Microsoft’s first phones are designed to showcase Windows Phone 8.1, but they fall slightly short on both ends of the scale. The Lumia 630 looks and feels great for a low-end phone, but the compromises with display brightness, storage, and cameras make it hard to recommend against strong Android competition from the Moto G and Moto E. Equally, even Nokia’s own Android X2 seems to fill some of the missing gaps, so it’s puzzling why Nokia and Microsoft opted for these spec choices on the Lumia 630.
At the high end, Lumia’s 930 is nothing more than the Lumia Icon rebranded with colorful options. It’s a phone that debuted almost six months ago on Verizon, and one that’s not coming to any US carriers for now. It has competitive hardware, but the chubby and boring design just doesn’t stand up to the competition. To really showcase the vast improvements in Windows Phone 8.1, you would have expected Microsoft and Nokia to launch a truly iconic handset that’s powerful, slim, and has a great camera. The Lumia 925 mostly achieved that goal more than a year ago, and its successor should be here right now ready for Windows Phone 8.1, but sadly it’s not.
So where does this leave Windows Phone for 2014? Both of these handsets will satisfy some, but there’s too much solid competition at both the high- and low-end for either to truly succeed. The Lumia 520 capitalized on a gap in the market before Motorola was able to produce good Android handsets at low prices. If Microsoft is serious about growing Windows Phone marketshare then it might have to sacrifice some margins and provide specs that deliver a good experience even at the low end of the market. Otherwise, there’s always Samsung or an array of Android handsets for savvy shoppers to consider.