We review the Lumia 830, Nokia/Microsoft’s latest premium smartphone packing a 10-megapixel PureView camera and an all-new affordable price tag.
Nokia launched its latest killer flagship Windows Phone handset, the Lumia 930, just three short months ago. Packing a 20-megapixel camera and tons of other awesome features, the Lumia 930 was a masterpiece of design and a slick all-round experience.
Now Nokia (or Microsoft Devices…no, sod it, it’s Nokia in our hearts and always will be) is back with the Lumia 830, a more affordable version of the 930 that costs just £300 in the UK. Some of the specs have been stripped back, but you still get a bevy of awesome features and Nokia’s eye-catching design.
Nokia Lumia 830 review: Design
Lumia lovers will be right at home with the Lumia 830, which retains the fantastic finish of the Lumia 930, but just a wee bit slimmer and lighter. It’s a boxy phone, similar to the Sony Xperia Z2, with the screen jutting out of the front just as the camera pokes out at the back, giving the Lumia a very distinctive look and feel.
All of the buttons are housed on the right edge, which makes for comfortable operation whether you’re left or right-handed. There’s even a physical shutter button which automatically opens the camera app when held down. It’s a little loose in its housing, but it works perfectly.
You can rip off the back cover to access the SIM and memory card slots (up to 128GB now supported) and you can replace that cover with another colour if you like, with a vibrant selection on offer. We struggled a little to get the back on again afterwards, with one corner proving particularly bothersome, but after a little love and tenderness and a whole load of grunting, we finally snapped it back into place.
After five days of careful use, our Lumia 830 still has a couple of tiny nicks and dents in the silver edges. Nothing troublesome, but it isn’t as hardy as the likes of Apple’s iPhone 6 or the HTC One M8.
Nokia Lumia 830 review: Screen and media
The Lumia 830 sports a 5-inch screen like the Lumia 930, but here it’s been knocked down from a 1080p panel to 720p. In reality, it’s not a big deal. Sure, you can just about make out individual pixels if you squint really hard, but photos, movies and everything inbetween looks sharp and colourful.
On top brightness, you’ll be able to read even tiny text in bright glare, providing your eyes are up to it. Just as well, as that bright panel helps to hide the inevitable smudges and fingerprint marks that decorate the glossy surface.
Cat 4 LTE support means you can hook up to 4G for speedy video and music streaming, while NFC support allows you to connect to speakers quickly and easily. That said, the internal speaker has a decent bit of kick, so you can make do without earphones if you’re enjoying some video or music while lounging around the house.
Nokia Lumia 830 review: Interface and ease of use
Windows Phone 8 is swiftly growing in our estimates, offering a friendly interface that’s finally becoming customisable, with the ability to set up folders, wallpapers and plenty more besides.
As with all Nokia phones, you get a fair few cool apps and tools thrown in too. Microsoft’s Office suite is a decent way to bash out a doc or two on the move, Here Drive+ is a free satnav app that works in a pinch and you get some great camera tools that we’ll cover later. That’s called a teaser, kiddies.
You can also happily share your phone with your kids or mates without worrying about them getting up to mischief, thanks to features like Apps Corner and Kids Corner. You can decide exactly what apps your guests have access to, so you can keep little Johnny from straying online and accidentally seeing Miley Cyrus’ twerking bits, for instance.
Our own personal favourite is Quiet Hours, which blocks people from contacting you during set periods, or when your calendar marks you as busy. With the ability to set an ‘inner circle’ of contacts who can break through in emergencies, it’s a great way to ensure a good night’s kip, especially if your mates are prone to calling up at 3am when ‘that awesome Rizzle Kicks song’ gets played in the club.
However, the Lumia 830’s real main event is the UK debut of Cortana, Microsoft’s nifty virtual assistant who actually learns all about you and evolves the more you use her. For instance, she’ll learn what kind of cuisine you like and recommend appropriate restaurants, or warn you when your route to work is buggered. She’ll also present you with a list of headlines and websites that she thinks you’ll like during down-time.
