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Nokia Lumia 830 review: A well-rounded smartphone





TOP FEATURES
  • - Great build
  • - Excellent camera
  • - Good display 


Microsoft's new Nokia Lumia 830 aims to reduce the gap between a mid-ranger and a high-end phone. In fact the company has positioned the phone as 'an affordable flagship,' with a premium form factor and a good quality camera. While it's the successor to the Lumia 820, the phone is a major upgrade in terms of both form factor as well as other features.

The phone is also the first one to come preloaded with Nokia's latest Denim software update.

Is the Nokia Lumia 830 worthy of being called a flagship smartphone? We try to find out in our review.

Build and design
Lumia 830 arouses a feeling of familiarity as Nokia has not digressed much from its basic design philosophy which has been consistent across its premium devices, right from Lumia 900 to Lumia 1520. The key highlights of the Lumia 830's form factor is the use of a sturdy metal frame and the company's ability to make the phone slim and handy even though it has a complex camera module incorporating Optical Image Stabilization and its PureView technology.



It is not the first time we're seeing a metal frame on a Nokia Lumia phone. The Lumia 925 also sported one, although the Lumia 930 takes it to the next level. The frame feels very solid and makes the phone look tough as a tank. We had the black variant as our review unit which sported a dark grey frame. The orange and Black units come with a silver coloured frame. The frame has black bands at the top and bottom edges that serve as the antenna. The edges are not curved like the Lumia 925's but flat. You'd mistake it for a perfect rectangle but the corners are subtly rounded.

The phone's back features a removable, polycarbonate cover which is slightly curved towards its edges. This gives the phone a good grip. The cover sports matte finish. The big camera module protrudes out slightly. There's a speaker outlet towards the bottom. The micro-USB port and the headset jack are located at the top edge.

Removing the cover reveals the battery compartment, a micrpSD card slot (hot swappable) and a nano-sim card slot. The phone also supports wireless charging and the cover sports contacts for the same.

The right edge of the phone features metal buttons for volume control, power and camera, and offer good tactile feedback.



The front mainly comprises of the 5-inch display with the three capacitive Windows Phone keys located just below it, backlit in White. The display panel is slightly tapered with the frame at the edges. You can also see the front camera, the earpiece and the Nokia branding.

Nokia Lumia 830 is a good looking phone that also feels solid and durable thanks to its metal frame and high quality construction. Although the back panel is removable, it fits snugly into the frame and there was no wobble. Even though the phone sports a5-inch screen, it is very pocketable and can be easily used with one hand.

Display

Nokia Lumia 830 comes with a 5-inch, 720p (720x1280p) IPS LCD display. Thanks to the use of Nokia's ClearBlack technology, blacks were really deep and Windows Phone's dark theme looked really good. Microsoft and Nokia are calling a 'flagship' and we expected a full-HD panel going by the market trend.

However, we found that the Lumia 830's display looks bright and vivid, rendering sharp and crisp text and graphics. The flat UI elements such as tiles and lists don't pixillate even though the display is low resolution compared to flagships and even mid-range phones. Sunlight legibility was good and viewing angles were wide.

Software

Lumia 830 runs Lumia Denim which is essentially Windows Phone 8.1 with Update 1 with some Nokia-exclusive features.

Windows Phone 8.1 ironed out inconsistencies and achieves feature parity with competing smartphone platforms like Android and iOS. It pretty much covers the basics and would satisfy most casual users. You can read more about Windows Phone 8.1 in our Lumia 630 review.

Update 1 brings features like Live Folders, Cortana support (alpha) for India, SMS merge and forwarding, consumer VPN and Internet Explorer improvements.

You can now organise apps or games by grouping them into folders similar to iOS and Android. You can press, hold and drag an app over another to create a new folder on the Start screen. Folders can be renamed by tapping on the text field above the open folder. The implementation is good, so, better late then never!



You can now select individual text messages to either delete them out of a messaging thread, or copy and past them into a new message to forward them. One can also customize snooze time in the alarm app and configure a VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection to access a work network or use a VPN service to bypass geo-restricted website or service.

Another interesting feature is Apps Corner. It lets you create a customised Start screen, where only specific apps or games are accessible. This could be particularly useful in the workplace if you're issuing Windows Phones to employees or if your kids use your phone for games. You can even choose if you want to give access to Action Center and Settings.

The key highlight of the Denim update is the enhanced camera app now known as Lumia Camera. It comes with features like speedy shooting that instantly fires the camera as one presses the hardware camera key. There's a new Moment Capture feature activated by a long press of the camera button, and instantly starts recording the subject in full-HD (high-end Lumia phones will be able to capture in 4K). Each of the frames captured in the video is a 2MP shot that can be saved as an individual photo.

