The Lumia 630 is the first smartphone to launch with Windows Phone 8.1. This is a fairly major software update which includes many new features, although some such as Cortana won’t be made available in the UK until much later this year.

In many mays, the 630 is an update to the ever-popular Lumia 520, but it costs around £30 more. Still, £130 isn’t bad for an unlocked smartphone into which you can pop any SIM you like. See also: Nokia Lumia 620 review

There are some compromises though, such as the lack of a front-facing camera and support for 4G. There’s also plenty of competition from budget Android smartphones such as the Motorola Moto G.

Nokia Lumia 630 review: design

With its removable plastic rear shell it’s easy to change the 630’s appearance according to your mood. If black is too sombre, there are yellow, orange and green shells which cost £13 each from Microsoft’s online store.

As with the Lumia 520, this is an entry-level phone so you don’t get an LED flash for the rear camera, which still has a meagre five megapixels and can shoot only 720p video. There’s also no dedicated shutter button.

Nokia Lumia 630 review: hardware

The screen has grown to 4.5in but still has the same low resolution as the Lumia 520’s. It’s by no means bad, but you will notice the fuzzy text on web pages, unless you zoom in.

Viewing angles are ok, but not the best. On our test phone you could easily see the LED backlight shining through at the top, leading to unevenness on light backgrounds.

Processing power is pretty decent, though. The 630 has the same quad-core CPU as the Moto G and, in general, Windows Phone 8.1 is snappy and responsive.

There’s 8GB of storage, but you can add up to 128GB via a microSD card.

Battery life is shorter than we’d like, lasting just about a whole day if you don’t use the phone too heavily. A battery saver feature helps to eke out another hour or so.

Nokia Lumia 630 review: software

In terms of software, Windows Phone 8.1 is impressive. You can have up to six columns of tiles on the start screen, and you can also pick a photo as a background which shows through any transparent tiles. It’s also possible to change the look of the lock screen, such as displaying the current weather or random Facebook photos.

Bigger improvements include the new digital assistant Cortana, but this works only if you change the region and language to US English. A proper UK version should arrive as an update later this year, but until it does you won’t be able to use some of its handy features such as Quiet Hours which works like Do Not Disturb in iOS.

As usual, you get Nokia’s excellent suite of apps such as MixRadio and HERE+ Drive, plus built in Microsoft Office and OneDrive, which gives you 7GB of free cloud storage.

Nokia Lumia 630 review: verdict

If you’re new to smartphones, the 630 is a decent choice so long as you don’t need a front-facing camera for Skype chats.

It’s harder to recommend any Windows 8 smartphone for those switching from Android or an iPhone. While there are lots of apps in the store, there are still some big gaps and you’ll inevitably discover you can’t get some of the apps you rely on.

If these drawbacks don’t put you off, and you’re don’t need a phone which supports 4G for fast mobile internet, the 630 is good value.

See also: 28 best smartphones you can buy right now