T-Mobile Lumia 635 quick look and first impressions

Last week, T-Mobile US and Microsoft began selling the Nokia Lumia 635, the speedy brother of the budget Lumia 630 with 4G LTE. The Lumia 635 is replacing the older (and cheaper) Lumia 521, which is one of T-Mobile's best selling Windows Phones to date.

Announced last week, the Lumia 635 runs for $0 down + $7 per month for 24 months ($168) with a postpaid Simple Choice plan on T-Mobile. Alternatively, it is also soon available on MetroPCS for a flat-rate of $99 prepaid. The Lumia 635 comes in white although people can optionally purchase shells to change the color to bright green, bright orange or yellow.

The Lumia 635 has some decent specifications considering its price range, but it forgoes a few things too.

  • Windows Phone 8.1 build 12397; Lumia Cyan
  • 4.5-inch IPS LCD display with ClearBlack and Gorilla Glass 3
  • 854 x 480 display resolution (800 x 480 + virtual keys)
  • 1.2 GHz Quad-core Snapdragon processor
  • 5 MP rear camera, no LED flash
  • 8 GB internal memory (3.33 GB free); micro SD expandable up to 128 GB
  • 512 MB of RAM
  • 4G LTE; T-Mobile Wi-Fi calling enabled
  • 1830 mAh replaceable battery
  • 5 x 66.7 x 9.2 mm
  • 134 grams

The Lumia 635 though omits an ambient light sensor, front facing camera, physical camera button and NFC to keep costs down. The phone also comes with an anemic 512 MB of RAM, which limits its ability to run a small group of modern video games.

At its core, the Lumia 635 is a solid update from the Lumia 521, but it remains to be seen how well it can compete against low-cost Android devices and if it can continue the Lumia 521's success.

Expect more coverage from Windows Phone Central in the coming days but for now enjoy our video tour or hop into our dedicated forums to learn more about this phone!

  • Lumia 635 Topic page and all you need to know
  • Lumia 635-help forums
  • Buy: T-Mobile Nokia Lumia 635{.nofollow}

