• An Android Alternative? Our Nokia Lumia 830 review


    The Lumia 830 is marketed as an affordable flagship here in Canada. For around $400, you get a phone with a slick metal frame, a 10 megapixel camera with image stabilization, running Windows Phone 8.1.

    Itís tailor made for people on a ďLiteĒ type contract, who only want to spend slightly more than they used to, but also donít want to drop too much on a new handset.
    What about the Google Nexus 5?



    Off the top of my head, the first competitor that comes to mind is the Google Nexus 5. Itís priced at about the same level and also comes with a 5Ē display.

    Both, also receive regular updates from their respective OS providers. Both have built-in QI charging, both have roughly the same sized batteries (2200 vs 2300mAh) and both are endowed with image stabilization. Each also comes with 16GB of built-in storage.

    The Nexus 5 has a few key advantages: First off, it comes with a considerably more powerful Snapdragon 800 display. It also has double the RAM, a slightly sharper, higher resolution display. These are important, noticeable differences.

    The 830 counters with a slightly higher resolution camera (10MP vs 8MP), a metal frame, MicroSD card slot and a removable battery.

    Really, the big story here is that the Nexus comes with double the RAM, a faster processor and a higher resolution screen.

    While I do like the 830ís metal frame, removable battery and storage and think that the camera is marginally better, the 830 is a few classes behind in the processing power department. If you can pick up both for about the same price, you should definitely consider the Nexus unless you absolutely, positively must have a Windows Phone.

    What about the ZTE Grand X Plus?



    A more intriguing comparison would be how well the 830 handles itself against a low cost Android competitor like the ZTE Grand X Plus.

    Spec-wise, it compares more favorably: Both have 5Ē 1280x720 displays, Snapdragon 400 processors, removable batteries and memory card slots.

    You get a slick metal frame with the 830 along with a higher-resolution image stabilized lens.

    The ZTE GXP is endowed with double the RAM.

    While I think that the 830 has a slightly better display and camera, the difference isnít large enough to justify the price difference. You can pick up a GXP for $200 locked on Fido which is just a phenomenal deal.

    Specs:


    • 5Ē 1280 x 720
    • 1.2Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
    • Adreno 305
    • 1GB RAM
    • 16GB storage
    • 10MP rear camera with autofocus, flash and image stabilization
    • 0.9MP front facing camera
    • LTE
    • 139.4 x 70.7 x 8.5mm
    • 150g


    The Nokia Canada site states that the Lumia 830 supports LTE bands 1, 3, 7, 8 and 20. I have serious doubts that this is aside from a few phones from Rogers, most LTE phone sold in Canada support at least band 4. Also, on TELUS, they only have LTE on bands 4 and 2 right now

    Body:

    One thing that does scream flagship is the body, specifically, the edges.. itís a square metal frame with slightly rounded edges to make it comfortable to hold. Itís much nicer than the exaggerated hard metal chamfered edges on the Samsung Galaxy Alpha/Note 4. Heck, I think its slicker than the an iPhone 6/6 Plus or even a HTC One M9.

    A lot of it is due to the minimalist design - sometimes less is more.



    While the edges are metal, the back is plastic. You can peel it off to reveal the SIM card slot, MicroSD and battery.



    The cover fits just fine but gap it leaves is a little bigger than I'd like to see.



    I wish the buttons stuck out a little more plus they could be a tiny bit stiffer.

    Unlike the 635, its less expensive brother, the 830 uses separate menu buttons instead of on-screen ones.



    I just love the way connectors look on the metal body.



    Minimalism at it's best.



    Display:



    The 5Ē display has a resolution of 1280 x 720 with a PPI 296. In terms of sharpness, Iíd say itís reasonably sharp - youíd rarely notice any jaggedness which is important because Windows Phone uses skinny fonts which are really tough on displays that donít have enough PPI.

    Colour is decent. Viewing angles are quite good, thereís minimal contrast shift and the brightness drops gradually. Black levels arenít very deep.

    Overall, while itís not as sharp as a true 300+ PPI flagship, in terms of colour and view angles, itís a step up from a budget 5Ē HD display like youíd find on a ZTE Grand X Plus or a Motorola Moto E 2nd gen.

    Camera:



    There is a camera shutter button on the side of the phone. If you're thinking of Lumia 830 or 635 I need to point out that the 635 lacks this feature.

    Noise reduction and sharpening are like 2 sides of a coin; sharpening things too much emphasizes noise while removing too much noise can make images looks soft.

    I had a bit of trouble making up my mind about the 830ís image quality. It looks like the camera processing philosophy on the 830 is a bit different from the other phones on the market.

