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Review: Nokia Lumia 830

By Leigh D. Stark | 8:34 pm 25/11/2014

Now that Microsoft Devices owns the “Nokia” name, there aren’t likely to be many Nokia phones to come out, replaced with Microsoft’s badge in the months to come. So how does one of Nokia’s last handsets perform, and does it have the potential to be your next phone?

Features

Not quite a flagship but still packing specs, Nokia’s Lumia 830 is — on paper — a cut down version of Nokia’s Lumia 930, a phone touting a similar design with slightly different innards.

The design is close and so is the screen, with a 5 inch high-definition 720p (1280×720) In-Plane Switching LCD touchscreen display, instead of the Full HD 1080p (1920×1080) AMOLED found on the 930. With this difference in size, the display shows off 294 pixels per inch, instead of the 441 pixels per inch seen on the Lumia 930.

Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 protects the display, too, helping keep the phone scratch free some of the time, though not all, dependent on how much of a scratch or tumble the handset takes.

Under the screen, you’ll find a bunch of internals, including the Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor, a chip that is clocked at 1.2GHz and matched with 1GB RAM, 16GB storage, and a microSD in case you’re itching to expand this with more storage later on.

Windows Phone 8.1 runs on the Nokia Lumia 830 out of the box, and the phone comes with 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi support, DLNA, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0 with Low Energy and Apt-X, Near-Field Communication (NFC), Category 4 4G LTE (150/50), and support for wireless charging if you have a compatible charger.

If you do not, the Nokia Lumia 830 will take charge from the standard microUSB charger.

Cameras can be found on the phone too — of course these days — with a 10 megapixel PureView shooter on the back and 0.9 megapixel camera up front Video can be captured on both, with Full HD 1080p on the rear camera, while 720p on the front camera.

Buttons on the handset are typical for a Nokia phone, with three soft buttons below the screen for back, home menu, and search, while the three hardware buttons can be found on the right edge for volume, power, and camera shutter, the latter of which will activate the camera from any screen — even off — when held down.

Ports can also be found, though only two on the exterior of the phone, with both the 3.5mm headset jack and a microUSB charge port sitting at the top of the handset.

The phone’s rear cover can also be removed, and this will show the battery, as well as the nanoSIM slot and the microSD slot.

The battery is rated for 2200mAh and is removable.

Performance

If you’re in a mobile phone or electronics retailer and are looking at both the Nokia Lumia 830 and 930, it might be hard to see what the difference is. Indeed, the two are both 5 inch 4G smartphones with colourful exteriors, and outside of a few very minor cosmetic differences — thickness, port placement, the size of the camera module on the back — look practically identical.

But they are different, and it’s something you can easily discern when you break them down and start using them, with different specs and a different screen, despite the similar size and design across both of them.

In the hands, Nokia’s Lumia 830 feels very much like Nokia’s Lumia 930, though a touch thinner and a little lighter, and that’s because both of these are true.

Nokia's Lumia 830 on the left, the Lumia 930 on the right.

Plonk the two models down side by side and you’ll find the Lumia 830 is a little over a millimetre thinner, and a good 17 grams lighter, which is more noticeable than you might think.

The design, however, is more or less the same, with the same aluminium frame used on this model, making the otherwise colourful polycarbonate (plastic) body look a little classier and more in line with the Surface computers Microsoft makes.

Nokia's Lumia 830 on the left, the Lumia 930 on the right.

It even has the same plastic line accents inside the aluminium just like the Lumia 930, solidifying the colourful look Nokia and Microsoft Devices give to its phones and making the whole thing look a little less like a gumball machine.

You’ll still see some bright colours though: gone are the yellow, cyan, and magenta, with Nokia sticking with its orange, green, and black phones, that are just as striking, though very eye catching. We happened to like the yellow Nokia smartphones previously, happily using them, but the green Lumia 830 we’ve been reviewing is even flashier in public, with its neon green exterior acting like a beacon to the world.

Switch the phone on and you’ll see the 5 inch screen come to life, with the basic colours of Windows Phone 8 chiming in nicely with the phone’s colours.

As per usual, you can make the colours of WP8 anything you want — anything out of the options, anyway — and you can even sync it nicely with a Windows colour scheme you might have on the desktop and laptop editions of the operating system, but we let ours look like the green of the phone, which matches the exterior nicely.

From here, it’s all Windows Phone 8.1, the most recent revision of the operating system, and one that brings Microsoft’s mobile platform into real competition with the likes of Android and iOS.

