System Performance

Since the state of benchmarking on Windows Phone is not as mature as Android, I haven’t been able to compare the Lumia 640 to the competition in every aspect that I would like to. What I have been able to do is put it through our standard browser benchmarks, along with BaseMark OS II to look at individual component performance, and GFXBench to examine GPU performance.

While the absolute performance of Snapdragon 400 is well known, certain aspects of performance are heavily impacted by a device’s software. A good example is browser performance, which is a function of both SoC power and the speed of a device’s browser and Javascript engine. Two devices with the same SoC can have very different browser performance.

Kraken 1.1 (Chrome/Safari/IE)

Google Octane v2  (Chrome/Safari/IE)

WebXPRT 2013 (Chrome/Safari/IE)

Unfortunately, it’s clear that Internet Explorer doesn’t measure up to Chrome and Safari when it comes to performance. While buyers may be pleased that their Lumia 640 performs as well as the more expensive Lumia 735, both of these phones occupy the lowest positions on every chart. There’s even a significant gap between them and other Snapdragon 400 devices running Android, such as Motorola’s Moto G.

Basemark OS II 2.0 - System

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Memory

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Graphics

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Web

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Overall

There's not much need to go into detail on the Lumia 640's performance in BaseMark OS II. With the exception of a fairly good result in the NAND memory test, the Lumia 640 achieves the lowest scores that we've seen in recent times.

Unfortunately, the Lumia 640 isn't shaping up to be a very quick device. It's consistently bested by Snapdragon 400 devices running Android, and in 2015 we're going to see Snapdragon 410 used as the SoC of choice in devices at this price bracket, which won't make the Lumia 640's position any better. Microsoft needs to iterate much quicker than they currently are. Their slow pace in adoption new hardware helped kill Windows Phone in the high end market, and it will do the same to the low end. I have some further words about performance on the Lumia 640 and Windows Phone in general, but those will have to wait until the software section of the review.

GPU Performance

The last area of performance to investigate is GPU performance. The performance of Adreno 305 has been thoroughly evaluated on Android, but differences in drivers and graphics APIs can improve or reduce performance across different operating systems.

Since Adreno 305 doesn’t support Direct3D feature level 10.0 and Shader Model 4.0 it’s unable to run the GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan test. This leaves us with only the T-Rex HD benchmark which isn’t very hard on high end devices, but still poses quite a challenge for weaker mobile GPUs.

GFXBench 3.0 T-Rex HD (Onscreen)GFXBench 3.0 T-Rex HD (Offscreen)

In both the on-screen and off-screen tests, the Lumia 640 lags behind the Moto G. While 1-2fps doesn’t seem like much, when your frame rate is in the low single digits it represents a significant difference in performance. Because of this, I decided to take a look at the performance in GFXBench’s driver overhead test to see what impact the GPU drivers and graphics API might have on performance.

GFXBench 3.0 Driver Overhead Test (Offscreen)

As suspected, there’s a very significant gap in performance when comparing the Lumia 640 to the Moto G. I can’t say whether this is due more to the differences between OpenGL and DirectX, or between the different Adreno drivers on Windows Phone and Android, but whatever the case may be the end result is a notable decrease in GPU performance on Windows Phone when compared to an Android device with the same SoC.

I’m not happy at all with the GPU performance that we see in low-end and even mid-range smartphones, and the Lumia 640 is no exception. There’s not much Microsoft can do here though, as moving to Snapdragon 410 with its Adreno 306 will not improve GPU performance at all. All I can really say is that users shouldn’t expect to be playing any 3D games on their Lumia 640, but simpler 2D games should run just fine.

Introduction and Design Display


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  • BestUsernameEver - Tuesday, June 16, 2015 - link

    Brandon notes that the key app gap, for him, is the absence of Google services. I would agree that certain Google services, the biggies (map and search), are missed on WP. Sadly, that is by a very deliberate design on the part of Google (admirably noted in the review), which is actively avoiding any of its services ever making an appearance on WP (note the saga related to MS's own YouTube app for WP). This may change, and change quickly, if WP gains a user base north of 100 million users (they are not far away from this milestone now, in fact).

    However, I'm curious as to why he was so dismissive of the "alternatives," where they exist; in particular, OneDrive for Google Drive, and Skype for Hangouts. The MS alternatives are superior to Google's offerings here, and, unlike Google's versions, available on all platforms.

    Also, why bemoan the fact that the official Twitter app is not as good as it is on iOS and Android, when the third party Tweetium app is clearly a superior app for Twitter over the "official" version on WP?
  • totoodo - Friday, June 19, 2015 - link Reply
  • totoodo - Friday, June 19, 2015 - link Reply
  • proheart - Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - link

    overall a thorough review- but what's the point of it? as long as the "app gap" is present (always will be with windows phones), there's just no reason to get one of these phones for anyone in any financial bracket.

    i had the nokia lumia 1020 for a few months ( the allure of a 41 MP camera intrigued me) however i came to the same conclusion as the reviewer that that apps just are not there, or for some of the popular ones that are, there is limited functionality and virtually no updates. windows app store no longer has the chase bank mobile app or it's no longer supported officially by chase.