We just wish the UK Cortana still sported the original voice, which was a huge part of the charm. That said, at least the almost-out-of-beta version now has a bit of personality, so she’ll tell you ‘jokes’, sing you a song, understand ancient Star Trek references and so on.
Check out our full Cortana UK review for more info.
There are still a couple of little bugbears that rear their fugly heads whenever we use Windows Phone, such as the overall rubbishness of Internet Explorer (why can’t it do tabs in a friendly fashion like Chrome??) and the lack of some of our favourite apps in Microsoft’s Store (gamers really should look elsewhere, unless you can happily play Angry Birds Star Wars for the rest of eternity).
That said, our list of issues is growing smaller with every incremental update Microsoft pushes out, so hopefully soon we’ll have a solid all-round experience that has no drawbacks compared with Android.
Nokia Lumia 830 review: Performance and battery life
A Snapdragon 400 processor is packed inside the Nokia Lumia 830, the same chip you’ll find in a range of budget and mid-range handsets including the Motorola Moto G.
We were hoping for something with a bit more oomph here, but Windows Phone is a resource-light bit of software, so the Snapdragon has no trouble keeping things running smoothly for now. We blasted through a few games like Asphalt Overdrive, with good frame rates and almost no stutters.
Despite that slim build, Nokia/Microsoft has packed a 2,200mAh battery into the Lumia 830, which will easily keep you going all day. Very little power is lost when the phone is hibernating (we saw just 5% drain with 12 hours of standby use) and even on top screen brightness and with the ‘glance screen’ permanently showing, we still made it through each full working day with plenty of use. Of course, you get the obligatory Battery Saver mode if you’re absolutely desperate too.
If you want to really push the Lumia 830 with non-stop video streaming, you’ll get around five hours of playback per charge. That’s bang on the average for phones this size.
Nokia Lumia 830 review: Camera
One of the final features that’s trimmed down from the Lumia 930 is the 10-megapixel camera, but like the Lumia 830’s 720p screen, it’s far from a disappointment.
Like the iPhone 6 Plus, you get Optical Image Stabilisation for sharp photos and bump-free videos. We found we only suffered blurry shots when our subject was moving, and even then they had to be shifting arse to come out hazy. Even in low light we were impressed by the bright results, while the auto and manual focus meant we could snap some great up-close shots.
That’s all on auto mode, too. If you delve into Nokia Camera’s manual settings, you can tweak to your heart’s content and get precisely the shot you want.
As pointless as it is, we also love Nokia’s Living Image gimmick. Basically, this shoots a quick second of footage every time you take a photo, which then animates as you flick through your gallery. This does take up extra space, of course, to the tune of around 1.2MB on top of each photo. Make sure you stick a memory card in if you plan on taking a lot of shots.
Our 1080p video clips came out well too, even without focus adjustment while shooting. They look sharp when viewed back on a TV and audio quality is strong, with voices coming through loud and clear.
We also like Microsoft’s Video Tuner app (which we had to download for some reason, it didn’t come pre-installed), a quick and dirty way to crop and tidy up your videos before sharing them online.
Nokia Lumia 830 review: Verdict
Nokia’s Lumia 830 may be a stripped-back version of the flagship Lumia 930 smartphone, but the sacrifices aren’t all that great considering the cost savings.
Sure, there’s no 1080p screen, but the 720p display is perfectly sharp and beautifully vibrant still. Yes, the 20-megapixel camera has been reduced to a 10-megapixel snapper, but it’s still just as dependable for your everyday shots. And the basic Snapdragon 400 processor copes well with everything you throw its way, for now at least.
There are still a couple of little Windows Phone bugbears that rear their ugly heads, but the likes of Nokia Camera and Cortana make up for them somewhat and make the Lumia 830 a fun all-round experience.
Of course, there are cheaper alternatives out now, including the ever-impressive Moto G which costs just half as much and sports Android KitKat. Bear that in mind if you’re undecided about which OS to opt for.