Wednesday

Nokia Lumia 830 Review

Review               Specification                                                   
Design

In the same vein as the Windows operating system with which it works, the Nokia Lumia range has been built on a foundation of visual simplicity. The 830 is no different, with clear, elegant lines.



Unlike some 5in phones that can have a tendency to feel a little unwieldy, the Lumia 830 feels well-thought through. It’s reasonably slim, the screen is compact enough to be usable one-handed, and it has just enough weight to give it a pleasing heft.


The frame is solid aluminium, which lends the handset a sturdy feel, and the sculpted Gorilla Glass 3 topping on the front is a nice touch as well. This phone feels built to last. The bright plastic backplate may not be to your taste, but it’s interchangeable for different colours, and underneath it sits a microSD slot and a user-replaceable battery.

Switch on the Nokia Lumia 830, and the good initial impressions continue. It’s fitted with a big 5in IPS display, and although the resolution doesn’t look that high, at 720 x 1,280 its 296ppi pixel density is perfectly acceptable.

It isn’t the best display we’ve seen, but neither does it have any serious flaws. Maximum brightness reaches 371cd/m2, which means it won’t be quite as easy to read in bright light as, say, an iPhone 6. However, contrast is 1,004:1, so images pop nicely off the screen, and colour accuracy is good too, with an average Delta E of 1.93.


Display

While the screen is the same size as the 930, sadly it's not Full HD. The Lumia 830's 5-inch screen has 1,280x720 resolution with a pixel density of 226ppi. That's a little lower than what you'd normally expect from a flagship, but the IPS-LCD panel is quite bright, and even when watching videos I didn't find myself pining for Full HD (or beyond). That said, for a phone touting this level of camera quality, some users may find the lack of a 1080p screen on which to review said snap an odd choice.

Readability in direct light was quite impressive thanks to Nokia's ClearBlack filter, although it drops off sharply when you change viewing angles.
Hardware

The 830 is a good-looking handset: the smart aluminium frame is reassuringly solid, as is the Gorilla Glass screen, while the day-glo swappable back gives it a little accent of fun that sets it apart from other black slabs. The polycarbonate backplate is cambered so you might notice a cheeky glow from the neon underside when it's sitting on your desk, a detail which I rather liked – the smartphone equivalent of the underglow on a blinged-up motor, but a lot more classy.

Unlike other Lumias it features a physical button to speed up access to the camera, as well as power and volume rockers. At 150g, it feels light but still solid in your hand.

Microsoft has been pitching it as an 'affordable flagship' which means it shares some characteristics of the 930 (for example, screen size) but not others (such as screen resolution and processor power). The 1280 x 720 screen is not as impressive as the screen on the 930 which is full HD but it's perfectly adequate on a mid-range phone, for example. Still, there's a nice feel to the slightly curved Gorilla Glass screen and I found it very easy (and slightly hypnotic) to use the swipe keyboard to compose quite long sections of text, something which would make it quite a useful tool for workers on the go.

Photography is one of the big selling points of the handset thanks to the 10 megapixel sensor, which can be activated by the physical button on the side or by tapping the live tile. According to Microsoft, the 830 features the thinnest optical image stabilisation system to date on a Lumia: the bulge on the back is barely noticeable.

Software

The 830 features Windows Phone 8.1 with the Denim firmware , and sees Cortana arrive in the UK. Microsoft's personal assistant remains, to me, underwhelming, which is perhaps why its beta tag remains prominently displayed.


The rest of Windows Phone 8.1 continues to impress – for me, the live tiles create the most attractive, useful, and easy to navigate smartphone UI around right now, and the ability to make folders for live tiles is a handy touch too. Microsoft OneDrive and Microsoft Office make this a decent choice of business handset too, plus there's 15GB of free OneDrive storage.

One issue is that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor feels a little underpowered for a flagship phone; apps took a little too long to snap open or update, I found – not a huge lag but enough to notice.

But the biggest disappointment remains the ecosystem – it's still hard to find the apps you want among the very varying quality of the Windows Store. Why? That third placed position in the smartphone rankings means that developers still struggle to find the the time and money to develop for Windows Phone. How much this bothers you will vary depending on your use of apps of course, but it's certainly a factor for app fans.


Camera

The Lumia 830’s other major feature is its PureView camera. Boasting a 10-megapixel resolution, optical image stabilisation and 1080p video capture, it looks good on paper.



It performs well, too, capturing bright, reasonably clean images in low light, and well-exposed, detailed photographs when the conditions are more favourable. A two-stage camera button makes it easy to instantly flick to the camera app and snap off a few speedy shots, and it compares well with its main rival, the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, despite the latter’s much higher-resolution sensor. The only major thing missing is an in-built HDR mode.

Video quality is decent as well, with particularly good image stabilisation, but it does tend to blow out highlights pretty badly. This is particularly distracting if you’re trying to capture footage indoors, where there are extremes of light and dark.

Battery

The Lumia 930 has a 2,420 mAh battery, while the 830 makes do with 2,200mAh. However, the reduced processor speed and lower screen res means there is a lot less to drain the power. The result is amazing battery life. With 48 percent charge remaining and all battery-saving functions turned off, the 830 told me it had 35 hours of life left.

In the course of testing, I'd regularly grab the phone from a bag where I'd realise I'd left it turned on overnight after a full day of use, only to discover plenty of battery life left. Maybe it's just in comparison the Galaxy Note 4 that I was using before, but the battery life alone on the 830 made me wonder if it was time to swap.