Lumia 830 Video Review: The Best Windows Phone Yet

The Lumia 830 is Microsoft’s newest Windows Phone and it’s also the last Nokia-branded Lumia device. We thoroughly tested the Lumia 830 and pitted it against the Lumia 920 and Lumia 1020. We also conducted an in-depth camera comparison with the King of smartphone photography, the Lumia 1020.

Pros

  • Gorgeous high quality design
  • Great flexibility
  • Phenomenal battery life

Cons

  • Noticeable performance drops in high-end games
  • No HDR mode (coming soon)
  • Price is high on some carriers

The Affordable Flagship play

The Lumia 830 is dubbed as an affordable flagship with a very high end design, but when someone says affordable, one may think it has some compromises. Many of you are also wondering if this is a worthy upgrade over the two-year old Lumia 920 as your contracts are now expiring. We’ll answer all these questions in our full review of the last Nokia branded Lumia device ever. So let’s take a look at what we think is the best all-around Windows Phone yet

Design

The first thing that’s immediately noticeable is the premium design. Lumia 830 looks gorgeous.  It’s very thin and has a modern look with it’s metal squared body. It has a curved glass display and the iconic Zeiss Pureview camera circle is reassuring when thinking about the camera.

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When held in the hand it has a strong presence, it feels rich. It’s also incredibly sturdy and feels masculine due to the squared design and the flat aluminum sides. It’s definitely not a curvacious phone, and because of that the screen may be a little harder to handle with one hand when comparing to designs like the iPhone and Galaxy series.

It’s also easy to pick up and hold on to firmly with the sides being flat. The buttons are all on the right side of the device, just as all Lumia have. We’re happy to see the inclusion of a dedicated camera button as we feel that this is just a must. The top of the device features the micro USB charging port, and 3.5mm headphone jack.

The other two sides don’t have any buttons, and really contribute to the overall clean modern design. The buttons also feel premium and sturdy, and the two- stage camera button clicks in just right which is a pleasure to use.

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The beauty of this design is that the back cover looks like it’s part of the phone, giving you the feel that this is a unibody design but it actually snaps off.  The covers are completely interchangeable with ones of different colors.

These covers come in black, white, orange and the green one you see here. They also feature wireless charging which is such a convenience, if you’ve already invested in wireless chargers, and they support both the Qi and PMA charging standards.

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Once you pop it off, you’ll have access to the battery, the nano sim-card slot, and a slot to add a micro SD card, allowing you to add as high as a 128GB micro-SD card. The design of the removable back plate is something we think is extremely well implemented, as phones with removable back covers usually look like they have a removable back covers. It’s something that really cheapens the look and feel of the device. However, this is extremely well implemented on the Lumia 830 and we hope it’s a design feature that makes its way to higher end models.

Screen

This is an LCD display, and not the OLED display you’d find on the Lumia 930. The blacks won’t be as deep and the colors won’t be as saturated, but it feels more balanced than that of the OLED screens. It measures in at 5 inches and features all the bells and whistles, from the curved (cornering) Gorilla Glass other high end Lumias have, to Nokia’s clear black display tech. It even features super sensitive touch technology, so using it with gloves just works.

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However, we noticed that we couldn’t use just about anything to work the screen like on the Lumia 1020. We could use cutlery to operate the display on the Lumia 1020 but not on the Lumia 830. Gloves work just fine , but we’re not sure why it doesn’t work with everything.

The only non-flagship feature of this display is that it’s a 720P screen rather than 1080P. Nevertheless, it’s still a beautiful and sharp display with a pixel density of 296PPI, which is nearly identical to the iPhone 6 .

The only complaint we have is that the screen isn’t as bright as it can be on other Lumias, even on the highest brightness settings.   However it’s still very useable outdoors in sunlight and does a great job at adjusting the brightness levels to accommodate for change in conditions.

Performance

The Lumia 830 is powered by a 1.2GHZ Snapdragon S400 series CPU and has 1GB of RAM, which is not a significant increase from the Snapdragon S4 1.5GHZ dual core on the Lumia 920 and Lumia 1020.

However, when it comes to real world performance the Lumia 830 performs quite well, and the performance increase is definitely noticeable over the Lumia 920 and 1020. The differences are especially noticeable when resuming apps, as resumes are now instant, and app launches are also slightly faster. You’ll also notice that that browsing is slightly faster. Keep in Mind that this is an 800 series Lumia, not the high end 900 series, but overall we’re very happy with the performance.

If you were looking for a big performance boost over the Lumia 920 or the 1020 this is not what you’ll be getting with the Lumia 830.

When playing high-end games such as Modern Combat 5, you may notice minor slowdowns at times, but this is perhaps the most extreme example as this is a very resource heavy game.

For the users who expect a massive performance boost, I’d suggest you wait for the next flagship Lumia which shouldn’t be too far off, otherwise the Lumia 830 is a solid performer.

Camera

When it comes to the camera, this is definitely a flagship camera offering(but we have to leave Lumia 1020, 1520, and the 930 aside) . It comes with a 10MP PureView branded six-element Zeiss lens and features optical image stabilization.

