With the introduction of the Lumia 630 and 635 models, we have our first look at the next generation of low cost Windows Phone devices, and the Lumia 630 is a phone with many firsts for this segment. It’s the first phone launched with Windows Phone 8.1 from any manufacturer. It’s also the first phone released after the acquisition of Nokia by Microsoft, though the phone was announced at BUILD prior to the final paperwork was completed on the acquisition. This is the first Windows Phone ever with an optional Dual SIM model. This is also the first Windows Phone which incorporates a SensorCore branded pedometer. It’s the first Windows Phone which replaces the hardware back, home, and search keys with on-screen equivalents, and unfortunately it’s the first Windows Phone which is lacking a hardware camera button, ambient light sensor, and proximity sensor. This is definitely a device of firsts for Windows Phone, but not all of the firsts are good news.

Last year, Nokia released the Lumia 520 and to say that this one device changed the Windows Phone landscape forever would be an understatement. Microsoft was trying very hard to try and capture some of the high end smartphone segment, but with a smaller app store and generally lower specifications than competing devices running Android or iOS, it was a tough sell. Suddenly Nokia released a device which was a capable smartphone and could be had for a low price – often less than $100 off contract. At the time, competing Android phones in that segment would often be running very old versions of Android, have very low specifications, or both, and of course Apple doesn’t play in this segment. Within a single year, the Lumia 520 accounted for over 30% of all Windows Phone devices.

Clearly the high volume for Windows Phone was the low cost, off contract devices. Though Nokia (now Microsoft) still continues to make and sell higher end devices such as the Lumia Icon (930) and 1520 phablet, the low end of the market is where the volume is, and many of the changes to Windows Phone over the last year have been to help drive down costs of the devices by removing the requirements for certain sensors, hardware buttons, and creating a reference platform with Qualcomm to allow ODMs to easily create Windows Phone devices. We are seeing the same thing happening with Android as well, with the low cost segment practically ignored by all OEMs until Motorola launched the Moto G which is a capable smartphone for a budget price, and now with the Moto E they are aiming even lower. The Lumia 520 is still a capable competitor at a low price, but the landscape has changed in the past year, and good enough is no longer enough.

By name, the Lumia 630 is the successor to the Lumia 620. But truly it is a successor to the Lumia 520, as the Lumia 620 still outdoes both the 520 and 630 in features.

Low End Lumias
  Nokia Lumia 520 Nokia Lumia 620 Nokia Lumia 625 Nokia Lumia 630
Display Size 4.0" 3.8" 4.7" 4.5"
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus
MSM8227 Krait Dual-Core 1.0 GHz
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus
MSM8227 Krait Dual-Core 1.0 GHz
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus
MSM8930 Krait Dual-Core 1.2 GHz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
MSM8226 Cortex A7 Quad-Core 1.2 GHz
RAM/NAND 512 MB / 8 GB + MicroSD 512 MB / 8 GB + MicroSD 512 MB / 8 GB + MicroSD 512 MB / 8 GB + MicroSD
Cellular Connectivity HSPA+ 21.1 Mbps HSPA+ 21.1 Mbps LTE Cat 3 100 Mbps HSPA+ 21.1 Mbps
Corning Gorilla Glass No No Yes (GG2) Yes (GG3)
Clear Black No Yes No Yes
Glance Screen No Yes No No
Front Facing Camera No Yes Yes No
Rear LED Flash No Yes Yes No
Near Field Communication No Yes No No
Sensors Ambient Light Sensor
Proximity Sensor
Ambient Light Sensor
Proximity Sensor
Ambient Light Sensor
Proximity Sensor
Sensor Core

The 630 loses a lot of features over the Lumia 620 in an effort to hit an even lower price point than the 620 did. It keeps the ClearBlack display (more on that later) but loses practically everything else. The Front Facing Camera is gone, the rear LED flash is no more. Near Field Communication (NFC) was in the 620, but is no longer in the 630. In fact, as seen in the above chart, the 630 even loses out over the 520 with the lack of proximity sensor, and more importantly the ambient light sensor. All of this was an effort to keep the Bill of Materials down to allow the device to be sold for a lower price, and on that front they did do well with the Lumia 630 having an off-contract price of around $160, compared to the Lumia 620 which was about $240 when it launched.

