Nokia Lumia 830 First Impressions

Nokia Lumia 830 First Impressions

The affordable flagship arrives!

This is the day I've been waiting for. When I had my first hands-on experience with the Lumia 830 last month, I knew there was a good chance that this would be next daily driver. But now that the first devices have finally arrived in this country for review, I can find out for sure. And that testing starts today.

To recap—check out my Nokia Lumia 830 Preview for a more formal introduction—the Lumia 830 is what Microsoft calls an "affordable flagship." That is, it's really a mid-range phone in most respects, but it brings flagship handset style, and some flagship features that happen to really matter to me, at least, to a new, far more affordable price point.

Looked at from another perspective, the Lumia 830 can also be seen as the phone the Lumia Icon/930 should have been. It features the same high-end design as those devices, but in a much thinner and lighter package. As important, the back is easily removable now, so you can access the battery, micro-SD card and SIM card. And this means you can replace the back with different colored cases—green, orange, white and black—including a new line of Flip Shells that look particularly interesting.

Because of this thinner new form factor, the 830 has an obvious and prominent camera bump, though it is one that is much smaller than that on the mid-2013 flagship Lumia 1020. It's less powerful than the camera in the 1020, of course—what isn't?—but it's also not quite up to spec with the cameras found in the Lumia 1520/Icon/930 handsets. Instead, it's a 10 megapixel PureView unit with what Microsoft calls the "world's thinnest optical image stabilization system," a claim that has to be directed at Apple's iPhone 6 Plus. Suffice to say the camera will be a big part of my testing and eventual review.

Beyond the camera, which I take to be the big selling point of this handset, the Lumia 830 offers a number of features one might associate with flagship, or at least higher-end, phones, and does so in a package that, spec-wise, is middle of the road.

Lumia 830 (top) and Lumia Icon (bottom) 

So you get the 5-inch HD screen which I will continue to describe as the sweet spot for modern smart phones. But it's a 720p unit, not a Full HD (1920 x 1080) screen. Gorgeous nonetheless. But not top of the line.

Lumia 830 (left) and Lumia Icon (right)

It has a quad-core processor, but it's a Snapdragon 400, a mid-level chip that sits between the lowly Snapdragon 200 in the Lumia 530 and the more capable Snapdragon 800 found in the Icon/930. To give you an idea of where this processor sits in the scheme of things, the Lumia 635—which is sort of a "high-end low-end phone," if that makes sense, has the same processor.

On the good news front, the 830 does feature 1 GB of RAM (where the 635 has but 512 MB) and 16 GB of internal storage (vs. 8 GB for the 635). Of course, there's a pair of new Lumias that sits between the Lumia 635 and the Lumia 830—the Lumia 730/735—but I'll be looking at those next.

And the Lumia 830 supports wireless charging–a first for this middle part of the market—and SensorCore for fitness monitoring.

Lumia 830 (left) and Lumia Icon (right)

My initial impressions of the Lumia 830 bear out my first hands-on experience. This phone is gorgeous. But more important, it's right-sized and is light and airy, especially compared to the brick-like Lumias—the Icon/930, in particular, and the 920—that precede it. The question is going to be whether the quality of the device form factor and camera are overcome by the mid-level specs. And that is something I intend to find out.

This handy tab helps you get the back cover removed the first time

I'm not sure what the US pricing is for this device yet, but that will of course play a part in determining the value of the Lumia 830. My guess is that it will sell for $300 to $400 unsubsidized. If so, and if my first impressions turn into a real love affair, this will be the next phone I buy.

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