A Gentle Stroll to the Bottom: The Nokia Lumia 635 Review

Sure, the iPhone 6 or Galaxy S5 or HTC One is much, much faster than the Lumia 635. Yes, they have higher-density displays, better cameras, more advanced wireless connectivity, and more sensors. But you could buy thirteen Lumia 635s for the price of an iPhone 6.

Recently, the Microsoft Store held a sale on the budget Lumia 635 smartphone, bringing it down from an already reasonable $80 price tag to a preposterous $49. As I’m sure you’re well aware, I have a fascination with both exploring diverse computing ecosystems and “good enough” computing, so naturally I snapped one up. The Lumia 635 mates a competent budget Windows Phone 8.1 experience to an LTE modem for a price only slightly above that of the older, 3G-only Lumia 520 (which as of time of writing is available for an equally absurd $29). So I have spent the last week or so using the Lumia 635 as my daily smart phone in place of my Galaxy S5 in order to get a feel for where both this device specifically and the Windows Phone 8.1 ecosystem lie. What follows, then, is not so much specifically a review of the Lumia 635 specifically as a piece of hardware, but more of a loose treatise on both Microsoft’s place in the smartphone economy and the general state of budget-vs-flagship smartphones.

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Apocalypse Never: The PC Market In Perspective

The third-quarter sales figures are out from the usual suspects at Gartner and IDC, and they show (as was expected) a dip in sales from almost every major PC manufacturer in the US – even Apple, who have until now managed to continue selling more units despite an industry-wide slump.  This time, only ThinkPad manufacturer Lenovo and famed king of reliability ASUS managed to keep their heads above the waterline – and did so spectacularly, with Lenovo moving up to 4th place behind Apple in the US, and taking the number one spot worldwide away from HP.  Despite Lenovo’s successes, however, the industry as a whole declined for yet another quarter.  The question on many people’s minds is obvious: why?  Computers are faster and cheaper than ever, so why aren’t they selling as well?  As it turns out, it’s actually a fairly complex answer that can’t be easily boiled down to something pithy like “iPad sales,” no matter how hard some members of the tech press might desire to do so.

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