Hands-on: Nokia Lumia 630/635 review

The Nokia Lumia 630 and the Nokia Lumia 635 are new devices to the Lumia family, amongst the first trio to launch with Windows Phone 8.1.

Launched alongside the premium Lumia 930, this brace of handsets sit at the opposite end of the spectrum. They are designed to be affordable and the difference between the 630 and 635 really comes down to radio bands supported and a dual-SIM variant for the 630.

There is another subtle difference and that's that the Lumia 630 covers have a matte finish, while the 635, the model offering 4G LTE, is glossy. The phones otherwise look identical, however, and we dare say you'd be able to swap the covers around anyway.

For those who like to know what's what, the Lumia 630 is pictured here in white, the Lumia 635 is in orange. 

The Lumia 6xx family has something of a chequered history as far as we're concerned. The 620 was a budget wonder with a 3.8-inch display, the 625 was a budget model with a 4.7-inch display, and the 630 and 635 settle at 4.5 inches. The commonality seems to be affordability, rather than any sort of consistency in size.

The display has a 854 x 480 pixel resolution, 214ppi. That's a resolution that was typical of entry-level devices until the Motorola Moto G came along and spoilt the party.

In the flesh the display is punchy enough with some great colours and reasonably good viewing angles from what we saw, but it's noticeably softer than those higher resolution devices. 

The design is typical of Nokia at this end of the spectrum, offering a changeable cover that clips on and off, meaning you can switch it around as your mood changes.

Nokia told us today that the colour selection - white, green, yellow, orange, black - were the most popular colours, those that are en vogue. Who are we to question that?

In the hand the Nokia Lumia 630/635 feels solid enough. It can't hold a candle to the Lumia 930, but it reminds us very much of the Lumia 520, only larger - and that's a good thing. The Lumia 630/635 measures 129.5 x 66.7 x 9.2mm and weighs 134g. 

READ: Nokia Lumia 930 pictures and hands-on

There have been a few changes to the controls of the Nokia Lumia 630/635 and in this sense it's a ground-breaking device: it does away with the camera button for starters, which it a first. It also does away with the capacitive control buttons beneath the screen.

The loss of the camera button is a slight inconvenience, as the quick launch option it offers, as well as the ease of capture without having to tap the display, is really handy. It's not a deal breaker, however, as plenty of smartphones forego a camera button and everyone still manages with those.

The change of controls is something rather more unique however. There doesn't appear to be a hugely apparent reason for it either, but it is a change. We found those on-screen controls to be fast enough to react, although the sample we had was pre-production and on beta software, to the performance can't be judged at this time.

Those controls seemed to be perpetual too, not moving out of the way in apps we tried, however the icons do rotate to match the orientation of the display. You get some options for them too: you can change the "navigation bar" colour to match your theme, stay dark or match the background.

One of the highlights of the Lumia 630/635 is that it launches on Windows Phone 8.1 with Nokia Cyan, meaning you get the latest software from both sides. There are a heap of changes in Windows Phone 8.1 - such as the new keyboard with trace entry and the new action centre - that make the platform much more appealing.

There's also a new camera app, as well as more Nokia goodies. One of the new additions is the SensorCore, which is Nokia's approach to fitness, a running theme (pardon the pun) in current smartphones.

The idea is to give you fitness-tracking functions in a low power state. We've yet to see this in action, but Nokia has teased that the SDK is on trial with a number of partners.

Powering the Lumia 630/635 is the 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and there's 512MB of RAM. Given the pre-production state of the device we played with, it was difficult to judge how the performance would be in the real world - this is something we'll have to leave until we have a final device in for review.

There's 8GB of internal storage, but there is a microSD card slot so this can be expanded. Around the back is a 5-megapixel camera, there is no front facing camera.

If there's one thing that Nokia does well, it's affordable handsets that deliver on experience. That's been the case for a number of previous devices and in Windows Phone 8.1 and Nokia Cyan we have a smartphone offering that's more compelling than previously.

The Nokia Lumia 630 will be available on 29 May for €119 (£89.95), the Lumia 635 will be available in July for €149 (£125).



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