    some folks are saying that with windows 10 things are going to change and it will be easier for developers to port apps to windows. i'm not buying it- they said the same thing with windows mobile 8 then 8.1 and it didn' t pan out.

    why would any developer cater to a market that has less than 3 % of the market share with no viable growth in sight? microsoft and windows mobile is and always will be a niche market and a very small niche at that.
  • dustwalker13 - Sunday, July 5, 2015 - link

    actually it is growing. thing is it takes ages to get even from tiny to small. by the way market share in europe is around 10% not 3% and that market is way bigger than the us in terms of volume. android is loosing over there.

    the app gap is always stated and repels people as an argument which is odd seeing that research has shown that most users actually download less than one app a month on average and the overwhelming majority only uses standard apps that actually are available on all systems (like facebook, whatsapp, telegram, instagram, etc).

    the real issue is 75% marketing 24% what the guy in the pub says and 1% actual problem with app availability for most people. the difference between the us and europe seems to be in europe the customers have realized this fact.

    as for app development, the prospect to use microsofts new dev tools and crank out an app for all three platforms in one go with minimal adaptation, or import my android / ios app and create a unified windows store app for all windows devices with minimal effort ... hell yes this will work for me. the windows phone market is tiny ... but the pc/tablet windows market is not and if i can potentially just revamp my app in a few hours there, it basically is free money for me.

    windows phone 8.1 was useless ... develop a new app for a tiny market? not gonna happen. reencode my existing app for the windows store or even creating one new app and exporting it easily to all platforms? no brainer.
  • rburnham - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    If Amazon's Music app was released for WP, I'd go back to it in a heartbeat. Reply
  • dustwalker13 - Sunday, July 5, 2015 - link

    A nice article just a bit of critizism here...

    If you are completely set to use googles apps there is only one system that makes sense for you anyway and that is android. Lamenting missing google apps on windows phone is like ranting about not having an itunes or facetime app on your samsung galaxy.

    The battery life is something I was surprised about. We use 640s for our sales guys. They get through the day withput issues while working and those people are not light on battery life. We had constant complaints back when we used android based htc models.

    Finally as for feeling slow, the only time I feel the system is slow is when loading up apps, which is to be expected on those old snapdragon 400. In the system itself, the settings etc. it feels smooth and more responsive than any android at the same price point I have tested, but that is just my subjective experience like you have yours.

    As for the browser, that one definitely needs work, though I think this issue will disappear with wp10 and edge in a few months. Anyway browsing on a mobile is a pain in all cases in my opinion.

    In the end, while the review tries to be comprehensive I think it is rather useless to have someone judge a system who is - through his app and cloud storage history - firmly set on using another system anyway.

    Someone who uses icloud and apple services for any and everything will not find android all that appealing. You use google services extensively and preclude the possibility to switch to another environment ... windows phone is just not for you.
  • OoklaTheMok - Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - link

    I think you are wrong regarding how the Action Center should be displayed. In it's current form, the user can pull it down only a small amount to expose the Commands. In it's current form, I can pull it down an inch and expose the command I need to use at the moment, and I don't lose context of where I am. If it was implemented as you stated it should, I wouldn't be able to access the commands until the Action Center was completely opened. Reply
  • Smiles5525 - Thursday, August 20, 2015 - link

    We own or ownerd Lumia 540, 635, 825, 925 and 640. One item you left out of your review is the new security feature that only the 640 currently has. They have this feature hidden under "Find My Phone" and is callled Recovery Protection/recovery key. No where in manual that came with phone from T-Mobile does it list this feature. I believe the feature mat have been listed during setup. When this feature is turned on, your phone cannot be restored or the ability to change/add a different Microsoft id. Preventing someone from stealing the phone and being able to reuse it. You have to make sure you register the phone on the Windows website so you can obtain a recovery code and don't' lose it, before something happens.
    The only problem with this is.....if your Microsoft account is ever hacked like my son's xbox account was over a month ago, Microsoft gave him a temporary id to use for 30 days and locked up the id that was hacked; which of course is the id registered on the phone. Once they locked up the hacked account, you are not able to turn off the recovery feature so you can put a new Microsoft id on the phone. Then when you call Microsoft lumia, or Windows phone, they tell you how to restore the phone so you can put a new Microsoft id back on the phone. However, once the phone restarts it gets locked on the recovery key request because your recovery key does not work because Microsft reported that I'd hacked. You cannot even access anything saved in the cloud, pictures, phone backups...nothing. The one at Microsoft even knows how to fix this, they don't even know about their own security feature. I've spent 40+ hours on the phone with numerous departments, filled out a million forms and finally 30 days later, this issue was escalated to much higher departments with no resolve. My son's 3 week old phone is rendered useless and Microsoft cannot unlock the phone, nor will they replace it. I am stuck paying for a phone that was used 3 weeks. Microsoft locked up the phone and all they can do is say...sorry, nothing we can do. Microsoft has the poorest customer support structure and won't take responsibility for their short comings. I used to love Windows phones....I'll never buy another!
  • sany666 - Monday, November 16, 2015 - link

    this is one of the best under 10000 smartphone. my full hands on review i've posted on if your interested in detailed review, sample pics also i've posted in this as i cant upload pics here. Reply

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