Nokia Lumia 630 Review: The First Windows Phone 8.1 Device is a Budget Champ
By on May 27th, 2014

Nokia Lumia 630 is the first Windows Phone 8.1 device to be available in the market, and incidentally also the first device launched by Microsoft Mobile, the new Microsoft company formed after the acquisition of the devices business of Nokia.

Nokia Lumia 630 (3)

The Lumia 630 is also the first Dual SIM Windows Phone device, a feature that Windows Phone enthusiasts and potential customers, especially in markets like India, had been clamouring for since long.

Design

The Lumia 630 carries on the same polycarbonate design we’ve seen in the Asha and several Lumia devices. It’s sleek and at 9.2mm thickness, feels pretty good in hand. The 630, weighing just 134 grams, is almost the perfect and most popular size for a smartphone.

Nokia Lumia 630 (4)

The colorful back shells – available in white, green, orange, and yellow – sport a matte finish, and are interchangeable. Under the hood, there are two micro SIM slots and a microSD card slot for additional memory card. The build quality is brilliant and random drops or bumps wouldn’t hurt.

The missing camera shutter hardware button is an odd omission since it’s been a taken-for-granted feature in the Windows Phone devices I’ve used.

Hardware

Nokia Lumia 630 sports a 4.5-inch IPS LCD display. The ClearBlack display has a 480×854 resolution and comes with Gorilla Glass 3 which should take care of minor scratches. Lumia 630’s display is not brilliant, but good enough at this price point. The sunlight readability is also pretty decent.

Powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, the 630 packs in only 512 MB RAM. The Windows Phone operating system is optimized for low configuration, and almost all apps work fine on a 512MB device. Some games, of course, have a minimum 1 GB requirement for installation, so if you are a heavy, indulgent gamer, this might be a deal breaker for you.

Nokia Lumia 630 (5)

To position the Lumia 630 as a budget phone, Nokia has cut corners at several places. While the phone introduces SensorCore, a hardware-dependent software solution that allows apps to use the sensors with minimum power requirement, it does not pack in the usual ambient light and proximity sensors. SensorCore allows the phone to track user’s activity like steps taken and location data.

The proximity sensor enables a phone’s display to turn off during a call to avoid unwanted taps, but the 630 features a workaround that turns off he display when the face or the ear touches it. It sounds awkward, but the execution is perfect. In over a week of use, I never had inadvertent taps while taking a call. The automatic brightness control of Windows Phone is obviously missing due to the absence of ambient light sensor. Although, again, keeping the brightness setting to medium level worked for me through the day in different light conditions.

Nokia Lumia 630 (1)

The Lumia 630 comes in two variants – Single SIM and Dual SIM. In the Dual SIM variant, you get separate Messaging and Phone Tiles with individual call records and messaging threads. However, you can merge the two for an integrated interface. The phone allows you to switch between the two SIMs while making a call or sending a text, or viewing a contact. This is not just convenient, but very seamless. Also, the Smart Dual SIM feature allows you to automatically forward calls from one SIM to the other when the first one is not reachable.

Camera

The average 5MP rear camera isn’t a highlight of the Lumia 630. Although, not many phones in this price segment impress much with the camera anyway. The photos captured in day light are good enough with decent color reproduction, but since there’s no flash, most photos in low light or dark conditions would disappoint.

The front camera is excluded in the Lumia 630. Although, apart from the latest trend of selfies, that’s a justifiable compromise for a budget phone.

Software

Nokia Lumia 630 is the first device that ships with Windows Phone 8.1. The update not only irons out issues based on user and developer feedback on Windows Phone 8, but also adds several important features to make the operating system at par with the competition.

The much requested Action Center comes to Windows Phone. Similar to the unified notifications center in Android and iOS, the Action Center displays customizable toggles, notifications, alert messages, network indicators, date, and battery level.

Another two major enhancements are the ability to customize the Start screen with background wallpapers instead of the erstwhile blocks of Live Tiles and the new World Flow keyboard. The Start screen now also allows you to add an extra column of tiles in case you want access to more apps and information in a glance. The Word Flow keyboard is similar to the Swype experience in Android, and makes the typing experience on Windows Phone the best in business.

In another first, the Lumia 630 is the first Windows Phone device that comes with virtual soft keys for navigation. You can enable haptic feedback for these keys and choose to keep them always dark, match the background color of the app in focus, or match the accent color.
The phone packs in a three months subscription of Nokia MixRadio with unlimited free music downloads.

Summary

The Windows Phone experience on the Lumia 630 is very smooth overall despite what the specifications sheet says and launching apps, browsing the Web, and playing music and videos is a breeze. The apps take a little longer to resume, but that shouldn’t bother most users. While playing casual games like Temple Run is all good, even graphics-intensive game like Asphalt 8 performed well, and better than most Android devices in this price segment.

Nokia Lumia 630 (2)

The battery life is pretty good, and the 1,830mAh removable battery will last for an entire day with brightness set to maximum and 3G usage all through.

The Lumia 630 is available for ₹10,500 (Single SIM) and ₹11,500 (Dual SIM), and at that price, the 630 offers great build quality and first-rate user experience. There are a few clear compromises like the camera, but a good buy otherwise.

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Product Reviewed: Nokia Lumia 630

Review By: Abhishek Baxi
Nokia Lumia 630 is the first Windows Phone 8.1 device to be available in the market, and incidentally also the first device launched by Microsoft Mobile, the new Microsoft company formed after the acquisition of the devices business of Nokia.
Rated: 4/5
Author: Abhishek Baxi
Abhishek Baxi is an independent technology columnist for several international publications and a digital consultant. He speaks incessantly on Twitter (@baxiabhishek) and dons the role of Editor-in-Chief here at Techie Buzz.

Abhishek Baxi has written and can be contacted at abhishek@techie-buzz.com.

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