Nokia Lumia 830 – Unboxing and first impressions

Does the Lumia 830 live up to its name and is it a worthy upgrade? The answer may surprise you.

Last week I showed you in detail the Nokia Lumia 735 'selfie' phone, including my initial thoughts. While I begin wrapping up a full review for that phone later this week, the Lumia 830 arrived on my doorstep.

Dubbed 'the affordable flagship' by Microsoft, the Lumia 830 has a lot going for it, including a much sleeker design than its more powerful Lumia 930 sibling.

So how good is the Lumia 830? Check out my unboxing video, hardware tour, and first impressions of the latest Lumia phone to hit the market.

Lumia 830 Specifications

  • Windows Phone 8.1 Update (build 14157) with Lumia Denim
  • Memory: 1GB RAM, 16 GB internal user memory; 15 GB OneDrive cloud storage, micro SD expandable up to 128 GB
  • Display: 5.0-inch ClearBlack IPS HD (1280 x 720) display, Corning Gorilla Glass 3, Curved Glass (2.25D), Lumia color profile, wide viewing angle. Features double-tap to wake, Glance, Super Sensitive Touch, Sunlight readability mode.
  • Processor: 1.2 GHz quad-core processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
  • Main camera: F/2.2 10 MP PureView with ZEISS optics and optical image stabilization (OIS), Video recording at 1080p 30 fps (Full HD), Rich recording
  • Secondary camera: 0.9 MP, F/2.4 720p video Nokia Camera, Nokia Storyteller, Nokia Creative Studio
  • Size: 139.4 x 70.7 x 8.5 (volumetric) mm, Weight: 150 g
  • Battery: Removable 2220 mAh battery, exchangeable shell, Qi wireless charging
  • Audio: 3 high-performance microphones (HAAC), Nokia Rich Recording with surround sound capture (Dolby 5.1), Uplink noise cancellation for calls, 3.5 mm AV connector

Those are some solid specs for a mid-range Windows Phone in 2014.

Impressions

After unboxing the Lumia 830, I fiddled with the phone for about 90-minutes, taking some calls, shooting some photos, updating apps, and giving it a run down. I have to admit I am impressed with it. The 1.2 GHz processor, while certainly not the fastest, feels buttery smooth when navigating the OS. I have had the same experience with the Lumia 735, which I made my daily driver last week because it is so fun to use.

The display being IPS LCD is not as saturated as the Lumia 730's AMOLED, but this all comes down to user preference as each as its benefits and negatives. The display on the Lumia 830 is muted for colors, but it improves when set to Vivid under the display settings. It very much reminds me of the Lumia 920's screen.

Coming in at 150 grams, the Lumia 830 is significantly lighter than the Lumia 930/Lumia Icon (167 grams), and the venerable Lumia 920, which is a staggering 185 grams. The Lumia 830 is also thinner at just 8.5 mm versus the 9.7 mm width of the Lumia 930. Although the difference on paper seems nominal, you do feel the difference when holding the Lumia 830, and I prefer it.

The only thing the Lumia 830 is lacking comes down to 'Hey Cortana', the forthcoming passive-voice feature for Microsoft's Cortana personal assistant which lets you use the service hands-free. Other than this, you are giving up a beefier processor. Does this matter? Well, I have a powerful and massive Lumia 1520 and Lumia Icon readily available for my carriers, and I had no complaints in using the Lumia 735 all week. This experience tells me for the average user, nope; this is not a problem.

My only gripe so far is the front capacitive buttons, which have weak haptic feedback and only light up under the darkest situations.

Camera

Optical image stabilization? Check. 10 MP camera with decent F/2.2 aperture? Roger. Six lens elements for sharpness? Verified. Dedicated camera button? Here as well.

The Lumia 830's camera is exactly where you would expect it to fall on the Lumia spectrum. It is certainly below the Lumia 930's ability, which has 20 MP, but it is also significantly better than the rear camera on the Lumia 735.

Photos are sharp as a tack, and the colors are on the muted side. For the pro camera people, this result is probably a good thing (it is easier to go vivid in post).

The one downside, at least for now, is the 10 MP camera only shoots in JPEG. Therefore, even though this is PureView, it cannot shoot in DNG/RAW. However, the forthcoming update for Lumia Camera may still resurrect that feature, along with adding a few new abilities as well. That app update is due later in Q4, and it is certainly one to watch.

Speed is surprisingly quick for a Lumia camera. This comment is not to say there is no delay as you do have just under 2 seconds between taking a photo and saving, and it feels very comparable to the Lumia 1520's speed. Once again, this may improve with the Lumia Camera update, so we will have to wait and see.

The front-facing camera is an economical 0.9 MP fixed focus job, which is not on the high end at all. Two caveats though: it is sharp and alternatively, you can use the Lumia Selfie app in Auto mode and use the 10 MP rear camera, which works brilliantly. So long as you are not cropping the self-pic, the front-facing camera is what it is, but not as bad as some people had feared.

