Nokia Lumia 635

Nokia Lumia 635
Nokia Lumia 635

You will probably not find a more affordable 4G smartphone than the Nokia Lumia 635. But it is far from being the ideal budget handset.

At $239, the Lumia costs $70 more than the Xiaomi Redmi 1S ($169).

Both devices use a quad-core Snapdragon 400 chip from Qualcomm and have 8GB of internal storage. While the Lumia lacks a front camera and has a meagre 512MB of RAM, the Redmi has only 3G connectivity.

But the most obvious difference is in their software. The Redmi runs Android, while the Lumia is one of the first Windows Phone 8.1 devices in the market.

This software update brings a pull-down notification shade, dubbed Action Centre, along with a host of other improvements such as a Swype-like gesture keyboard.

You also get Microsoft Office and Nokia's own navigation and map apps.

It is easy to distinguish the Lumia by its glossy colourful back which comes in bright orange, bright yellow, black and white. Pick orange or yellow as the fingerprint smudges are not as visible on these two.

The same cannot be said for the 4.5-inch screen, which lacks an oleophobic, anti-fingerprint layer. The IPS screen has decent viewing angles, but there is some colour shift when it is viewed from the sides.

The 854 x 480-pixel screen resolution is adequate for the size but the text looks pixelated on this display when compared with the higher resolution screens on more expensive phones.

If you use your phone as a fitness tracker, Nokia has given app developers access to the information collected by the sensors in the phone via the new SensorCore software.

Developers will be able to use the collected information to build health and fitness apps that remain active even if the phone is in a low-power mode, which helps with battery life.

As a start, the Lumia comes with Bing Health & Fitness that tracks the number of steps you have taken, among other features. Expect to see more health apps as developers tap the potential of SensorCore.

With the Windows Phone market share hovering around 5 per cent, I was not expecting to find the latest apps, though it does have the latest Angry Birds Epic, WhatsApp and Facebook, but I did not expect to feel like a second-class mobile user.

The culprit: the Spotify app on the Lumia is only for paying subscribers. There is no option to listen for free, albeit with ads, like on Android or iOS devices. And my usual bugbear of not having Google Maps or an official YouTube app still applies.

Battery life is another concern. The Lumia's small 1,830mAh battery lasted 5hr 44min in our video playback test.

A decent budget 4G handset that runs Windows Phone 8.1 smoothly, the Lumia 635 is suitable for less demanding users.

vinchang@sph.com.sg

BACKGROUND STORY

TECH SPECS

Price: $239

Processor: 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400

Display: 4.5-inch LCD, 854 x 480 pixels

Operating system: Windows Phone 8.1

Camera: 5 megapixels (rear)

Battery: 1,830mAh

RATING

Features: 3/5

Design: 4/5

Performance: 3/5

Value for money: 5/5

Battery life: 3/5

Overall: 3/5


This article was first published on July 23, 2014.
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