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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Nokia Lumia 830 - Review


Nokia Lumia 830

As Nokia's phone making business completes its transition into Microsoft. we witness the birth of one company's last Lumia handsets - the Nokia Lumia 830. The Lumia 830 is a beautifully crafted device, with a premium metal build combined with the colorful personalization of the Lumia range. But the highlight is clearly its 10MP PureView camera, which allows the device to offer a high quality camera at an affordable price to the consumer.

PROs CONs

  • 5.0 inch 720p display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection
  • 10MP PureView camera with optical image stablization
  • quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor
  • up to 128GB microSD storage
  • aluminum frame
  • wireless charging
  • Windows Phone 8.1

  • somewhat dated processor for a "flagship" device.

Unboxing

Despite being marketed as a flagship device, Microsoft packs the Lumia 830 into a modest box with only the basics - -a charger, a microUSB cable and the usual manuals. There is no bundled headset.


While the handset does support wireless charging out of the box, you will have to purchase the wireless charging plate separately if you want to employ that charging method for your device.


Hardware

The Lumia 830 design is clearly inspired by the flagship Lumia 930 and originated from the Lumia 925. You feel it exuberate Nokia's premium build quality as soon as you pick it up in your hands. The display curves slightly, almost seamlessly blending into the aluminum frame that runs around the sides of the Lumia 830.

Lumia 830



Having reviewed the Lumia 925 in the past, I notice that the Lumia 830 frame is sharper to the touch, while the Lumia 925 was smooth and curved comfortably. I am also not a fan of the color of the metal, which looks cheapish. An issue I found on both the Lumia 930 and the Lumia Icon, though I like the AT&T variant which has a dark metal band instead of a silver one.

However its important to point out that Nokia has slimmed the frame immensely down to 8.5mm from the 9.8 mm of the Lumia 930. This makes the Lumia 830 the thinnest Lumia ever.

Lumia 830 for AT&T

The rear panel is removable and comes in orange. These polycarbonate back-plates can be easily swapped and are also available in green, white and black. The material of the back panel is easy to grip and resistant to fingerprint smudges.

Removing the back panel takes some work, though its not too hard. If you ever find yourself bored with the color of your cover, you can quickly swap it for something new.

The noticeable cutout in the rear houses the main attraction of the Lumia 830 - its 10MP PureView camera. The handset's premium nature is primarily attributed to its camera, and the PureView and ZEISS logos are clearly visible, though discreet. We will get into details on the camera down the line.

Overall the handset has a generously sized display, but its usable with just one hand. The sharpness of the side frame can get irritating at times, but I didn't find it too bothersome. The Lumia 830 is easily one of the best designed smartphones I have seen from Nokia.


Display

The Lumia 830 comes with a 5 inch ClearBlack display, which has a 720 x 1280 pixel resolution. Its clearly not the 1080p display found on the flagship Lumia 930, but its 294 ppi pixel density provides excellent sharpness and great image quality.

Lumi 830 - display

Nokia continues to make the displays super sensitive, allowing users to interact with their Lumia 830 even if they had their gloves on.

The ClearBlack technology is meant to help minimize reflectivity during outdoor use. However I found the relatively low brightness hurts the outdoor performance.


Design

Above the display is the 0.9MP front camera, the earpiece and a couple of sensors. The choice on the front camera is somewhat disappointing, its clear the Lumia 830 is not meant for great selfies.

Below the display we find the traditional Windows capacitive buttons - Back, Start and Search. Holding down the Back brings the multitasking menu upfront, while the same action on the Search key will either summon Cortana or pop up the Bing Search app. The primary microphone can be found just below the Start button.

Lumia 830 - Windows buttons

The left side is completely bare.

Lumia 830 - left side

The right side of the device houses the volume rocker, power/lock key and the camera shutter.

Lumia 830 - right side

The 3.5mm headphone jack can be found in the top center of the device, next to the microUSB port. The microUSB cable provided in your retail box can be used for syncing your device with your computer, but you will have to find a headset of your own, since one isn't provided.

Lumia 830 - top

The bottom of the device is also completely bare.

Lumia 830 - bottom

In the back of the Lumia 830 you will see its 10MP camera with LED flash and the speaker grill on the bottom.

Lumia 830 - rear

Removing the panel will reveal the hot-swappable microSD card slot (up to 128GB) and the nanoSIM bed. The battery can also be changed by the user if needed.

Connectivity

The Nokia Lumia 830 comes with support for quad band GSM, 3G, and LTE networks. The LTE is rated as Category 4, which means you can enjoy up to 150Mbps downlink and up to 50Mbps of uplink (all that carrier-dependent, of course).

