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Deep-dive review: The Lumia 635 smartphone -- a study in contrasts

Matt Hamblen | July 25, 2014
Nokia's new low-cost Lumia 635 smartphone makes some unfortunate hardware compromises, but on the plus side it comes with the excellent Windows Phone 8.1.

In response to the criticism that it has too few apps, Microsoft says it has 90% of the top 20 apps that smartphones users say are important (and the list is constantly changing), and has recently added Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram and Vine. Microsoft also claims it has a lot of developer interest in creating apps, with more than 500 apps added to its store each day.

In conclusion

Overall, the Lumia 635 is an odd mix of hardware cutbacks for affordability with some premium software features thrown in.

It's rather strange that the Lumia 635, which has a single camera and only a moderately good display and processor, is the first to offer Windows Phone 8.1 and the perks that come with it, such as Office software, Here Drive+ navigation and a Cortana digital assistant that is sophisticated enough to create reminders by tracking information inside of emails. Maybe the phone doesn't know if it wants to be a kid or a grown-up.

Some buyers might wonder if it makes sense to buy a Lumia 635 if Microsoft has even vague plans to sell off its phone business in two years, but that shouldn't matter at all given the short life of phones.

But while I wouldn't write off the Windows Phone entirely, in this case, you might want to look elsewhere. In the U.S., the smartphone market is fairly saturated, and many people already own a high-end smartphone like the Apple iPhone 5S or the Samsung Galaxy S5, both of which sell for $200 with a two-year contract. Recently, Best Buy dropped the new well-ranked LG G3 to $99 on-contract with three national carriers. At that price (assuming you can afford a contract), the LG G3, which runs Android 4.4 and comes with two cameras, is a better buy than the new Lumia 635.

 

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