Update: The Nokia Lumia 630 has become even cheaper since its launch and new phones have arrived to challenge it. Our review now reflects this.
With the Nokia Lumia 520 now the world's top-selling Windows Phone 8 handset, it's no surprise that Nokia and Microsoft are concentrating on strengthening their low-budget range as it tries to dominate an area of the market.
The Nokia Lumia 630 was the first Windows Phone to arrive straight out of the box with Windows Phone 8.1.
Price-wise the Lumia 630 slots into the bottom end of the range just above the Lumia 520 and the newer Nokia Lumia 530, but it comes jam-packed with features thanks to the upgraded operating system, therefore you get a lot more bang for your buck.
Windows Phone 8.1 offers a lot more upgrades and additions than you would expect from the usual 'point upgrade', it's almost a complete overhaul of its predecessor.
All of the desirable features of Windows Phone 8 remain, however the upgrade pushes the OS closer to its competitors iOS and Android, replicating their existing features with the likes of the new Word Flow Keyboard and Action Centre.
Other additions to the new Windows Phone system are all focused on putting the smart back into smartphone as it focuses on getting you the most out of your features.
Data Sense and Wi-Fi Sense look to take the hassle out of data usage and Wi-Fi connection. The new ClearBlack screen allows you to enjoy the new entertainment features and apps available, including Xbox games.
The Nokia Lumia 630 also has new internal hardware ready to take advantage of the SensorCore SDK announced at Build 2014 so it can essentially act as your personal pedometer and measurement tool, because who doesn't take their phone everywhere they go.
The operating system isn't the only upgrade on the Lumia 630; it also has a generous 4.5-inch ClearBlack, 480 x 854 display, 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor and 512MB of RAM, beating out both the Lumia 530 and 620.
All that is not too shabby considering you can pick up the Nokia Lumia 630 for £99.95 SIM-free, £79.99 locked on pay as you go, or free if you buy it on a pay monthly deal from £9.50 per month. A dual-SIM variant is also available from around £120 SIM-free.
Although it's certainly an improvement on previous low-end Lumia's, there are still some features missing that you might expect. The Nokia Lumia 630 still doesn't have NFC, a camera flash or a front-facing snapper so if those are must-haves then this isn't the phone for you.
However, if you can live without those then it's not bad for the bargain price.
Statement colour is the cornerstone of the Nokia Lumia range and the Lumia 630 is no exception. The Nokia Lumia 630 has a removable, and therefore interchangeable, case so you can switch from the outspoken and fun bright green, bright yellow and bright orange to a more understated and professional black or white case.
The removable case also allows for easier access to the battery and SIM card so you won't be scrambling for a safety pin to get to the SIM (let's face it, you'll inevitably lose the actual tool for the job).
It also makes the Lumia 630 feel lighter and less bulky and allows for a larger screen than previous designs due to a smaller bezel.
The Nokia Lumia 630 is more rectangular and less smoothly finished than most of its competitors, however it has a strong and eye-catching design that follows the line of the higher-end Nokia's like the Lumia 920.
Its change in design makes it slimmer than the Lumia 620, 530 and 520 at just 9.2mm. Yet the increased screen size makes it heavier at 134g and wider at 129.5 x 66.7mm. This alongside the rectangular design does mean it feels quite wide in the hand, so I wouldn't recommend it if you have small, delicate hands.
Although the shell is removable, as with other Lumias it is a strong enough case that you don't need anything in addition. You can still customise the design to an extent – case manufacturers are bound to already be beavering away on alternative designs.
The front of the Nokia Lumia 630 is mostly screen and a good sized one at that for such a low-priced design. At 271 pixels per inch it's certainly not the best quality screen you'll find out there but for the price, what more can you expect?
You can also use gloves with it, which is becoming more common but it's a great selling point, or it will be in the winter at least.
Although the screen is sizeable, it isn't edge-to-edge. There's a black border running the entire way around it. The border becomes wider at the top to allow for the Nokia logo, ear and mouth pieces and at the bottom where you'll find the start, back and search soft-keys.
