Nokia Lumia 630 (and 635) – Review

When you look at it from a logical stand point, it’s hard to peg where the Lumia 630 really stands, is it a successor to the Lumia 620 as it would seem, or a better Lumia 520? This is something which gets even more confusing when you add the fact their actually is a Lumia 530 too?! But, despite a case of confused identity, that most certainly hasn’t stopped us checking the device out for you, something we’ve been waiting to do since Build 2014, so let’s get to it.

But, before we get in to our review, let us just make a small disclaimer; We’ve been using and referencing the Lumia 630 / 635 over a split course of two weeks to bring this review to you, our experience in those two weeks alone is what’s reflected in this review.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Lumia 630 635 box

You can’t get more first impressions than taking it out of the box and putting it in to your hands for the first time, and what we see, in the Lumia 630/635, is the same new Nokia packaging, and unfortunately the same new Nokia constraints, you won’t find headphones in here, like with the 930 (although that did come with a Wireless Charger to be fair), but at least with the Lumia 630/635 you don’t rreally expect it from devices in that price category, this is after all a budget device.

The feel in the hand reminds us more of the Lumia 520 than 620, something evident straight away by the more precise shape of the device, rather than the curvature we loved from the Lumia 620, it’s blocky, but is much thinner and lighter, despite the bump in screen size. Another Lumia 520 trait comes with the same lesser quality plastic materials, something definitely more striking on the matt back shells, than the, also available, glossy ones. You can remove the back covers and purchase customisable colour shells to suit your fancy.

DISPLAY

Lumia 630 635 Orange

Whilst realistically speaking, and what we’ve said in the specs list, it’s an 800 x 480 display, it’s actually a weirder 854 x 480. The additional 54 pixels are used for the permanent on-screen buttons, a Windows Phone 8.1 feature which the Lumia 630/635 debuted. Unlike the more recently announced ‘HTC One M8 for Windows‘ however, due to the increased display resolution, the on-screen buttons are fixed on the display at all times, something which is equally good and bad in multiple situations, our same take on Android on-screen buttons to be honest.

The display itself is the true definition of average, it’s not as bad as we’ve seen people report it, some unfairly, it’s a display which simply does the job. It’s a much better display than the one found in the Lumia 520 definitely, but, based on the Lumia 620s smaller size, we’re not sure whether we’d say the display is an improvement on the Lumia 620. Colours on the display do feel rather washed out, and the display is brighter in the corner edges, more evidence of the more constrained design process, but that certainly doesn’t hinder the Windows Phone 8.1 experience, once you’re used to it, although we are very pinnicky when it comes to displays, maybe it’s because we were so impressed with the Lumia 620 display, for many it’s a none issue.

DESIGN + COLOUR OPTIONS
Image: Nokia Lumia 630 Press Shot

The Lumia 630 can be purchased in Black, Green and Orange, shells for the Lumia 630/635 also add White and Yellow colour options to the mix, making this a true Lumia device. Whilst the design isn’t too striking, it certainly isn’t an ugly phone. The curved slab design of the Lumia 630/635 is definitely an appreciated one, as we mentioned in our first impressions of the device, which just feels great in the hand. The device is also a much thinner offering than we’re actually used to from Nokia recently, something we hope translates to their other device categories, we’re looking at you high end!

CAMERA

Leaf Picture 635

It’s a low end device, no one was expecting a blockbuster of a Camera, and that’s certainly true of the Lumia 630/635. But, what we will say is, the pictures taken on the Lumia 630/635, whilst not printable or really boast worthy, are more than fine for Social Sharing, which the majority of consumers do today anyway, so the Camera may actually be just enough for most people.

But… As we’ve got to briefly, and surely we’ll get back to too, the Lumia 630 suffers from some left overs in comparison to what, logically, is it’s predecessor, the Lumia 620. Whilst the Lumia 620 had an LED Flash, this doesn’t, whilst the Lumia 620 had a front facing Camera, this doesn’t either, what?? Why Nokia’s decision was to do this we’ll never know, but regardless, you’ve to make do with what you’ve got, and what you have is a fair Camera in daylight hours.

PERFORMANCE + SPECIFICATIONS

When anyone thinks of Windows Phone, we think consistency in performance and features regardless of specifications, but still incredible performance, and that’s something we’re sure to feel on the Lumia 630/635, especially when they’re packing the Quad-Core SnapDragon 400 right?? … Well, we don’t know how much that 512MB of RAM affects Quad-Core processors, but it most certainly doesn’t do the Lumia 630/635 any favours. Unfortunately, we’re disappointed to say, performance is just ok. Don’t get us wrong, the device does the job, and gets things done, chuggs along, just far from smoothly! We’re actually seeing a common levels of that dreaded L word, lag, something we’re used to stamping over Android reviews, whether it’s launching Action Centre, closing back to the Start screen, or general use of the OS.

