1. jtbarton's Avatar
    So, this is the first time I've ever done something like this despite the Windows Phones I've owned, but I just feel compelled to share my thoughts about this phone. This is in no way a comprehensive review that the likes of Daniel and Sam are capable of but this is what I was able to scrounge together and is the product of my thoughts of the device and too much time on my hands at the moment.

    Background: My daily driver is one of two: my Lumia 925 or my ATIV S Neo. The 925 has served me faithfully but was always plagued with the typical 925 problems: low internal storage (can't help that), overheating at the slightest bit of moderately-intensive tasks, and the looseness at the upper part of the polycarbonate back. I could overlook the last two because I'd just slip on an incipio shell and all is well and good, but I have a large music library, and I don't like having to pick and choose what goes on my phone, nor do I feel like going back to the dark ages of carrying a phone AND an mp3 player. So I bought an ATIV S Neo from ebay. Perfect condition, slightly larger screen, 64GB expandable card, and WP8 was always a dream to me so I was in heaven. However, the bug of music disappearing from the artist/albums list (and consequently me having to wipe the SD card and reload it) necessitated the update to 8.1 DP, which fixed the bug. However, during the whole Live Lockscreen fiasco, I hard reset the phone before the Kids Corner solution came about. Big mistake. My MMS apn settings were totally borked, and no ATT representatives could get them working again after I tried manually entering in all working apns. So, I was stuck in between my music, or no MMS and quite frankly, a not so smooth experience on 8.1. I caved and got a Lumia 520 which worked nicely as a dark age mp3 player, until the SD card mount sh*t itself. Since I'm waiting for the 830/One M8 on ATT, I needed a solution because I have no patience.

    So I bought the Lumia 635 off Amazon at the $80 GoPhone price and it arrived to me the next day on prime shipping. I also, off of Microsoft's webside, ordered the bright green shell and with free shipping, already arrived the next day after they informed me of my item shipping (praise based Microsoft and Amazon). Enlisting the help of my trusty Lumia 925 right now, who happily agreed to work with me, I'll get some pictures up.

    First Impressions: Coming in the standard GoPhone, irritating plastic mounts, I ripped it apart and out fell the phone in all its glory. This is the ATT version, of course, with a black shell. I had never seen this thing other than in pictures so needless to say I was quite impressed with how sleek and business-y it looked. The clear black display also works wonders and, true to their word, it's much more difficult to distinguish the edges of the screen, especially with the lack of capacitative buttons.

    wp_20141015_003-1-.jpgwp_20141015_004-1-.jpgwp_20141015_005-1-.jpg

    Not too shabby looking for an 80 dollar, off-contract phone. Booting her up, and I'm greeted with the typical set up that we're all used to. Now, once all the administrative business was taken care of and a tentative start screen arranged after the essential apps were downloaded, here's where the budgety-ness of the phone comes into play. Even with the clear black display (which makes colors look much more passable than on a 520), the screen door effect is widely present, and the scrolling is not as buttery smooth that I've been spoiled by on the 925, but then again, with an S400 Quad at 1.2 Ghz (I believe) and 221 ppi, I already knew what I was expecting. Regardless, it wasn't painful to look at like the 520, and the viewing angles were definitely improved over the latter. Naturally, the 925 blew it away in this department

    wp_20141015_006-1-.jpg

    On the picture above, you can see a little bit of the effect, so viewing at angles can be a bit awkward, but they don't bother me that much. I plopped the SD card in and this thing was up and running in no time. With all my music downloaded as well as pictures and an entire map of the USA, I decided to actually take it out as a daily driver for half the week around University, just to put it to the test.

    Field Testing: One thing I will say though, is that the processor is not given enough credit. Xbox Music, for example, absolutely FLIES on this thing. Loads up so much quicker than on my 925 and without most of the struggle. The occasional blip in album art here and there, and one black screen were all I experienced negatively, but the former usually corrected itself after a couple of minutes. I thought the on-screen buttons would be a bit odd but they were easy to get used to... though I often found myself touching the empty space below the screen when I tried to use the back button.

    Taking it off the charger and moving to the bus stop, I put my earphones in and immediately started up my music without a hitch. Checking back two minutes later though, my battery had already drained to 98%... not too good of an omen at first, because my 925 and Neo had the habit of draining very slowly, often staying at 100% and in the 90s for hours, even with me texting and listening to music the entire time. Then again though, the upper 90%s in battery life are often questionable, and phones are different... like lag in the gas tank of a car: often the tank drains very slowly but then quickly drains once it passes the half-way mark, or vice-versa.

    Having to eventually turn off music (and the phone reaching 95% once I got to class, which was a mere 20 minutes after I stepped out my door), I was pleasantly surprised to find out that while Xbox Music or some passive task may be more draining on the battery, this phone kept the same percentage the entire hour+ while idle, and occasionally checking the time. What I have noticed, reiterating, is that this phone really holds its charge on idle. With more of the same routine throughout the day, with two calls, a lot of texting and social networking with music all in the background, this phone held out like a trooper. By the end of the day, I was left with about 67% battery, and that was easily a 13 hour day by the time I went to sleep. Identical results were experienced the next two days, as well as today.

