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Hands on with Nokia Lumia 630: A good looking budget Windows Phone 8.1 device

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A first look at Lumia 630

Microsoft just dropped a huge bomb on the developer community at Build 2014 last night. The software giant announced some massive updates to the Windows and Windows Phone platform. We were among the few lucky journalists who were privy to a hands-on with Windows Phone 8.1 and the highly anticipated Nokia Lumia 630. Nokia announced two variants of the 630 – a single and dual-SIM version. India will be amongst the first countries in the world to get the first ever Windows Phone 8.1 device, when it launches this May. Let’s take a quick look at the phone before we dive deeper.

So where does the Lumia 630 fit in Nokia’s line-up? With an international price of $169 for the dual-SIM Lumia 630, it’s slightly above the Lumia 525 in terms of pricing once it lands here.

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The whole display now shows Live Tiles

The Lumia 630 is a handsome looking phone. Available in a range of cornea-burning colours, the 630 is clearly designed to appeal to the youth. It’s still a budget phone so the specifications are pretty similar to the Lumia 520. It looks a lot like the Nokia X in terms of design aesthetics but rather than having a block-like design, the sides are tapered slightly. It feels comfortable to hold and carry around in your pocket.

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Plain back panel, but typically bright Nokia colours

This is the first Windows Phone device to ditch the capacitive buttons for on-screen buttons. It feels a little odd at first but you’ll get used to it. The phone is quite barebones, in the sense you don’t get a front camera and there’s still no LED flash for the rear one. The back cover is interchangeable giving you access to the two SIM slots and a microSD card slot. You can install up to a 128GB microSD card. 3G is only supported on one SIM while the other defaults to 2G. You can have both active at the same time and phone will automatically route your calls if you happen to get two at the same time.

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The lack of flash is a disappointment

It’s not about the phone though really, as the main highlight is Windows Phone 8.1. On the surface, it may look the same but there are many neat improvements added which have been a long time coming. We won’t go too much into detail here as we’ve covered the top features of WP 8.1 right here.

Here’s a quick video which shows some of the features in action. Again, the 630 that we had was running a very early build so some of the features like the Word Flow keyboard weren’t active.

The Nokia Lumia 630 is another solidly built handset from Nokia but it isn’t smooth sailing ahead as even before launch, it faces two big hurdles. The first being its positioning in Nokia’s line-up. If you look at the specifications, the Lumia 630 is a slightly faster Lumia 525, with a bigger screen. It has a Snapdragon 400 quad-core SoC, a 4.5-inch IPS ClearBlack display and bigger battery.

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Not that slim either

However, the 512MB of RAM could be the Achilles’ heel of the 630. This does not pose an issue with day-to-day functioning but it does restrict your ability to install certain apps. While this might be a small percentage of apps, it’s still a limitation which shouldn’t have been there considering it’s supposed to be a step up from the 525. The latter has 1GB of RAM and will get the 8.1 update eventually, which still makes it very relevant if you game a lot. The 630 on the other hand might have a faster CPU but what’s the use when you won’t be able to play all the high-end games?

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Windows Phone 8.1′s notification centre

The second hurdle, and this is a big one – is the threat from Indian brands like Micromax, Karbonn and XOLO. With Windows Phone now free for manufacturers to use in devices with screen sizes less than 9-inches, there’s nothing stopping Micromax from delivering a much better WP 8.1 handset, specs wise, for the same price as Nokia’s 630. Yes, Nokia will have the upper hand when it comes to their HERE services and after sales support but they can no longer sit idly by as Indian companies, along with other OEMs like HTC and possibly Samsung, kickstart their WP 8.1 line-up as well.

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