    Most phones tend to favour heavier handed noise reduction - thatís why most look kind of splotch when you look up close. The 830 is different - instead of trying to get rid of as much noise as possible, it favours sharpening things up instead. This results in more visible noise.

    The 830 isnít afraid to use slow shutter speeds - this can result in better, cleaner looking pictures but the problem is that it usually just result in blurry pictures because I just canít hold the 830 still enough.

    It also means that the 830 is horrible for capturing anything with movement.

    Of course, all of my observations are with the cameraís default settings. If youíre an expert user the 830 actually comes with 2 different camera applications. The default Windows camera app and a Nokia camera app.

    The Nokia one has many more features but it takes a couple of seconds to launch.

    I donít know about you but I use my camera to chase my kids around and those few seconds feel like forever.

    The thing is, when I take pictures I usually want it to happen as quickly as possible and the 830 just doesnít do a good job when you use it like this.

    Itís too bad, Lumias have sort of built a name for themselves with their camera chops but my experience is that theyíre all way too slow for me to get any keepers. I guess the 830 is better if all your doing is taking pictures of food and other static subjects.

    Software:

    When you choose the Lumia 830 over an Android competitor, you also have to jump in with both feet and use Windows Phone.

    Windows Phone is a little different to use than Android. While Microsoft claims that the Windows Phone store has 100,000ís of apps, chances are you wonít find anything useful while the rest of the stuff hasnít been updated in a few years.

    Yeah, the most popular apps are there but if you want to do a bit of exploring you might get frustrated.

    Otherwise, the Lumia 830 is just like any Windows Phone but it has some Nokia extras. Whatís funny about that is that with the exception of some lesser known Windows Phones from the Microsoft Store, most Windows Phone sold here are from Nokia.

    I wonít go too in depth into the extras but there are lot of them. Lots of choice is good but when you turn the 830 on, you get the feeling that every single extra gets itís own icon in the menu. Lumia Cinemagraph, Lumia Creative Studio, Lumia Refocus, Lumia Selfie, Lumia Storyteller, do you really need a separate icon for each one? Then thereís HERE Drive+, HERE Maps, HERE Transit, is it really necessarily to split a mapping program into 3?

    Performance:

    Unless youíre comparing with other Windows Phones, thereís not much point comparing the performance of the 830 with other phones.

    I also donít test a lot of Windows Phone so Iím the first to admit I donít have a lot to compare against aside from an old Lumia 920 I have lying around.

    There also arenít a lot of cross-platform benchmarking programs available for it.

    There is Antutu but itís a very dated version and since scores seem to rise with each newer version, thereís no point comparing the 830 with anything else.

    With all that out of the way, Iíd say the 830ís performance feels similar to that of an Android with similar specs. While it seldom feels fast, it can usually handle whatever you throw at it so itís adequate. The only time it feels slow is when youíre launching the Nokia camera app and using it to take pictures.

    Compared to the 920, even though the 830 only has half the RAM, it does feel noticeably more spry so itíll definitely feel like an upgrade.

    Media Capabilities:



    I noticed a Dolby logo on the 830 box but thereís no logo on the phone itself. The rear-facing speaker is pretty loud but it sounds horrible - maybe thatís why the Dolby logo was left off the phone?

    Aside from a tiny bit of hiss and the fact that its not as brutally loud as some recent phones, the headphone jack sounds fine.

    Included is 16GB of storage, of which a surprising 14.5GB is available to use. If thatís not enough you can toss a MicroSD in.

    As a Phone:

    Incoming sound quality is very good but thereís a tiny bit of hiss.

    The built-in speaker phone isnít powerful plus it has a lot of hiss.

    RF performance is average.

    Conclusion:



    In the end, while I do like the $400 Lumia 830ís screen and the metal frame, it doesnít do much else to stand out in a sea full of Android based competitors.

    Really, the point of the Lumia 830 is that itís a nice phone for carriers to offer on a ďLiteĒ type of plan where the subsidy isnít as high. The problem is that you can choose from phones like the Nexus 5, or if youíre looking to purchase outright, something like a OnePlus One. However, the biggest problem is that for less, you can purchase a ZTE Grand X Plus.

