Nokia Lumia 630 Dual SIM review: Ushers in the Windows Phone 8.1 era

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11,329

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7.5

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The Nokia Lumia 630 in this photo.
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By Roydon Cerejo /  10 Jun 2014 , 13:15:08

The Lumia 630 is Nokia’s launch platform for Windows Phone 8.1. Rather than showcasing their new OS on a flagship phone, they’ve chosen to roll it out on a budget offering. It’s a bold move but it also shows the flexibility of Windows Phone and it’s ability to offer the same user experience despite the hardware. While this has been the case right from day one, it’s only gotten better with 8.1.

After having a sneak peek at Windows Phone 8.1 and the Lumia 630 when Microsoft officially unveiled it, we now look at the final build of both hardware and software.

Design and Build

Nokia has launched the dual SIM version of the Lumia 630 first, with the single SIM version yet to arrive. The phone looks like a mash-up between the Nokia X and the Lumia 620. From the front, we have the similar rounded corner look and from the the back, it’s more industrial like the X. The 630 feels rugged and durable just like all the Lumias in this segment.

Sturdy build
Sturdy build

The display gets a generous bump in size to 4.5 inches from the 4 inches of the Lumia 525. However, the resolution stays the same at 480 x 854. It is an IPS display however, like the Lumia 525, and you even get Nokia’s ClearBlack technology and Gorilla Glass 3. The latter two features makes a vast difference in image quality and usability as compared to the Lumia 525 and the Lumia 620.

The SIM slots
The SIM slots

The 630 also ditches capacitive buttons for on-screen buttons, which takes some getting used to. The phone also lacks a front-facing camera, which is quite disappointing. Underneath, we have a two micro SIM slots, along with a microSD card slot. The 630 supports cards up to 128GB. Only SIM 2 is hot-swappable while the others aren’t. The speaker is placed below it and is really loud for alerts and media playback.

The display is notch above the 620 and the 525
The display is a notch above the 620 and the 525

Nokia has omitted two crucial sensors in the 630 – the proximity and ambient light sensor. The former helps turn the display off when you’re on a call while the latter helps automatically adjust the brightness of the display. We’re not sure what warranted this decision but it certainly couldn’t be cost cutting, since some lower-priced phones have this feature.

Features

The IPS panel offers very good viewing angles and colour reproduction for a phone in this segment. Sunlight legibility is also very good. The Lumia 630 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset – a quad-core SoC with four ARM Cortex-A7 cores and Adreno 305 graphics. This is the same chipset powering the Moto G as well. Despite the minimal 512MB of RAM, the interface is pretty snappy. Slight lag does creep in during some of the animations but nothing that’s a deal breaker.

WP 8.1 is a lot more functional than before
WP 8.1 is a lot more functional than before

I also seems as if most of the apps that previously needed 1GB of RAM, are now compatible with 512MB of RAM. You get Temple Run 2 and Asphalt 8: Airborne, which are free to download. The thing about games on the Windows Phone platform is that they look and feel pretty much the same no matter what phone you have. Asphalt obviously runs a lot smoother on the 630 Dual than it did on the 525, thanks to the faster chipset.

SensorCore lets the 630 collect all important motion data
SensorCore lets the 630 collect all important motion data

Apart from the other enhancements that comes with Windows Phone 8.1, the 630 also gets a new feature called SensorCore. This is available for the Lumia 1520, Lumia 930 and the Lumia 630 and 635. Its essentially a software layer which uses very little power and is constantly collecting data from sensors like GPS, compass, etc. This data is then used by the Bing Health & Fitness app, allowing you to monitor your calories burnt, steps taken, etc. There’s also a SensorCore SDK for developers to implement the APIs in their apps. You need to enable motion data in settings to use SensorCore.

There isn’t much in terms of UI improvements though. The new toggle switches in the notification bar are a nice addition but the app drawer and settings menu are still chaotic as ever. You can activate Cortana as well by simply changing the region and voice search language to US English. If you don’t have a 630, here’s how you can get this feature on any Windows Phone device.

Media

Media playback is handled by the Xbox Music and Video. You also get Nokia’s MixRadio app bundled for streaming music and standard FM Radio as well. Audio quality is good via headphones and the speaker has plenty of oomph even at high volume. We do miss the Dolby enhancement however, which was present on the Lumia 620.

Media playback is pretty good
Media playback is pretty good

There’s 8GB of onboard storage out of which, about 3.5GB is available for files. You can however, move most of the bundled apps over to the SD card to free up more room.

Connectivity

The Nokia Lumia 630 is a quad-band GSM and dual-band 3G phone. There’s no LTE as that feature is reserved for the Lumia 635, which doesn’t support TDD-LTE anyway, so no love for India. Other features include Wi-Fi ‘n’, Bluetooth v4.0, GPS with GLONASS and USB 2.0. NFC is not present either. You get an individual dialler and messaging app for the two SIM cards, marked 1 and 2. These tiles have different colours by default so you can easily distinguish them.

The new Word Flow keyboard works very well
The new Word Flow keyboard works very well

The new keyboard supports multiple languages at once and it also sports Word Flow, which is a gesture typing system much like the new Google keyboard or Swype. This works very well and keyboard even learns your usage pattern over time.

There are a ton of apps that come bundled along as well like Box TV, Evernote, Facebook, GameHub, Health and Fitness, Line, Office, OneDrive, Paytm, PicsArt and whole bunch of Nokia apps.

Camera

The stock camera app is Nokia Camera, which combines Pro Cam with Cinemagraph. The 5MP auto-focus shooter does a decent job outdoors but under ambient lighting indoors, the quality is pretty average. You also get 720p video recording support. The 630 also ditches the dedicated camera shutter key of the 525, which is a bit disappointing.

The 5MP snapper is strictly average at best
The 5MP snapper is strictly average at best

Battery life

The boosted 1830mAh battery is pretty stellar in delivering more than a day’s worth of juice. Our 8-hour loop test ended with about 27 percent of battery to spare. One can easily go up to two days without charging it again, under light to moderate usage.

Verdict and Price in India

If you go by the naming convention, the Lumia 630 supersedes the Lumia 620 and is a notch above the Lumia 525. This is exactly how it’s positioned in the market as well. The Lumia 525 is moot at its current price point. Nokia needs to drop the price by a couple of thousand for it to be relevant. The Lumia 630 Dual SIM can be found for online and in shops for roughly Rs 11,000. This is very good pricing by Nokia as the 630 delivers a much better package compared to the Lumia 525. We were a bit apprehensive about the 512MB RAM at first but honestly, it really doesn’t make any difference. Sure, you might miss a game or two in the Store but it’s nothing that would ruin your life.

The Lumia 630 Dual is far from perfect. We would have liked a front-facing camera and probably a better sensor for the rear one. The camera shutter key has also gone away. The lack of an ambient light and proximity sensor is also a bit baffling. Thankfully, the latter two missing features aren’t really a deal breaker but it would have been nice to have. In the end, the aggressive pricing from Nokia kind of makes up for some of the 630’s shortcomings.


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