21
Jul
14

Gear Review: Nokia Lumia 630

I’ve recently featured the Nokia Lumia 630 as a “fitness phone,” but how does it fare as a smart phone?  Here’s my more detailed review:

Lumia 630 packaging

Lumia 630 lock screen

Nokia Lumia 630 is a mid-sized, entry level, dual SIM smart phone running on Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1 “Cyan” platform.  It is slightly bigger than iPhone5s and comes in colorful plastic shells.  Here are some of its key features:

  • Dual SIM
  • 4.5 inch ClearBlack IPS LCD display with Gorilla Glass 3
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset with quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 processor, Adreno 305 GPU and 512MB of RAM
  • Built-in 8GB of storage expandable via microSD card slot up to 128GB
  • 5MP autofocus camera with 720p HD (30 fps) video recording
  • SensorCore
  • FM Radio with RDS
  • Windows Phone 8.1 “Cyan”
  • Li-Ion 1,830 mAh battery

Hardware

On paper, the Lumia 630 is modest, at best, by today’s smart phone standards.  But before its specs do the talking, let’s check it by parts:

Camera

Lumia 630 comes with only a single, rear-facing, 5MP camera with no flash.  Possibly due to hardware limitations, it can only record standard 720p HD, 30 fps at most.  In terms of quality, the camera is actually good especially when detecting low light.  While you can’t expect it to come anywhere close to iPhone and Android flagships’ shooters, it is probably one of the best in its class.  The lack of accompanying flash is not much of a big deal, but the missing front camera could be dimmed “tragic” by selfie addicts out there.  But selfie aside, this would also mean that doing face to face conversations in Skype and other similar apps would require some creativity.

Nokia Camera

Screen

Lumia 630 has a 4.5 inch, 480 x 854 pixels (around 218 pixels per inch), ClearBlack IPS LCD screen.  Lumia 630 does not have any ambient light sensors so there’s no automatic screen brightness adjustment, but the default setting is pretty good in most situations.  The ClearBlack technology reduces glare making it good for outdoors and it also makes the colors more vivid.  You wouldn’t know that Lumia 630 is entry level just by its screen.  Even the lower pixel density is not an issue as WP8.1 does a terrific job especially when rendering texts.  And that screen is covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

Display settings

Brightness profile

Color profile

Customizing your start screen

Battery

Lumia 630 has a Li-Ion 1,830 mAh battery (BL-5H) which is enough to power it for an entire day of casual use.  Since the Lumia 630 does not have a huge screen or power hungry processor, its power demand is lower, and some hardware and software optimizations further lengthens its battery life.  It is also replaceable so you can bring along spare ones should you find its life short.

It even comes with a built-in battery saver app

Processor

Lumia 630 is powered by a quad core 1.2GHz Cortex A7 processor with Adreno 305 for graphics in a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset.  This is more than enough for the basic phone tasks, internet browsing, and some basic games.  It may not be able to play some graphics-intense games or very high resolution videos (beyond 720p) fluidly though.

Memory

Lumia 630 comes in a measly 512MB of memory but surprisingly Windows Phone 8.1 handles limited memory quite well that you won’t really feel that it only had this little to work on.  Everything is buttery smooth and it even feels more responsive than some high end Android phones!  The limitation becomes obvious though when you start running multiple apps simultaneously, or a graphics-heavy game.

Storage

Lumia 630 comes with “8GB” of built-in storage (7.29GB actual), 3.06GB of which though is taken by the system leaving 4.23GB free for apps and user files.  You can expand that storage up to 128GB via the microSD slot.

Storage sense

Data and Connectivity

Lumia 630 uses 3G HSPA (up to 21Mbps download/5.76Mbps upload) along with standard EDGE and GPRS.  It has Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA, and can serve as a Wi-Fi hotspot.  For charging and data transfers, it uses the typical microUSB 2.0 port, although no data cable is provided in the box and a regular charger is supplied.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth buttons in its own version of notification center

Other Features

Lumia 630 comes with the usual smart phone blings like accelerometer, A-GPS, GLONASS, and even an FM radio.  It supports dual stand-by for both its SIM which means they can be active at the same time, and based on some screenshots, both SIMs can even connect to HSPA at the same time.  It has a single loud speaker at the back which appears surprisingly big, but the case downplays it a lot and makes it so easy to block.  The case comes in bright and colorful plastic shells that you can easily replace and customize.

