The Nokia Lumia 830 is an affordable flagship smartphone, but it's also a swansong for the venerable Finnish company. Nokia's name is on the way out, and Microsoft will be the brand of choice for the next generation of Lumia phones, with the Microsoft Lumia 535 to be the first successor to the Nokia line.
As far as legacy is concerned, there are worse notes to end on. The Lumia 830 is pitched as "the affordable flagship" and it's hard to argue with that. A good combination of solid design, a well-rounded feature set, the 10-megapixel PureView camera and a mid-range price tag all make this phone a welcome addition to the Windows Phone family.
That price, by the way, is $99 on contract with AT&T in the US ($450 outright), AU$579 in Australia, and in the UK you can grab it direct from Microsoft for £287.10. (Carphone Warehouse also have it for £29.99 upfront on a £22.50 per month contract.)
The Lumia 830 bears all the usual design hallmarks seen on the premium end of the Lumia range. The plastic back panel is a matte finish while the metal edge harkens back to the bigger sibling, the Lumia 930.
For my money though, I like the darker metal finish on the model we had in for review more than the brightness of the 930's edge -- it comes off a little less flashy and I'm quite comfortable with that.
With a black rear case and a dark metal rim, the 830 looked quietly competent and every part a premium phone. Of course, if you want, Microsoft will also sell it to you in white, bright orange and a stunningly virulent green, shown above.
The slightly rounded edges and slick glass front all add up to a phone that feels great in the hand. The back also offers some actual grip when being held (as opposed to, for example, the Sony Xperia Z3 which may as well be coated in Teflon).
At 150g (5.29 ounces) it weighs a little less than the 930, despite being roughly the same size. Metal buttons to control volume, power and the camera shutter all sit down the right size, while a MicroUSB and headphone jack sit up the top. The rear comes off for access to the SIM and MicroSB slots -- no need to track down that SIM tray key you keep losing.
While the screen is the same size as the 930, sadly it's not Full HD. The Lumia 830's 5-inch screen has 1,280x720 resolution with a pixel density of 226ppi. That's a little lower than what you'd normally expect from a flagship, but the IPS-LCD panel is quite bright, and even when watching videos I didn't find myself pining for Full HD (or beyond). That said, for a phone touting this level of camera quality, some users may find the lack of a 1080p screen on which to review said snap an odd choice.
Readability in direct light was quite impressive thanks to Nokia's ClearBlack filter, although it drops off sharply when you change viewing angles.
The Lumia 830 is shipping with the Microsoft Windows Denim update, which brings an impressive raft of changes for Windows Phone in general, as well as some tweaks exclusive to the Lumia range.
Many of these revolve around the camera -- handy, given the aforementioned PureView snapper packed in. The update will change the name of the Nokia Camera app to Lumia Camera, but also add some features. For example, a long press on the camera button will kick off Moment Capture and the phone will instantly start recording in 4K video. You'll also get Auto HDR and dynamic flash, as well as better low-light shooting.
In the US, Cortana will now wake up just via saying "Hey, Cortana". The voice assistant service still has catching up to do in the rest of the world. It will hit beta in the UK and public alpha in Australia.
Sadly, while our review version said it was running Denim -- and gave us new features like VPN and the ability to create folders -- it didn't have the Lumia Camera installed by default, and there was no 4K option to be seen. It did, however, come with the Lumia Cinemagraph app for creating images with animated areas, Lumia Creative Suite for image manipulation, and even Lumia Selfie, which does what it says on the tin.
As always, Windows Phone feels like a good OS right on the verge of becoming great. It's simple and intuitive with some very nice touches and a great home screen, but the app store still feels like a wild west frontier town full of either devs you've never heard of or outright tumbleweeds where apps should be. In essence, it's still lacking that critical mass to make it worthwhile jumping from Android or iOS.
That said, if you're currently using an older version of Windows Phone (or BBOS), then this will probably rock your socks.
While there's not a huge amount in the way of localised apps, the Nokia Here mapping service is, of course, ready for Australia (where I reviewed the phone), as is the Here Transit app for public transport. A partnership with video streaming service Quickflix also sees that app come preloaded.
The Lumia 830's 10-megapixel camera comes with optical image stabilisation and Zeiss optics, meaning it qualifies under Nokia's PureView banner. It's the first time that PureView has made it on to a phone in this price range and it's a highly welcome addition.