Nokia Lumia 630/635 review: Bottom up
The Lumia 630/635 has the same winning combo as the Lumia 520 that sold in millions: a simple, yet durable design, a good balance of features at a bargain price. We wouldn't be surprised to see it repeat the feat of the former and become the Lumia line's next rising star.
Nokia has done a good job designing the Lumia 630/635 - the boxy design of the Ashas and X-series looks neat, the right blend of fresh and familiar. You can choose between a wide range of paintjobs for the exchangeable rear covers.
The screen size is another well played move - more real estate than the Lumia 520 and 525, but not as big as the 625, which really doesn't have enough resolution for the size. The ClearBlack technology makes the right kind of difference, while the quad-core processor will definitely speed things up. Still image quality was a nice surprise, and the phone comes with the latest Windows Phone 8.1 right out of the box.
Nokia has, as usual, thrown in some value-adding features: the location and navigation suite, Cinemagraph and Nokia Camera advanced imaging apps, the feature-rich Nokia Creative Studio for making your stills even better, plus you can get the Storyteller app from the Store for free.
The Nokia Lumia 630/635 is full of features users will certainly appreciate and runs on hardware that's capable enough of handling day-to-day tasks. The excellent image quality was something we didn't quite expect to be honest. And if the dual-SIM version matches that (it very well should) it will be the one that drives the sales.
The Nokia 630 Dual SIM costs just €15 more than the regular version, and it's the first WP-powered phone to offer dual-SIM capabilities. If it's LTE that you need, the Lumia 635 is another €15 on top of the Dual SIM flavor.
But let's explore some other options in the Lumia 630 price bracket.
The Nokia Lumia 625 will give you a bigger IPS display but without the ClearBlack enhancement. It will make up for it with 1080p video recording, a LED flash, a front-facing video camera and LTE capabilities. It is also guaranteed to receive the WP8.1+Lumia Cyan update soon (probably late June).
The Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 is another offer to consider. It comes with a 4" TFT WVGA display and runs on the Snapdragon 400 chipset with a dual-core Krait processor. Its camera is on par with the Lumia 630/635's, plus it comes with LTE support for the same price Nokia charges for the Lumia 630. The Ace 3 is running on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (with TouchWiz, of course), but we fear it might miss KitKat.
The recently announced Android KitKat-powered Motorola Moto E is even cheaper and also comes with optional dual SIM support. Just like the Lumia 630/635, you can choose between various paintjobs for the battery cover. It comes with a 4.3" display too, though of higher qHD resolution. The Moto E has two Cortex-A7 cores instead of four, but seems to be handling the OS trouble-free. Plus Motorola promises timely Android updates.
Sony has two very attractive offers too - the Xperia E1 and Xperia M, both available in dual-SIM flavor. Their pricing is a few bucks below the Lumia 630 and both come with 4" displays. The Xperia E1 is the less-capable one with a WVGA display, a 3MP camera, a dual-core Cortex-A7 processor with half a gig of RAM, but it has Android KitKat on the way. The Xperia M has a FWVGA display, a better 5MP camera, a dual-core Krait processor with 1GB RAM, but KitKat is probably not on the cards.
Finally, you can go for an even bigger screen for less money in the Nokia XL and the Android experiment. The flipside is it's by far not the sharpest 5" screen you can get at WVGA resolution and there's less processing power. A dual-SIM option is available too.
The Nokia Lumia 630 is not alone out there, but looks strong enough to not crack under pressure. The regular, single-SIM, option seems to have enough in terms of upgrades over the Lumia 520, most notably the screen, chipset and the new features courtesy of Windows Phone 8.1. It's the dual-SIM version though that will probably feel extra comfortable being the only one of its kind at this point.