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Hands-On: Nokia Lumia 630/635

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Apr 2, 2014, 7:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Here are our first impressions of the Nokia Lumia 630 and 635. This entry-level Windows Phone replaces the 520 and offers a lot of smartphone for the buck. It runs Windows Phone 8.1 and adds support for LTE 4G networks, including those run by AT&T and T-Mobile.

source: Nokia

The Lumia 630/635 are two new smartphones from Nokia that target the cost conscious buyer. They are the same handset, for all intents and purposes, the only real difference between them being radios and SIM support. The hardware - both design and specs - are otherwise identical. The Lumia 635 is the variant that's headed to the U.S., and AT&T, T-Mobile, and MetroPCS have already said they'll sell the phone. Here are our first impressions of Nokia's new entry-level darling.

The 635 is a mid-sized device that has a comfortable footprint and decent materials. Its design is a little conservative, but it falls in line with Nokia's colorful Lumia products. Speaking of which, the 635 is being offered in a handful of colors, including an incredibly bright green.

Lumia 635  

The 635 has a somewhat blocky shape. The polycarbonate shell forms not only the back cover, but the sides as well. It wraps fully around the chassis of the 635 and forms a lip around the screen. This shell is removable and interchangeable - something that few other smartphones can claim. The lip serves to protect the screen when the 635 is placed on a flat surface. Nokia seems to be unable to make svelte and thin devices (other than, perhaps, the Lumia 925). That means the 635 is rather thick. The weight is good, though, and it is really easy to hold and use. The back shell needs to be peeled off to reveal the battery. The plastic has a matte texture that feels nice, and it snaps into place quite firmly. The battery is removable, and you'll need to remove it to access the memory card slot. The device is very light.

The side keys are excellent. They stick out quite far and work well. The volume toggle, positioned on the right edge, has great travel and feedback, as does the screen lock button. As is typical for Nokia handsets, the volume toggle is closer to the top and the screen lock is closer to the middle. There is no dedicated camera button, which is a bit of a shame. The headphone jack is positioned on top and the microUSB port is positioned on bottom. There are no buttons or controls on the left edge.

The Luma 635 has a 4.5-inch ClearBlack display. Nokia was shy about revealing the resolution, but it looks really nice. It's certainly not an HD screen (my guess is 800 x 480), but I was still impressed with the contrast, brightness, and color accuracy of the LCD. The ClearBlack technology from Nokia offers high contrast and deep, deep blacks.

The Windows Phone 8.1 user interface feels snappy, even though there's naught but a Snapdragon 400 under the hood. Microsoft did a great job of optimizing the platform for a device with only 512MB of RAM and a low-clocked processor. (The Lumia 930, by way of comparison, has a 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 under the hood.) The new features of WP8.1, such as the notification center, transparent tiles, calendar, and so on, really feel good and worked perfectly on the sample devices on hand in San Francisco.

It is worth pointing out that Nokia sees the Lumia 635 as a successor to last year's 520. The major difference is the cellular data support. The 520 only supported HSPA+. The 635 adds support for LTE 4G. Nokia thinks the combination of Windows Phone 8.1, 4G support, and low price point will make the 635 its new mass-market killer. In the end, the phone looks and feels nice for the expected price range (under $200). Nokia's expertise in design and hardware construction - even at the affordable end of the spectrum - are apparent. Nokia has always excelled at hardware, no matter the price point, and the Lumia 635 is no exception.

About the author, Eric M. Zeman:

Eric has been covering the mobile telecommunications industry for 17 years at various print and online publications. He studied at Rutgers Newark and University of Kentucky, and has a degree in writing. He likes playing guitar, attending concerts, listening to music, and driving sports cars.


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Apr 4, 2014, 2:27 PM

I'll say it again

Not even including a flash for the camera is a huge fail right off the bat! They had a good chance to compete in the same space as the Moto G, But not with this. I hope they dont't consider this a successor to the 620.. Nokia is all over the map with their models, Adding one thing like a larger screen here but leaving off something else that should be standard. I wish Tmobile would stop trying to pass of these these low end handsets as more then they are too & ask for a bit better for their consumer.

Apr 3, 2014, 4:03 PM

Are you going to be reviewing this and/or the 930?

The 635, yes, definitely. It will be sold by AT&T and T-Mobile.

The 930, no, probably not. The 930 is the same phone as the Icon, just without CDMA on board. Further, it won't be sold in the U.S.
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