Microsoft Lumia 830 full review

Lumia 830 review: UK price and value

The Lumia 830 smartphone has an SRP of £319 inc VAT SIM free. Shop around, however, and you can find this Windows Phone retailing for as little as £234 inc VAT. That puts it toward the bottom of the mid-range of late 2014 smartphones. Much cheaper than the £500 Android flagships, which are themselves better value than Apple's uber-expensive iPhones. And when you consider that this is a quad-core, 5in smartphone, that is good value. See also: best smartphones: The best phones you can buy in 2014.

But that murky middle ground isn't entirely clear but. Dial down to £150 or less and you can pick up the Moto G. At around £100 Nokia's own Lumia 630 offfers good value. So the question is whether the Lumia 830 is a cheap high-end phone or an expensive budget phone. The truth - as we shall see - is somewhere in the middle. For what it is the Lumia 830 offers good value. But whether that makes it right for anyone is another question.

Let's take a look.

Lumia 830 review: design and build

Read around and you will find lots of reviewers being sniffy about the Lumia 830's looks. Available in orange, green, white, or black, it is every inch the Nokia Windows Phone. Personally I find it rather stylish, but I do appreciate that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We can all agree that it is good to see a handset that breaks from the black-slab Android norm.

And the Lumia 830 is well put together. That colourful backside is actually a thin plastic cover. Good because it is detachable which gives you access to the battery, SIM and micro-SD card slot. Okay because it offers a smooth and - to some eyes - stylish finish. And bad because it is wafer thin and feels a bit cheap and plasticky when you are attempting to remove- and reattach it. Sometimes it doesn't click in perfectly. It's a dismal touch in an otherwise well-built device. The loudspeaker grill sits at the bottom of this panel.

Around the sides is a thick, metallic silver rim. On the righthand side is volume rocker, on/off switch and (glory be) a hardware camera button. At the top is a 3.5mm jack and the USB charging port. The silver look is okay, but we found it picked up marks when using the Lumia 830 for a few days.

Lumia 830

At 139.4 x 70.7 x 8.5 mm the Lumia 830 couldn't be described as small. It is chunky and thick, but not entirely in a bad way. It's relatively easy to use with one hand, and not uncomfortable to hold for lengthy periods. We weighed the Lumia 830 at 150 g. There is no hardware home-, back- or search button, but permanent touchpoints beneath the display work well. The bezels around the display are pretty small, but the black glass front itself is surrounded by a thin silver strip, meaning that you get a lot of phone for a relatively small big-phone screen.

Overall then we find the Lumia 830 not unpleasant to look at and use, and unlikely to fall to pieces. It's not the best designed or built phone, but it is quirky and solid. (See also: 16 Best Windows Phones of 2014/2015 UK.)

Lumia 830 review: display

What, then, about that screen? The Lumia 830 comes with a 5in IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen that boasts 16M colors. It's made of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for super toughness.
With a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels the Lumia 830 has a 294 ppi pixel density. These days both the size and the level of detail are toward the middle of the road. I use an LG G3 most of the time, and found the Lumia 830 smaller and more narrow than I wanted, although nothing like the horrible shock I feel when using an iPhone 5s these days. The detail is less of an issue. Yes, a QuadHD display would be nice, but the Lumia 830's display makes photos look good. It works well with the bright colours of Windows Phone 8.1, too.

Lumia 830 review: specification, performance, benchmarks

Let's talk about performance and the Lumia 830. It comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 CPU. The now familiar quad-core chip is an ARM Cortex-A7, and it runs at 1.2GHz. Onboard Adreno 305 graphics take care of the visuals. You get 1GB RAM. These are okay specifications, although they only match those of the much cheaper Lumia 630. In general we found performance to be okay without sparkling. At least that was the case for low-load actions. This is a mid-range handset at a mid-range price, after all.

In general things are responsive with no noticable lag - as we have come to expect from Windows Phones. This wasn't born out by the Sunspider Javascript browser test, however, completed in an exceptionally poor average time of 2540ms. To put that into context, we got 1486ms from the Lumia 630. Don't expect zippy web browsing or general navigation under load.

