Nokia Lumia 630: An introduction to the new low-cost Windows Phone

A few weeks ago, the Lumia 630 became the first handset to go on sale with the very latest update to Microsoft’s mobile OS, Windows Phone 8.1. Despite slotting in the range above the cheapest Lumia 520 – which has seen promotional pricing drop as low as just $40 off-contract – the Lumia 630 is the company's new entry-level Windows Phone 8.1 device… at least until the rumoured Lumia 530 arrives.

The Lumia 630 has already gone on sale in some parts of the world, including India, various Eurozone markets and the United Kingdom, as well as Brazil, which exclusively enjoys a special version of the handset featuring integrated digital television.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been testing the Lumia 630 extensively, putting it through its paces in the real world so that we can deliver the kind of in-depth review that we know you appreciate here on Neowin. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be taking a closer look at various aspects of the Lumia 630 – from its display and battery life, to gaming and design, and plenty more besides.

Just as we did with Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3, we aim to bring you the most thorough and comprehensive coverage of each aspect of the new low-cost Windows Phone to help inform your decision on whether or not to buy it, before we bring everything together in our full in-depth review.

And once our review is published, one lucky reader will have the chance to win the Nokia Lumia 630 in our upcoming giveaway!

Today, though, we begin our exploration of the device with a broad overview of what it has to offer.

As you would expect of a device in this price range – its recommended retail price is $159 off-contract, before taxes – the Lumia 630 doesn’t have the kind of spec sheet that will worry the flagships of the smartphone world. But it’s not supposed to; this is a device intended to target buyers on a budget – those who don’t care about the latest specs, and those who perhaps can't afford the newest top-of-the-range handsets.

So if you’re expecting the 630, or any other similarly priced handset, to be in the same league as a Samsung Galaxy S5 or LG’s G3, you’re mad. But if you’ve got more sensible and realistic expectations, the low-cost Lumia may just surprise you.

On paper, there’s a lot to like. The device features a generously sized 4.5-inch IPS LCD, protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3, and it’s reasonably light too, weighing in at 134g, in a body that’s 9.2mm thick.

You’ll also get a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 1830mAh battery and 8GB of onboard storage, along with a microSD slot supporting cards up to 128GB, as well as a 5MP rear camera. Not too shabby at all for such an affordable device. But it’s not all good news.

That 4.5-inch display offers only FWVGA (854x480px) resolution, well below the HD (1280x720px) display of Motorola’s Moto G, for example, which costs just $20 more. You’ll only get 512MB of RAM on the 630 as well, which means that certain apps – higher-end games, especially – simply won’t run on the device.

On top of this, the rear camera has no flash, and there’s no front-facing camera at all, ruling out selfies and Skype calls. There’s no 4G on the 630 either – that’s exclusively available on the more expensive Lumia 635, which is identical apart from added LTE support, for $189. You don't even get a pair of headphones in the box.

So the Lumia 630 isn’t flawless, by any means, but this exposes the underlying reality of buying such a low-cost device: the need for compromise. The cheaper a device gets, the fewer bells and whistles its manufacturer can afford to attach to it, and for buyers, that can be a bitter pill to swallow.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be considering whether Nokia made the right choices in deciding what should, and should not, be included in the Lumia 630, and if the compromises that it made to keep costs down perhaps went too far. For now, we’ll just say that the Lumia 630 certainly managed to impress in many areas – but in others, it was far from perfect.

We'll explain more about that in the days ahead, so stay tuned! 

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25 Comments

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I personally think there are, or will be too many model variations which are causing price issues for Nokia/Microsoft. Last generation we had 520, 620, 720, 820, 920 and 1020. Now add all the small increment upgrade models like the 525, 625, 925 etc

We all know that Windows Phone runs quite well on the lower CPU devices, so the only way they can keep selling the cheaper phone is to gimp the features a Hero Phone would have. Take out some memory here and there. Remove the FFC or rear flash. Lower the screen type used.

The Lumia 920 still stacks up well against the 930. Nokia released the 1020 and probably thought it had nothing better than what the 920 offered, so they gave it a better camera. I think most people will understand what I mean.

It virtually is http://www.phonearena.com/phon...-Lumia-920/phones/7876,7471

And anyway, my point being is that with so many models they have to remove features off of phones to be able to sell the lower models still stands. The 1020 got most of it features in the camera area. Also double the system memory and a slightly different screen. Everything else is the same. Same CPU, same RAM, same resolution. I think you get my point.

Not the same CPU, go look up the details of the snapdragon in the 1020. The chip in the 920 does not even come close to the image/video processing power of the snapdragon in the 1020. Even though they look the same, the snapdragon in the 920 is not capable of the video/image stream of data the 1020 can handle.

RAM is doubled, but yeah its the exact same ram you find in an iPhone, Galaxy S2-5 or pretty much any other smartphone available today.
And resolution... why go higher, no need. Its crystal sharp man. Or do we really need the 500+ PPI's we see in today's smart phones?

Shadowzz said,
Not the same CPU, go look up the details of the snapdragon in the 1020. The chip in the 920 does not even come close to the image/video processing power of the snapdragon in the 1020. Even though they look the same, the snapdragon in the 920 is not capable of the video/image stream of data the 1020 can handle.

So besides this, which I tried to simplify for the average reader, it's basically what I said. I don't contest that the 1020 is superior to the 920. My point was, and still is, that Nokia has too many model variations to cater for the changes in specs. Look at the discussion people are having with the difference in the 1520 to the 930. Most people are pointing out that Nokia robs 1 feature from one device to add to another. The biggest changes are usually the CPU, Micro SD Card support, camera and RAM.

It's good to have choices, but do we need so many, just so we can have Glance on one phone and not the newer model?