The best part is Rich Capture that allows capturing and merging multiple images together simultaneously, and applying auto HDR with dynamic exposure steps and flash settings. This means that the camera automatically detects if you need a flash and captures a few images with flash and some without it. After the shoot, it lets you merge the best pictures and control the amount of lighting with a slider. The auto-HDR feature works in a similar manner.

Unfortunately, our unit did not come with the Lumia Camera so we could not test out the new features. The app will be rolled out to the phone in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The Denim update also comes with improved image processing algorithms for clearer lowlight photos. It also offers "Hey Cortana" voice activation similar to hands free versions of Siri and Google Now and allows users to say "Hey Cortana" while the phone is idle to activate it.The feature is powered by the phone's SensorCore technology. It didn't work for us as it reportedly supports phones with Qualcomm Snapdragon 80x processors.

Cortana now works in India if you activate and select UK English in the speech settings. It worked fairly well and was able to detect our speech most of the times. It is not as good as Google Now when it comes to localisation but is slightly better than Siri. The feature is still in alpha so we'll not discuss it at length.

The Glance Screen feature has also got an update and now shows more information at a glance on the lock screen including Bing Weather, or Bing Health & Fitness data, in addition to time and date, notifications and application data.

Nokia Lumia 830 comes with a large number of preloaded apps (including Flipboard, BoxTV,PicsArt, Snapdeak, Times City and WeChat) in addition to Nokia and Microsoft apps. Thankfully most of these apps can be removed.

More third party apps and games are now available for Windows Phone 8, but it still pales in comparison to the app selection offered by Android and iOS. Also, official apps for services like Instagram lack some critical features available on other platform. Line, Twitter and WhatsApp (WhatsApp is officially not supported on Denim) notifications are also delayed. The strength of the software, however, is Microsoft Office Mobile and Here Maps.

Camera

The Nokia Lumia 830 features a 10MP PureView camera with a 1/ 3.4-inch sensor, f/2.2 aperture and Zeiss lens. It features optical image stabilization and unlike the Lumia 1020 and 1520, does not employ oversampling. The camera module comes with 6-lens optics, Backside-illuminated image sensor, and a true 16:9 sensor



While the Lumia 830 features a smaller sensor in terms of Megapixels compared to flagship phones, it still offers one of the best results. The quality of images captured outdoors, in daylight was excellent with good level of detail, accurate colour reproduction, little or no noise and good contrast.



Low-light shots also came out well, though these had some noise, especially under 100% zoom.



The phone offers video recording in 1080p and 720p resolution at 24, 25 and 30fps for each, allowing more creative use of the camera. It also offers the ability to record videos in Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround Sound. Videos shot with the phone were impressive.

Performance 

The Nokia Lumia 830 is powered by a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM. The specifications are more mid-range or budget (Android phones like Moto G are powered by Snapdragon 400) than flagship but we must remember that Windows Phone is not a very resource hungry operating system.

The Lumia 830 comes with 16GB internal storage that can be expanded with the help of a microSD card (supports cards of up to 128GB). External storage support is a big plus.

The phone scored 11,939 in Antutu benchmark, and, 1145/10fps and 1737/15fps in GFXBench 2.5 Egypt HD offscreen and onscreen tests, respectively. We don't endorse benchmark tests and do not ​recommend a phone based solely on benchmarks as real world performance is different at times.



While the phone's hardware is not top-of-the-line, it delivers great performance when it comes to launching and switching between apps, browsing websites and scrolling inside apps.

We were able to play graphics intensive games like Asphalt 8 without any hiccups even at visual effects set to maximum level. The phone was able to play HD videos and supports most popular video formats.

The phone comes with GPS and A-GPS for navigation and maps and was easily able to lock a signal. It also comes with NFC connectivity to initiate file transfers to other NFC-enabled phones and receive data from NFC tags. It worked as promised. It does not support 802.11ac Wi-Fi, which means it will not work with new routers capable of offering higher transfer speeds.

Coming to battery life, the 2200mAh battery of the phone helps in achieving a respectable backup. With the phone's brightness set to automatic and intermittent use of WiFi and 3G, the phone lasted a full day (9-10 hours) with usage comprising few hours of phone calls, casual gaming, an hour of web browsing and accessing Twitter and Facebook, in addition to clicking a few pictures.

We did not encounter any issues with the network reception and call quality was good, most of the times.

Verdict

At a price of Rs 28,799, we don't have any qualms in recommending the Lumia 830. The phone is solidly built, comes with a great camera and offers good performance. It is without doubt a well rounded smartphone, although not a high-end flagship, and offers good value for your money. Having said that, Windows Phone still has a long way to go before it can match up to Android.



There are some good Android alternatives available in the market. The Google Nexus 5 sports high-end hardware and offers stock-Android but sports an average camera and lacks a microSD card slot. The first-generation Motorola Moto X is still an excellent option though it also has the same limitations. Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo is also a good option if you need a phone with a bigger screen and a stylus.



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