The back of the Nokia Lumia 630 is very simple with just a small loudspeaker, the 5MP camera lens near the top and of course the small Nokia logo in the centre.
The right edge of the handset houses all of the phone's physical buttons, with a volume rocker and the power button just below it. The signature camera button has been removed which is a shame as it was an added bonus on previous Nokia devices.
The left edge is completely free of any features, ports or buttons at all. The top is home only to a 3.5mm headphone port on the left-hand side and the bottom edge has a micro USB port in the centre, which is used for charging or connecting the Nokia Lumia 630 to a computer.
The back cover is easy to remove – you simply use your nails to peel it away at each corner. The cover is suitably strong enough and therefore unlikely to snap even if you're changing it every five minutes.
Once that has been removed, you'll have access to the 1830mAh battery, which is bigger than the Lumia 520 and 620.
Beneath the battery there are two slots – one for a micro SIM card and one for a microSD card. The Nokia Lumia 630 supports up to 128GB cards, which is useful for extending the fairly limited 8GB of on-board memory and 7GB OneDrive cloud storage.
One of the long awaited additions to Windows Phone is 'Cortana', Microsoft's equivalent to Siri and Google Voice Search and I'm pleased to say it doesn't disappoint.
Cortana, with her lovely soothing tone works well for a first attempt. Speech recognition is fast and accurate and it is well integrated with the core functions – however, it is currently only available for the Lumia 630 in the US.
Purchase your Nokia Lumia 630 outside the States and you won't initially benefit from this feature, but the UK release of Cortana is scheduled to arrive on the Lumia 630 by the end of the year, so it should be here any day now.
There are a number of built-in entertainment features to the Nokia Lumia 630 including Mix Radio which is a nice alternative to Last.fm or Spotify.
Available both online and offline, Mix Radio offers a number of playlists compiled by Microsoft's music experts, or allows you to search and compile your own playlists.
As with Spotify, Mix Radio also offers radio stations based on your music tastes and you can also share your mixes with your friends via Facebook and Twitter.
Another nice addition is the introduction of the Wordflow Keyboard. The swipe typing works well but I found it doesn't quite have the smart prediction and smoothness of other more established alternatives such as Swiftkey.
Windows Phone 8.1 also comes with Skype pre-installed and is set to automatically connect whenever and wherever possible allowing for greater connectivity with contacts.
All the features of Skype are available and you can switch from a regular call to a Skype call, great for when you lose signal but are on Wi-Fi. However, it does seem strange to have Skype pre-installed on a phone with no front-facing camera.
One surprising addition for a cheap phone is the ability to support motion data collection, meaning your phone will track and record your movement and location.
It's a great feature for fitness fans and can be used in conjunction with a number of apps including the pre-installed Bing Health and Fitness app.
I had a go with the app and was pleasantly surprised with the results. The pedometer function was relatively accurate and it monitors various types of exercise. The app also recommends exercises and diets and keeps a track record of all your exercises so you can map your progress.
As with all other Nokia Lumia devices, the Lumia 630 comes with Microsoft Office and OneNote, great additions, especially with such a bargain phone.
Business is always at the front of Microsoft's mind and as a result the Nokia Lumia 630 comes with dual-SIM capability, so now you can use just one device for two purposes. I can't see the Nokia Lumia 630 being the business phone of choice for large corporations but it's certainly an option for small-medium sized businesses.
Interface and performance
Operating the Nokia Lumia 630 is similar, if not identical to previous Lumia generations and the upgrade to Windows Phone 8.1 has made very few changes.
Nevertheless, swiping around the various screens is smoother and more responsive than Windows Phone 8 and the bigger screen means it's plenty big enough to do most things easily.
Although the 4.5-inch display doesn't have the best resolution, it's plenty good enough to make sure the tiles and menus are sharp and clear.
The screen, though responsive, does stick to the finger a little and isn't as smooth as the likes of the iPhone 5S or HTC One. It also seems to smudge easily and gets messy more quickly than others.
The interface on the Nokia Lumia 630 appears the same as on Windows Phone 8 phones.
