Lumia 630 introduces SensorCore, but excludes the Ambient and Proximity sensors

The Lumia 630 announcement at the Build conference earlier this year was met with a bit of confusion as to whether the device packs in the expected proximity and ambient light sensors. In absence of a clarification from Nokia, most argued that the sensors were missing while the official product listing mentioned the ambient light sensor in the features adding to the confusion.

However, now we know that while Nokia introduced SensorCore in the device, it took away the two sensors to keep the lean specifications for a budget smartphone.

SensorCore

The Lumia 630 packs in a new innovation called SensorCore that will also be available for Nokia Lumia 1520, Lumia Icon, and Lumia 930 with the Windows Phone 8.1 update.

SensorCore allows motion sensors to run as background tasks in a low-power mode. Essentially, when you take a step the Windows Phone in your pocket will know it. By tracking your movement and location, the feature will allow Lumia 630 to also work as a fitness tracker using apps like Health & Fitness. The app continuously tracks, analyzes and provides insights on your daily steps taken.

Increasingly, several apps in this category require to utilize sensor data which may put strain on battery life. SensorCore is the software solution combined with a hardware buffer that attempts to overcome the battery drain problem. The Nokia SensorCore SDK provides developers APIs to access step counter and activity information but also capabilities to record your location data in a very low power mode.

Proximity Sensor

In a nutshell a proximity sensor turns the screen off when you put your phone to your ear for phone calls and turns the screen back on again when you bring it away from your ear to end the call or use the touchscreen.

The Lumia 630 does not include a proximity sensor, but I didn’t face any problem with unwanted taps on the touchscreen while I took calls. I discovered that the touchscreen detects large objects like face or the ear and blanks the display. Unlike with the proximity sensor, I found that this happens when the object touches the display and not when it gets near (obviously, since there is no proximity sensor).

To check, on an active call I placed my palm on the phone and the display went off and when I moved the hand away, the display turned back on. However, tapping with a finger allowed me to work through the Windows Phone interface. Essentially, having used the device for a couple of days I did not mess up any calls with unwanted taps on the touchscreen.

Ambient Light Sensor

The ambient light sensor can monitor the light levels in your environment and adjust your screen accordingly. In a dark room for example, since you won’t need the screen to be very bright, the automatic brightness level adjusts the screen display brightness appropriately, also saving the battery life considerably.

The Lumia 630 does not include the ambient light sensor and hence the setting to automatically adjust brightness is missing. The left screenshot is from a Nokia Lumia 920 with the proximity sensor. I’ve been using the Lumia 630 with brightness set to medium and it hasn’t been awkward.

Before we learnt the specifics, the missing sensors were a cause of worry. But the device, at its price and positioning, works around the lack of the proximity and ambient sensors well for a comfortable user experience. Of course, the addition of SensorCore is an interesting proposition.

What are your thoughts on the sensors, or the lack of them, on the Lumia 630? Is the lack of a proximity sensor and/or ambient light sensor a deal breaker?

