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The Nokia Lumia 635 Windows Phone is a Crazy Good Deal

Nokia recently released it’s Lumia 635 Windows Phone which comes with Windows Phone 8.1 preinstalled as well as Nokia’s latest firmware version Lumia Cyan. I got mine about a week ago and thought I would share my thoughts and first impressions on the $99 smartphone.

Lumia 635

I will just come out and say it. I love these Nokia prepaid Windows phones…they’re easily affordable, and while considered “entry level,” these phones do give you a lot of bang for your buck. Last year I shared my thoughts on the Nokia Lumia 520 as a Zune on Steroids, and  now I upgraded to the Lumia 635 which has a more powerful processor, larger screen, and yes, it has 4G LTE connectivity in the US.

Nokia Lumia 635

The Lumia 635 is Nokia’s update model to last year’s entry level Lumia 520 on AT&T or Lumia 521 on T-mobile.

Here’s a look at the phone’s specs and my take on them:

  • 4.5 inch ClearBlack Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3, IPS LCD Display 480×854 resolution 221 ppi (not high-end by any means, but it is a clear and crisp screen, and bigger which is always a good thing)
  • 8 GB of internal storage with expandable storage up to 128 GB with an SD card, as well as 7 GB of OneDrive cloud storage (moving apps and games from the phone to SD card is easy using the Storage Sense feature)
  • A paltry 512 MB of RAM (I know they want to keep the price low, but 1 GB would be welcome, but the OS is zippy and apps run just fine)
  • 5.0 MP Camera with 720p HD Video and Autofocus and 4x zoom. (A standard camera for a budget phone, you’ll need good lighting to get a half decent picture)
  • 1.2 GHz MSM8x26 Quad core Processor (A nice upgrade from the Lumia 520’s Dual-core 1 GHz snapdragon)
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The glaring missing features from this phone are a front-facing camera, a quality rear camera, a stellar display, and enough local storage space. But you can’t complain too much about that since it’s only $99 off contract.

Below is a picture of both phones next to each other, the Lumia 520 is on the left and the 635 on the right. You can see the 635 is larger (obviously), the navigation keys: back, search, and Windows buttons are onscreen now — not the hardware buttons like the 520. Another difference is the Lumia 520 had a dedicated physical camera button which allows you to bring up the camera easily and take a shot.

Nokia Lumia 520 and 635

The physical hardware camera button is no longer on the Nokia Lumia 635. Apparently some users aren’t happy about that, but personally, I won’t miss it as I rarely take pictures with my phone, and the button seemed to get in my way, too.

If you’re already own a Lumia 520, setting up the 635 is a piece of cake. All you need to do is transfer your existing SIM and SD card to the new phone, and then sign in with your Microsoft account.

The Nokia Lumia 635 has a lot more zip to it than the 520 which you would expect since the 635 has a quad-core processor and Windows Phone 8.1 preinstalled. You will need to download and install the most recent Windows Phone 8.1 update 1 though. And that’s easy if you’re part of the Preview for Developers program. I recommend any Windows Phone enthusiast to sign up for that program, too. It’s free and allows you to get the most recent phone updates long before carriers roll them out.

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For more on the program, read my article on how to sign up for the Windows Phone Preview for Developers program.

Prepaid Smartphone

The Nokia Lumia 635 is only $99 on AT&T without a contract – only a hundred bucks and you own it!

I have always been a prepaid phone user as I think contracts are a complete rip off. The prepaid AT&T plan I have only costs $35/month. Sure, I don’t get a lot of data use for that, but I do get unlimited texts and calls. Also, I use it on Wi-Fi 85% of the time anyway, so it works in my situation. But everyone is different and AT&T has other plans that can accommodate anyone – same goes for T-Mobile.

If you haven’t considered going prepaid before, check out our article on how much money you can save going prepaid. Below is a chart from that article which gives you an idea of the savings you can expect.

prepaid savings chart

If you already have a high-end Android or iPhone and are curious about Windows Phone, need a spare phone, a media player on steroids, or are simply on a budget, I can’t think of a reason not to pick one up. And who knows, you might like the Windows Phone OS enough that your next high-end phone will be a Nokia 1520 or recently announced HTC One (M8) for Windows.

What are your thoughts about the Lumia 635 or Windows Phone in general? Let your thoughts be heard and leave a comment below.

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10 Responses to The Nokia Lumia 635 Windows Phone is a Crazy Good Deal

  1. Peter Newman August 26, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

    Good introduction to Windows Phone. But you are quite wrong about urging people to get on the Preview for Developers program. I did with my Nokia 1520. Now that the official version of 8.1 has been released, I am locked out of that upgrade until ATT and MS resolve some problems associated with bitlocker:

    The phones are great though there are some connectivity issues when it tries to switch between 3g/4g/LTE/WiFi. It often loses connectivity. Putting it into airplane mode for a few seconds and then back again to normal fixes the problem.