Once switched on you start on the lockscreen, which shows the time and date as well as an overview of any unopened messages or emails and any useful reminders pulled from your calendar or Facebook. Behind that is a standard wallpaper which you can customise using Facebook to display random images from your account.
Swiping up takes you to the start screen which a variety of live tiles for apps and menus, which you can scroll through vertically.
Pressing and holding on to a tile lets you move, resize or unpin it from the screen. The colour scheme is also as interchangeable as the case; this can be changed in the settings menu.
Something new on Windows Phone 8.1 however is the ability to add another column of times to your homescreen, taking it from two up to three. Now this works well on larger handsets such as the 5-inch Lumia 930, but things can get a little crowded on the Lumia 630.
You don't have to have this third column, and it can be easily toggled in the settings - but it's nice to have the option if you are really live-tile crazy.
You can organise the live tiles in folders on your start screen and also create folders that can be pinned to the start screen, making your files much more organised and easy to find.
This is a feature which has been added by Nokia rather than coming direct from Microsoft - and it's an extremely welcome one.
To see the full list of apps you can swipe left and they are displayed in alphabetical order. Long-pressing an app on the list lets you bring it to the start screen or delete it to save memory. You will find the settings screen in here, and from there you can change sounds, ringtones, set-up Wi-Fi etc.
The biggest addition to the interface that has been included in Windows Phone 8.1 is the Action Centre. Anyone who is familiar with iOS or Android will know this as the notification area.
From the start screen or app list you can swipe down from the top of the phone, allowing you easy access to any new notifications as well as toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, camera access and screen brightness.
You can go to the wider settings categories from here and the Action Centre also displays your remaining battery.
The Nokia Lumia 630 features an upgraded Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor running a 1.2GHz and backed by 512MB of RAM.
As a result, it outperforms both the Nokia Lumia 520 and 620. It's certainly plenty for day-to-day usage and keeps the new Windows Phone 8.1 OS running smoothly. Previously frustrating loading times have also improved – although it's still not the best. I'd recommend sticking to mobile sites if you want to cut down on waiting times.
I also tested the processor against its predecessors with the help of AnTuTu and WP Bench and the scores are pretty good for a lower end Windows Phone. It's certainly outperforming the Nokia Lumia 520 amongst others – although that should be the case with the added quad-core processor.
Equipped with an Adreno 305 GPU the Nokia Lumia 630 can handle 3D games from the Xbox section, however don't be expecting outstanding quality. Don't forget the phone is cheap - it's certainly not a mobile games console for the hard-core gamers out there.
As you'd expect at that price, the Nokia Lumia isn't 4G enabled but it comes with the standard Wi-Fi and 3G and the token web browser of choice is of course, Internet Explorer.
However, the new Windows Phone 8.1 does come with the upgraded Internet Explorer 11. Whilst this is an upgrade, it hasn't got anything spectacular that you wouldn't expect from competing browsers.
Battery and the essentials
The Nokia Lumia 630 has a 1830mAh battery at the heart of it, a significant boost over the 1430mAh found in the Nokia Lumia 520 and the 1300mAh battery found in the Nokia Lumia 620.
This much needed improvement in battery power has resulted in a significant improvement in performance over previous iterations. The Nokia Lumia 630 can now make it through the day with no problems, as long as you're not constantly glued to it for 24 hours.
The Nokia Lumia 630 also fared well in TechRadar's battery test – running a 90-minute video from a fully charged handset with Wi-Fi on, social networks and emails set to push notifications and the screen turned up to full brightness.
The battery dropped to 77% by the end. Not too shabby and the Nokia Lumia 630 fared even better when performing standard every day functions like making calls and playing music.
Nokia claims the Lumia 630 provides up to 25 days of standby time over 3G, 16.4 of talk-time over GSM and maximum 3G talk time of up to 13.1 hours. It also claims over 58 hours of music playback time and 7 hours for video.
If this doesn't live up to your expectations there is a battery saver, which prevents apps from syncing in the background.
Although Windows Phone 8.1 has changed a lot, or at least added a lot as a new and improved OS, one thing that has stayed the same is the essential phone usage – making calls and texting.