When used for Skype, the front-facing camera continued to look sharp, and the other person noted that the video image look great being clear and bright. Once again, this camera was better than expected.

Wrapping it up

I am using the Lumia 830 (RM-984 variant) on AT&T for the next week. Like the Lumia 735 I have (RM-1038), both devices perform well under HSPA and HSPA+ data speeds, with reliable reception.

So far, though, I am highly fascinated with the Lumia 830, and it is likely to be my go-to phone when the AT&T version hits the market early next month ( November 7). Let us just hope that AT&T does not completely hobble the Qi wireless charging.

Finally, does the Lumia 830 serve as a nice upgrade to the Lumia 920? My initial thought is yes, it does, but I shall follow up on that in a separate article after comparing the two.

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

367 Comments
  • I like it .. Would definitely be an upgrade from 630 hopefully cricket picks it up.
  • All AT&T phones work on cricKet. I have an AT&T branded 520 on cricKet as I type this.
  • I hate to say it, but this phone will probably flop. Either make high end flagship phones or bottom dollar bargain phones. Enough with the mid level stuff.
  • I feel the exact opposite about it.
  • Dan, would you consider this a worthy upgrade from the 925? The model numbering weirds me out and to go from a 9xx to an 8xx feels like a retrograde step, but the specs say otherwise.
  • Welcome to Nokia where phone model numbering has been wacked out since 1996!
  • Yup. Been there since '93!
  • I would, but it is a subtle upgrade. That is not a bad thing if you really enjoyed the 925, as it is similar to that device but evolved.
  • That'll do for me. I love my 925 but it's getting old now. Cheers.
  • I'm in the same boat. Will probably replace my 925 with 830 in December. I see it as a side-grade, not so much an upgrade. However, the camera is really a lot better (see another WinPhone site) in the 830. And I really like the design. I would prefer the 930 spec-wise but since it lacks Glance, its not for me.
  • What other sections of the 830 would you suggest needs better equipment or upgrades to be considered a full and genuine update/upgrade of the 925 in a proper 9xx labeled Lumia?
  • Hey Daniel, how do you find the 720p resolution at 5 inches? I think it would still be super clear with the advantage of a lesser battery hit. Is this your experience?
  • The problem with this phone is that you can get superior phones such as the Lumia 1020 now for about the same price. I bought my Lumia 1020 brand new in box for $300 on eBay, and they were recently $340 on Amazon.
  • Depending on what is important to you the 1020 might not be superior phone.  It really depends what you are looking for in a phone.
     
