Lumia 630 on test. How I broke Windows Phone

I’m going to write this while it’s all fresh in my head, and I’ll tell you why.

This site was built off the back of a Microsoft Smartphone 2002 device called the Orange SPV. I, for years, was obsessed with Smartphone and Pocket PC devices from Microsoft. However, when the iPhone appeared and Android grew in popularity, Microsoft seemed to stagnate. There was no real progression between Windows Mobile 6 and 6.1 and those trusty business users, who were always guaranteed Windows Mobile users, were suddenly walking around with iPhones.

Despite all that, I still had a love for the Microsoft built-OS’s. In the early days the odd foible and tweak was something that I could write about, get around and share a solution to.

Then someone gave me a HTC Hero to play with, and I’ve been an Android user ever since.

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Then this, the Nokia Lumia 630, came along. It’s running Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Cyan and has a quad-core 1.2GHz CPU. I should be set. This should be, pretty much, the best that Microsoft has to offer right now.

However, I’m picky. I mean really picky. I see lots of phones (and I mean LOTS of phones) and this has some stiff competition. Don’t get me wrong, I know there’s a 5 megapixel camera around the back and there’s higher resolution cameras on other devices and more powerful phones out there, but I’m looking at the OS. I’m looking at the OS from the perspective of an Android and iOS user.

Today, I have to say, it’s driven me mad.

Again, don’t get all crazy about this. The OS has improved hugely since I last played with it properly. The GUI is actually pretty easy to get around and everything seems to be hooked together better than before. It’s a smooth experience too.

I’m a reviewer. I usually get phones that have been to other publications. Sometimes they arrive with personal content on from a reporter or blogger. So, the first thing to do is reset the phone. For some reason, Windows Phone took a full 7 to 8 minutes to do this relatively simple task. It might not sound like a long time, but watching these cogs spinning round for at least 2 minutes before any sort of progress bar appeared was … annoying.

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Out of the box there’s the standard setup screens, which we’re all used to but quickly get put to the back of your mind once you whizz past them.

However, I tripped over these immediately. This Lumia 630, out of the box, was set to English (United States), so I set it to English (United Kingdom) and .. it rebooted. Why does it need to reboot?

I can get past that. It’s not often you change the language of a phone, so let’s ignore that for a minute.

However, there’s one quick way to break the phone. I won’t tell you how, but if you skip just one screen you won’t be able to do a search, you won’t be able to setup email and you won’t be able to update the phone. In fact, pretty quickly, you’ll be proper annoyed.

The reason? The reason you can’t login to Microsoft, to a Live account, to a Google account, to setup a GMail account, to do a search, do do an update?

The time is wrong on the phone. On setup, if you ignore the screen asking you to set the date and time (assuming perhaps that the network or a time server will do it for you), it’ll break this stuff. Yes, it can happen elsewhere – I couldn’t log into GMail on a PC in a web cafe recently because the date and time was set wrong, so the SSL wasn’t trusted.

However, for such a large portion of the phone to break, that’s not great. Yes, I know it was probably because it didn’t get the time from the network, but still. Some sort of error handling would’ve been better.

Here’s my dodgy “recorded in the garage” video showing the setup of the Lumia 630 and an Android device..

On the flip side though, Windows Phone has come a long way. The browser is nippy and renders pages well, there’s a stack of options in the settings screens and I was pretty happy to see content protection in the “Kids Corner” option. I also liked the call and text filter and I was actually pretty appreciative of the uncluttered GUI.

When I changed the time and got the search and Google Mail working, I wanted to jump in and check my messages. HTML emails displayed OK, but some of these seemed to pop off the screen. It’s almost as if they’re rendered in an IFRAME of some sort.

Sorry, I know I’m being picky but Microsoft actually liked the fact that I was picking these things out back in 2002, so I’m still doing it now.

I’ll be bringing a full report on the Lumia 630 soon. A full review, with all the usual Coolsmartphone goodness, will be online very shortly indeed, so stay tuned.