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Microsoft Nokia Lumia 830 review: A midrange phone with few regrets

Mark Hachman | Nov. 11, 2014
To date, the Nokia Lumia Icon has topped the list of my favorite Windows Phones. But if you invest $99 to buy the new Microsoft Nokia Lumia 830 via AT&T, you'll be handed a thinner, lighter phone that's equally robust, which you may even prefer to the older model.

When tested against popular benchmarks, however, the Lumia 830 doesn't measure up. Using SunSpider 1.0.2 (where shorter is better), the phone averaged 1.24 seconds, more than double the 0.52 seconds the Icon required. With Antutu 0.8 beta (where higher is better), the Icon scored 24,600, while the Lumia 830 averaged 10,969 — a 55 percent decrease. WPBench (where higher is better) also reported similar results: 505.0 for the Icon, and 242.8 for the Lumia 830 — a 52 percent decrease.

Inside the 830 sits a removable 2,200 mAh battery, compared to a 2,420 mAh battery in the Icon. I found it perfectly acceptable for all-day, moderate use (using it more to browse the Web and use apps than making calls). If that's your typical use case, good news: Microsoft rates Wi-Fi browsing at 14 hours, versus 9 hours for the Icon, and 10 hours for video playback. That's partially due to the lower-resolution screen, I suspect — which, I should note, is also more legible under direct sunlight than the Icon's, thanks to the IPS display technology. And if you want to recharge it, you have the option of wired or Qi-compatible wireless charging.

The camera: Competent, with some flaws

While a Lumia camera can't compete with a modern SLR, I think most people now recognize that they've replaced the point-and-shoot. In full light, the 10MP PureView sensor grabs crisp, clean images with vibrant color. Note than the sensor in the Lumia 830 is 0.29 inches, versus 0.4 inches for the Icon, so there's less surface area to capture images in low light. The 830 has an f/2.2 lens.

I wasn't as impressed with the Lumia 830's low-light shots as I was with the Icon's, or the HTC One (M8)'s, whose sensor was specifically designed for that purpose. I noticed a hazing effect when shooting into a sunset that I didn't with the other phones, and low-light images were somewhat noisy. The 830 has optical image stabilization, however, which does help steady the camera's lens when taking those longer-exposure shots. That helps the camera continuously stabilize itself when shooting video, too, at its maximum resolution of 1080p.

One of the most desirable elements with Denim, in my mind, are the slew of improvements that will accompany the Lumia Camera app: faster shot-to-shot performance, auto HDR, dynamic flash, and more. But the Lumia Camera feature will be added later, a Microsoft spokesman told me — probably sooner than later, if I had to guess. And Moment Capture, where you can trigger a 4K video shoot via a long press of the camera button, will record only in 1080p quality on the 830

 

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