Reviewing the Nokia Lumia 630 - An Affordable Windows Phone 8.1 Device

Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

Nokia Lumia 630 is the first smartphone that's sold with Windows Phone 8.1 installed. It is an affordable smartphone that will replace the Lumia 620 and also the Lumia 625. We tested this new smartphone for a week and we are ready to share our conclusions, in this review.

Hardware Specifications & Packaging

Nokia Lumia 630 is the successor for the Lumia 620. The new model is an upgrade in almost every sense: it packs a newer and better processor - 1.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon, it has a bigger screen - a 4,5'' ClearBlack, LCD IPS display with a slightly higher resolution (854 x 480 pixels) and Gorilla Glass 3. Also, the battery has a bigger capacity, at 1830 mAh. However, there are some similarities - like the modest amount of memory - only 512 MB of RAM and the same amount of storage space - 8 GB. Like its predecessor, the Lumia 630 has a radio chip that can be used to listen to FM radio. The rear camera is also similar - it has 5 megapixels and no flash. Unlike its predecessor, the Lumia 630 doesn't have a frontal camera and the hardware buttons have been replaced by software ones. You can find the detailed specifications for this smartphone, here: Lumia 630 specifications. The packaging is different from that of previous Lumia smartphones. The box is smaller and more compact and the coloring is different. Personally, I like the new version better.

Inside the box you will find the smartphone, its battery, the charger, the warranty and the user manual. Unfortunately there are no headphones provided and no USB cable.

For the complete unboxing experience, don't hesitate to view the short video below:

Design & Build Quality

The Nokia Lumia 630 has a plastic body that looks and feels good in your hand. It has a height of 129.5 mm, a width of 66.7 mm, a thickness of 9.2 mm and it weighs only 134 grams (4.7 ounces), making it easy to hold in your hand. It has a detachable cover that's available in green, orange, yellow, white and black. We have tested the white version. All its buttons are on the right hand of the smartphone and they are both easy to press and to find. You will have no issues in using this smartphone with only one hand. We missed the hardware camera button we have grown accustomed to from previous Windows Phone devices. Unfortunately the lack of this button makes it slower to start the camera when you need to use it.

As you can see in the picture below, the cover is detachable and it is easily changed with another one. In the body of the smartphone, you have the battery slot, the slot for the SIM card and a microSD slot.

The quality of the screen is better than that of the Lumia 620 and so is outdoors visibility. The only downside is that it doesn't have a sensor for automatically setting the level of brightness, depending on the amount of light that's available. You have to manually change the brightness when you go from indoors to outdoors and back. This is rather annoying. However, the outdoors visibility is good, as long as you manually change the brightness of the screen.

Generally, the build quality has improved in the new Lumia 630 when compared to its predecessors.

The Phone Experience on the Nokia Lumia 630

The quality of the phone conversations on the Lumia 630 is good. We appreciated the fact that the new cover and its design no longer make your conversations easy to hear by others, as it was the case with the Lumia 620. When listening to music or viewing videos, the sound quality was OK but not great. The same goes for the sound quality of our recordings. There are no software enhancements and settings available that could improve it.

The rear camera on this smartphone is capable of 720p capture. The colors are a bit soft and the pictures that are taken in less than ideal conditions are not very clear - they lack in detail and crispness. The quality of our video recordings was also average - something to be expected from a smartphone in its price range. Battery life was also average. It managed to last for about a day in our testing. When using the phone more intensively, the battery life lowered to somewhere between 10 and 13 hours.

Windows Phone 8.1 & the Nokia Apps

The Lumia 630 is the first smartphone that's sold with Windows Phone 8.1 and the Lumia Cyan update. However, do keep in mind that Windows Phone 8.1 is not yet finalized so there are still a few bugs and issues that need be ironed out.

For example, at random intervals, the user interface became "zoomed in" and we could only see a small portion of it. We couldn't reset this behavior, as all we could see was one huge tile or just a small portion of the lock screen. We had to shut down and restart the phone each time this happened. Then, the problem was gone and it showed up a couple of days later, at another random moment. We're sure that once Microsoft finishes the development of the Windows Phone 8.1 operating system, they will fix small issues like this with a future update. Lumia 630 has lots of Nokia apps bundled on it: App Social, HERE Drive+, HERE Maps, Line, Nokia Camera, Nokia Care, Nokia Cinemagraph, Nokia Creative Studio, PhotoBeamer and Transfer my data.

Also, you get access to a collection of Nokia apps and exclusives that is very well maintained and updated. Most of these apps are genuinely useful and you will want to use them. Windows Phone 8.1 brings lots of changes, improvements and new features, including an improved Start screen that can display more tiles, a new and useful notification system, Cortana and more.

We very much enjoyed the fact that the Nokia Camera has become the default app for taking pictures. This app includes a lot more controls than the default Camera app from Windows Phone 8 and it allows users to take better pictures if they know how to fiddle with its manual settings.

Windows Phone 8.1 includes supports for more sensors and the Lumia 630 has an accelerometer which can be used to gather more data about your motion and location. This information is useful for apps that can take advantage of it.

The Lumia 630 worked well with the new operating system and all the apps we have used. It won't win any speed accolades but all the apps loaded reasonably fast and the phone never was unresponsive, not even when we had several apps opened in parallel. The only downside is that its 512MB of memory won't allow users to play more demanding games that need at least 1 GB of memory. Overall, the user experience is improved a lot by Windows Phone 8.1, despite its minor issues and bugs. The operating system alone makes the Lumia 630 a better smartphone than its predecessors.

Performance in Benchmarks

In order to compare the performance of the Lumia 630 with that of other smartphones, we have ran several benchmarks. As usual, we started by running MultiBench 2. In the CPU test, Lumia 630 was 43% faster than the Lumia 620 and 17% faster than the Lumia 625. The graphics test revealed Lumia 630 to be a great performer: 47% faster than the Lumia 620 and 30% faster than the Lumia 625.

MultiBench 2 has also revealed important improvements in the memory test and when measuring the speed of data transfers. When compared to its closest competitor - the Lumia 625 - Lumia 630 was twice as fast in its memory transfers and 30% faster when making data transfers to and from its storage space.

The WP Bench benchmark confirmed the same story. In the CPU test, the processor of the Lumia 630 was the fastest.

The graphics, storage and memory tests have revealed Lumia 630 as the performance leader in the segment of affordable Windows Phones.

Next, we compared the web browsing performance, using the Sunspider benchmark. Unfortunately, this benchmark hasn't revealed any improvements in terms of speed. Apparently, Internet Explorer did not take advantage of the newer processor to make web browsing faster.

We also measured how fast it takes for the Lumia 630 to boot and display the Start screen. It started in only 23 seconds. This is a great improvement over its predecessors.

Last but not least, we used the WP Bench battery test, which stresses the smartphone to the maximum and measures how fast the battery drains. The Lumia 630 lasted 3 hours and 12 minutes - about the same as its predecessors.

It is unfortunate the technologies used for the battery don't evolve as fast as other hardware does. As you can see from our testing, the Lumia 630 beats all its predecessors in almost every test except the battery test and the speed of browsing the web.

Product Rated
4/5

Verdict

Nokia Lumia 630 is a good addition to the line-up of affordable Windows Phone devices. It is an important upgrade over its predecessors which delivers better performance and slightly better build quality. It is also the first smartphone that comes with Windows Phone 8.1 preinstalled. This new operating system version improves the user experience in meaningful ways, making the Lumia 630 a much better choice than other affordable Windows Phone devices. If you don't have a big budget and you would like to have a decent smartphone experience, then Lumia 630 is a good choice.