Review: My First Windows Phone (Nokia 635)

Nokia 635 yellow review

If iOS is Superman and Android is Wonder Woman then Windows 8 for phones is… Kid Flash.  While not nearly as supported and built up as these other titans, there are still a few things to like about a Windows Phone. Nokia 635, one of Windows’ first forays into non-contract phones, has finally hit Virgin Mobile, and I get the privilege of reviewing it.

The Look and the Feel

I’ve had 8 phones in the past year-and-a-half: one was an iPhone, six were Android, and I’m currently using the Windows phone. I have successfully lost 90% of these phones to cracked screens, frustration, and car tires. Whether owning a $500 phone or a $50 phone, one thing remains certain: they all love to fail one way or another.
The Nokia 635 has a white plastic back that houses a 5MP camera. For whatever reason, there is no front-facing camera, either because Windows wants to deter thirteen-year-olds from taking selfies, or because the phone is stuck in the year 2008. The screen is about 4 inches long, making it even harder to hold than today’s monster phones.
The touch screen is sleek, and the OS moves smoothly with no slowdown. This can be attributed to the quad processor. The 8 gig storage is nice for downloading key apps and games, but the SD card slot lets you download even more, in case this feature is blocked, consider. taking it to Pro Phone Repairs of Albuquerque-screen repair phone.
The Windows phone does all of its navigation by pins. You can pin up apps, phone numbers, notes, and contact information to your home screen. It’s not my favorite way to keep everything organized, but if I ever need to get to a website or a phone number quickly, I can just pin it to the front screen.
Battery life is noticeably better, due to the Windows Phone’s focus on minimalism. My phone can last two days with no charge.
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The Games

Ashamedly so, a cellphone needs to prove it can play games before it reaches my attention. I was more interested in the Xbox-exclusive games then anything else.
Upon entering the Windows Store, I noticed that the many games I had heard about being exclusive on the phone (The Gunslinger, Fable,
etc.) had simply vanished. HaloSkulls of the Shogun, Kinectimals, and Crimson Rider are still there, but I didn’t expect the Xbox exclusives to be such slim-pickin’s. In this day and age, any developer can make a lesser knock-off of a game in his basement, so it’s up to the Xbox team to make some AAA stuff. If it was there, I didn’t find it.
What I did find were lots of roms of Super Nintendo and GBA games. There were plenty of part-time programmers simply putting up emulated games, but calling them something different for licensing reasons and pretending they made the games from scratch. Currently, I am the proud owner of Ninja Turtle Fighters, WCW Wrestling and Mortal Kombat 4.
On the other hand, premium games are just trickling in like water through a Britta filter. Gameloft has lent some of its city and farm sims, and you’ll find the necessary Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds. I did notice that a few brave souls ventured into gaming creativity and made Zombie DOOM, Legends of Descent, and Dark Horror Forest 2. These games feel like competent console mini-games, and they’re also free (not Freemium or Pay to Win). It’s good to know that someone is showing love to the OS.
It is also worth noting that Windows has no problem saving all my apps to the SD card. That means I can keep the phone for a long time and change out the card when I run out of storage. I cannot stress enough how wonderful that is.
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Music

This is probably the saddest aspect of my review: Windows is incredibly limited in music choices. If you have a Spotify, Xbox Music, or Rdio account, then you will be sitting pretty. But if you have anything from Amazon Music or Google Music then you are out of luck. As of right now, there is a Google Music third-party client that is decent, but no access to Amazon accounts. Those who have saved up any music on the Amazon Cloud will have to start over. Those who default to the Xbox Music will notice that the player is overly simplistic. There is no easily accessible shuffle button, and the options are a bit on the skimpy side. On the flipside, The Windows OS works very well with the bluetooth radio in my car, and it always remembers what song I listened to last.
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Apps

This was probably the most shocking discovery. When I was looking for the Bank of America app (you know, the most popular bank in America) Windows did not have one. This seems like a universe-sized oversight because it is always assumed that an app store will have a bank app. Upon further research, many of the banks removed their support from the Windows Phone. What’s worse, Windows has no way to rectify this other than using Internet Explorer on the phone. To put in perspective how odd this is, even the Blackberry has a Bank of America app.
The GPS that comes with the phone is called Here+. It is highly functional, but I found it very hard to navigate. It has an alarm that goes off every time you go over the speed limit, and I am still trying to find the setting to turn it off. On an Android, there is a default toggle that brings you into the settings of each app. Windows, however, does not have that toggle, and looking for the settings of each app can turn into a hard game of “Where’s Waldo.”
I made a quick friendship with Cortana, the on-board voice command app. She’s more than happy to read all my texts while I’m driving the car, and she recognizes my voice with minimal shouting and repeating. Cortana should be the standard for voice command software.
The app store still has a long way to go, so I hope Microsoft starts flexing its muscles soon.

Conclusion

If you told me that Microsoft was a leading technology titan for operating systems, I would not believe you based on what a Windows Phone can do. My phone is highly functional and semi-easy to navigate, but it feels more like the work of an indie developer getting their feet wet. If you want to stream Xbox music, make Word documents, or actually make a phone call, however, this won’t disappoint. My fiancee is tired of me getting a new phone every month, so I know I’ll need to make the Windows Phone work…
But I also know that I miss quite a few privileges from my previous phones.