Everything you need to make a call is listed in the 'Phone' app at the top left of the start screen. When you open it you'll see a history of your recent calls, made, received and missed alongside the date and time of each call.
It's a little odd that this is the default screen as, 'who was it that called me earlier?' isn't exactly what springs to mind when I'm going to call home and find out what's for tea. However, everything you need is well within reach and you have shortcuts to your contacts, voicemail and search.
Your contacts are displayed alphabetically in the same way that apps are on the second start screen, so they are easy enough to find.
Nonetheless, one thing that has always bugged me with Windows Phone is the duplication of contacts. If you've connected via Facebook, all your contacts are transferred so you end up with your dad in there twice.
The keypad is nothing to write home about as there's no smart dialling so you'll likely only use it to call new numbers or add to contacts. Calls on the other hand are great, the quality is above average and I've not had any problems hearing people or dropping calls.
You have the usual options on-screen during a call – mute, on hold, loudspeaker or to add additional callers and the phone also displays the contact's name, number and the call duration.
One thing I will reiterate is that I wouldn't recommend the phone for the dainty handed as the phone feels quite wide and could be uncomfortable during long calls.
Texting on the Nokia Lumia 630 now has the added bonus of the Wordflow keyboard, which, although it is a nice addition, isn't the most accurate thanks to the slightly sticky and slow screen.
This has complicated things and to be honest I think I preferred the simple QWERTY keyboard option, it felt more in keeping with Nokia's brand. Text is clear, sharp and easily read on the 4.5-inch screen.
Finally apps, and what does Windows Phone 8.1 have to offer? Always seen as lagging behind iTunes and Google Play, the Windows Store has upped its game.
Don't get me wrong, there are still favourites missing but your main or popular apps are easy to find and use. Microsoft has also secured some unique offerings and integrating Xbox Live was a genius move.
The camera on the Nokia Lumia 630 is probably the biggest let down as it's quite basic. You get a 5MP sensor on the back but there's no flash and no front facing camera so selfies are more difficult and video chatting impossible.
If that puts you off then I'd most likely recommend the Nokia Lumia 620 as a respectable alternative.
The options are also limited on the Nokia Lumia 630. You can adjust the white balance, aspect ratio, exposure value and the ISO and you can also choose between three modes: night, sports or automatic, all of which you can change from the camera directly rather than having to come out of the app.
Aside from that, the camera is basically just point and shoot. I was disappointed to see the external camera button go as it now means you have to hold the camera in one hand to take a photo and I found that this means the camera takes more time to focus.
There is a smart shoot option that takes several photos quickly and lets you pick the best ones. This helps as it allows the camera time to focus so even if your first couple are a little blurry, there's bound to be a good one in there.
As you will see in the camera sample shots, the automatic mode isn't bad for landscape photos and even up close shots. However the lack of flash means dark or night-time shots aren't great. Even with the night mode I didn't see any noticeable differences.
Having said all that, it's still not bad for a budget camera-phone and there are Nokia apps available for expanding your photographic options such as Cinemagraph and Panorama.
The video camera on the Nokia Lumia 630 is also quite basic, it shoots in 720p at 30fps (the same as the Nokia Lumia 620) and as such the performance is similar to that of its predecessor.
Options for shooting videos are even more limited than when taking still shots, you can still adjust the white balance as well as turning continuous focus on and off. In terms of the quality you can change that but you can only choose between 720p and WVGA.
The video camera works exactly how you'd expect, simply press the shutter button to start and again to stop filming. Sadly because of the lack of video lamp, the quality isn't great in poorly lit places but if you stick to well-lit areas then it's not too bad.
Whereas Windows Phone 8 would cover off all your media needs in just one app, the Music + Videos app to be precise, Windows Phone 8.1 has separated out the various media elements so you have an app for each.
As you can imagine, each app does exactly what it says on the tin. Your music is in the Music app, videos in the Video app and that's right, you've guessed it, your photos are in the Photos app and they are all quite standard.
The music player works as you'd expect, you can create custom playlists or filter your library by artist, song, album or genre. Once a song is playing, you can view the album artwork, favourite it and repeat or shuffle it with the in-app options.