Lumia 830

We can't use GeekBench to quantify general CPU performance as it doesn't run on Windows Phone. We did test out the GPU using our usual Egypt HD and T-Rex GLBenchmark 2.7 tests. In Egypt HD onscreen, the Lumia 830 turned in a poor-to-mediocre average score of 15fps. In the T-Rex HD test we got a barely usable 4fps.

The Lumia 830, then, is just about adequate in terms of performance. When doing not a great deal - processor wise - it is perfectly fair. But put it under load and things start to drag. And forget about gaming, beyond the most simple games apps. Performance is our biggest disappointment with the Lumia 830.

Lumia 830 review: connectivity

Less disappointing is the Lumia 830's connectivity options. It is a GPRS, EDGE handset offering HSPA, and LTE. You get dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, and NFC. The Lumia 830 charges and syncs via microUSB v2.0. It also has an FM radio, as well as an array of sensors including A-GPS, GLONASS, Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, and compass.

And there is a microSD card. On which...

Lumia 830 review: storage

The Lumia 830 comes with only one storage option: 16GB. On our Lumia 830 that left us with 10.8GB to play with out of 14GB available in total. Clearly that isn't enough for any serious smartphone user. Fortunately, that has been thought of. The Lumia 830 has a microSD slot, via which you can add up to 128 GB.

Lumia 830 review: camera

Windows Phones from the former Nokia are expected to come with good cameras. In the case of the Lumia 830 it's PureView branded, which means it should be good. You get Carl Zeiss optics, optical image stabilisation, autofocus and LED flash, so things look good feature wise.

Yet the main camera is a 10 Mp 1/3.4in sensor that captures up to 3520 x 2640 pixels, making it pretty low-rent for the PureView branding. Perhaps the image stabilisation and LED flash got it the branding. 1080p video is captured at 30fps.

Around the front we find a 0.9 Mp selfie camera, that can grab 720p video.

In use we found the main camera did a good job on a well-lit scenes, with reasonable detail and colour balance. It struggles a little in low light, picking up a bit of noise. It's by no means a great camera, but it's okay. Certainly not bad for a mid-range smartphone.

Lumia 830 review: camera test shots

Click each image to view full size.

Lumia 830 test shot

Lumia 830 test shot

Lumia 830 review: battery life and charging

The Lumia 830 comes with a removable Li-Ion 2200 mAh battery (BV-L4A), offering just over seven Watt hours. This is a relatively small battery, but it is powering a relatively underpowered device with a relatively low-resolution display. And it shows. The Lumia 830 offers very good battery life.

Over the course of a few days we found we could squeeze out up to 14 hours of heavy use from the Lumia 830. Checking email, listening to music, browsing the web and - yes - running benchmarks. At the end of such days we would still have double-digit battery capacity left to use. This isn't earth-shattering performance, but it is perfectly acceptable.

The Lumia 830 charges pretty quickly, too. And it offers Qi wireless charging straight out of the box.

Lumia 830 review: software

The Lumia 830 comes with Windows Phone 8.1 - the latest version of Microsoft's mobile operating system. If you haven't used Windows Phone before, don't be afraid. It is a simple-to-use and feature rich OS, as secure and locked down as iOS. There are relatively few apps in the app store, but these days you can find most of the things you need for Windows Phone.

You can have up to six columns of tiles on the Start Screen and you can also choose an image as a background to them instead of picking a block colour. There's a nice parallax effect which looks great and makes the phone feel more personal. A headline new feature is the Action Center which finally brings notifications to Windows Phone. Like iOS and Android, it's accessed by swiping downwards from the top of the screen. You can choose which apps you want notifications to appear from and there are also four tiles for quick settings, which you can customise.

There are other tweaks too such as more lock screen themes, a new calendar which integrates weather, the Word Flow keyboard offers personalised predictive text and Swype-style gesture typing. A set of Sense (nothing to do with HTC) features help you manage data usage, storage and Wi-Fi.

You get Cortana, too. Cortana is Microsoft's answer to Siri and the firm says it's the first 'true personal assistant on a phone'.


Microsoft Lumia 830: Specs

  • 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 CPU
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB storage
  • microSD card slot
  • 5in IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen (294ppi)
  • GPRS, EDGE, HSPA, LTE, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, microUSB v2.0, FM radio, A-GPS, GLONASS, Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
  • 139.4 x 70.7 x 8.5 mm
  • 150 g