The biggest omission in my opinion though is the lack of Glance Screen support. For those that haven’t used a Lumia with Glance, it arrived last year with the “Amber” firmware update, and first debuted on the Lumia 925. It’s been updated several times, and the most current version of Glance is simply fantastic. With Windows Phone market share not being very high, it’s probably a good idea to go over Glance. The Glance screen is simply the phone displaying some information on the display when the device is powered off.

Lumia 620 Glance (left) vs Lumia 1020 OLED Glance (center) vs Lumia 630 no Glance (right)

With all versions of Glance, the clock and several phone settings such as vibrate or charging would be displayed on the screen. With updates to the firmware, other features soon came such as the ability to display lock screen notifications on the glance screen as well, so you can tell if you’ve missed calls, texts, or other notifications with the device off. With the last update to glance, the detailed lock screen notification for Windows Phone (in my case, my next appointment in the calendar) will briefly appear on the Glance screen when you either turn off the phone, or if the phone senses your hand over the phone. The detailed info goes away at the first Glance refresh to keep the power consumption down. You can optionally enable Glance periodically at an interval, or with a peek mode where it will only enable Glance when it senses your hand over the display.

Glance works by utilizing panel self-refresh to be able to display some items with the display off. This feature is better with AMOLED displays, because they can display a small amount of white text with minimal power draw, but even so Nokia has made the Glance screen optional on LCD equipped devices as well, including the Lumia 620. As for why it’s missing, as with everything it comes down to cost. The Lumia Icon (930) is also missing Glance because Nokia couldn’t source a panel with memory for a reasonable price, but the 630 has the added caveat of not including either ambient light or proximity sensors to disable Glance when the phone is in your pocket. We're not sure if the 630 display includes memory or not but it could certainly be a contributing factor to it being unavailable on this model.

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  • name99 - Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - link

    I don't want to turn this into an Apple/MS/Android fight, but WTF is up with those BaseMark OS II memory scores? They certainly suggest something is very broken with the benchmark in some way.

    Is there any reason to believe that the 630 (a super budget phone) really has an awesome memory subsystem, substantially superior to iPhone 5S, to Android flagships, and vastly superior to the 620?
  • coachingjoy - Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - link

    Nice review.
    lumia 930/ICON review next please.
  • Rainer - Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - link

    Hi Brett, the Lumia 620 features also a 5GHz-band (802.11 "a") as well as a VGA front camera (at least the European models), could you please add this to the Hardware specs in tue table? Thanks
  • austinsguitar - Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - link

    ugh these phones need to get the picture. higher equipment, better battery "that doesn't suck," and a friendly OS that doesn't stray too far to what many are used to.... i just dont think these phones will advance unless these things are met in FULL!
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - link

    Hm, thanks for the review.

    I would really like to see the resolution added to the display category in the tables. You already have a RAM/ROM space, why not have a diplsay size/resolution space? I haven't found it in the first page or second page tables where it really needs to be. Neither have I seen it while glossing over the article.

    As for the phone itself, without a front facing camera and an ambient light sensor, I'd rather spend 30€ more on a Moto G. This really needs to be 109€ tops, not 130€.
  • SC7 - Thursday, July 24, 2014 - link

    Hi also Checkout this
    Latest Nokia Lumia 530 - Full Mobile Specification
  • leopard_jumps - Friday, July 25, 2014 - link

    Nokia 630

    SAR US 1.52 W/kg (head) 1.25 W/kg (body)
    SAR EU 1.51 W/kg (head) 1.52 W/kg (body)

    i wouldnt buy it .
  • whatsa - Sunday, July 27, 2014 - link

    Pity you did not add the 1520 but just IOS and droid high end.

    I just amazes me that this BS continues

    Why not show the 1520?
    well on graphics it kills the competition.

    Come on Guys you can do better than this.... disappointed.
  • Brett Howse - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link

    I didn't have a 1520 for comparison is the only reason.
  • operaghost - Wednesday, August 6, 2014 - link

    If the 630/635 is the successor to the 520 why wasn't the 520 included in the performance results? It would be nice to see what the new model can do over the old model. Likewise, since I bought my 520 for $50 outright, no contract, and the 630/635 can be had for about $100, why is it being compared to the high end phones? I can see adding perhaps a single high-end for comparison, but I don't expect a $100 phone to beat out a $650 GS5 or iPhone 5S in a performance test. Compare other phones in a similar price range. Let's see the $100 Androids compared to this instead. That makes more sense to me.

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