THE SHORT REVIEW
THE LONG REVIEW
- Introduction and design
- Key features
- Interface and performance
PROs The Nokia Lumia 630 has fun, colourful, interchangeable cases, its Windows Phone 8.1 software is easy to use and Nokia’s bundled apps come in handy.
CONs The Windows Phone app store still rarely receives new apps at the same time as Android or iOS, the screen is lower resolution than the similarly-priced Moto G, the camera doesn’t particularly impress and it doesn’t have 4G.
The Lumia 630 comes with a new and improved colourful design and Windows Phone 8.1. It’s full of new features and a step up from anything Nokia has had to offer in the entry level Windows Phone category so far.
The Motorola Moto G is undoubtedly the darling of the budget smartphone world, thanks to its mid-range specs and bottom-end price. It’s not the only option to go for though — particularly if you’re not keen on Android‘s sometimes complicated way of doing things.
If you’re after something a little different but still don’t want to break the bank, cast your eye over the Nokia Lumia 630. It’s a 4.5-inch phone, packing a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, a 5-megapixel camera and the latest Windows Phone 8.1 software, complete with its simplistic live tile interface. It also comes in colours bright enough to burn straight through your retinas.
You can pick the phone up now in the UK for free on contracts starting at £8.50 per month, or SIM-free for £129 from Nokia. It’s available in Australia for AU$249, and will soon be available in the US. Its price puts it squarely up against the Moto G however, which is a dangerous place to be. So does the fun, vibrant Windows Phone 8.1 software make it a worthy option?
Neither the 630 or Moto G have 4G LTE, although both phones do have slightly more expensive 4G LTE-enabled siblings. In Nokia’s case, that’s the Lumia 635, which will be available globally later this month.
Like most of Nokia’s Lumia phones, it’s the bright colours that really make the 630 stand out. The back cover is formed from a single piece of plastic that bends round to meet the glass front. You can get covers in a luminous yellow — with a green sheen on the surrounding plastic — a shiny orange and a more sensible matte green. You can also get it in black, but there’s just no fun in that at all.
The cases are removable, so you can swap the colour to match your outfit — although I don’t want to see the outfit that matches luminous yellowy-green — or just pop on a new one when your old one gets a bit battered. The cases are made from a sturdy plastic so it certainly feels like it could take a few knocks and bumps. The toughened Gorilla Glass 3 screen should keep a good deal of scratches at bay too.
It measures 129mm long and 67mm wide, so you can use it in one hand — not like its enormous big brother, the Lumia 1520. Around the sides are the volume and power buttons, a 3.5mm headphone jack sits on the top, while the micro-USB port — for charging and data transfer — can be found on the bottom. Beneath the back cover is the micro-SIM card slot, the battery and a microSD card slot.
The 4.5-inch display has an 854×480-pixel resolution, giving a pixel density of 218 pixels per inch (ppi). It has the same size screen as the Moto G, but the G has a higher resolution, giving a much more impressive pixel density of 326ppi. Side by side, the Moto G is noticeably sharper, particularly when you look at small text. Still, it’s at least sharp enough for your essential networking and the big, colourful live tiles that make up the Windows Phone 8.1 homescreen look good. It might have a particularly high resolution, but it’s bright and it has decent colours too.
Powering the phone is a 1.2GHz quad-core processor. It’s the same chip that you’ll find in the Motorola Moto G, although the G has 1GB of RAM, while the Lumia 630 has 512MB. Microsoft argues that Windows Phone doesn’t require as much RAM as Android to work smoothly however and indeed I found the phone to be perfectly capable. The Nokia Lumia 630 supports up to 128GB cards, which is useful for extending the fairly limited 8GB of on-board memory and 7GB OneDrive cloud storage.
Navigating around the radiant tiles was swift, with no noticeable stuttering or slow down. Apps opened quickly, although the camera app is subject to a several second delay, which could prove annoying if you’re trying to catch your pet doing something particularly cute.
Still, it handled more demanding tasks without trouble. Glossy 3D racer Asphalt 8 played smoothly with high frame rates in all but the most intense of racing moments, while video streaming in Netflix and BBC iPlayer was handled admirably.
It’s running on the latest version of Microsoft’s mobile operating system, Windows Phone 8.1. This latest version of the software brings a bunch of new features — including Cortana, Windows Phone’s Siri-rivalling voice assistant — but not all new features are found on the 630.
Two new features that you will notice pretty quickly are the ability to set photos as background images and the new drop-down notification panel. Although adding photos as a background does help customise the home screen a little, it’s not as big a deal as it might sound.
The notifications panel is much more useful though. It’s basically the same thing you’ll find on Android devices — swipe down from the top of the screen to pull down a panel showing all your notifications (texts, emails, missed calls etc) and get quick access to critical settings like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and screen brightness.
As it did with previous Lumias, Nokia has chucked in its own software, including Here Maps, Here Drive and Here Transit. Nokia’s mapping software is pretty good and it allows you to download large areas to your phone for offline use. Here Drive gives you turn-by-turn satellite navigation, meaning you won’t need to shell out on a TomTom. Here Transit meanwhile gives you live departure times for local public transport — buses, trains and the Underground too. You’ll also find Nokia’s Mix Radio on board, which lets you stream free music playlists, without ads.
The Lumia 630 is powered by a 1,830mAh battery, which Nokia reckons will provide 13 hours of 3G talk time. That’s a fairly decent claim and from my own testing, I’d say it’s pretty close to the mark. With general use — a bit of Web browsing, social networking and so forth — the phone holds its charge fairly well.
In my more demanding video looping test, the battery had dropped to 77 percent after 2 hours and 32 percent after 5 hours, which isn’t too bad. You certainly shouldn’t be worrying about eating through all your power when watching a film on a long train journey. The battery is removable so you could always pick up a spare to carry around in case of emergency.
As is common among Nokia phones, the Lumia 630’s call quality is pretty decent. The call speaker offers quite beefy sound, which should help out when you’re taking calls in slightly noisier environments.
The internal loudspeaker isn’t quite so hot, though. Top volume is decent but the sound is a little coarse and bass-light, as you’d probably expect at the price.
On the back of the phone is a 5-megapixel camera — the same number of megapixels you’ll get from the Moto G. The camera doesn’t really impress, but I won’t go so far as to call it awful — realistically, it’s about what you should expect, given the price of the phone. It’s not going to catapult you into photography stardom, but so long as you take your shots in well-lit areas and take the time to use the manual controls properly, you should be able to get snaps good enough for Facebook. Bear in mind that there’s no flash so you can forget about night-time portraits of your friends. There’s not much to say about the front-facing camera on the Lumia 630 because there isn’t one.