Review: Nokia Lumia 830

100% human

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.

 

Overall
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Value for money
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Design
Reader Rating0 Votes
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;
Ordinary specs; Mediocre screen that washes out and inverts at angles; Mobile 4G performance feels a little under where it should be;
4.1