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

120 Comments
  • Nice succesor. Absolutely nice phone for those who seek for data conn. And for txting/messaging. Good for games too but with the 512 ram , cant refer to those who seek really great games.
  • And with 3.33GB storage free... Hmmm, might have to rethink this phone for the wife. Otherwise, I think it would fit the bill.
  • The 8 GB storage is really inconsequential since you can install apps on the SD card. Put a 128 GB Class 10 card and you're good to go.
  • I didn't realize it was 5 inches. This is a nice looking phone.
  • It's actually 4.5-inches, sorry...4 got cut off and is fixed now.
  • I asked this in another post, but didn't get an answer.  So with these soft buttons, is the screen size measured in display area only?  Or does the 4.5 inches measure the actual physical size of the display?  Including those soft buttons that aren't used to display content.  Because that definitely makes a difference. 
  • 5 or 4.5 inches?
  • Is the GB free correct?
  • Yeah its 4.5
  • Go with Moto G.. Definitely a better option!
  • According to what?
  • According to logic... http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/smartphones/1303792/motorola-moto-g But feel free to engage in a pointless argument about it... I mean the WP doesn't event have a flash...
  • True, but Motorola is pure shit when it comes to cameras and that doesn't change with the G.
  • That an opinion, I proved G is better than this WP offering. It's not got a front facing camera so any front facing camera on G is going to be better... Also it's got a higher spec back camera & an LED flash, so your point about Motorola cameras is weak, & I can't find any indication of what you say for G. Maybe high end devices, but we're discussing one phone against another here.
  • and mainy it has a 720p screen and comes with a gig RAM! plus newer versions have LTE radios in them.. thats a big DEAL! Also the cameras not that bad either.. i personally own one.. got it off amazon for 167$ something 16GB one unlocked.. thats not bad at all! +++PLUS it has that ambient light sensor too that this one is missing! so ya Moto G is a definitely better option!
  • Of course the LTE version is more expensive, putting it in Lumia 1320 territory.  And it has nothing over the Lumia 1320.
  • lumia 1320 doesnt cost $200.. amazon is even selling refurb LTE (in like new condition) for 196$s! you cant beat that
  • Correct, Lumia 1320 costs $180 AR, $230 before.  and that's for a new phone.  Like really new, not "like new".
  • Android NEEDS a gig of ram to at least make phone calls.
  • The downside of the moto G, it runs Android.  Sorry that right there is a huge minus.  IMO
  • Hardware-wise, definitely. When it comes to software though...
  • People who like 8GB storage you can't expand and no LTE.
  • You can put an SD card up to 128 GB. You can even install apps on the SD card. So the 8 GB storage is really of no moment.
  • Yes, you can.. on the Lumia. Not on the "cheap" Moto G.
  • Yes i was referring to the 635 :-)
  • and I wasn't .:)  
  • Yeah i realized that. My bad.
  • It costs more, unless you don't want SD card (which you probably do). Maybe a better option for some, but not "definitely" so. 
  • Of course it is, however I'm not sure they're meant to be in direct competition... At least I'm hoping not, cause if it comes down to Cortana against the Moto G why would anyone buy the WP device?
  • Because there is no hardware that makes Android a worthwhile option over Windows Phone.
  • If it runs android, its not a better option to anything.
  • Nice successor but at $168 it is an uphill climb against the likes of Moto E. Slightly cheaper than a Moto G LTE though.
  • 168$ with a 2 year agreement paying 7$ each month with the remain phone balance if you cancel it before. Metro PCS will have it for 100$.
  • And its an LTE phone
  • Remember, the Lumia 521 was the same price point at T-Mo stores but could be had for as low as $50 from Amazon and other resellers... I'm pretty sure that HSN ran it out for around $120 this week also.  
  • The Moto E has an abysmal 4GB of storage.... Can you even call that a SmartPhone with such a limitation?
  • MicroSD?
  • Suprisingly not all that useful after KitKat.
  • Waiting for them to fill the gap at the bottom of the device. Still the same amount of space the buttons would take but there absent... Makes no sense. Why steal screen real estate when there's space to expand the display. Looks dumb.
  • It makes the phone cheaper, even if only slightly so. Taking out the capacitive buttons and the need for the LEDs to light them, makes the phone a few dollars cheaper; not a lot, but when the device can be had for $100, it makes a big difference. I might only make the phone $1-3 cheaper to make, but that could be as high as 5 or 6% of the cost of manufacturing, figuring it costs somewhere around $50-60 to make. If Apple were to cut that much percent out of the iPhone's manufacturing, they could save almost $10 per unit, that's huge when you make millions of the things. 10 million iPhone sales could net you a gross savings of $100 million in this example...
  • I understand that. I like the buttons on the screen. What I don't like is the blank space that's left over resulting from it. I feel like they should either make the phone shorter to compensate or make the screen longer... iPhone did this (similarly, not exactly)
  • Arriving Thursday for my daughter. $119 on HSN. she will love it!