The visible lag really is such a shame, we’re not used to seeing Windows Phone 8.1 not quite flowing as much as we’d of expected, especially on new hardware, and one which realistically includes a more than decent processor, is that 512MB of RAM causing it we wonder? Ironically, that brings up our number one thing we don’t like about the Lumia 630/635, that RAM. The best way to avoid visibility of lag, if you’re experiencing it, on your Lumia 630/635, is generally to be patient, it is a low end device after all, and I think most of us do forget that. But, even after saying that, we still were expecting more, ever the optimist us.

Whilst we have seen some unfortunate lag in the OS, and can’t stand that 512MB of RAM, load a Game on to this thing, it’ll show you there’s still light at the end of the tunnel! Sure, it won’t load and play as fast as a high end Windows Phone, but that’s to be expected, but when we played our secret addiction, Sparkle, on the Lumia 630/635, or any of the other multiple casual games, it played like a champ, so there is some upheaval.

Here’s a reminder of what’s beneath that Lumia 630/635;

  • 4.5 inch 854 x 480 display (800 x 480 discounting additional pixels for on-screen controls)
  • 1.2GHz Quad-core SnapDragon 400
  • 512MB RAM
  • 5MP Camera with 720P Video Capture
  • 8GB Flash Storage
  • MicroSD Card Expansion, up to 128GB
  • 3G / 4G LTE ([Only cat.2 LTE] on 635 only)
  • Bluetooth 4.0LE
  • Wi-FI 802.11AC
BATTERY LIFE

Battery Rating 5 Excellent

Being a low, to mid-range, device, battery life is always expected to perform like a champ, and we’re happy to report with the Lumia 630 that is something we most certainly have seen. Where a Lumia 930 will likely be sipping for air at the end of the day, the Lumia 630 is more than asking for more, with Nokia’s rather optimistic estimates still being just that, they certainly are not far off in our real world tests.

Something that has almost become an added addition to all battery sections of our reviews, and things that may seem obvious to many, these things really do make a large difference with battery life on your devices, and here again is our Windows Phone battery tips for a Lumia 630 / *635.

  1. Disable Super Sensitve Touch, this really kills battery (Settings > display+touch > Normal)
  2. Disable Bluetooth when not in use (Settings > Bluetooth > off) This will lead to Bluetooth not appearing on Send dialogues and you won’t be able to receive Bluetooth connections, when you do, enable again.
  3. *If not in 4G coverage, lower highest connection rate to 3G In relation to the Lumia 635, (Settings > Mobile Network > ‘Highest connection speed’ set to 3G)
  4. Check Brightness Level Is your Brightness pointlessly on High or Medium. For most users Low will be adequate, or more conveniently use the Brightness toggles in Action Centre, as neither the 630/635 have an ambient light sensor.
  5. Check background tasks Like iOS 7, Windows Phone 8.1 greatly increases what apps can do in the background. Launch Battery Saver and view Apps using most battery, tap them and you can either allow or disallow background use if they’re really over stepping their mark.
  6. Turn off Location Services Yes, Cortana may require them to work, but when you’re not wanting to use them, or Cortana, it will be worth turning them off, maybe have a quick toggle in Action Centre, as this in particular is a bit of a battery drainer.

Summary

PROS
  • Attractive customisable device thanks to changeable shells, in either gloss or matt finishes
  • Whilst the shape of the device reminds us more of Nokia’s Asha devices, it’s really comfortable to hold, which is something that definitely gets overlooked in most Smartphones
  • Windows Phone 8.1 shines on the device, with decent enough performance
  • Despite everyone else’s opinion, we actually think the display is very fair
  • MicroSD Card Slot now, thanks to Windows Phone 8.1, you to add not just your Music/Video/Files, but now install applications and Games, but make sure to get at least a Category 10 Card for the best performance.
CONS
  • 512MB of RAM should literally be banned on devices. Whilst Windows Phone has touted this since Windows Phone 7, the curtain has to be turned now as the more than often annoyance of the 1GB requirement is more than tedious.
  • Sticking to performance, Windows Phone 8.1 lags on the Lumia 630 / 635 … sorry, but it does. Considering the Moto G runs Android like a champ with near identical specs, what’s going on? Is it that 512MB of RAM again?
  • Whilst we have defended the display in terms of visual appearance, for the price we’d of expected a 720p at least
  • The Camera is average at best, and considering the Lumia 620 had both a front-facing Camera AND an LED Flash, two things the Lumia 630/635 lack, it certainly leaves a poor taste in your mouth.

Price

Lumia 630 = £90 *RRP = SIM Free

Lumia 635 = £129 *RRP = SIM Free

Free on all Contracts, some Carriers only carry either 630 or 635 option.

 – The Lumia 630/635 continue the value for money strategy that Microsoft/Nokia have essentially had to adjust to, due to unparalleled dominated by Android. The problems we have with the Lumia 630/635, is we’ve found more to turn us away, than to keep us there, and with devices such as Motorola’s Moto G in the market, you can’t afford these kind of set backs, especially when most are even against your own predecessor!

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