We’ve noted it before, but just in case you haven’t seen what we’ve written, the updates bring a gesture keyboard for faster Swype-like typing as you trace your fingers over the letters to write words quickly, a drop down notification bar not just for your messages and alerts but also for a small amount of power control with phone settings, a little more in the way of lockscreen and home menu customisation options, and even Microsoft’s answer to Siri — Cortana — ready to help you along when you need it.

And there’s even that whole “tap the screen to wake it up” working too, which not all phones have. We’ve seen it on some of the Nokia handsets, but not all, so if you like waking up your phone by knocking on the screen, that works here, too.

Windows Phone 8 is pretty responsive on the whole for the Lumia 830, and while the hardware inside the Lumia 830 isn’t the best in the world, Microsoft has struck a good balance between it all to make sure Windows Phone runs well enough.

Two days of battery life. Not bad at all.

For the most part, the Lumia 830’s ordinary specs keep the phone’s performance in check, and while we’d prefer higher spec’d components, we suspect the switch from a Snapdragon 800 in the Lumia 930 to a Snapdragon 400 in the 830, as well as a lower resolution screen (720p) has made all the difference to the battery life, with the 830 boasting one and a half to two days of juice, a huge leap over the 930’s single day battery.

If you’re a heavy user, you’ll find a solid day, but if you’re a little more sporadic, two days are closer to what you’ll get, possibly a little less, with our tests having us make phone calls, send messages, listen to music, read and write emails, play the odd game, surf the web, and do the whole social network thing.

Test photo from the Nokia Lumia 830

Even the camera is a decent balance, with a 10 megapixel shooter producing 8 to 10 megapixel images depending on the aspect ratio you’re working in. Our daylight shots were relatively sharp, with strong colours and some solid detail, with macros capable from the camera, too.

The front facing camera sits at 0.9 megapixel which could do with a boost, but will let you get the odd selfie here and there, though we’d prefer an update to a higher megapixel number, such as the Lumia 735’s 5 megapixel camera, which is larger in output on the front, but lacks the same 10 megapixel shooter on the back.

But beyond this, the specs are very ordinary, and for the most part, a Snapdragon 400 is the sort of thing you’d see in a low-to-mid-range phone, but a mid-range option altogether.

That said, it works fine in the 830, with respectable performance, though you may see the odd lag here and there. Windows Phone 8 does what it can to make the performance seamless, but it’s not helped by only 1GB RAM, so if the phone isn’t as snappy as you’d like, it’s not you, but rather the specs.

Also not quite up to par is the mobile performance which tested for us in Sydney at between 12 and 28Mbps on Telstra’s 4GX network.

We’re not quite sure what’s going on with lower speeds like this, especially when the Nokia Lumia 830 is rated for Category 4 LTE speeds, meaning downloads as fast as 150Mbps and uploads up to 50Mbps, but we’d like to see improvements here, and hopefully they’ll come through some firmware updates later on.

One final thing is the screen, and while we’ve noted that this is one area that no doubt has helped the battery get the most out of it, this is one screen that has the potential to wash out at angles.

We noticed it while taking pictures one evening when the screen began to invert, so just be aware, while Nokia says this is an IPS screen (In-Plane Switching), it’s not the same high-quality IPS screen you see on other smartphones and tablets, and angles can do some interesting things to your view, namely change the look of the colours you’re seeing.

Conclusion

Nokia and Microsoft Devices — whatever it’s now called — can sure make things a little difficult to work out.

With its current Lumia line-up, you can either go with the 930 which is a great phone with an ordinary battery life and no expandable storage, or you can pick the 830 — this phone — which is an ordinary phone with great battery life and storage that can be expanded.

See how confusing it is?

If you had to pick a Lumia out of those two, though, we’d probably go with this one (the Lumia 830), because while the Lumia 930 has the specs to win the game, the Lumia 830 is a good all-rounder with solid battery life to boot. And if you can live without a decent front-facing camera, we’d check this out, because it’ll survive your day without any problems.

 

Price (RRP)

$579

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Slightly slimmer and lighter than Nokia's Lumia 930; Aluminium framing; Supports fast 4G; Features a dedicated camera button; Removable back with removable battery; Lets you tap the screen to wake it up; Upgradeable memory here on this model, but not on the 930; Runs Windows Phone 8.1 out of the box with Cortana ready to go;

Product Cons

Ordinary specs; Mediocre screen that washes out and inverts at angles; Mobile 4G performance feels a little under where it should be;

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Performance

Ease of Use

Design

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