Rear view: the speaker and microUSB port

Nokia Here for maps and navigation

The supplied charger

FM Radio with RDS

Software

Powering the Lumia 630 is the latest Windows Phone 8.1 “Cyan” OS.  As my first time to use the OS I find it a little confusing at first, but the learning curve isn’t so steep that I easily learned how to get around without even consulting any manual.

Windows Phone 8.1 “Cyan”

Lumia 630 is one of the first Windows Phones to come with this version of the OS out of the box.  I haven’t had the chance to tinker with the older version of the OS for comparison but as it is now, I find it pretty easy to use.  The first “confusion” I got was looking for the dialer as the OS didn’t have a “task bar” at the bottom of the screen (like in iOS and Android) where it’s usually found.  I did find it eventually as a tile at the top right corner of the screen, beside the messaging tile.  Everything else was pretty much the same, the taps, tap and hold, drag, pinch, etc. so if used a smart phone before you’d feel right at home.

In-call interface

The 16-digit capable calculator

Cortana

Calendar

Full version of Microsoft Office

Bing Health & Fitness

Live tiles are the most distinguishing feature of Windows Phones and is my favorite feature of this OS.  I don’t need to open the app or find widgets just to get information.  It’s just there available at a glance anytime without really affecting battery life much.  It’s also not limited to a single view as it “flips” in place to show more screen and it comes in small, medium, and wide sizes.  I found the monotonous tones quite dull though initially until I found out I can use a wallpaper instead to add colors and textures to my view.  That, combined with “more tiles” and I get a pretty interesting and useful screen.

Before: Start screen out of the box

After: Voila! My customized start screen 🙂

Multitasking

A smart phone would not be a smart phone if it can’t multitask.  I’m pretty sure that Windows Phone 8.1 can multitask, but not all of its apps appear to have the memo.  I unexpectedly found a multitasking “issue” when I ran Bing Health & Fitness alongside Endomondo to track my run via GPS.  To my surprise, only the app on the foreground worked!  The app in the background stopped completely and only resumed when I opened it to check.

Switching apps

The Store

Similar to other mobile OSes, this is where you get to stock your smart phones with apps.  In terms of quantity, Windows Store is so far behind Android and iOS.  There’s still no official YouTube app, and even Instagram is still in beta.  It feels like a brand new mall with hardly anything in it.  There are quite a couple of really good apps though like the Bing Health & Wellness app that I doubt will land on other mobile platforms, but generally speaking the options are just ridiculous, if ever there are any.  Many games from big developers are also here but many of the new and popular ones in iOS and Android are not so it’s easy to find “clones” here made by some capitalizing entrepreneurs.  Not sure though how secure this platform is when you were “convinced” to install these bootlegs.

Quick links

Viewing by category

Categories

Overview of an app

Data Transfer

Transferring data between Lumia 630 and Windows (8.1 in particular) is as easy as it can get.  You just plug it in your computer’s USB and you’re all set.  No need for any third party software.  No drivers to install.  Plug and play as it’s meant to be.  Even the Bluetooth file transfer is equally easy.  I’ve never had a phone as trouble-free as Lumia 630 when it comes to syncing data.

Common sharing options

Summary

Shut down screen

Lumia 630 is a good looking device with entry level features and matching price tag.  With its pretty modest specs, Windows Phone 8.1 is a perfect match for it as it manages to perform surprisingly well beyond expectations for a smart phone of similar specs.  It has some drawbacks though:

  • No front-facing camera
  • 512MB memory is inadequate for some games
  • No full HD (1080p) video recording
  • No flash
  • No proximity sensor
  • No ambient light sensor
  • No headset and USB cable in the box
  • Limited selection of apps

Overall, I could say that Lumia 630 is best for those:

Windows Phone 8.1 seems to be the most efficient mobile operating system currently, and Lumia 630 is a good phone to enter its ecosystem.  It has an SRP of ₱7,990.

Lumia 630


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