Nokia Lumia 830 review: Punching above its weight

The most fleshed out Windows 8.1 Phone yet

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Nokia Lumia 830
  • Nokia Lumia 830
  • Nokia Lumia 830
  • Nokia Lumia 830
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Aluminium chassis
  • Long battery life
  • 10 megapixel camera

Cons

  • Ordinary 294 pixel-per-inch density
  • Modest hardware

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    TBA (AUD)

Few smartphones scream personality like a Nokia. All across the range are phones dressed in bright ‘look at me’ colours, each one standing out from the pack of drab white, black or grey that adorns everything from iPhones to HTCs. Not everyone will be lured to Nokia's design, but the people that buy Nokia phones often love them loudly.

This philosophy extends to the Lumia 830, a mid-range Nokia with a back lavished in bright colours that slides in between the budget Lumia 635 and flagship 930 comfortably.

Note: The Nokia Lumia 830 reviewed by Good Gear Guide is on loan from Yatango Shopping, which is currently stocking the smartphone for $469.95. GGG will update this article once we receive an Australian loan unit from Nokia.

Borrowed from the flagship is the sense it was crafted and not assembled. The smartphone is built upon an aluminium chassis that is milled from a single block. It feels cold, taut and rigid, but in the best of ways. Buttons forged from the same material punctuate its side.

Nokia touts the 830 as its thinnest smartphone to date with a waist of 9mm. Other smartphones are thinner — take the 7mm iPhone 6 for instance — and yet the proportions of this Lumia feel right. Nokia has rounded the rear subtly in an effort to make it more comfortable. The efforts make the large smartphone a little more comfortable to hold, but it remains a tough phone to pocket.

The screen of the Lumia 830 spans 5-inches, is well backlit and benefits from a wide viewing angle. The downside is the 1280x720 display has 294 pixels in each inch, and that’s just not enough to hide pixels from a naked eye — although it falls short by the faintest of margins.

Nokia devices nowadays run Windows Phone 8.1 and the Lumia 830 packs the Lumia Denim update. Bundled goodies include the test version of Microsoft’s personal assistant, Cortana, and the ability to create folders on the home screen. These seemingly minor updates inch Window Phone closer to Android and iOS so that the jump across no longer frightens.

The version of Cortana available in Australia holds great promise under the proviso Microsoft irons out some of the kinks. Cortana will schedule calendar entries, send texts and draft emails promptly and without error. The personal assistant also has a flair for online searches, even though it doesn’t yet exhibit the same level of maturity showcased by Google Now or Apple’s Siri. Our only qualm is the alpha version couldn’t playback music, even though it recognised the songs and albums we requested.

The Windows Phone 8.1 interface
The Windows Phone 8.1 interface

Microsoft's Cortana personal assistant
Microsoft's Cortana personal assistant

Windows Phone is more minimalist in design than Apple’s brightly-lit iOS, and the light footprint means the Lumia 830 can do without cutting edge processing hardware. Housed in its body is a 1.2GHz quad-core CPU, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage, though if that’s not enough, the smartphone can take microSD cards up to 128GB.

The modest hardware runs Windows Phone admirably, but the Lumia 830 feels like the 635 in that it gets by, and less like the flagship 930, which offers the sense there’s always more power burbling inside.

Come battery life and the Lumia 830 will blow the flagships from Apple and Samsung away. Good Gear Guide found the 830 averaged 30 hours of use as our primary phone, as it diligently handled calls, texts, emails and social networking, in addition to some YouTube, GPS and camera use.

Lining the underside of the Lumia’s underside is a wireless charging pad that will juice the 2200 milliamp-hour battery.
Lining the underside of the Lumia’s underside is a wireless charging pad that will juice the 2200 milliamp-hour battery.

Dominating the back of the 830 is a 10 megapixel camera joined by a single LED flash. Photos captured with the camera are vibrant in colours of all hues, although blowing the photos up to their native resolution reveals the kind of image noise that plagued the Lumia 635's camera. The absence of an HDR mode often results in detail going to waste in either shady or strongly lit areas.

Read more: Nokia Lumia 735 review: Perfectly ordinary
Taken with the Nokia Lumia 830
Taken with the Nokia Lumia 830

The photo above cropped at 100 per cent - Taken with the Nokia Lumia 830
The photo above cropped at 100 per cent - Taken with the Nokia Lumia 830

Final thought

Nokia’s Lumia 830 is a well rounded smartphone that, as Nokia promised, could replace a flagship from Apple or Samsung. The well designed and feature-rich device doesn’t have many drawbacks, other than the mediocre display. We worry only about the price.

We believe the 830 will cost more than the inferior Lumia 730, which has an Australian RRP of $399. How attractive a buy the Lumia 830 is will go down as the price hikes, and if it climbs past the $600 mark, it’ll be running low on value amidst the stiff competition.

Sample photos

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