of which are that comfortable, and for the first day (I’ve only had in 0.5 days at the time of writing this section) I have tried it both ways with neither being any more comfortable than the other, my only concerns with wearing it screen down is the increased risk of marking the screen (for example when worn whilst typing, the screen is usually in contact with the desk at times), and marks are already visible on the display (the unit had these when sent to me, but its easily to see how this happens), I think Microsoft should have included a screen protector on this just to help.

 

The band has some semi-circular shoulders on the inside of the band on either side of the screen which should wrap around the corners of your wrist; these however, are a set size and are not user adjustable, so for me I found that the band had a tendency to dig in at the point where the bone in your wrist is.

 

Sizing the band on your wrist is done via a small clip on the underside of the band, there are 2 tabs which when squeezed together allow the band to be opened, closed and used to adjust the size, there are a number of settings (smaller areas where the band clips in) along with wrist strap, and once clipped in to the one required by the user is appears very solid, there is little movement in the connection, and I doubt this would come loose even with the most vigorous of exercise routines.

 

[Setting up – Band]

 

The setup is easy enough on the band, during the course of the review I will be testing it out on Android, and iPhone as well as the 640, but for now I will mainly focus on the 640. For Android & iOS Right from the off in the health application you'll have to sign up for a Microsoft account if you don't already have one. Since most people will have one (even if it was just for a Hotmail account) this isn’t too much effort; on the Lumia 640 since you will already have signed in to your MS account this is already present and this step is skipped over. Microsoft sync all the health data from the application to the Cloud, so your data can easily be accessed across all platforms.

 

It takes only a few minutes for the band to sync and pair up with your phone over Bluetooth. I had no issues across Windows, iOS or Android.

 

The band provides on-screen prompts for Bluetooth connection such as what the device ID is, and the Bluetooth passcodes once connected.

 

[Setting up – Lumia 640]

 

Setting up the 640 is an easy affair, once powered on you are asked to set-up your Wi-Fi (if available), along with varying accounts, you must have a Microsoft Account (it does give you the option of creating one if you don’t already), you are also asked to set up the location, date, and time. If you are an existing Windows Phone user you are then presented with any backed up phones you have used to use as a restore (messages, calls, contacts, etc) or you can start a new one (NB: This option is not presented if no previous Windows Phones are registered to your Microsoft Account).

 

From here the phone will install a few applications and re-start. Now you’re ready to go…

 

The rest of the review I will write over the coming days but will be a mixture of a review and an online use diary (since I find real-world use better than just a technical review, so I’ll try and do an mixture of both, but please bear with me, this is my first tech review for the O2 forum…)….

Comments
by
on ‎13-10-2015 09:38

Nice neatly laid out review @PhoneChanger Smiley Very Happy

by
on ‎13-10-2015 09:56
Great review Smiley Happy like your focus on the devices and an original review. How did you find the orange?
by
on ‎13-10-2015 10:00
Bright ;-) I used to have a lumia 930 when they first came out and at the time was tempted by the orange, glad in a way I opted for the black. It's nice, but just not the colour for me, you would certainly stand out in a crowd ;-)
by
on ‎13-10-2015 10:02

@PhoneChanger wrote:
Bright ;-) I used to have a lumia 930 when they first came out and at the time was tempted by the orange, glad in a way I opted for the black. It's nice, but just not the colour for me, you would certainly stand out in a crowd ;-)

You wouldn't get knocked down crossing the road that's for sure...LOL

by
on ‎13-10-2015 11:45

2 epic Microsoft reviews in one morning! Today is a good day.

 

Well done @PhoneChanger, brilliant job. I hope the orange wasn't too distracting Smiley Wink

by
on ‎13-10-2015 11:47

thank you @PhoneChanger for an informative, clearly written & most of all for me, I could understand what I need to as I am a tech novice ... I have had a Microsoft (then Nokia) 640 lte since late May ... my 1st smartphone ... credit to you for your 1st review & look forward to more parts of the review to come

 

I had a choice in O2 store for either orange or jade green ... I went for the orange because is had a smooth finnish & curved corners wheras the jade green one was pimpled finish & rather boxy corners, it looked out of date

Cat

by
on ‎13-10-2015 11:51

Good review @PhoneChanger. A very interesting read Thank you.Smiley Wink

by Anonymous
on ‎20-10-2015 08:36
I was away during last week and just read this brilliant review @PhoneChanger great job!
by
on ‎27-10-2015 10:00

Day to day usage

 

Ok, well, having used both the band and the Lumia for 2 weeks I thought it time to update the rest of the review (sorry it’s taken so long, but we’ve just taken delivery of an 8 week old Kitten, who is keeping us running around).

 

Lumia

 

First off, for anyone using Windows 8 / 8.1 or 10 a lot of the interface for Windows Phone will be very familiar, the phone currently runs Windows Phone 8.1 Denim and should be upgraded to Windows Phone 10 at some point later in the year (more likely some point in 2016).

 

The screen is nice and crisp with text and images looking sharp and easy to read, the 3 windows buttons (back, home and search) are automatically hidden when not in use (a feature that took some getting used to) but does allow the screen to be used to its full potential.

 

The familiar windows 8 style interface loads up with live tiles (which are resizable, some show more information when enlarged). The live tiles are your Start page; you can group tiles into folders if you like. Most apps within the Store come with their own tile and you can see useful info live at your home screen, for example the Weather tile will switch between displaying the current conditions at your location, and the forecast in summary for the next 3 days, all this can be seen without the need to open the app (or widget from Android). You can add a wallpaper of your choice as a tile background, and while it looks great, not all live tiles are transparent, which can detract from the overall effect.