    The camera is... well, a camera. It's adequate and is by no means jaw-dropping, but it gets the job done, and admirably well. However, I feel auto-focus really doesn't do too well of a job. I often find myself tapping the screen to manually focus and end up getting a much sharper image than just leaving it to the phone itself. As well, I don't particularly enjoy the mechanics of auto-focus, because the lack of an FFC means that if I ever wanted to take a selfie for my own vanity or with a friend, I'd do what we all did with our first phones and turn the main camera towards us. It works out, but with auto-focus, the tapping on the screen won't take a picture, but merely manually focus. This is a tad irritating, but by no means a deal-breaker. I feel the 520 had a much better camera mechanism, the one that we're all used to. Camera sample below, taken with, of course, the 635. I apparently deleted my other pictures, because this review was spontaneous:

    wp_20141015_002-1-.jpg

    The screen in which you preview the photo does not do justice. All photos taken look absolutely abysmal on the phone itself. Once I viewed them on the computer, I was pleasantly surprised. Definitely not bad, but definitely cannot stand up to my 925, or even the Neo, which takes surprisingly good photos.

    At the end of today, I was quite pleased. I felt like all my needs were met with this phone, and I'm quite the tech junkie and critical of the devices I use. In the end, though, when I picked up my 925 again, I saw how amazing the screen looked and how buttery smooth everything else was, and I swapped my sim back... though I may very well change my mind once I see how the green shell looks on this thing. Quite frankly, (praise GSM phones) depending on if I need all my music that day, I'll swap the sim however I choose. Choice is a wonderful thing.

    Left to right: ATIV S Neo, Lumia 635, Lumia 520
    wp_20141015_007-1-.jpg

    Conclusion: This is a very capable, and most likely another, underrated Windows Phone. Despite the oddities of foregoing flash and a few other things from the 620, I was quite blindsided by the capability of this little device. I never had a hiccup with the daily tasks that I use my phone for and the processor, despite sounding quite anemic on paper, is more than sufficient to power this device. Honestly, if I could fix anything immediately, it would be the screen resolution and pixel density, then I'd have absolutely no issues. So, whether as an emergency phone, a media player, or even a daily driver, this thing will get the job done. With the added bonus of SD card expansion and swappable shells, this thing rocks, plain and simple. I look forward to feeling it in my hands with the new green shell that's waiting for me when I return home this weekend.

    ​Thanks for reading! :)
    10-16-2014 12:49 AM
  2. Guytronic's Avatar
    Great review!

    I agree with the "processor is not given enough credit" observation.

    Been enjoying my T-Mo version for a while now.
    Again thanks for the words!
    Laura Knotek likes this.
    10-16-2014 01:00 AM
  3. Laura Knotek's Avatar
    Thanks for sharing your review. I always like to see reviews from regular users, not just tech bloggers. You did a great job pointing out the features and real-life scenarios of those features. That's a great review.
    Guytronic likes this.
    10-16-2014 01:51 AM
  4. deadwrong03's Avatar
    It's a great phone I got the T-Mobile version as I just switched and got a windows phone just to be on the carrier I was waiting for new higher end phones but it looks like I have to decide between the upcoming Lumia 830 or HTC one m8

    One problem I'm noticing is the ram issues can be noticeable when using 6tag. If I open the app then switch to another app the camera icon at the bottom fails to load and the app eventually closes out. I have get a few random reboots every day or every other day

    But besides that the phones pretty good considering the price and the specs
    Guytronic likes this.
    10-16-2014 07:46 AM
  5. ams963's Avatar
    Good review. Wow does the Samsung phone looks ugly or what!
    10-16-2014 08:44 AM
  6. prasath1234's Avatar
    Hey you can use Lumia selfie app to take picture of yourself.
    From Windows phone
    10-16-2014 04:56 PM
  7. deadwrong03's Avatar
    The selfie app don't work for Skype lol. The convenience of a front camera is missed with the 635
    10-16-2014 04:58 PM
  8. Guytronic's Avatar
    Hey you can use Lumia selfie app to take picture of yourself.
    From Windows phone
    Far as I can tell the selfie app works by beeping then it snaps the photo when the face is in focus and sort of centered.
    Has worked very well in good light with my 635.
    Laura Knotek likes this.
    10-16-2014 06:23 PM
  9. dlalonde's Avatar
    The camera is far better using Nokia Camera Beta. The image quality is better. I don't remember why though.
    Guytronic likes this.
    10-17-2014 12:00 PM
  10. jaspreet Atwa1's Avatar
    Good detailed review, thanks for putting it up!!
    10-18-2014 02:46 AM
  11. jtbarton's Avatar
    Well, after half a month of working with this gem, I have found ONE bug, and it appears to be an OS deal because neither updating via DP or reverting back to base Cyan via NSR Tool fixed it:

    It refuses to retain its color-profile. I like my colors vivid. Upon setting it up, everything looks awesome. I lock the screen, and when I wake the phone up, the color scheme has reverted back to standard. The color profile will only return to which it has been set when I open 'color profile.' Then it reverts back when the phone is locked. It's a bit irritating but meh.
    11-03-2014 02:03 AM

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