AT&T Wireless finally announced how it will price the Nokia Lumia 830, which Microsoft bills as "the affordable flagship." Unfortunately, this otherwise intriguing device is no flagship, and now we know it's not affordable either: The 830 will cost $100 with a two-year contract, or $450 if you buy it outright. And I'm sorry, everyone. But that's just too expensive.
I've been sitting on my Lumia 830 and Lumia 735 reviews because I was waiting on the pricing. So I'll get those posted this week, of course, but let me ruin the surprise for the 830: Despite my initial excitement about this handset when I first saw it back in August, it simply isn't worth this price.
Part of the problem, of course, is that the Lumia 735—marketed with a silly "selfie phone" tagline—has risen above and beyond my expectations while the Lumia 830 has done the opposite. I had such high hopes for the Lumia 830, but the camera is less impressive than I'd hoped, and while the device is thinner and lighter than the brick-like Icon, it's also heavier and bulkier than the wonderful Lumia 735. These two devices are night and day in real-world use.
OK, I'll stop ruining my pending reviews. Let's just look at the Lumia 830 pricing and move on.
AT&T Wireless announced this morning that it will be the first carrier to bring the Lumia 830 to the United States. The pricing breaks down as follows:
No-contract pricing is $449.99.
Two-year contract pricing is $99.99. This is pretty much the way most people have purchased smart phones over the past few years, but AT&T is following T-Mobile's lead by offering alternatives ...
Next 18 pricing is $0 down and $18.75 per month, or $337.50 spread out over the life of the 18-month contract.
Next 12 pricing is $0 down and $22.50 per month, or $270 spread out over the life of the 12-month contract.
In the good news department, AT&T is offering a limited-time bonus when you purchase a Lumia 830: You can get a free Fitbit Flex, a value of $99.99.
The obvious question here is: What is the "right" price of the Lumia 830?
And while there will be a lot of debate around this, with people pointing at both unusually inexpensive flagship phones (Nexus 5, starting at just $350 no contract) and other reasonable approximations (iPhone 5C, which is $450, the same price as the Lumia 830), I think there's a better way to handle this. Let's just look at the real-world pricing of other Lumias.
And no surprise here, I just wrote about this in Understanding Nokia's 2014 Lumia Lineup: Pricing.
Sitting just below the Lumia 735 and 830 in the pricing matrix is the Lumia 635. This little wonder can be had in no contract form for just $79.99 on AT&T or $99.99 on T-Mobile right now from Amazon.com, and the normal pricing is $129.99. So that's what the world looks like right below the 735/830 pricing level.
Right above the Lumia 830, we find the Lumia Icon, which can be had no-contract for $499.99 (normal Verizon Wireless version) or as the Lumia 930 in international unlocked version for $465.99 (normally $799.99; it is an import after all). So $499.99 it is. (Yes, it's a different carrier. I can't control how these things are sold, but the closest comparable high-end Lumia on AT&T is the Lumia 1520, which costs almost exactly the same as the Icon, even a bit less.) So $499.99 it is.
Splitting the difference between affordable ($129.99) and flagship ($499.99), we arrive at what the Lumia 830 (the affordable flagship) should cost, with no contract:
I could have lived with $350, and in that price range, I would have no problem at all recommending this handset. But $450 is simply too expensive, too much money for a device that is neither affordable nor a flagship.