This is the perfect dumb phone. Will be ordering one for my old man when it comes out for tmobile.

No stupid camera button, decently priced, good enough specs. Some people just need a phone and not a camera, speed, bunch of other nonsense. So this plus large tiles, perfect for old folks.

Dumb phone is exagerated. The rest of your post makes more sense though. I've got me one and it's a damn good phone (and more than that) for a decent price!

or front facing camera for skype doesn't have to be high res but would be nice I couldn't even consider this for my son who uses skype all the time

It's so cheap now to add those stuff. Just because it's a low end model does not mean it should limited with stuff that even cheap android phones have now.

If you look close at the screen shot of the screen you'll see it has Skype installed I don't see the point if there isn't a front camera and don't try telling me it cost to much that's a load of balls and we all know it

I don't mind that they released the 630/635's without a flash, front camera and 1 GB RAM to keep the price lower.

What I do mind is that they haven't released a 730 yet with these features.

Thoughtful said,
I don't mind that they released the 630/635's without a flash, front camera and 1 GB RAM to keep the price lower.

What I do mind is that they haven't released a 730 yet with these features.

Its a good point though. Not having flash is a huge deal breaker. The 512MB RAM, not so much (even though it'd be easy to put 1GB in there) but the flash would be the deal breaker for many I imagine.

I'd still prefer the Lumia 625 for £80. Lumia 630 is £100. I'd take the 625 for the flash, 4G and I also believe a front facing camera. Those are more useful features than having a faster processor or better screen.

The only problem with the 625 is that it constantly resets the time if you leave it in your pocket - apparently the soft reset sequence is fairly simple and this resets your phone and time, meaning your mail doesn't sync etc and you need to keep resetting it. Do a google search of the problem. That is what stopped me getting it.

The 625 is a smartphone - I said FEATURE phone; the 635 is a deliberately-hobbled 625. There are PLENTY of smartphones; however, there aren't enough feature phones - worse, there are NO Windows Phone-based feature phones. (How many Android-based feature phones are there from anyone other than LG, for that matter?) I would much rather see some of the lower-end Android - and Windows Phone, for that matter - so-called smartphones instead move into the feature phone space; while this would put an artificial floor under the smartphone marketplace, that floor IS needed, if for no other reason to keep that floor from being covered in droppings (poor-quality products, regardless of OS).

Feature phones with home wireless - as opposed to needing a data plan from your carrier. (Do you know why SMARTPHONES don't support home wireless? Because the carrier wants you shackled to those expensive data plans.) A feature phone is ideal for those folks that don't need (or want) to be forced into a data plan (which every smartphone requires). Hence "feature phone".

PGHammer said,
Feature phones with home wireless - as opposed to needing a data plan from your carrier. (Do you know why SMARTPHONES don't support home wireless? Because the carrier wants you shackled to those expensive data plans.) A feature phone is ideal for those folks that don't need (or want) to be forced into a data plan (which every smartphone requires). Hence "feature phone".

Wait wait wait. Don't all smartphones support home wireless (WiFi) or am I missing something here?

No - not all do. High-end ones do - however, most middle-end and lower-end smartphones don't, though they mostly DO support LTE. I see why that's the case, though - carriers increasingly make the majority of their revenues (and profits) off their data plans. Feature phones don't need LTE - as VoLTE has taken hold nowhere yet. (While quite a few carriers - including VZW - have announced future support for it, none have deployed it; hence the only usage of LTE at this point is for data - not voice. Therefore, why would a feature phone need LTE?)

PGHammer said,
No - not all do. High-end ones do - however, most middle-end and lower-end smartphones don't, though they mostly DO support LTE. I see why that's the case, though - carriers increasingly make the majority of their revenues (and profits) off their data plans. Feature phones don't need LTE - as VoLTE has taken hold nowhere yet. (While quite a few carriers - including VZW - have announced future support for it, none have deployed it; hence the only usage of LTE at this point is for data - not voice. Therefore, why would a feature phone need LTE?)

No idea what you're on about here... you might want to check your facts as both the 630 and 625 have built-in WiFi. As have most other smartphones available on the market today.

Okay - so the 630 is a cross between a feature phone (which has darn near disappeared) and a basic smartphone - if anything, it's almost the target market for the old KIN (which was a feature phone - NOT a smartphone). There are users for which a smartphone makes no sense - in particular, talk-and-text-only users (not JUST so-called "lifeline plan" users - Mom falls into this category; so do I, for that matter). Not everybody needs a data plan. What has been conspicuously missing since the death of the KIN (and even the death of SymbianOS, for that matter) is a feature phone that offers nothing more than usability for basic phone features on par with smartphones, but without features that feature phone fans don't need (in-home wireless support - such as wifi-N - instead of LTE/4G, for example). There ARE some Android-based feature phones - such as LG's 4xx (440G and 480G) - however, exactly how common are they? (Even Tracfone - which is one MVNO that offers them - can't keep them in stock; that is despite that the 480G can't be used with "lifeline" services, such as Safelink.) I would love to see if the 630 can slide into this turf - the feature-phone market DOES need more such phones, instead of designs so old they have mold.

You can make a smartphone as complex as you want. Any cheap smartphone with just whatsapp installed can be a good 'mom phone'. Especially a Windows Phone which is high on simplicity and usability. This has been the case since Windows Phone 7. And especially a cheap phone like the Lumia 520 was perfect for starters. To me the 630 continues this line.

But dont mistake it as a cross between a feature phone and a smartphone. Because by that definition any smartphone can be considered a crossover. The 630 is as much a smartphone as any other smartphone. Spec-wise it might not be all that but compared to the high-end smartphones from a few years ago it has great specs as well. Those phones didnt suddenly become feature phones either.