The Lumia 530 may be Nokia’s cheapest Windows phone, but the now £100 (or £80 on pay-as-you-go) Lumia 630 is by far the better handset for those on a budget. It’s available in same bright orange, green and more traditional black and white interchangeable shell cases, but this eye-catching handset has a better, larger screen, a faster chipset and a slimmer chassis, making the Lumia 530 feel compromised by comparison.
We were already big fans of its predecessor, theNokia Lumia 620, but the addition of Windows Phone 8.1 (WP8.1) easily elevates the Lumia 630 above almost every other Windows Phone currently available. WP8.1 is by far the best version of Microsoft’s mobile operating system. There’s still no sign of Cortana yet, Microsoft’s intelligent personal assistant app, but Nokia’s promised it will definitely be arriving before Christmas, so we shouldn’t have to wait long before it comes on the handset as standard. In the mean time, Nokia’s onboard apps are better than ever and the greater focus on personal customisation finally brings WP8.1 on par with Android and iOS.
You can now set a background image that scrolls down the home screen underneath the ever-present Live Tiles, add a third column of tiles to make more space for your apps, and swipe down from the top of the screen to bring up the new Action Centre notification bar. The latter will be particularly welcome news for Android users looking to make a smooth transition to Windows.
Of course, a great operating system is nothing without a good handset to back it up, and the Lumia 630 doesn’t cut corners. The Lumia 630’s build quality is superb, with hardly any flex in the smooth matt polycarbonate rear, and its flat angular chassis is very comfortable to hold in the hand.
The Lumia 630’s 4.5in LCD display looks great, too. It only has a tiny resolution of 480×854, but text and images looked perfectly clear and sharp while web browsing. You’ll want to zoom in when reading desktop-based sites, though, as headlines were only just about legible. We had no concerns about the Lumia 630’s image quality, as our colour calibrator showed the screen was displaying 85 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut. This is about average for an entry-level phone, and our peak brightness measurement of 318.74cd/m2 meant that colours always appeared bright and punchy both in and out of doors. Contrast was good, too, measuring 894:1, and we were able to see a huge amount of detail in our test shots.
Fortunately, the Lumia 630’s great performance doesn’t come at the cost of battery life. Its 1,830mAh battery lasted 12 hours and 3 minutes in our continuous video playback test with the screen set to half brightness, which is three hours more than the Android budget star, the Motorola Moto G. You should be able to use the phone all day without having to worry about recharging it.