  • I think all Nokia/Microsoft phones should always comes with a dedicated camera button. It's so strange not seeing it.
  • I used to agree. But, the pull down access in 8.1 is just as fast
  • Except for when the phone is locked...
  • I can still access the camera while the phone is locked. You can set it up in the settings for whether or not the action center is accessible while the phone is locked.
  • I thought a camera button was one of MS requirements.....
  • Changed with 8.1 to give OEMs more ways to cut cost.
  • Should have just taken the 525 and made that the new low end WP. This device is a step backwards in many ways and is even more of a compromise. Not worth it.
  • This phone is a definite 520 upgrade, my only issue with it is the name. Because its called the 630, its easy to mistake this as a follow up to the 6xx series which is confusing because the 620 and 625 are both better devices than this with the only "better" feature of this device being the processor. But against the 5xx series, this device is a clear and great upgrade.
  • I might get one if they're on the cheap...
  • Blllllaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh... Lol!!
  • Hi
  • Tmobile is currently selling refurbed 925s for $150 which is a much better phone in my opinion.
  • That is a nice deal. Great phone for $150.
  • Only 3.33GB of actual internal storage available??? Wow! :-/
  • I wonder if that's a typo too... seems oddly low.
  • Judging by the homepage, I think its that low because of all the preinstalled crap on it. Start removing the preinstalled apps and that storage might free up quicker than you'd think. The OS is already around 1.6GB, given the internal storage is probably 7.6~GB, that leaves 6GB free, start installing things and that disappears quickly.
  • Then a full review needs to list the preinstalled apps.
  • Also, if one really wants to free up that space, one can install a micro SD card, and transfer all the apps there.
  • But the fact is a huge number of apps in store don't supports moving to SD card.
  • From the understanding, it is not developer or about app support.  It is at the OS layer.  The option of installing apps to the SD card is right in the OS settings and not the App settings like in Android where you go to the app, and then select move to sd card. So yes every app, that you can download and install is/capable of being put on the sd card.
  • Out of the many many apps I have downloaded, only 1 of them has said that it must be installed on the phone. I only have an 8 GB card, but it is working out fine.
  • Hmmm I'm jot sure about this one. Even at a price of $129 I'm sure they could of have included 1gb and a flash.
  • I wish Verizon would offer this phone. Maybe they will if the rumor that LTE will available for pay as you go on Verizon soon.
  • I hope Microsoft wakes up from the coma and NEVER makes another 512 MB RAM phone. Never! LE: Also, if its 830 has only 8 GB of internal memory, I'll swear them at least a couple of hours.
  • This is also available on CricketWireless for $49.99 with a $50 mail in rebate: https://www.cricketwireless.com/cell-phones/smartphones/nokia-lumia-630 Not sure how the prepaid stuff works though, or if you have to set it up initially...
  • The 630 doesn't have LTE, but then again the 635 on T-Mobile doesn't have the coverage.  /sigh.
  • Depends on where you live. I get better coverage with T-Mobile than my AT&T and Sprint cohorts.
  • Maybe, but overall the coverage on T-Mobile is terrible more places than it's not.
  • Right, t-mo gets next to nothing in southern Maryland.
  • Again depends on where you live, simple as that.  Unless you are about to tell me you have lived in all of the 100+ major US cities where tmobiles coverage is on par and provides better speeds than its competitors.
  • Some places it might be on par, most places it is not.
  • Again depends on where you are at.  You are stating something as fact, with no evidence other than "Ordeith" says so. I could state as fact, in the 5 cities, major, that i have been in recently, that Tmobile out performed our accompanying Verizon iphone 5s.  And murdered it in Speed tests while on LTE.  Verizon did have the edge in some areas where the tmobile phone was picking up 2g, but it was again.....depending where you were at.
  • Moto G has a 720p screen, front camera, camera flash, proximity sensor, and 1GB RAM. Moto E has highe sr res screen, proximity sensor and 1GB RAM.   Why does it seem that Nokia took too many compromises compared to these two? Im not hating but its that I wish that there was a true little compromise budget phone like the Moto G is but on the WP side.. I would forgive the rest if it had 1GB RAM (baffles me it doesnt since the lower tier in the lumia line the 525 has 1GB) but im gonna have to skip this. I wanted it for a backup phone.
  • See: Lumia 1320.  That is a pretty decent phone at a pretty decent price point.
  • Is the 1320 available for tmobile?
  • No, but it is available from a carrier that will actually give you good nationwide coverage :)  
  • I see your point and agree with most of yours objections. However, your main concern - RAM - has to consider how well both operating systems perform on a given amount of memory. Android is just a pain if you're relying on 512 MB RAM; Windows runs smoothly, demanding much less resources. The rest of your complaints is absolutely understandable and I agree that Nokia could do a lot more to call it a aggressive budget like the Moto G. I would still recommend the Lumia line, though.
