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(Pocket-lint) - The Nokia Lumia 830 is one of the last smartphones to bear the Nokia brand name ahead of Microsoft's takeover of the company. This last of the Nokia breed isn't a flagship powerhouse either, instead the Lumia 830 is the watered-down version of the top-spec Lumia 930. It's almost identical to look at but comes in at almost £100 cheaper, making for a really impressive looking piece of mid-range kit.

But is that drop in price from the top spec model a genuinely worthwhile saving? We've been spending our days with the Lumia 830, which sports the latest Windows Phone 8.1 with the Lumia Denim update, to see whether it's a viable contender for your pocket space.

Design and build

There's no denying that the Lumia 830 offers an attractive build, much like the Lumia 930. The polycarbonate shell is grippy yet solid and, in combination with its metal outer frame, feels premium in the hand.

The rear casing on our unit was bright orange, which we chose over the vibrant green or more standard black and white options. However, this rear cover is removable so can be swapped for a flip cover case that clips on the rear and covers the front screen.

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Despite using decent materials the sizes are also machined to pocket-friendly set of dimensions. The phone is light in the hand at 150g, but also weighty enough to feel quality, while the 8.5mm thickness sees it thinner than its 9.8mm flagship Lumia 930 brother.

READ: Nokia Lumia 930 review

The buttons are metallic, matching the frame, and there is a dedicated camera shutter button that's really useful for diving straight into the camera application when the phone is locked.

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The Lumia 830 has a 5-inch screen that, despite being the same size as the Lumia 930, is a different beast. First it's LCD rather than AMOLED, and second the resolution takes a dip from 1920 x 1080 to a more reserved 1280 x 720 pixel panel.

That means a 293ppi pixel density that's plenty clear enough, but for the sake of £100 we find the 930's screen preferable. It's only when you really look closely at things like text that you can see the slight blurring where a 1080p screen would be crisp.

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The 24-bit TrueColor display does help cover for the lack of resolution though, as every layer of colour punches out of that IPS LCD panel. There are also sunlight readability enhancements which make looking at the display great outdoors and we were impressed by the lack of reflections - an area that Nokia tends to perform better in than the competition.

Another advantage of having that LCD display is the low-power mode which allows for the Glance Screen, a feature lacking from the top-tier Lumia 930 model, much to the dismay of some Windows Phone fans. This displays information like time, date and even notifications while the phone is locked, using very little power to do so.

The Lumia 830's screen is also covered with the latest Corning Gorilla Glass 3, meaning it should be tough to get a scratch. Not that we've been running our keys over it. The glass edges are also slightly rounded to help any would-be scratcher slide off the edge. At the same time this does make the screen feel a little exposed, rather than being beneath the level of the frame, but it certainly looks attractive.

Mid-range performance

Despite having a lower specification than the Lumia 930, the 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 paired with 1GB of RAM in the Lumia 830 does a good enough job. Most apps run smoothly although the camera could be faster to open and there is sometimes a slight wait as apps load. For the money it has lag where you'd expect it, making it fine for the mid-range but not ideal for power users.

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Tucked inside is a 2200mAh capacity battery and its longevity per charge in excellent. We got a full day of use, and even when left on throughout the night still often got half way through the next day - sometimes with over half the battery capacity remaining. And that was with the Battery Saver mode turned off.

Software: Get your Denim on

The Windows Phone 8.1 operating system is top of the line for Microsoft and with the Lumia 830 this also comes with the Lumia Denim update. That means Cortana voice assist official support in the UK, alongside some useful updates such as live folders where apps can be bundled together.

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Live tiles are still a useful way to customise your home screen layout and can be stacked up to five across depending on their size. But the live folders feature is great, allowing you to group tiles which, at a tap, then appear in full. This gives a deeper level of access on the home screen which means not having to swipe across and search through the entire app list and has long been needed in Windows Phone 8.

Another update is the control of messaging within a thread. You can now select individual messages allowing you to delete or share them. Something that's a minor update but makes a massive difference - it was rather annoying not having it.

For those with children, or even enterprise users, there's Apps Corner that allows you to create a customised home screen with only certain apps accessible. Handy.

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Plenty of other Microsoft apps are also on board including Office, Skype, OneDrive and a Health & Fitness tracker. Also Here Maps and Here Drive+ - one of the true Nokia connections that will remain an ongoing collaboration - make light work of mapping and navigation features.