215 Comments
  • Those parts should be cheap now.
  • Even cheaper if you don't use them.... It's a low end device... But, they did better with 52x bang for the buck.. They obviously don't want the 630 eating into 52x sales...
    IMPO I wouldn't buy this device it's just too expensive compared to other devices in its range that either add a little more for the same price, or have only slightly less for way less.... $49.99
  • Are they dual-sim with Nokia quality, though? Even Nokia's entry level phones enjoy better quality than much of the competition, in my experience.
  • Yeah, they are. 520, 521, 525........
    Well, no dual sim....
  • Still it has a quad core processor which is easy better than 520 as well as ips display. So in a way its bit better. But I still love my 520!
  • Actually the 520's dual core krait processor is better than the 630's quad core.
  • Proof? Link?? Explanation?
    Without any of that your claim holds no water...
  • http://forums.wpcentral.com/nokia-lumia-630/283850-phone-isnt-going-cut-...
  • Still, no evidence.... User assumption, speculation, and guessing isn't proof enough for me... Actually using the device, and experiencing apps opening faster, better battery life, and access to more features is proof of better performance... Where's that?
    ..............
    I can guarantee you that the 630 does at least two out of three of the things I mentioned better... Not, saying that the 630 is a awesome device, but I'm giving credit where credit is due...
  • I don't think that even a comparison review would be enough for you either I'm not gonna bother searching, good day sir.
  • An unbiased comparison between the two devices is exactly the kind of proof we need... Good luck finding that this early though...
    So, as I said in the beginning.. We have no evidence to support those kind of claims yet.. Thanks.
  • Exactly how quad core processor benefits the user in a meaningful way?
  • You can't argue about performance.. That's a loosing battle... My 920 performs better than my Focus, and my 1520 performance is better than my 920's.. Probably due to better graphics processing,, which higher end processors always have... So, you can argue that there's no benefit all you want, and use the old WP fan way of thinking which says that WP devices don't need this, or that, but I know better.. And judging from MY experience using different processors I'll take my SD800 over older, or lower end, WP SD processors any day.. Faster, smoother, more efficient, and more capable is just better...
    .............
    The features of WP8.1 that the 1520/Icon/930, and possibly the AtivSE can take advantage of that other WP devices can't are meaningful to users like me.. Not you? Well, you're entitled to your opinion.... So, what device do you have❔❔❔
  • well 520 is not faster than 630 but yes 1 krait core is faster than 1 core of A7 cortex so that means 630 is just one step faster...not so big deal but is faster
  • I really think 630 is the successor to the 520 price wise...i mean a 620 successor jst can't have all of its existing features stripped...
    This probably means that the 6xx series and the 5xx series are getting pushed down to a lower price point...
  • But, why wouldn't they just use 430, 330, or 230???
  • It becomes clearer every day what a great phone the 620 was. Ffc, flash, Clear Black display, switchable dual shot backs, camera button, capacitive buttons, full sensor array, full Here Drive. Literally the only thing it was missing was wireless charging. Sure, it has a small screen and 512MB RAM, but the size can be an advantage and the RAM is no big deal if you're not into gaming. I don't think we'll see another small phone as fully featured again.
  • The 620 reminded me of my nokia surge 6790, last phone I had before I switched to iphone 4, then 4s, then 5. Now I have a galaxy s4. Windows phone needs more hardware or more niches devices. Really need a good waterproof rugged smartphone that can take a beating. I think the samsung galaxy s5 active will be that phone. Microsoft needs to act faster and get oems to flood market with low end devices. Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • Don't forget that it has HAAC mics, and the screen is also super sensistive. I was blown away by all of the high end features in a phone that I only paid $80 for!
  • Yup I noticed an amazing thing when I made a voice recording I was also able to hear the ticking sound of the clock in my house among with other sounds. Nokia is truly amazing and hardworking!
  • ALL Windows Phone 8.x Lumia Phones have a super sensitive display.
    When you have "lumi" (Finnish for "snow") on the ground then you need gloves
    Most of the Androids and all the "innovative" POS iPhones make you take your gloves off
    Too bad - unless you early mornings are warm enough...
  • i have the 620 for over a year now. I wished that it has larger battery capacity as mine only last about 20hrs from a full charge,on standby with 3G. Other than that,it's a great phone for it's price.
  • Honestly yeah, it is a deal breaker. This device is aimed at the low end market of 2012, not of 2014, and certianly not of 2015.
  • I don't think the proximity sensor is a deal breaker, as they approximated the function intelligently. I think the lack of an ambient light sensor is a bigger loss as there was no approximation of the feature. I would add that I still see people with feature phones, so there's clearly still a market for a gateway device like this.