There are a few strange elements to the music player that I thought might have been addressed; there's no start screen controls for music but you can pause or skip songs from the lock screen. You also have to go into the main settings screen to change the equalizer settings, it can't be done in the app.
All that aside, the sound quality is quite good, though without speakers the sound can get a little tinny when the volume is up high.
In addition to the Music app you can also listen to music through Mix Radio or you can copy songs directly from your laptop to your phone.
There are two options for video viewing on the Nokia Lumia 630. Firstly, images that you have taken yourself, these are stored in the camera roll. Simply select one of the thumbnails and tap one to view it. Once in you can pause it, skip ahead or skip to the next video but that is it, it's quite basic.
The Video app also allows you to purchase or rent video content and thanks to the partnership with Xbox live there is an excellent selection to choose from.
Although the screen and the sound isn't the best quality it certainly does what you'd expect and a little bit more for the price, the colours are bright and the image is clear.
As with the music though, I'd recommend headphones because the sound quality isn't great, although it is loud. It's also a decent size for videos, of course there are bigger and better quality phones for viewing video but then you'll be paying bigger prices.
The Nokia Lumia 630 does support all major audio and video formats, including MP3, WAV, eAAC+, WMA, MP4, H.264, H.263 and WMV.
Aside from music and video, there's also a standard Photo app. Your photos can also be viewed in the camera roll alongside the videos but this app is dedicated purely to your still images. It's a straight-forward app that does what you need it to.
You can view your pictures, favourite them, upload them to SkyDrive or set them as lock screen wallpaper. It's also easy to share your photos from here via social media channels.
There are a handful of editing options but these are quite limited, simply cropping, rotating or 'fixing' the picture.
Windows Phone 8.1 now organises your photos with the new Storyteller function. This organises them by the date that they were taken – I'm not sure I like this new format, I was perfectly happy with seeing all my photos in one go.
Ultimately there's not that much to media on the Nokia Lumia 630, but what there is works pretty well.
The internal storage could have been a bit limiting for big media moguls, but with an additional 128GB available with a microSD card slot, there should be plenty of room. In fact more than some of the higher end phones.
With the screen size and low pixel density it doesn't pack a strong punch if media is a big deal for you, however if it's just an added bonus then the Nokia Lumia 630 does a good job.
Motorola Moto E
The Motorola Moto E follows up the highly successful Moto G released last year. It comes in at around £80, making it marginally cheaper than the Nokia Lumia 630 and it has a number of similarities including the 5MP rear-facing only camera with no flash.
However there are a number of noticeable differences so it really depends what it is you're after for your money. The Moto E boasts an impressive 1980mAh battery so if long-lasting power is your cup of tea then the Moto E will most likely trump the Nokia Lumia 630.
In addition, although the screen is smaller it does impress with a surprisingly sharp 540 x 960 resolution, with 256ppi it's the sharpest display in its category.
Where the Nokia Lumia 630 does win out is with its quad-core processor and internal storage. The Motorola Moto E runs on a 1.2GHz dual-core processor with only 4GB of internal storage.
Some would say the Motorola Moto E is more aesthetically pleasing but that is a personal preference and I think that's what this might come down to. Not the design but the preference in OS. If you don't want to move across to Windows Phone then this Android equivalent is spot on.
There have already been a number of comparisons with the Nokia Lumia 520 in this review. That's due to its stature as the best-selling Windows Phone on the market and its stalwart performance for a budget device.
Having said that, in every aspect of comparison throughout the review, the Nokia Lumia 630 has outshined the Nokia Lumia 520 – it has a faster processor, more expandable storage and a longer-lasting battery, alongside that it's also slimmer although a little heavier.
Nevertheless, the Nokia Lumia 520 is still a solid entry-level smartphone and also comes in slightly cheaper, which could make a difference when making that first foray into the smartphone world.
The Nokia Lumia 630 does come with Windows Phone 8.1 straight out of the box, which is an improvement, but the new OS version is now available for the Lumia 520 too.
On spec alone I'd suggest the Nokia Lumia 630 is the better phone; however the Nokia Lumia 520 still remains a firm favourite.