Local connectivity includes dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n (that's includes both the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz band), and DLNA. There is also stereo Bluetooth 4.0 and a GPS receiver with GLONASS support.


NFC connectivity lets you share content with other NFC-enabled devices, or you can use NFC and the Wallet app to pay for purchases at participating retailers. You can download a NFC management app from the Windows Store if you'd like to manage NFC tags as well.

There's also the ability to cast content wirelessly to a TV, monitor or projector via the dedicated menu in the settings.

The internet sharing feature also lets you share content using a specific broadcast name and password.

The rear panel of the Nokia Lumia 830 is wireless charging-enabled, so you just need to treat yourself with a compatible charging plate to make proper use of it.

Camera

The highlight of the Lumia 830 as we mentioned before is its camera. The handset has a 10MP PureView camera with a ZEISS lens. It also features optical image stabilization (OIS) for both still images and video recording.

Lumia 830 - Camera

The OIS technology on the Lumia 830 also allows snapping low-light photos at lower shutter speeds than regular cameras.

Like all Lumia devices, the handset makes use of the Lumia Camera (formally Nokia Camera) app which offers white balance, focus, ISO, shutter speed and exposure settings. Expanding the top settings menu puts the camera in Pro mode, which lets you adjust such things as ISO, exposure, shutter speed, white balance, and more, using the slider interface that pops up on the right side of the frame. Your adjustments show up real-time so you can easily set up the exact shot parameters that you're looking for.

Additionally, you can get more camera functionality using Lenses. Your handset may have some pre-installed, but you can also download numerous other free and paid lenses which enhance the camera functionality. Highlights include Lumia Cinemagraph, Panorama, and Refocus lenses, but there's a whole bunch more that can be downloaded directly from the lenses interface.

I was quite impressed with how the Lumia 830 captures photos. The 10MP samples are of high quality, with accurate exposure and color. Photos captured in both daylight and low-light appear crisp and detailed, with very little noise.

If you are using the Lumia Panorama Lens, you can capture great high-res panorama samples in both portrait (30+MP) and landscape (35+MP) modes.


The Lumia 830 captures 1080p video at 30fps. By default, videos are recorded with dual-channel AAC audio at 256 Kbps, but you can also enable Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 recording, which will up the bitrate to 384 Kbps and record in six channels under the AC3 audio codec.

The video recording interface is pretty much the same as the still camera. It offers only white balance and manual focus settings, and also allows you to choose the audio bass filter. Opting for 200 Hz (Strong) will capture much better sound in concerts or clubs.

The Lumia 830 performs equally well in video recording with alot of detail and accurate colors. The OIS greatly improves the look of a video and dampens hand shake and makes camera movement look smooth and professional.


Software

The Nokia Lumia 830 runs Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1, which also includes the latest Lumia Denim software expansion package. Windows Phone 8.1 was the last major update to Microsoft's mobile platform, and it has already rolled out to Windows Phone 8 devices. The Update 1 adds folder support, customizable snooze alarms, enables Cortana in more regions (UK and China) and includes various under the hood improvements

Here's all you need to know about Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Denim
Microsoft's Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 will also include Lumia Denim customization for Lumia smartphones.


As with every Windows Phone, the Lumia 830 features a lockscreen, which provides the time and date, along with important notifications. These notifications include missed calls, messages and more. When the device is idle, Nokia's proprietary Glance Screen takes over, providing only your latest notifications while preserving battery life.

Start Screen and Live Tiles

You can unlock your screen by swiping upward, and you will be greeted by a collection of resizable live tiles. These tiles provide up-to-date information from the apps they represent and are constantly changing.

With Windows Phone 8.1, you can now select a background image for your live tiles. This function will only be visible if the tiles are transparent, and unfortunately not all tiles are.

The Update 1, introduces the ability to create folders on your Start Screen. You can drag tiles onto each other to create folders, and the titles will continue to provide updates from within the folder in an intuitive manner.

Action Center

The Action Center is Microsoft’s version of a Notification Center. It can be accessed by pulling down from the top of the screen, just like on Android or iOS. It manages alerts from all incoming calls, messages, emails etc. It also provides quick action toggles for various apps and services on your device. You can swipe individual notifications off the screen or you can click the dedicated clean all key to remove them all at once. There is also a battery percentage indicator just below the battery icon in the Action Center.

The four toggles at the top are fully customizable. The available options include Airplane mode, Bluetooth, brightness, camera, internet sharing, location, project my screen, quiet hours, rotation lock, VPN, Wi-Fi, and more.

