Billed as a good value smartphone with all the trimmings you’d expect from the more expensive models, the Lumia 830 looks like any other Nokia – sorry, Microsoft – phone on the market. Its five-inch display is set in a chunky metal case with colourful plastic back, with a now-familiar grid pattern that can be personalised so the things you use the most can be found under your index finger with ease.
I was able to try out the Lumia 830 for a couple of weeks last month, and on swapping my SIM into my new toy I felt immediately comfortable with it in my hand. It is strange how quickly the way something works becomes second nature; the first time I tried a Lumia (the Lumia 925) I had a really hard time getting used to the functionality, especially the keyboard. But this time (having tried two others – the Lumia 1320 and Lumia 735) it was a cinch to get it set up and ready for me to use as my own for the two weeks I was allowed. It certainly helped that I now have all the accounts I need to get started.
The phone is on the large side but isn’t a phablet; it is chunky but neat enough to hold and use with one hand (which is absolutely vital in phone design if you ask me). It is visually very simple with clean lines and an elegant finish. Okay so the pretty-fluorescent green back isn’t that elegant but I like it. The aluminium frame feels sturdy and like you don’t need to bother with a case, combined with the super hard-wearing gorilla glass screen you’re all set to take this out and about. The plastic back (which you take off to reveal the SD and SIM card slots, as well as the removable battery) does feel a bit flimsy and like those little tabs that clip it into place might not last very long. That SD card slot will almost certainly be needed; the 16GB of internal memory just won’t do – but you can add up to 128GB with an additional card.
The screen itself is clear and bright and very easy to use. It might not be a super sharp HD OLED screen (like the Lumia 930), but it’s good enough for the vast majority of uses – it’s sharp and colours are as they should be. Sadly it does not dim enough for my liking – when using this in the car at night (as a passenger, naturally!) or in an unlit bedroom while you’re other half sleeps (really bad habit, I know) it seems to act more like a torch than a phone even on the lowest brightness setting. As for the touch screen, the functionality is very accurate and as it’s not capacitive you can use your finger, a gloved thumb, a stylus or a stick you found on the ground to tap away.
One of the most important aspects of my phone is the camera. Oh how much technology has changed me! It’s a pretty decent 10 mega pixels with a shutter button on the top of the phone so you can use it as you would any other point and shoot camera. I would describe it as being reasonable – it’s not going to blow you away but give it a well-lit outdoors scene with plenty of colour and you’ll be very happy with the resulting shots. The photographs on this post are taken using the Lumia 830 – as shot, no on-phone or PhotoShop editing.
The main thing I wanted to test out with this Lumia device was its ability to sync with other devices that I already own. I want a device that allows me to sync certain types of file automatically without any input from me. For example, I want images that I’ve taken on my phone to be available on my iPad, and also on my computer. Apple does this very well with Photo Stream which I have come to rely on a great deal. Microsoft achieves this through OneDrive, which can be used across platforms – so photos I took on the Lumia 830 were automatically synced using my Windows Live account onto my iPad. Of course I have to open OneDrive on my iPad to view them (rather than Photo Stream), but they do appear without intervention and it’s very easy to save the ones you want to keep/edit. I only used OneDrive for photographs although it will work for other file types too; I use Dropbox for files already so simply signed into my Dropbox account and picked up Word and Excel files from there.
What constantly reminded me that this is a mid-range value smart phone rather than a top-end model was the load times. I found this handset slow. The hardware is where the money has been saved, and for me it noticed. I missed photo opportunities more than once as I waited for the camera to open and get ready for me to snap a picture; on one occasion it was more than 30 seconds, but generally it was around four to five seconds from requesting the camera to it being ready to take a shot – too long in my opinion. Cortana also seemed slow to me; she would take an age to decide what I’d asked for and go off and get the information for me.
At just under £300 SIM free this is not quite a budget phone but at around half the cost of an iPhone 6 or Samsung Edge it does suggest good value for money. And this is a pretty decent attempt at a mid-range handset – the screen, design, camera are all okay. It does the job pretty well and is a perfectly acceptable smart phone that will do everything a regular user might need. It’s just not quite as good as you get for more money. Of course app availability is still a big problem with Windows phones, meaning users cannot expect the same level of usability as you get with iOS or Android devices. I’m willing them to catch up because it is the foremost reason that stops me buying a Lumia.
Thank you to Lumia for letting me try out the Lumia 830 for a couple of weeks. Find out more about the phone on the Microsoft Lumia 830 website.