    3 Howies out of 5.

    Pros:

    • solid body
    • nice screen
    • attractive design


    Cons:

    • better deals to be had elsewhere
    • slow camera

    buttons don't stick out enough
    This article was originally published in forum thread: An Android Alternative? Our Nokia Lumia 830 review started by howard View original post
    Comments 11 Comments
    1. Ten Four's Avatar
      Ten Four -
      First, it is important to note that the Windows operating system doesn't need the same processing power to operate smoothly and efficiently, so just comparing processing specs isn't the whole story. Windows Phone also has other advantages, like very little problem with "data leakage," for lack of a better term. When you stop using something on the WP, it just stops if you have the settings right. A lot of Android users seem to have problems with that. For me, I just like the operating system. It looks great, is customizable in a way I like, has live tiles that are very useful (calendar, weather, etc.), integrates seamlessly with One Drive online storage and backup, integrates seamlessly with my Outlook.com account, is much more secure, etc. I have no app problem, but I don't live my life in my phone. At the lowest price points there is almost no comparison. I bought a Lumia 635 for less than $40 on sale, and have a phone that does everything I want it to do for less than the price of a flip phone.
    1. michel-2000's Avatar
      michel-2000 -
      Ten Four : I get what you're saying here...and it was the main reason why I got my first WP 2 years ago

      But, the OS really needs an upgrade (I wish WP10 will be as great as what Microsoft is saying), and it needs MORE APPS

      And this is why, today, iOS and Android are still on top

      I do love WP8.1...it's smooth, good looking, does not take a lot of resources...

      But I went back to Android (LG G3 exactly, running Android 5.1) and, so far, I don't regret my move
      I used for the last 4 months the Lumia 830....great phone, with GREAT specs...but the OS was still ''trying to get there''!

      Howard's review here of the 830 is exact...this is a great phone...Microsoft has to get serious about the OS now ;-)
    1. sabesh's Avatar
      sabesh -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ten Four View Post
      First, it is important to note that the Windows operating system doesn't need the same processing power to operate smoothly and efficiently, so just comparing processing specs isn't the whole story. Windows Phone also has other advantages, like very little problem with "data leakage," for lack of a better term. When you stop using something on the WP, it just stops if you have the settings right. A lot of Android users seem to have problems with that. For me, I just like the operating system. It looks great, is customizable in a way I like, has live tiles that are very useful (calendar, weather, etc.), integrates seamlessly with One Drive online storage and backup, integrates seamlessly with my Outlook.com account, is much more secure, etc. I have no app problem, but I don't live my life in my phone. At the lowest price points there is almost no comparison. I bought a Lumia 635 for less than $40 on sale, and have a phone that does everything I want it to do for less than the price of a flip phone.
      Agreed with all point. This is a great bang for the buck.
    1. Ten Four's Avatar
      Ten Four -
      One other thing I forgot to mention is that cameras are important to me. My son has a 1020 and the photos are amazing--just blow you away amazing. The 830 gets better reports on the camera other places, but I haven't used one. A recent test where readers voted for photos from the 930 against ones from the iPhone 6, the Galaxy S4 and S5, and some other high-end phones had the 930 in the lead. YMMV but in general a Lumia camera will beat others at the price point.
    1. jimxx200's Avatar
      jimxx200 -
      Speaking of cameras..I found a sweet deal on a Nokia 928 and would like to know how it compares to iphone 4S or 5C. I'm using a 4S for a camera phone project and it takes a nice photo, but wondering if I can get better image quality with the 928. Comments most welcome.
    1. Ten Four's Avatar
      Ten Four -
      Start watching for discounts if you are interested in the 830 since it is rumored that it has or will be shortly discontinued and a successor will be announced.
    1. mrvmrvmrv's Avatar
      mrvmrvmrv -
      I have 830. It's a great phone! I love Windows phone because you can easily uninstall all that that Google junk that comes on Android phones.
    1. Steven Hurdle's Avatar
      Steven Hurdle -
      Quote Originally Posted by jimxx200 View Post
      Speaking of cameras..I found a sweet deal on a Nokia 928 and would like to know how it compares to iphone 4S or 5C. I'm using a 4S for a camera phone project and it takes a nice photo, but wondering if I can get better image quality with the 928. Comments most welcome.
      The Lumia 928 has Zeiss optics and a xenon flash, which are distinct improvements over the iPhone 5c. The 928 is slightly higher megapixel, but more importantly an improved aperture (f/2.0 on the 928, vs. f/2.4 on the 5c, with lower numbers meaning a bigger and better aperture). The devil's in the details and the Lumia 928 beats iPhone 5c in the camera department across the board from what I can tell. First Nokia, and later Microsoft, have remained aggressive in upgrading software and firmware as well, so they're continuing to try to eek the most out of their handsets as regards photography.
    1. nok1anostalgic's Avatar
      nok1anostalgic -
      Great review! It's a shame the screen isn't 1080p, on a 5inch device it does make a difference.
    1. sabesh's Avatar
      sabesh -
      Quote Originally Posted by baranbaran View Post
      that is very interesting ...well done
      Signature spam. I've sent you a PM.
    1. eselekt91's Avatar
      eselekt91 -
      If you look for some tutorial about screen replacement in this model I have made a video guide on youtube here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1x4q_Ml0e8k