The Nokia Lumia 635 was announced back in April during Microsoft’s ‘Build’ conference, and it sat alongside its brother, the 630, which doesn’t have the 4G capabilities of the 635. It’s a budget phone, no bones about it, but the fascinating thing about Windows Phone these days is it is becoming more and more prominent in devices that are not the champagne-sipping-tophat-and-tails-flagship types, but of the chuck-in-your-bag or gift-for-grandma phones.
Fascinating because the actual experience of the software itself doesn’t really differ that much from device to device. Windows Phone 8.1 is awesome, whether you’re rocking a ultra-budget 530 or a premium slab like the 930. The Lumia 635 doesn’t exactly sit right in the middle of these two extremes; it sits a little nearer the low-end, but it’s a fair spot for it to sit in. Here’s why.
Basically, most people, if they could, would opt to buy the best of the best. If you’re an iPhone fan and you have the means, you’re going to have a 5S in your pocket, and you’re going to upgrade as soon as the 6 is released. $400 with a 2-year contract? Don’t care! MUST HAVE!
If you’re a Samsung Note aficionado, then the Note 4 or Edge will be at the top of your shopping list – the caviar and Veuve Clicquot can wait until next week.
Windows Phones fans will opt for a 1020, 1520 or a 930, the devices at the top of the Microsoft totem pole, with the newly-announced 830 not far behind, but off-contract, you’re not looking at anywhere near $800 for any one of those devices. However, if you absolutely must have an iPhone and you don’t like contracts (let’s face it, who really likes them?) right now, an unlocked 64GB iPhone 5S is around $750 on Amazon (or $825 if you’re including the tax!) To be fair, you do get a lot for your money, but if you are not in a position financially to just drop nearly a thousand dollars on a new phone, or you have little interest in iOS and want to opt for something that will do many of the things iOS is capable of (or Android for that matter) at a fraction of the (unlocked) price, then look no further than the Lumia 635. It’s around $100 unlocked, and if you’re not after lots of bells and whistles, but still like bells and whistles, then it’s a steal.
The 635 comes pre-installed with Windows Phone 8.1 and Lumia Cyan, so all the up-to-date features that Nokia and Microsoft offer for their platform as of now.
The 635 isn’t a premium device, it’s available for a mere $100 on Amazon (off-contract), so it’s certainly a budget phone, but I would say, only in price. On AT&T right now, going fully prepaid and off contract, you can buy the 635 for $100, or alternatively opt for an Android experience with the relatively new ZTE Compel, also at $100. However, looking closely spec for spec, the 635 is lighter, has longer battery life, has a higher resolution screen, twice as much internal memory, can be expanded to 128GB via microSD verses just 32GB on the ZTE… etc, etc. In fact, the only physical advantage of the Compel over the Lumia is that ZTE included a useful LED flash, which is always good for using as a flashlight.
Nokia Lumia 635 on AT&T (PrePaid): http://www.att.com/cellphones/nokia/lumia-635-prepaid.html#fbid=_kScknRMf5v?sku=sku7320329
I found the Lumia 635 to be very snappy, despite its non-flagship status, and I thoroughly enjoyed using it. The size of it (remember it’s a budget device so it’s not a 1520!) lends it almost by default to be a smaller phone, which while not perfect for watching Netflix movies on, does nestle in the palm of your hand in an almost nostalgic aah-this-is-how-all-phones-used-to-be kind of way. Very comfortable to hold,m and this is partly due to the way the edges angle inwards slightly, rather than the side frame being a 90 degree affair. Very nice indeed.
Other little nods to Nokia’s great past are the fact that the battery is interchangeable and the back cover can be pulled off if you fancy a different colour. Battery life is also good; I had an AT&T simcard so it was happy to pull in a 4G LTE signal, and said, “Goodbye” (as Windows Phones do) after almost two full days. Pretty good really.
Actually speaking of AT&T, my Lumia 1020 picks up three bars of signal (on AT&T’s 4G LTE) in my apartment’s living room, on the coffee table. Strangely, the Lumia 635 held steady at four bars. Newer, shinier antennae inside the 635? Who knows, not me. But call quality was, as expected, superb.
Overall, if I had to get a cheap, but not inferior smartphone and all I had was $100, I would most definitely go for the Lumia 635.
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