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Optical image stabilization makes a massive difference and it’s something that many don’t understand the importance of. This is something that Lumia devices have pushed smartphone photography to the limit with in the last two years. Only now (two years later) are we starting to see high end non-Lumia devices implement this technology.

We conducted an in depth camera test and comparison with the Lumia 1020 which is considered to the pinnacle of smartphone photography from a quality standpoint, and the results were impressive. The Lumia 830 takes very sharp photos in the daylight, and has fantastic low light performance with a much improved camera over the Lumia 920.

We did notice that daylight images were a little on the oversaturated side while low light images, although fantastic, ended up being a little on the cooler side when comparing to the Lumia 1020, which had the opposite effect in both scenarios.

Lumia 830 Low Light Still Balls No Flash
Lumia 830 Low Light No Flash
Lumia 1020 Still Balls 100ISO (5MP)
Lumia 1020 no flash

The Lumia 830 also focuses on the entire image rather than having  most of the detail on the subject like on the Lumia 1020.  This is less noticeable when the subject is at a larger distance but very noticeable at closer distances, which can be good or bad depending on the type of image you would like to achieve. For most circumstances it’s suited better.

It’s an overall impressive camera across the board, when considering speed and quality, its better balanced than on the Lumia 1020.

Lumia 830 Bench
Lumia 830
Lumia 1020 Bench (5MP)
Lumia 1020

One thing that is a significant improvement over every other Lumia device is the automatic focus. It makes shooting a breeze as it eliminates the need to focus, and makes the overall camera experience much faster. It acts like the iPhone and Galaxy devices with its pre-focusing and the fact that there isn’t a need to do oversampling, the camera is significantly faster between shots when comparing to the Lumia 1020, 930 and 1520.

There is a lack of HDR mode and it’s something that Microsoft is set to roll out in the Lumia Camera update, which will also improve the overall speed between shots. Implementing HDR mode will surely make a difference in photo quality and were surprised that it wasn’t ready out of the box.

Call Quality and Speaker volume

Call quality is very good, we haven’t experienced any dropped calls and we’ve noticed callers sound clearer and louder as the earpiece is also very strong. People I usually talk to on the phone also noticed I sound clearer on their end compared to my Lumia 1020.

The speaker is on the back of the device and at times it may not seem as loud as the down firing speaker on the Lumia 920 and 1020, but that’s only because your hand tends to cover it when holding the phone, otherwise on its own its noticeably louder on its own.

Battery

The battery life on this phone is phenomenal. We’ve really pushed the 2200mAH battery hard with heavy usage and we’ve managed to end the day with 35%-45%, depending on the situation. Our Lumia 1020’s battery was completely drained by 6PM under very similar conditions.

It just feels unreal to have such incredible battery life and it really manages to spoil you once you get accustomed to it. Even apps such as Viber, which are considered heavy battery drainers when making calls, it barely impacted the Lumia 830’s battery at all. The  Lumia 1020 battery on the other hand would experience significant drainage.

Is it a worthy upgrade from the Lumia 920?

For Lumia 920 owners who can’t wait to upgrade, we recommend this as a worthy upgrade. It may not be the spec monster you were waiting for, but our  advice to you is to get a little hands on time with it as its design and flexibility offer many more options and that alone are a reason to upgrade despite not having a significant performance boost. It’s the little things which add up in there end that make a significant difference.

Is it a worthy upgrade from the Lumia 1020?

For Lumia 1020 owners who don’t mind the decrease in camera quality, this is definitely a buy as well for the exact same reasons it’s superior to the Lumia 920.

However, if the camera is of concern, then we suggest you stay on the course as you’ll definitely notice a downgrade in picture quality. This especially noticeable in scenarios where you’d be using flash, as the Xenon flash makes a significant difference in your results.

We did a rolling ball test to really highlight the difference between Xenon flush on the Lumia 1020 and the LED flash on the Lumia 830.

Lumia 1020 Ball Roll 5MP (1) Lumia 830 Ball Roll Flash

See our full in depth camera comparison between the two if you’d like to see an in depth comparison.

As you can see in the example above the Xenon flash on the Lumia 1020 has a significant advantage in being able to freeze motion.

Verdict

Microsoft has done something that has never been done before in the mid-range segment of the smartphone market. By creating such a high-quality device with so many flagship features at such a great price, they’re exposing the high prices many pay for smartphones that don’t really offer much over the Lumia 830, and it something that should be noticed.

This a highly impressive device and we feel confident to say that this is the best all-around Windows Phone to date. It’s a high-end design, fantastic camera and the flexibility and customization options make this the most complete Windows Phone ever.  If you consider the price point, it’s at an amount that actually makes buying the phone outright a possibility on most carriers.

We’re hoping that Microsoft continues this design strategy going forward at this price range, as this is a market that Windows Phone could really perform well in. Of course we also love to see the next big thing, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for what Microsoft surprises us with next.

Check here for our in depth camera comparison between the Lumia 1020 and 830

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