Cortana now in the UK

The voice assistant from Microsoft is the company's latest way of fighting the Apple and Google competition. But where Siri and Google Now offer smart controls and search Cortana wants to learn about you and adapt. The Cortana live tile will flash up current news, knows your current location for live weather, and it can link in to what is around you when you ask for it.

When first used Cortana asks for your name and checks it's pronouncing it correctly before using that to address you. It's a nice personal touch. To access the search assistant you can either tap the tile and go into the app or just tap and hold the search icon on the phone's front for quick access.

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The Lumia Denim operating system update also brings a "Hey Cortana" voice command to activate the search assistant hands-free. On this Lumia 830, however, we couldn't get this to work as apparently it's only functional with phones that have Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 and above processors - but Microsoft won't confirm this yet. Instead a press-and-hold the search icon get the voice assistant to pay attention.

When in use we found Cortana's accuracy was pretty good. It's not better or worse than the competition, meaning right now you'll probably only use it when you can't type - rather than it becoming your go-to search option. That's the thing with any voice assistants, for many they have limited genuine use.

Camera class

Nokia always prided itself on its camera features and Microsoft is clearly continuing with that legacy. However, the Lumia 830 doesn't utilise the 1/2.5in sensor size of the 930, instead opting for a smaller 1/3.4in size delivering 10-megapixel snaps. It may not have the same resolution as its bigger brother, but it's still packing plenty of software smarts.

The Lumia Denim software update has crammed the myriad camera options that Nokia developed over the years into the one camera app. But now even more new ones have appeared as separate apps, such as Lumia Panorama and Lumia Selfie. These would be far easier to use if they were all built into that one camera app.

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We found HDR (high dynamic range) and Rich Capture were two useful options. Essentially these capture multiple images with and without flash and allow you to pick the best result, as well as adjust it afterwards.

The camera also has a burst mode that shoots between three and 12 images in the time it takes to blink as you hold down the shutter button. But on this handset we did notice more shutter lag than the higher-spec Lumia models.

Built-in functions which utilise this burst mode, many of which work really well, include Remove Moving Object, Change Faces, Best Shot, Action Shot and Motion Focus. All of them can be available via one tap of the shutter and using any is just like taking a normal photo in terms of time but delivers different post-shot options.

We did find Action Shot - which overlays multiple photos of a subject moving - to be a bit hit and miss though. Often it would render see-through people, which is disappointing as we had previously had lots of success when using it in the Lumia 1520.

READ: Nokia Lumia 1520 review

For standard pictures we found the results were excellent from the 10-megapixel sensor. Thanks to the f/2.2 aperture and Zeiss optics the Lumia 830's shots are clear and even when shooting into sunlight show plenty of shadow and highlight definition.

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There's also a Selfie Camera app that works with the 0.9-megapixel front-facing snapper. For such a low resolution capture the picture really isn't as bad as we'd expected - at least on the Lumia 830's own screen.

For video capture it's a maximum of 1080p on this handset, despite the Lumia Denim update being able to support 4K video capture at 24fps. The Lumia 830 just doesn't have powerful enough hardware to support this, although even its 720p LCD panel can't display its maximum video capture pixel for pixel anyway.


The Microsoft Nokia Lumia 830 is a very pretty handset. The build can't be faulted for its premium quality and while the processor and camera might lack a little power for some, that's why the price is where it is positioned. 

For a near-top-end Lumia Windows Phone 8.1 experience you'll be hard pressed to find anything better for the money. And it's that experience aspect that keeps getting better: Cortana voice control now in the UK and live folders make small but important differences (although passive Cortana listening appears to be reserved for the higher-end Lumia handsets).

There might always be questions over the Windows Phone app experience, but the core stuff that you'll want is available minus a few casual games here and there. The two areas that you'll need to really think over are whether a mid-range 10-megapixel camera and middling 720p resolution on that 5-inch screen will be a deal-breaker or not.

That's the Lumia 830's issue really: there are so many arguments to spend the extra £100 and grab the Lumia 930 instead. As Nokia's swan song the Lumia 830 is a solid performance but one without crescendo.

Writing by Luke Edwards. Originally published on 6 October 2014.