    • Peter Newman August 29, 2014 at 10:16 pm #

      Update: Today (8/29) Nokia/MS updated the 1520 Preview for Developers edition of Windows Phone 8.1 to Cyan. I haven’t had a chance to evaluate the changes. Battery life took a major hit with the Preview but my 635 running the vanilla Cyan has great battery life so who knows? I’d say, bottom line: While 8.1 is superior to 8, it’s being rolled out now so I wouldn’t detour to the Preview to save yourself a few days or weeks.

  2. Brian August 27, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    There’s a severe lack of apps on the Windows os. It’s the only thing holding it back. I would prefer it to iOS and Android if it weren’t for that.

    I had some problems with the 520 giving me notifications. Ultimately, the lack of apps kept me from seeing if it was a defective phone or not. Returned it and went back to iOS.

    • Brian Burgess August 27, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

      While it doesn’t have as many apps as Android or iOS, it has the core apps available like Facebook, Pandora, WhatsApp, Twitter…

      If there isn’t an official app for what you want, chances are there’s a third party version that works just as good — if not better.

      The Windows Phone Store recently surpassed 300,000 apps and games:

      if you’re hoping for Google apps, that probably isn’t going to happen, quickly at least, but you can always use the web versions of whatever Google service you need and create a shortcut for it on the home screen. Or, again, there are plenty of third-party apps that do it for you like, for Google Docs and Google+

      And while the official YouTube app leaves much to be desired on WP8, MetroTube is an example of a third-party app being better than the official one:

      As the platform continues to develop and grow in popularity, you will see more developers hopping on Windows Phone

    • Steve August 27, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

      Appreciate your honesty Brian. Transitioning between platforms is always difficult, especially between two separate “closed” ecosystems. Ultimately to transfer to iPhone to WP you’d need to transfer your web services (Calendar, web, etc) to Microsoft compatible services like OneDrive, Outlook, etc and then look for an “equivilent” to the iPhone app you’re looking for. And yes you are correct there is a severe lack of apps, despite the bridging gap of “popular” apps.

      If you’ve ever owned a Windows Phone for a lengthy period of time you’d be quick to see there are plenty of apps available in the store, but sadly a lot of them are poor knockoffs of android counterpart with a select few hundred apps that are legitimately awesome.

      For now the apps I use on my 1020 include:

      Blue Skies
      HERE Drive
      Nokia Pro Cam
      Prism Bill Pay
      Weather Flow
      WP Central

      Personally I can’t stand Instagram. I think its heavily over saturated with “selfies” and not to mention the lack of 16:9 support for my 1020. Seriously? 4:3 hinders my 1020s capability.

      • Brian August 28, 2014 at 6:30 am #

        The thing that really got me were the irreplaceable apps that I used for banking. As well as fantasy sports apps, specific industry, airline & travel apps. It’s not “oh, I need an app that streams video”- it’s I need this company’s specific app because I use their services. That’s going to be the toughest hurdle because companies won’t make an app until they see it hurting their revenue potential. And less than 10% market share isn’t very appealing unfortunately.

  3. Elizabeth wilson August 29, 2014 at 6:31 am #

    Daughter just received her Nokia lumina this morning phones working but needs a code for her Microsoft update has done everything it asks and no code has been sent

  4. Natalie March 13, 2015 at 5:15 am #

    I just got my new phone Nokia Lumia 635 yesterday and I paid $20.00 for it at RadioShack I always had Samsung galaxy s3 phone and I love my Samsung phone but it just stop working for no reason. So here I am I like the new phone so far but it is hard to use the keyboard it’s like some time the letters I touched won’t work so I don’t know if I am going to like this phone but I am going to keep it for a couple of days and counting to see if u like it thank you for all your input about the phone

  5. po March 24, 2015 at 7:34 pm #

    Got one of these. And got rid of it 2 months later. Literally the worst product ever.
    Lacks apps
    alternative apps are as good as originals
    no public transit tracking apps for Boston, NYC, SF
    no google maps…. Microsoft maps told me to take LIR from Brooklyn to Manhattan
    No snapchat
    Touch screen is severely less responsive after 1 month owning

    I could go on, but trust me. I was so excited to have windows on all my devices…..

  6. sandy April 26, 2016 at 6:47 pm #

    I like the 635..but can’t keep it long…does every thing well for me…but I want my games like crazy kitchen and juice cubes.. They wont load on this phone..ian thinking bout changing phones just for getting my games back

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