A great-value Windows Phone device that has superb battery life and excellent performance
Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400, Screen size: 4.5in, Screen resolution: 854×480, Rear camera: 5-megapixel, Storage: 8GB, Wireless data: 3G, Size: 130x67x9.2mm, Weight: 134g, Operating system: Windows Phone 8.1
Despite being over two years old, the Lumia 630 is still hanging on by the skin of its orange, green and black teeth. Available for around £95 SIM-free if you shop around, the Lumia 630 is quite possibly the last decent budget Windows phone you can buy, thanks to Microsoft’s Lumia 650 being a huge disappointment when it launched earlier this year.
This is partly due to Microsoft’s rather botched attempt to bring Windows 10 to mobiles. Whereas Windows Phone 8.1 runs perfectly smoothly on budget Windows phones, Windows 10 felt incredibly sluggish on the Lumia 650 – and it even stuttered a bit on Microsoft’s flagship Lumia 950 as well.
As a result, the Windows Phone 8.1-powered Lumia 630 might be the last chance you have to get a Windows phone that isn’t immediately compromised by its own operating system. Besides, Windows Phone 8.1 already supports several core features available in Windows 10, such as Cortana, Microsoft’s personal digital assistant app, and background images that can be placed underneat the ever-present Live Tiles on the Start screen. You can also add in a third column of app tiles and swipe down from the top to open the Action Centre notification area. The latter will be particularly welcome news for Android users looking to make a smooth transition to Windows.
Of course, a great operating system is nothing without a good handset to back it up, and the Lumia 630 doesn’t cut corners. The Lumia 630’s build quality is superb, with hardly any flex in the smooth matt polycarbonate rear, and its flat angular chassis is very comfortable to hold in the hand.
The Lumia 630’s 4.5in LCD display looks great, too. It only has a tiny resolution of 480×854, but text and images looked perfectly clear and sharp while web browsing. You’ll want to zoom in when reading desktop-based sites, though, as headlines were only just about legible. We had no concerns about the Lumia 630’s image quality, as our colour calibrator showed the screen was displaying 85 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut. This is about average for an entry-level phone, and our peak brightness measurement of 318.74cd/m2 meant that colours always appeared bright and punchy both in and out of doors. Contrast was good, too, measuring 894:1, and we were able to see a huge amount of detail in our test shots.
Fortunately, the Lumia 630’s great performance doesn’t come at the cost of battery life. Its 1,830mAh battery lasted 12 hours and 3 minutes in our continuous video playback test with the screen set to half brightness, which is three hours more than the Android budget star, the Motorola Moto G. You should be able to use the phone all day without having to worry about recharging it.
The 630’s 5-megapixel camera is great too. In addition to Nokia’s standard camera app, the Lumia 630 also has the same Smart Sequence feature we’ve seen on more high-end Lumia handsets such as the Nokia Lumia 925. As its name suggests, Smart Sequence takes a series of photos every time you tap the shutter button. You can then use this sequence to create a number of different images from within the app.
For example, Best Shot selects the best picture from the entire sequence, producing a single still image, while Action Shot combines several shots together to show how the object moved through the entire sequence. This worked well enough, but it didn’t always capture the whole object while it was moving. When we walked in front of the camera, for instance, some of the background bled into areas of shadow, but this is something we encountered on the Lumia 925 as well. You can also remove moving objects from the sequence, switch faces if you blink in a shot, or create motion blur with Motion Focus.
^ Smart Sequence lets you stitch multiple shots together in the same image
We were also impressed with the image quality. There isn’t a high amount of detail, but this is to be expected from such a small sensor. Colours, on the other hand, looked natural and accurate outdoors, and the camera even managed to expose the sky correctly. Compared to the cool, murky shots we took on the Motorola Moto E at the same time, the Lumia 630 stands head and shoulders above its Android rival.
^ The weather was overcast when we took these photos, but colours still looked warm and natural
WINDOWS PHONE 8.1 & APPS
The Windows Phone Store is going from strength to strength as well. It’s still isn’t as extensive as Google Play or Apple’s App Store, but all the important entertainment apps are here, including BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD, Demand 5, Netflix, Spotify, TV CatchUp, DailyMotion, and the newly added Dropbox. There are personal finance apps from all the major banks, and travel apps now include Waze and TripAdvisor.
There’s still no official app for Sky Go, Amazon Prime Instant Video or any of Google’s various services apart from Search, but all the popular social networking apps are here, including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Tumblr, Vine and Instagram (albeit as a beta app), as well as Synology’s DS apps for anyone with a Synology NAS device.
The Nokia Lumia 630 is a fantastic Windows handset. Its superb battery life and additional camera features are far above what we’d normally expect to see from such a cheap phone, and its excellent web performance puts it on equal standing with other top budget Android handsets such as the Motorola Moto G. If you’re looking for a cheap Windows handset, the Lumia 630 is for you. However, if you live in a 4G area, you may want to consider the Lumia 630’s 4G cousin, the Nokia Lumia 635.
|Processor||Quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400|
|Memory card slot (supplied)||microSD|
|Operating system||Windows Phone 8.1|
|Part code||Lumia 630|