 

The Action Centre is your place for four customizable toggles and all notifications in Windows. It works just like on Android OS - you access it by pulling down from the top of the screen, dismiss all notifications key is available.

 

Most of the commonly used applications, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all present on the Windows eco system, along with full versions of Microsoft Office, so for anyone out on the roads who need to view documents sent via email, or make some quick changes to an excel sheet, these can all be easily done with little fuss. Other applications of note are Here maps and Here Drive + which allows you to have full offline mapping and navigation at no extra cost, mix radio which offers free audio from your favourite artists, and the glance screen. The glance screen this allows you to see the time, along with any notifications (missed calls, texts, etc.) at any time, something that was sadly lost on the top-of-the-range 930 but is back on the 950; Glance can be set to be always on, on for a set time, or set to be on when the sensor detects the phone being removed from your pocket or swiping  you hand over the screen (without touching).

 

Windows Mobile 8.1 is excellent when it comes to resource management and users will rarely see any slowdowns on the system, sure, there will be times when games may take a few extra seconds to load over your iPhone 6s of Samsung S6 but the phone feels snappy for sure a value device. Something Microsoft should be praised for.

 

Microsoft introduced Cortana to parts of the world last year, and has continued to go from strength to strength. If you need a hand getting organised, Cortana is available at the push of a button (or live tile) to put appointments into your diary as well as creating location-based reminders. It’s a very useful feature, much like Siri, and it is one that works well. It may not be able to tell you much about Halo 5, but it can remind you to pick up a birthday card or two when you next go to Clintons. Similarly to Google Now Cortana can also advise you to head off to work early due to the traffic, these simple features all add to the experience; I found it useful, however, like Siri, it will be up to individual users how useful they find it.

 

Call quality was average, I didn’t have any dropped calls or lack of connection, the speakers for both the ear peace and on loudspeaker just weren’t loud enough, I did try a call from the pub and whilst I could hear the other person it wasn’t easy, and in a loud environment, if the phone was in your pocket, you would miss a call (but not if you have the band Smiley Happy )

Battery life was surprisingly good, with average use (an hour or so of messaging, a couple of hours of social media with the odd phone call and YouTube video) the phone lasted 2 days (just), this is coming off the charger at 07:00 on day one, and needing to return to the charger around 22:00 on day 2, not bad considering a lot of phones need charging daily or worse. Of course if you decide to play some games, or stream a lot of media then expect to charge daily.

 

Another useful feature is Quiet Hours mode, which is Microsoft’s take on the Do Not Disturb feature - it can be set to block calls and messages over pre-defined time interval, plus it can also go on automatically during events you have marked in your calendar. Naturally, exceptions are available.

 

 

Microsoft Band

 

The interface of the Microsoft Band is essentially a simplified Windows style platform, and those coming from (or using) and Windows Phone will immediately feel right at home.  There are a fixed number of small, non-resizable, colourful squares. The interface actually works really well with such a small amount of real estate.

 

In the settings you can choose to have the display off when not interacting with it, or have an always-on watch face, which will show you the time and date. Pressing the power button takes you to the home tile which displays the time in colour; you can replace the date by pressing the action button and customizing it to show your heart rate, steps taken, calories burned, or miles from the day.

 

You can also pick from 12 different wallpapers for the home tile alone, with 10 colours that will also deck out the tiles, plus three "discreet" options - or dark grey solid colours with three different font colours, so for essentially a fitness band, it is surprisingly customisable.

 

You can scroll horizontally to go through the list of apps, tapping on the tile to open that particular application. Getting back home is as simple as swiping to the far left and selecting the back arrow, or selecting the back arrow within the applications. Getting back to the home screen wasn't always the easiest thing to do, and initially took some getting used to, a 3rd "home" button would have been useful here.

 

Tapping on the main watch face (after pressing the power button) takes you to a list of your fitness goals, like steps taken, miles walked/run, calories burned and the heart rate monitor. Holding down the home watch face and pulling to the right will display battery life, show whether you've enabled the heart rate monitor and your Bluetooth connection.

 

Notifications were clear and easy to read, but if you were sent an extra long text message, you'd have to read it off your phone. You're not able to reply with non-Windows devices; all you can do is read social media messages, texts, calls and so forth delivered to your wrist, which I guess is more than enough for a fitness tracker. But once paired with the Windows Phone (Lumia 640) you can reply to texts via a small on-screen keyboard, via voice dictation via Cortana, or from a list of pre-programmed replies.

 

The data the band syncs back to your phone comes in the form of Microsoft Health. Microsoft Health is available across all platforms (Windows Phone, iOS and Android). Where Microsoft have excelled is that the experience across all three platforms is pretty much the same (I tested on an iPhone 6, Samsung S6 Edge, and the Lumia 640). The only major difference was Cortana integration support on Microsoft's OS. Otherwise you get the same selection of large tiles with summaries of your sleep, steps, exercise and calories burned. Tap any of those tiles and you can dig deeper into the data.

 

There are other functions such as the integrated UV sensor which can apparently alert you when it's prudent to put on sunscreen (given the current British weather I was not able to test this, surprise surprise).

 

The heart rate monitor seems to work reasonably well providing the band had a good fit to my wrist, though its ranges do vary, there were times when I was sat quiet and it ranged from 70 to 110 BPM, so take the accuracy with a pinch of salt, but it’s still a good function to have, and doesn’t seem any more or less accurate than the one found on the Apple Watch.

 

There is a lot of competition in the health band / smart watch area, and Microsoft’s offering is good, it’s just a little too uncomfortable for daily use for me to consider wearing all the time, but if they have fixed this little issue in the Band 2, then they could be on to a winner.

 

by Anonymous
on ‎27-10-2015 11:56

Excelent update @PhoneChanger! Good to see your own experience with the devices