  • Exactly, besides that camera there is not much else.
  • The 1020 is like for like a 925 with a big camera. Compare the specs. I did and as that didn't interest me I picked the 925.
  • I get what you mean by superior but not so much in features. See the second gen lumias are now starting to show its age due to a much older SoC. I am facing the same issue many people are, do we go from our 920 or 925 to a lower series phone BUT a new generation at that? The 830 is weaker yes, but with it comes new features that only the new SoC brings. its only a problem for us lol we tech enthusiasts have zero patience's.
  • I think it's less about our impatience than the carrier upgrade cycle in this country.  If I didn't have three lines coming due for an upgrade I wouldn't sweat a few more months on the old phones, which still work very well all things considered... certainly no build quality issues with the two 920s and 1 820 we have.  But the way they have rigged the system here, if you don't take your upgrade when it comes around you're basically throwing money out the window while simultaneously delaying all future upgrades, because you are still paying the higher monthly costs without getting the benefit of winding down a new 2 year contract and getting a nice device discount.   Even if they would let us re-up the contact now with an "IOU" for a new device in a few months it would be something... but the way it is there is immense pressure for them to have a new, true upgrade device out by the time the old contracts run out.  Unfortunately, MS doesn't seem to feel like that pressure is important.   I personally think many of those 920 owners are going to take a look around and not see anything that much better (other than the great 1020 camera, but who wants to buy a year old phone?), and they will just say f*ck it I'm going Android.  The continuously slow pace of scheduling and lack of urgency about everything Windows Phone (hardware, carrier updates, even in house app feature parity) keeps it in the weeds.   It's just very frustrating.  If Microsoft doesn't want this platform to succeed, I almost wish they would just kill it and put us out of our misery.  It's like slow torture.  Problem is, I truly have no idea what I would get.  I can't stand iOS, and I hate the very concept of how open and insecure Android is.  But maybe if WP wasn't around some other third player that wants to be serious in this game could make something nice... but I don't know who that would be... MS is pretty much the only one with the resources to make it a success, but they seem bound and determined to not spend them and to undermine the product at every turn.
  • Well said! Based on the lack of results Stephen Elop should have been fired long ago.
  • Im lucky enough to have Jump from T-Mobile so i would be ready to get a Windows 10 phone when they're released lol but i agree with what you said i mean valid points. I also considered these carriers simply just dont wanna buy high end windows phone. Many just settle for the phone that can sell more cuz of their cheaper prices? Just a thought, like the 521 on tmobile it did very well so they got the 635 quick as hell lol
  • I agree. It seems that Verizon don't want a competitor to it's Android and therefore bring in a wp with missing features that would make the device a competitor. And I could be off my rocker here but that is the way I feel. HTC, I like what they are did with the M8 just the phone is slippery otherwise this would be my next purchase. I hope LG make a wp in that design. I think wp would look very good on that phone but again these OEMs may not want a competitor OS to compete against their flagship Android.
  • Yea, I know I sound like one of those sticklers, but paying over 300$ for the specs, though the looks, look right, the internals doesn't match up. Give me the 730/735 for 180$ - 200$ and the 830 for 275$ - 300$ then sure. But you're exactly right, If I'm to pay 380$ I'd sooner jump to a 1020 OR get a used 930 OR maybe try out that Moto X for the same price with higher specs. Blasphemous!
  • How is the 1020 superior to this? It's only dual-core, has no microSD or removable battery.
  • Yes! Newer processor, even if not as beefy it means new features. A improved camera, SD slot, battery, bigger screen. Basically think of this as the 925 for this Gen. A good thing cause I rock the 925 all day.
  • I love my 925 on T-Mobile, I don't think it's worth going from this phone to that one tho. I'm waiting cause T-Mobile doesn't show windows phone no kinda love, so I'm going to go to ATT next year, just patiently waiting for a high end Lumia, if I can't wait that long, I'm getting the Lumia 1520... I want the 1020 tho so I'm hoping an update to that is in order, if not 1520 here I come. nice review Dan...
  • The wife has just gone to the 830 as our baby girl decided to slobber through her 925! Shes loving it and really feels the difference of having quad core and slight camera improvement, plus it comes with UK cortana preinstalled!
  • I agree and I love to disagree just to irritate people.
  • Daniell, would you be able to make a review putting a few of these phones head to head? The 1520, 930, 920, 830, 730/735, 630/635. In terms of speed, performance, battery life, etc.
  • Yes. We want more device comparisons. And, comparisons with BBiDroid devices as well.
  • Daniel - will you run the benchmark app on the 830 and let us know how it compares with the 920/925?
  • I don't think it can run Crysis
  • Daniel, will you compare seven phones if I provide the list, run the apps I want you to, wash my car, and, oh yeah, walk my dog. Geez, ppl must think you need something to do. Ha, ha.
  • Hahahaha
  • Sorry. He's too busy cleaning out my fridge to find all my old phones that I store in there for a new feature: "What phones are in your fridge?" He's a busy man.
  • Dan, are you sure that it performs better than Lumia 730 which has same processor, ram and gpu? After all is 15,000 Rs More (in India) is really worth for it?
  • Daniel never said 830 is faster than 730 but more expensive Lumias do have faster storage memory. That's never shown in smartphone specs ;) 830 is meant for people who want better main camera and better audio recording capabilities, not better gaming experience. Also you get bigger screen with Glance, 4G, wireless charging and more premium design.
  • In my country(india) i can get 2 lumia 730 at the price of lumia 830,comparing the specs i don't think lumia 830 is worth that extra money,lumia 730 is a better phone for it's price
  • I am curious if there is some public data for marketshare of each model?
  • Were you gone for years or something like that to someplace without internet? This and 730/735 are two new mid range phones after ages....!!
  • More and more people are buying phones off contract because of cheaper no contract no phone subsidy plans. Though personally I would buy a used or preceding gen flagship instead.
  • I feel that it will only do as good as MS, and at&T, push it on the public... I would love to see some phenomenal marketing for this device, and WP as a OS for that matter, but, I'm not holding my breath because it's never happened before...
    ................
    So, as much as I hate to be negative, and agree with you, I have to be realistic..... I have no faith that this device will reach half of its potential, and it has as much potentially as any WP device ever made.... But, seeing as marketing is WP's biggest issue of all time, and the root cause of Wp's current market share, this terrific device won't reach many pockets in the US.....
    .......... I would love for both of us to be wrong, if that helps calm down any blind, and naive WP fans... Don't want to offend anyone.
  • Both MS and ATT have a bad reputation for 'pushing' Windows phones on the public.  As a naive WP fan I believe that this phone will be a game changer, and I am utterly offened by your comment   
  • Exactly! WP's market share is way to high.. 90% market share is so annoying, and there's just too many apps... The only way WP10 to succeed will be to have less features than WP7.0.. 7.0 is where the OS got bloated, and Nokia, almost made a WP device, but we got lucky that the Dell Venue Pro was enough to keep WP from extinction all these years.... Making Satya head janitor was the best move GoogleSoft ever made....
  • Wow, stupidest comment ever. So, only Ferraris and shitboxes then? Sorry, but I'm not paying for high end, and I don't want a shitbox.
  • Great logic there mate!  "I would never buy a mid-range phone, so clearly nobody else would, either!  It'll flop!" is pretty much the impression I got fr