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Affordability is in focus for Microsoft Lumia with the launch of the new Lumia 640 and 640 XL smartphones last week. With the Asha brand falling away, Microsoft has steadily been releasing a number of devices in the entry- to mid-level category, broadening its portfolio of smartphones at every price point following the wild success of the Lumia 520.

'If you look at where operators are investing, it’s in LTE networks, and we are tying into that strategy with our LTE-ready devices like the Lumia 640 and 640 XL,' says Patrick Henchie, Senior Manager Portfolio & Product Marketing for South & East Africa at Microsoft.

Inside the Microsoft Lumia 640 

A solid all-rounder, the Lumia 640 is fairly powerful, but won’t put too big a dent in your pocket, with retail prices starting at R2 499 and contract pricing from R179 a month. It has a 5-inch screen, a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, 8GB of memory, a good 2500mAh battery and in the camera department, a wide-angle 1MP in the front and a 8MP in the back.

Inside the Microsoft Lumia 640 XL

With the popularity of extra-large displays like the iPhone 6 Plus, Microsoft has settled on a 5.7-inch HD touchscreen for the 640 XL. Pitching it as the perfect device for a new type of consumer, called the 'prosumer', who works in a corporate environment and needs the extra screen space, the 640 XL is beefed up in all the departments that matter: a quad-core Snapdragon processor, battery power increased to 3000mAh, a 5MP front-facing camera, and a 13MP camera at the back.

Hello there, free Office 365

Both phones come with Windows Phone 8.1 (Denim) and can be upgraded to Windows 10 when it releases later in the year. 'If we look at the longevity of our devices, it’s important that we give you hardware that you will be able to run apps and programs on in 18-24 months,' says Henchie.

The big news is that when you buy a Lumia 640 or 640 XL, you get 12 months of Office 365 for free (valued at R750), and you can install this on up to five devices. This include a massive 1TB of OneDrive storage and 60 free Skype minutes every month.

These types of value-adds are making it even more attractive for Windows desktop users to invest in a Lumia as their mobile device of choice, and is positioning Microsoft’s plans to offer 'Windows as a service' in the future.

With the Windows Phone store ever increasing the number of apps and games available on Lumia devices, the stage is set for Windows to make some elbow room in the mobile market that is dominated by Android and iOS.

The Lumia 640 and 640 XL will be available in black, white, blue and bright orange.

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