The different toggles have different actions, however: a double tap on the Wi-Fi button will get you to the Wi-Fi settings menu, while a double-tap on the Bluetooth - won't. This inconsistency can be confusing for the user, and we hope it will be addressed in future updates to the Windows Phone platform.

Just like on iOS, here you can customize the notifications - you can choose whether banners, sounds and vibration are available for each notification type.

Swiping to the right takes you into the full app list. From here, you can either, add apps to your Start Screen or uninstall apps you no longer want to you.

Multi-tasking

When you open an app in Windows Phone, you can press the Start button to return to the Start Screen and continue with opening a different app. The previous app will remain in a suspended state until you call on it again.

You can see a list of opened apps by pressing and holding the back button. You can then swipe through a list of opened apps and either close those you want to or select and open one of them.

Certain apps, such as Navigation, Cortana and Battery apps, which continue to run in background unless you specifically kill them.

Quiet hours

Microsoft's version of Do Not Disturb is called Quiet Hours. It can be set to block calls and messages over pre-defined time interval, plus it can also go on automatically during events you have marked in your calendar. Just like its competing services, Quiet Hours supports the so-called Inner Circle - the notifications from your Inner Circle will always break through. There is also an option to allow calls from people who call you more than two times in less than three minutes.

Internet Explorer 11

Internet Explorer 11 is the newest version of the Microsoft's mobile web browser. Microsoft has taken several cues from its competitors, and now offers features like private browsing, a Reader mode, unlimited tab support with new UI, saving passwords, tab and bookmark sync across devices and support for inline videos to name a few. Back and Forward gestures have been added too - just swipe from the left or right edge of the screen.

The first new feature you'll notice is the unlimited tab support in IE 11. The tab manager has a new UI too, plus a dedicated shortcut right next to the address bar. InPrivate browsing is available too, you can launch a separate incognito tab from the tab manager.

Once you open an article on the web you'll notice a small book icon appearing in the address bar. If you tap it you'll activate the so-called Reader mode. It does the same as its iOS namesake - it strips down the article you are reading down to the text and images. This way you can enjoy seamless reading of long articles without any unnecessary content or ads. You can configure the Reader background color and font size from the IE 11 settings.

IE 11 also supports inline video playback. In case the browser is capable of playing an embedded video, you will be able to do it right from within the article. No external players or pop ups are needed.

Much like its Android and iOS counterparts, the new web browser supports tab and bookmark sync across devices. This means you can start exactly where you left off on IE on Windows PC or slate.

By the way you can pin web pages to your start screen. You'll get a Live Tile, which will show the latest updates to this website.

Another important upgrade in IE 11 is the option to remember passwords and sync them to other devices. You no longer need to type in the same usernames and passwords over and over again.

The Internet Explorer 11 web browser, just like the overall UI, seems to be faster, with excellent page loading times and scrolling performance. We've enjoyed the new version and we think you'll like it too.

Microsoft Office

Office is one of the key selling points of Windows Phone. Word / Excel / PowerPoint viewing and editing is absolutely free and integrated into the OS. With OneDrive integration, documents are automatically synced between your phones and computers.

OneNote is Microsoft's collaborative note taking tool. It has great (and easy to use) support for lists of multiple levels, and you can add photos and voice memos or send notes via email when you're done. OneNotes can be synced with your OneDrive as well.

MSN Apps

Microsoft also includes its Bing app suite on the Lumia 830, which is made up of Travel, Sports, Finance, Food & Drinks, Health & Fitness and News.

Microsoft apps for Windows Phone
Microsoft has its own lineup for apps for Windows Phones which help you get a lot done. These apps were previously called Bing apps and are available as universal apps both on Windows and Windows Phone devices.

The Weather app is also powered by Bing and offers weather information on a live tile or on your lockcreen

HERE Apps

Nokia Lumia smartphones come with an exclusive selection of Nokia apps including Storyteller, Creative Studio, HERE navigation and Nokia Camera lenses. You can learn more about the Nokia Collection below.

Nokia Collection for Windows Phone 8
Nokia as the biggest Windows Phone manufacturer has really stepped forward to offer a very rich experience with their camera and navigation suites for Windows Phones.


HERE Drive+ offers free, life-time voice-guided navigation anywhere in the world. All you have to do is download a voice in your language of choice and you're good to go. Of course, to make use of the key selling point of Drive - offline navigation - you have to download a map for a country of your choice, too.

HERE Maps takes on other duties - instead of navigation, it's more of a replacement for paper maps that you can take as you explore a city. It will help you discover new places, read a quick description, see photos, read reviews and check what renowned guides like Lonely Planet, Insight Guides and Qype have to say.

