iPhone 5c vs Lumia 630 comparison review

iPhone 5c vs Nokia Lumia ... ?

The brief I was given for this article was to compare the iPhone 5c to the most relevant Nokia Lumia Windows Phone handset. But choosing which that is offers more difficulty than you might expect. Leaving aside the cheaper Asha phones and the larger tablets, Nokia's Lumia array ranges from 4in display to 6in display. And it ranges in price from the budget Lumia 520 which you can pick up for £59, up to the ludicrously well specced Lumia 1520 that will set you back £549. Then there's the one with the amazing camera - the Lumia 1020 (£349). In the iPhone world, of course, until the iPhone 6 comes along we are restricted to only three handsets: iPhone 4s, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s.

Choice isn't always a good thing. Consistency is also good and Apple is to applauded for providing a consistent and quality experience as Nokia is to be applauded for offering variety. But it does make it difficult to choose a fair competitor for the iPhone 5c. In the past we have compared the iPhone 5c and the Lumia 520: you can read that comparison on PC Advisor (iPhone 5c vs Nokia Lumia 520 comparison review: which colourful smartphone is better?). After all, they are both colourful handsets at the cheaper end of their respective ranges. Both are 2013 handsets.

But with the launch of the Lumia 630 there is a closer competitor to the iPhone 5c. The Lumia 630 is brand new, which gives it something of an advantage. But if you are looking to buy a phone right now, and as an iPhone user you are contemplating making the jump to an alternative platform, the Lumia 630 is the latest budget option in the Windows Phone world. (See also: Nokia Lumia 630 review: an affordable Windows Phone 8.1 smartphone.)

iPhone 5c vs Lumia 630 comparison: Price

Given all of that, the easiest place to start is price. Let's get the major issue out of the way straight off the bat: the iPhone 5c is not a budget phone, and the Lumia 630 is. We'll get into the build, features and performance differential as we go on, but it's important to acknowledge that for what it offers the iPhone 5c is expensive on the open market.

The iPhone 5c is available in 16GB and 32GB models and is priced at £469 and £549 respectively. The Nokia Lumia 630 costs just £129, for which you get only 8GB storage.

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iPhone 5c vs Lumia 630 comparison: Storage

Lumia 630So I guess we should assess the relative storage situations, too. As we have said the Lumia 630 comes with only 8GB of onboard storage. Given that the iPhone 5c comes in 16GB and 32GB flavours, that would initially at least point to a big win for the iPhone. But there is a significant caveat.

And that is that the Lumia 630 offers a microSD card slot which is capable of taking a card to add up to 128GB. Apple is keen not to compromise performance by adding in external storage. The time it takes for your device to read and access external storage can have a detrimental affect on the speed you experience. And, of course, there is the additional cost of an SD card. But we have to say that it is beginning to feel anacronistic that Apple doesn't allow for expansion cards.

Apple wins on onboard storage, but I think that the addition of that microSD card slot gives the win to Nokia here.

iPhone 5c vs Nokia Lumia 630 comparison review: Design

The iPhone 5C is the iPhone 5 but with a colourful new coat, in essence. The five colour options match the theme of iOS 7 and are certainly bright. We like the white and blue models but we're not so keen on the pink, yellow and green. Your view may differ (we see a lot of pink iPhone 5c handsets in the wild).

Like Nokia's Lumia range, the phone has a polycarbonate plastic casing and as such is a little bigger and heavier. It's slightly more than a millimetre thicker and is 20 grams heavier compared to the iPhone 5 – that's nothing major. A 9mm phone is quite big for today's standard but the 5C doesn't feel thick or chunky in the hand.

The case is glossy, smooth and feels nice in the hand. It shares the same rounded corners and look of the white MacBook. This is the most ergonomic iPhone since the 3GS. Build quality is excellent, as we've come to expect from Apple. There's not an internal rattle or gap in the casing to be found. Despite being predominantly plastic, the iPhone 5C retains that premium Apple feel.

The only caveat is that the buttons do feel a little on the cheap side and have a loud click when pressed, especially (and somewhat ironically) the volume buttons. And you can't remove the case to get at the battery. Unlike on the Lumia 630...

With its removable plastic rear shell – similar to previous Nokia smartphones – 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.

The front is covered with Gorilla Glass 3, with cutouts at the top and bottom for the earpiece and microphone. The phone weighs 134g, but feels lighter. It's just over 9mm thick – these are pretty average figures.

As a low-end phone, things are quite basic with an LED-less rear camera, a rear-facing mono speaker and a microUSB charging port at the bottom. Unlike other Lumia's the 630 has no dedicated shutter button: you get a power button with a volume rocker above it.

To a superficial level the iPhone 5c and the Lumia 630 are designed and built in a similar fashion - but we much prefer the iPhone 5c. It's just better put together. See also: iPhone 5C 8GB vs Moto G, Lumia 520, Nexus 5 comparison review.

iPhone 5c vs Nokia Lumia 630 comparison review: Display

iPhone 5cPerhaps the biggest compromise – and disappointment – with the Lumia 630 is the low-resolution 4.5in screen. With 854x480 pixels, that's under 220ppi and you really notice this when reading text on web pages. It's fuzzy and hard to read, which means you have to zoom in more than on a smartphone with a higher resolution display.

