Nokia Lumia 830 review: Can a flagship smartphone be affordable?

Nokia Lumia green

The Nokia Lumia 830 is one of the last three new Nokia phones to see the light of day, as Microsoft has dropped the name in favour of its own. But is the handset the tech giant has described as “an affordable flagship” a fitting legacy?

Display and design

First things first - the Nokia Lumia 830's screen isn't a patch on those of the latest generation of flagship smartphones like the Apple iPhone 6 and LG G3, but that'd be something like complaining that your Ford Focus isn't as fast as a Ferrari - the 830 will cost you around half of what a high-end phone will sim-free.

What you do get for your coin is a 720p HD 1280 x 720 display that's pretty perky whether you're flicking through your Facebook news feed or watching the Jurassic World trailer. It's the equal of other phones in the same price bracket and, at 5in, bigger than most.

Design-wise, the 830 reflects the trend of increasingly big phones - it's bigger than the iPhone 6 in every dimension - but you can still just about do most things on it one-handed. It feels reassuringly weighty and smooth, although the brushed metal frame around the micro USB socket and headphone socket scuffs easily.

Nokia and keys

The Nokia Lumia 830 may be bigger than it appears in this picture

The position of the 830's power/lock button, which is in the middle on the left hand edge of the phone, rather than at the top as on most phones, is irksome. It makes turning the 830 on and off and locking it unintuitive, and the fact that all three buttons on that edge are unmarked means using it can be frustrating until you get used to which one does what.

Power and performance

Microsoft's billing of the 830 as "an affordable flagship" falls down when it comes to how it performs. While it's Snapdragon 400 1.2GHz quad-core processor is the same as that used by similarly-priced phones, such as the HTC One mini 2, the 830 is frustratingly slow.

Apps take a long time to load and sync - and occasionally just freeze - and it just didn't seem to be capable of handling the graphics of Spider-Man Unlimited. This doesn't make the 830 unusable by any means, but it could seriously test your patience, especially if you're in a hurry, and ultimately limit what you do on it.

Interface and features

As a Microsoft phone, the 830 runs on the latest version of its mobile operating system, Windows Phone 8.1. If you're not familiar with Windows Phone, it's neat and instinctive, displaying your main apps and what not as tiles on the homescreen, while swiping left shows you an alphabetical, searchable list of everything on the phone.

The tiles are smaller and more uniform than on previous versions of Windows Phone. On the upside, this means more apps and other features on the homescreen. On the downside, it makes it tricky to distinguish one from another, as the designs and colour schemes of the tiles are fairly similar. You can rearrange them and adjust their size according to what you use most though.

Nokia Lumia 830 screenshot

That's your correspondent in the top right-hand corner there. You're welcome.

The 830 is one of the first Windows Phone handsets to come with Lumia Denim, an upgrade of Windows Phone 8.1, which among other, duller things means improved image processing - more on that later - and that you get Cortana - Microsoft's answer to Apple's digital assistant, Siri.

As with Siri, you can ask Cortana to help you do things, whether it's texting your mum or finding out what's on at your local cinema. It works, but its hit and miss. For example, asking it to open the calendar led to it searching the web for calendar apps rather than opening the one on the phone.

It's also got far less in the way of snappy comebacks to personal questions compared to Siri - asking Cortana if it'd be our friend and being told it couldn't find any results was just cold…

The 830 also supports 4G - so you can get faster mobile internet on it - and near-field communication (NFC) - so you can read NFC tags on adverts and in bus stops just by tapping the phone on them. You'll soon be able to pay for things doing that too, using the likes of Zapp.


The cameras are undoubtedly the two best things about the 830. Its 10 megapixel main camera has better resolution than that of most phones in its price bracket, and the results aren't bad at all, even in low light. The zoom - on which most phone cameras fall down - ain't too shabby either.

Photo of a ladder taken with Nokia Lumia 830

S'like the room where Jim Carrey meets Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty, innit?

At 0.9 megapixel, the resolution of the front-facing camera is poor for a mid-range phone, but Lumia Selfie makes up for it - in terms of fun if not quality at least. It allows you to fiddle with your selfies to heart's content, from adding filters to whitening your teeth to putting yourself on a poster. The results, of course, can be variable…

Nokia Lumia 830 selfie

This is your corespondent and his colleague. You're double-welcome.


The 830 has a BV-L4A 2200 mAh 3.8V rechargeable battery. We've got no idea what that means, but we can tell you that, like that of the Nokia Lumia 630, it's got legs - we spent the best part of a day taking photos, recording videos, checking Facebook, playing music, downloading apps and watching stuff on YouTube - all in the name of thorough reviewing, of course - and the battery still had two-thirds left to go. Nice one.

Unlike the battery of many phones that cost around the same, the 830's can be charged wirelessly - but only if you're willing to splash out extra on a wireless charging plate, which will cost you £30-40. Not so nice one.


The Nokia Lumia 830 is well-built mid-range smartphone with a decent screen, good camera and meaty battery that's easy to get grips and has a lot of nice touches, and it largely holds its own against more illustrious similarly-priced handsets.

However, the delay in launching, syncing and updating apps and its inability to handle games with high-quality graphics prevents it from providing an affordable alternative to best phones as Microsoft intended.

Any one of the HTC One mini 2, LG G3 S, Motorola Moto G, Samsung Galaxy S5 mini or Sony Xperia Z3 Compact might be a better shout, depending on what you're looking for, but if you like Windows Phone and want a handset that can almost mix it with the big boys but won't break the bank, it's worth a butcher's.

Rating 6/10

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