Coming in even cheaper again, the Vodafone Smart 4 Mini at just £40 is an interesting addition to the market; however the price isn't the only thing that is noticeably lower.
There are numerous differences in spec on the Smart 4 Mini in comparison to the Nokia Lumia 630. The camera, for example, takes us back in time to the days where 3.2MP was a good quality phone camera, whereas we all know now that it's not going to cut it nowadays.
The design also isn't something to envy, in comparison to the Nokia Lumia 630 and the Moto E, the Smart 4 Mini looks like a budget phone from the get go.
On the plus side it does have a good battery life and expandable storage, two things you wouldn't necessarily expect for £40, however with a dual-core processor, the poor camera quality and a low UI I would recommend forking out the extra £40 for the Moto E or upgrading to the Nokia Lumia 630 if you're not intimidated by the prospect of Windows Phone.
Don't write the Smart 4 Mini off altogether though, as it would be a good investment as a second handset or an emergency stopgap between models.
Since the Nokia Lumia 630 launched, a tweaked version dubbed the Nokia Lumia 635 has also arrived. So what do those five extra little numbers get you? Not a lot to be honest. The main addition is 4G, which if you have or want a 4G contract is actually pretty handy, but other than that the only real change is that the finish on the 635 is glossy, while on the 630 it's matte.
It's subjective as to which looks better, but what's undeniable is that the finish on the Lumia 635 can make it a little clammy to hold, which is unfortunate. However while the Lumia 635 is slightly more expensive than its older sibling on contract, if you shop around you can actually get it for around the same price SIM-free, with many retailers charging just £99.99.
So if you can live with the gloss it's probably the better buy, since you get 4G and everything else from the screen to the processor is much the same.
The Nokia Lumia 530 is one step down from the Lumia 630, with a smaller screen, an inferior processor and worse battery life. But it's still a snappy little handset and SIM free prices start at under £70, so it's a good bit cheaper than the Lumia 630.
Given that the Lumia 630 doesn't have the best battery life to begin with and this is even worse it's hard to recommend if you can afford to spend an extra £30, but if not the Lumia 530 is a decent entry-level smartphone.
The low price also makes it a better fit as a secondary phone or a festival phone than the Lumia 630, but it's undeniably an inferior choice as your main everyday handset.
The Nokia Lumia 630 is a no nonsense phone with a no nonsense price tag. It was never going to take on the mighty iPhones or the HTC One M8's of this world but that's not what it's there for.
What it does, it does well and it's a suitable upgrade on the ridiculously popular Nokia Lumia 520.
As the first phone with Windows Phone 8.1 straight out of the box, the Nokia Lumia 630 is a great draw and not just because of that but its price point as well.
Microsoft and Nokia have taken everything I liked from the Nokia Lumia 520 and improved it in some way. The battery is more powerful and lasts longer and the quad-core processor is a much-needed upgrade to cope with the increased choice in apps, games and entertainment.
The extension of the additional memory is a plus, as is the Dual-SIM functionality. It's a great phone for small-medium sized businesses. With built in Microsoft Office and OneNote you have everything you need for both a personal and professional device.
One thing to improve upon for the Nokia Lumia 520 is the camera. Although you wouldn't expect much more for that money, it clearly needed a bit of work and with the flash still missing it does let an otherwise stellar phone down. I also miss the external camera button – bring it back Nokia please, I beg of you.
As with other Nokia Lumia devices, the screen does tend to stick a little and attract dirt, fingerprints and marks quite easily which is a real shame as the rest of the phone looks quite appealing, although a little cheap.
I'd like to take my hat off to Microsoft and Nokia who have built on the success of the Nokia Lumia 520 brilliantly to design and build yet another respectable budget phone in the Nokia Lumia 630.
For a low price it does all the basics and does them well but also offers a decent battery, solid quad-core processor and a whole host of new features in Windows Phone 8.1.
Don't get me wrong; it's not the perfect phone, but for a bargainous £79.99 on pay as you go it's a brilliant addition to the market and I foresee it becoming even more popular than the Nokia Lumia 520.