Xbox apps

The Xbox experience on your Windows Phone is made up of Music, Videos and Games.

Xbox Music and Xbox Video offer content from the Xbox marketplace directly on your mobile device. You can purchase your favorite movies or TV shows or get an Xbox Music pass and have all your content with you on your mobile device.

Your Xbox games hub brings your profile over from your Xbox console, and adds the games you have downloaded on your smartphone. You can view your Xbox avatar, friends and game related scores and achivements.

Find My Phone

Just like on iOS and Android, Microsoft offers its own service to help find your missing Windows Phone.  If you lose your phone, you can log into WindowsPhone.com with your Microsoft ID and try to locate your phone from there. Ring, lock and wipe options are available as well.

Other apps

The Calendar app can view sub-calendars for each account you have and can color-code them to make them easier to tell apart. It offers day and agenda views for more comprehensive hour-by-hour browsing of your appointments.

Weekly view makes the days expandable in case you have more events than the small square can show. This mode even searches for weather forecast and displays it with small icons on each day.

Besides the calendar, Windows Phone also comes with an Alarm and Calculator pre-installed.

Windows Phone 8.1 introduced a couple of new apps: Storage Sense and Battery Saver. Storage Sense tracks your internal memory and allows you to configure which content will be saved where. Battery Saver now not only shows you the battery percentage and allows you to configure when the battery saver goes on, but it can now track battery usage too. You can also allow or restrict apps to run in the background while the battery saver is turned on.

While Windows Phones don't have a native file manager (much like iOS and Android), Microsoft has released Files for Windows Phone which allows users to access their storage and manage all of their files.

By the way, the Microsoft Store now supports automatic app updates. You can choose whether those happen only when connected to a Wi-Fi network, or if cellular data is allowed as well. Check for updates button is available, but now the Store checks for available updates quite a few times a day, so you probably won't need to use this key regularly.


Conclusion

The Nokia Lumia 830 is sadly the last Lumia to carry Nokia's branding. Microsoft has already announced the Microsoft Lumia 535 and will continue to offer Lumia handsets under its own brand name.

In any case we can confidently say that Nokia is going out with a bang, as we can confidently say that the Lumia 830 is the best designed Lumia to date.


Despite being pitched as an "affordable" flagship, Nokia has done an excellent job designing this smartphone. We get a solid build with metal frame plus a curved protective screen glass and a matte finish on the back. There is the 5 inch IPS display of excellent quality, enhanced with ClearBlack tech as well. Its flagship title of course is as a result of its 10MP PureView camera with ZEISS optics and optical image stabilization.

Its mid-range price is a result of its Snapdragon 400 processor, and 720p resolution in a world of full HD and Snapdragon 800 CPUs. Still like all Windows Phones, it offers smooth buttery performance with near zero lag in every move.

In any case, this is not the end for Nokia. We have already seen the company's new Nokia N1 tablet with Android, and we hope to see much more when the company's non-compete clause expires on December 31, 2015.


Alternatives

There aren't many alternatives  in the Windows Phone world capable of competing with the Lumia 830, but here are some of them

Lumia 930

Nokia's current flagship is likely the handset's closest competitor, offering a similar (yet bulkier) build quality and more powerful hardware, including a Snapdragon 800 CPU and a full 1080p HD display.

The Nokia Lumia 930 costs only about $50 more and will give you an even better performance and still camera quality. Unfortunately, you lose the microSD card slot.

Lumia 1020

The Nokia Lumia 1020 still remains unchallenged with its massive 41MP camera, with its PureView photos. Unfortunately its bulky design, lack of microSD and poorer performance are things you have to learn to live with.

You can also check out our detailed comparison between the Lumia 1020 and Lumia 830.

Lumia 925

The Lumia 925 is likely one of the Lumia 830's greatest inspirations. While the dated handset lacks the power to compete with the newer Lumia 830 we do file the softer edge design of the Lumia 925 more appealing.

You can also check out our detailed comparison between the Lumia 925 and Lumia 830.

Android Alternatives

The Android family has a whole list of alternatives to the Lumia 830, most notably the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini, Sony Xperia Z3 Compact and the HTC One mini 2.

However the most notable competitor is the Motorola Moto G 2014, which offers a 5 inch IPS 720p display, Snapdragon 400 processor and Android 5.0 Lollipop. While Motorola's affordable offering cant compare with the Lumia 830 in the camera department, it costs half of what Nokia is asking.

Even the strong Android ecosystem makes choosing a Windows Phone a harder choice.
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