  • There are 2 things Nokia shouldn't have omitted: FFC and Flash. Those two, put together would cost perhaps $20 more and I would DEFINITELY pay that much more to get a device with all the potential.
    I have been waiting for a rather cheap device that would have those two, but Nokia doesn't seem to deliver. HTC 8S had the flash at least.
    The sensors are no problem, because Nokia has worked around the proximity sensor limitation with another, gigantic sensor: the display. The light sensor is really not that important. But FFC and flash? One is for Skype, and the other for when you are in the dark used as a torch, and happens a lot.
  • Honestly, if Microsoft was a little more aggressive and a little smarter they would have killed this device before it left the factory. The 630 does nothing but hurt the Lumia name that Microsoft just spent so much money on.
  • I think its pretty smart you can sway users into neat feature not seen on budget phones by cutting features that's most users probably wont notice are missing
  • That's true.... The iPhone is considered a high end device, but to tens of millions of men, women, and teenager this article would read like some alien language...
  • I agree. The way to differentiate low end and high end is on non-core features, and I count these as that.
  • Why no sensorcore for Nokia 1020
  • Maybe hardware
  • Probably needs the 800 or 400 chipset.
  • It's a year old phone.
  • No it's not
  • It's close enough. 10 months. And it's not current gen hardware. No promise was made for this tech to go to that phone.
  • It's most likely the processor... See, its not about the fact that the 1520/ 930, have a massive, and powerful, processor... Rather, that they support the low power technology.. So, the processor in the 630 is a newer breed than the ones in the 1020/920/925/928... Those devices are now what we can realistically consider "outdated"....
    ..........................
    Which brings me to another point... So, the 1520/Icon/930/630 have low power capable processor, that's obvious.. So can we count on being able to call out Cortina's name from across the room, with the devices sleeping, and get a response back❔❔ .. With a future update of course...
  • Just don't let Cortana hear you calling for Cortina, though...;D
  • Male version!!!!
  • Male version? You mean "Cortano"? 
  • :D well said man.. Good eye..i read it as Cortana.. :D
  • Good catch by DCJBS, but what about my point?????... Lol!!
  • I dunno man.. Cortina doesn't sound like a male's name.. It was a good attempt nevertheless, if that makes you feel any better. :P :D
  • is this fitness app on the 1020 via 8.1?
  • At only 10 months old, and with no competition anywhere, even in the Lumia line, for its incredible camera, the 1020 cannot be considered "outdated" in any way. Too bad, as I wish I could buy a police with this class of camera, plus S quad core sensor, bigger battery and removable storage!
  • It does have the most capable camera.... But, overall yes it is out dated... Af far as high end WP devices go the 1020 isn't fully capable of taking advantage of some features that are available in WP8.1.. Other newer high end devices can take advantage of sensor core technology, the new Dolby 5.1 audio, and are possible to receive the always on advantages that Cortana might be updated to, better performing processors, and better screen quality...Not even comparing the 1020 to Android devices,, it is outdated by WP high end devices... Actually, overall the 930/Icon/1520 blow the 1020 out of the water... It takes more than one feature to be the better device, and even other Lumia devices have 20mp cameras with the exact same technology of the 1020, so that also takes away from the credibility of the 1020.... But, I will agree that the 1020 is in a class of its own, its just that now technically, overall, being outdated it only has one advantage over the others...
    ................
    If we were looking at whether devices were outdated by just judging by the camera then the 1020 certainly wouldn't be considered outdated, but we don't do that... We look at the device in every aspect, and in this case it just doesn't have more of the latest technology than other devices... Outdated isn't technically bad, it just sounds bad, when we know the 1020 is still a very capable device in all aspects.. But, you must look at the reality, and the reality is that in May of 2014 MS's flagship camera phone should offer more in terms of hardware, and newer technologies.. It needs a successor like yesterday....
  • The problem with this device is that Nokia didn't make this a legitimately useable device for real world users. It's more apparent that ita focus was to prototype the new things 8.1 brings to the picture and ONLY those.on screen buttons, no camera button, new resolution screen, sensor core, Nokia cyan, etc. It showcases all the new features well but that's about it. Things its predecessors did just fine are cut to create a device that is good for JUST showcasing 8.1. This isn't a useable device imo.
  • To say it isn't usable is a bit extreme. As far as I can tell you can turn it on use all the apps, touch the screen, make phone calls. I would consider that using the phone, thus making it usable. The removal of two fairly insignificant sensors does not make a device lack use.