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Michael P M

I am a minister for Campus Ambassadors, a gymnastics customer service rep, a social media enthusiast and a writer. I try to collect obscure video games, I love comics and somewhere on Amazon I have a self published book. I am married to a beautiful and grounded woman. But most importantly, I have been seized by a great affection in the Lord.

6 Comments

  1. michaelmordenga on May 6, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Thanks. I will look those things up.

  2. michaelmordenga on May 6, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    I agree with both of you on the responsiveness and the simplicity of Windows. The UI works really well and the battery is amazing. You can speak of the wonders and the beauty of a 20mp camera and a powerful processor, but I just have some questions

    1. Do the higher end models make the apps easier to use? Does a flagship phone give Xbox Music more options (like a shuffle button or a settings button), give Amazon apps easier functionality and useability? Does a higher quality phone make the WIndows Store have more GPS choices or make the Here+ GPS app easier to navigate?

    2. If you can answer yes to those above answers then I wonder why Windows is more difficult on the lower end phones.

    My phone is fast and smooth, it takes good pictures and it plays games nicely, but it can be too minimalistic and not as user friendly as a phone that has an options button for each app or an easily accessible settings button.

    • Jeremy Coggins on May 6, 2015 at 9:17 pm

      So…just had a long reply. When I hit post, WordPress told me I was posting to quickly and I lost everything. Apparently, posting a reply every two days is to quick.

      Anyway, I would like to give you a few of things.

      1. The shuffle button in Xbox music is on the “Now Playing” screen, right next to the album art. You can find setting by pressing the three dots at the bottom of the screen to open the menu tray.

      2. For Here+, when you are getting turn-by-turn directions, tap on the gray bar at the bottom of the screen that contains mph, distance and arrival time. This will open the menu tray. Swipe up to show the setting button. The speed limit warning setting will be at the top.
      If you don’t like Here+, use Waze. But download it quickly. Since Google purchased it, they announced that they will no longer be supporting Waze on Windows Phone. So it could get pulled at anytime. *sigh*

      3. For learning more about your Windows Phone, I recommend thurrott.com for tips and news. Paul Thurrott writes books about Xbox Music and Windows Phone, lives in the Microsoft ecosystem, and gives an honest comparison between Microsoft products and other products like Android and iOS.

      4. There are only three Amazon apps on Windows Phone: Amazon App, Kindle, Audible. They aren’t great. And only recently did Audible start getting developed again.

      All this to say, no: having a higher end phone does not make the app experience better. The apps are the apps. But it does show that Windows Phone is a high quality OS with high quality hardware.

      If you have any other questions, feel free to email me.

  3. Chris Thieblot on May 6, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    Always wanted a WP because of the simple but useful UI, trouble is I just love Android way too much to switch.

  4. Steven Spurgeon on May 6, 2015 at 5:10 am

    I’ll second Jeremy’s comment. A lot of the hardware and default apps and such comes from the particular phone you got.

    You’re definitely right that the app selection is extremely limited. I haven’t seen a lot of the drama between OS vendors, but it’s definitely there. A lot of larger companies (app developers or other industries) that you’d expect to have functional apps are definitely neglecting their potential Windows user base.

    It also doesn’t help that Windows 8 is a new(ish) OS and has a low market share compared to the other OSs. Smaller developers don’t want to waste time developing for a dead-end OS, but they keep it from growing by not developing for it.

    It would be great to see the Windows phone grow in popularity, but it seems like there’s a lot of external problems keeping it down.

    There’s a few internal issues, too, but I don’t think they’re really the obstacles in the phone gaining popularity. But to be fair, there are limitations for the developers. From what I’ve read, the API can apparently be a bit limited, such as timer only being able to trigger at full minutes. Its resource (memory, power, etc.) management can apparently cause problems, such as keeping a lot of apps from running behind the lock screen. But again, I don’t think these are what’s hurting the app selection.

  5. Jeremy Coggins on May 4, 2015 at 6:25 pm

    Now you know what those who love Windows Phone are dealing with. There are developers, Google and Snapchat to name a few, who are out right refusing to put their apps on Windows Phone. Amazon barely supports the apps they have on the platform already. And everytime a developer puts an app on Windows Phone, it is so severely limited in functionality and scope of the iOS and Android counterparts that it feels like the are intentionally trying to move us away from the platform, os just feel sorry for us. But no matter how you slice it, the Windows Phone community is being dumped on by developers everywhere. BlackBerry gets more developer support than Windows Phone, and BlackBerry is worlds behind Windows Phone as far as market share.

    I do not agree with your assesment of Windows Phone hardware. You reviewed a fairly low end, entry level device. Trying to compare that quality to a flagship quality phone like the Galaxy S6 or the iPhone 6 isn’t really fair. I own the Lumia Icon, and it’s quality is worlds above any other phone I have come into contact with. 20mp rear camera that captures 4k video, excellent front camera, gorgeous screen and tons of power. It is unfortunate that you you are equating the quality of the entire Windows Phone ecosystem based on one entry level phone. The devices are as diverse as the Android system, just keep that in mind.

    Overall, I think your review is spot on, especially in the area of developer support. Many of the OS complaints you had are going to be remedied with the release of Windows 10, and there are going to be some great features that are not apart of any other phone platform.

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