  • Windows Phone is a pain with 512, resuming, loading, flick quickly on WPC site walla you have a skye blue for 2 seconds followed by 5 seconds of white background. 512 RAM is terrible. Nokia L625.
  • Part of the factor is the CPU. Since this has a faster processor, than say a Lumia 625, switching apps is not really that much of a hiccup.
  • Im using L625 too, if you said 512mb wp pain in you
    Come back when you feel 512mb ram in android. Just saying.
  • Your complaint is less of a 512mb ram issue than it is with what the phone can actually do. Low and behold my 8gb older intel, cannot resume and flick and switch and run things as smoothly as my much newer intel with 4gb of ram.  Despite my ram usage always pusing 3.5gb, it is much faster and smoother than my older machine that is using 2.5gb. The 635 vs 625, is using a dual core vs a quad core.  If you have done tests side by side with equivalent pc's that enable core performance gains, the difference between 2 and 4 is night and day, all things being equal.  My time with the 635 so far, has been smooth, including switching back from netflix, games, and calling, and 8 or more IE tabs open. This is not android where my S5, is using 1.6gb of 2gb, with 200mb free.
  • Lol this is a surprise...no T-Mobile branding on the phone? :-o
  • I was surprised too, and I think it is actually better like that. 
  • Not a surprise to me, when the MS rep visited, one of the goals he stated was to be non carrier dependent for their future phones.  And wants the naming to be the same across carriers.
  • Not gonna lie, kids corner is a nice idea, but, the current implementation is a pain in the butt. There needs to be a way to lock the main phone and leave the kids corner accessible. Currently, if you lock one then you lock the other.
  • Needs a 1 in front of that 635.
    1635 would be nice 6 inch AMOLED
    32GB SD slot, wireless charging and multiple color options. Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • I think there should be a comparation between the Lumia 512 and the 635 running WP 8.1. Then we could see if it is really a good improvenment to the 521 or if it is just only a fancier 521 with just a better screen. 
  • 1ghz dual core vs 1.2ghz quad core-there's going to be quit a bit of improvement I assume.
  • I hope so. Running developer preview wp8.1 on 521. W wp8, everything smooth and Aok. 8.1 - I want to through the 521 across the room. Sometimes it can't even resume back to the start screen! I'm going into tmobile store first chance I get. I'm not paying full price 168 for the 635, but 130 and below, I'll probably have to bite. Seeing this is a replacement for a $99, I wish it had that same price point (and it will in time), but whatever.
  • Just get it from HSN 130 with charger, and you can select color.
  • Remeber HSN still has this for $119 or so, great deal.  Not a Moto G competitor, and should have been clearly designated as 520 replacement.
  • $100 less for LTE though. 
  • Is the extra 512mb of ram really going to increase the price that much?
  • +520
  • This phone is not $168 it's only $129. The phone is a 168 dollars on t mobile jump plan. Because you pay $7 dollars a month. Temporarily this phone will actually be $99 at T-Mobile. LTE,Gorilla glass 3, Sensor core, screen projection, expandable memory up to 128gb. Quad Core snapdragon 400, comes preloaded with 8.1. I think this phone is a great deal.
  • +930
  • Nice lunch box case. Assuming that is not retail packaging? Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • That's great, a damned budget phone gets 8.1 before my icon.
  • With only 512 RAM, it doesn't even compete with the 521.
  • What? 635 has a larger and much better screen plus 1.2 quad core CPU vs the 521s 1.0 dual core CPU. Yes, they both have 512 ram, but I don't see how you can say the 635 doesn't compete.
  • Factor in the SensorCore, the 635 wins
  • No camera button, no light sensor, no front camera, no 1GB RAM, but $70-$100 more - no competition. The GG3 and CPU are interesting, I admit, but not compelling. I wish it were. Get that price down, no strings...
  • 512 RAM is the only downside, my 521 is too laggy. Thanks God I use have the 1520 at least
  • I saw it in the MS store the day before it was released, much, much better than the 521. It actually was a really nice phone, pretty thick though.
  • Bought this exact phone last week cos had been waiting for the 930 for 3 months.  I'm surprised at how well it's performing.  Only complains are the camera loads a bit slow and the volume level is a bit sporadic.  I don't really play games so the 512 ram did not bother me(I was worried it would).  4G is awesome.  I did not mind the screen display.  I don't know what's the complaining on other review. Tilt the phone 60 degrees and I can still read clearly.  Will hold on to it till December then get the next new Lumia flagship.  And hopefully Microsoft does not take forever to release one after announcement like with the 930 which is essentially the Icon.
  • So, by the time these phones come out to the U.S. Will we finally get the new update?
  • I got mine for 99 on hsn. Includes a mobile charger and a car charger. Came out 107 with taxes. Its replacing my 521 which has been great for me. But now i will have a larger screen. :)
  • I read somewhere there's a chinese version with 1GB?  Is it available anywhere