  • I may have worded that argument incorrectly, I apologize. You're right, it is useable. Its actually quite a nice looking device, in fact. But it is gimping a lot of features we have come to expect from windows phone mostly to, as I said before, "showcase", if you will, 8.1. It almost feels like Nokia designed it as a test device for developers with only the bare minimum and change for the sake of change to specifically show all of 8.1s new features while stripping away past features. The lack of a camera button, flash and ffc are acceptable considering this is a budget device, but the lack of arguably cheap sensors that are indeed important, and lack of real incentive to choose this over a budget device like the competing Moto g(also priced cheaper with better specs) is really a big flaw for a company that's already struggling to differentiate. Maybe my biggest gripe is the fact that Nokia keeps "side grading" instead of upgrading their devices.
  • Well, it I supposed to be low end, but, you're right.. It's all about bang for the buck.. The 630 comes in low in that area compared to other devices...
  • Hate to say it, but I agree fully. They heavily sacrificed user existence just for the sake of making a showcase device. Really disappointing. That's not to say it's a horrible phone, but definitely not as good as it could (or should) be. Samsung has taught us what happens when features are valued above the user experience. Most disappointing Nokia, most disappointing indeed.
  • I agree, but why are we calling this a showcase device? Because it's the first dedicated WP8.1 device?
  • Because it seems designed to pretty much only use new features in 8.1.
  • Isn't every late Lumia device designed to use all the features of WP8.1?.... The fact that it uses 8.1 features is a good thing... No sense in mistaking that for the fact that the hardware is lacking..
  • Except it is, considering it drops a lot from its predecessor...
  • I would love an inexpensive dual-sim phone like this for travelling. I don't need a high-end phone for that purpose, I need dual-sim and great battery life. Don't compare this to single-sim phones when comparing the value.
  • Glance needs the proximity sensor and to read under sunlight you need the ambient sensor. What happened to their market about read under heavy sun? Every phone had this feature in the x20 generation and now the 630 came just to show new things but without the old ones. L520 will have Glance and have a way to use it with glove. What L630 have? Dual SIM and a quad core processor?
  • This phone continues to impress everybody.
  • LOL
  • It continues to impress me with how bad it is. 
  • Lol exactly.
  • lol.. This phone counties to depress everybody.
  • Feel free to do away with ambient light sensors on Nokia phones, as the auto-brightness setting on my 920 has been overly aggressive and therefore useless for some time now.
  • I feel the same about it on my Icon. I turned to doing it manually.
  • Yep, me too. And it sucks because it used to work great for the first year I had it, but somewhere in one of the updates last year they screwed it all up! :D
  • Do you miss Glance❔❔
  • The three manual steps for brightness are just not enough for me, especially in darkness, the low setting is still WAY too bright for my eyes, whereas automatic goes down really far.
  • Yes...this is a problem for all WP phones, but it's worse for this one since there's no auto.   Really dumb that this wasn't fixed in 8.1.  
  • The 630 has a brightness slider, so you have complete control over the interface, rather then the three step or auto of earlier models. I think thats better.
  • And when you receive a notification on a banner, the screen will turn on even if the device is in your pocket?
  • Unless it picks up on your leg as touching the screen.
  • If touch sensitivity set to high, it should detect the leg or chest (depends on where you put the phone) ... According to my logic though. But one thing for sure, my 520, although it has proximity sensor, it still light up the display when notification received. Even when I put the screen facing my leg. So?
  • Seems not better than Lumia 620 excep processor and connectivity
  • not a successor to the 620, if anything its the 520's successor
  • Except my 520 has Ambient and Proximity sensors. It is a successor of 520 but has LESS features. Your own agrument bit you back.
  • What? Where was I argueing? Calm down, I was just correcting your statement..
  • It's more like a 420
  • Nokia has been avoiding the Lumia 420 because imagine the weed outrage from it
  • The performance difference between s4 and s400 is barely noticeable. I saw somewhere that the s400 is slightly faster in terms of general usability but the s4 trumps in gaming (with the same gpu on both devices)
  • These sorts of comments really make me smile - "still not better than the 620, except for the things that are better than the 620"
  • Oh come on this device us not deserving all the "hate" ut gets. It is an amazing device I absolutely love. The proximity sensor is not wanted with this device, it turns off when you bring it close to the ear and the ambient sensors are not missed either. It is better for me to manually switch between brightness. And I am not a selfie person so I don't need a ffc and the camera on this phone is soo good I don't need a flash