Despite being an IPS screen, viewing angles aren't the best. A bigger issue is that our sample had clearly visible backlight bleed along the top edge which was all too noticeable on light-coloured backgrounds. Overall, the backlight was more uneven than we'd like.

The screen on the iPhone 5c has a far superior display.

The iPhone 5c has a 640 x 1136 pixel (326 ppi) LED-backlit IPS LCD display. It is still the 4in Retina display which was introduced with the iPhone 5. Although the screen looks crisp and colourful, it's no longer class-leading. Full HD is the standard now and, on larger screens, it makes browsing the web, gaming and watching videos easier and more enjoyable.

Chalk that up as a win for the iPhone 5c.

iPhone 5c vs Nokia Lumia 630 comparison review: Processor

The 630 has the same 1.2GHz quad-core CPU as the Moto G but has half the RAM, with just 512MB on board. In general, Windows Phone 8.1 is snappy and responsive. One notable exception is the camera app. It's never quick to launch, and can sometimes take several seconds to load, being ready to take a photo only after six or seven seconds - that's unacceptable and meant we often missed the moment.

The iPhone 5c has an A6 dual-core processor and, according to the Geekbench 3 app, the device has a 1.3 GHz clock speed and 1 GB of RAM. iOS 7 running on the iPhone 5C feels smooth and responsive but we'll talk more about the software later. Running Geekbench 3 shows that performance is almost identical to the iPhone 5; the iPhone 5C scores 710 which is only three points less than its predecessor.

Apps and web pages load swiftly, and panning around Apple Maps isn't jerky at all. It feels like you're using an up-to-date smartphone despite the year-old components.

Both of these phones will be plenty fast enough, but in use we favoured the iPhone 5c for speed.

iPhone 5c vs Nokia Lumia 630 comparison review: Cameras

The 5C has the same high-quality 8Mp iSight rear camera as the previous model and so you can rest assured that pictures and video will be excellent for a smartphone camera.

A 5Mp camera sits at the back of the Lumia 630, capable of capturing 720p videos. It's nothing special, with no stabilisation, no LED flash and no HDR mode. The default camera app over-sharpens the photos to make them appear more detailed.

Neither camera is great, neither is bad. But the iPhone's is better. See also: Nexus 5 vs iPhone 5c smartphone comparison review.

iPhone 5c vs Nokia Lumia 630 comparison review: Software

The is perhaps where the two phones differ the most; they run completely different operating systems. The iPhone 5c will come pre-installed with iOS 7, whereas the Lumia is running Windows Phone 8.

As a Macworld user you will be used to Apple's slick iOS interface. Its intuitive design is loved by millions of users worldwide. The iPhone 5c also has access to the most accomplished app store in the business also, with minimal security threats and plenty of apps, songs, books, movies on offer.

The Lumia 630's OS and software can be a bit of an acquired taste. The Windows Phone 8 platform is a complete change to what iOS and Android offer the mobile world. Windows Phone 8 presents you with two screens to control your smartphone with; first is a tiled Modern UI interface, which looks pretty cool, the second is an alphabetical list of all the phones apps/programs.

Previous experiments have shown the majority new users having difficulty navigating their way around a Window Phone 8 device, compared to Android and iOS smartphones. That said, once you get you head around the layout, using a Windows Phone 8 device isn't an issue at all. Windows Phone 8 is fast, responsive and secure.

Like iOS, Windows Phone 8 is a locked-down platform. Unlike Android malware makers can't push their apps into the store, but again unlike Android Windows Phone users don't have much in the way of customisation options. Indeed, Windows Phone 8 and iOS 7 have much in common.

Perhaps the most significant in terms of software here is that the Windows Phone 8 app store is lagging massively behind iOS, and this is a huge issue for smartphone consumers. It's worth bearing in mind that all the mainstream apps – Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Skype – are available on WP8.

iPhone 5c vs Nokia Lumia 630 comparison review: Battery life

Another disappointment with the Lumia 630 is mediocre battery life. During our testing, we were lucky to get through a full 24 hours without getting nagged about "critically low" battery levels. That was with average use - some emailing, IM, Facebook, YouTube and gaming. With heavy use, you'll need to be near a power socket (or have a second battery to hand) in order to make it through a working day.

Annoyingly, the 630 (like all Nokia phones) is fussy about chargers. You get one in the box - with a captive microUSB cable - but try and use a different charger and it will warn you the phone is charging slowly.

We've been impressed with the iPhone 5C's battery life. Unless you hammer the device with contant gaming or video playback, it will last a couple of days with regular and varied use. The phone holds its charge incredibly well when not in use - our sample sat on just one percent for a number of hours. See also: iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C comparison review.

OUR VERDICT

We like the Lumia 630, and it is great value. But we'll be sticking with the iPhone 5c and its better camera, battery life and build.

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