Review: Lumia 830 vs Lumia 930 showdown

Windows Phone proves it's worth

Microsoft have provided me with a new Nokia Lumia 830 to roadtest, so I was keen to compare it against the current flagship model – the Nokia Lumia 930. The 830 is a mid-range phone though, so there are many differences between the two. I reviewed the Lumia 930 a few months ago, so we’ll cover the 830 mostly with some comparisons to the 930.

The Lumia 830 is one the first phones to ship with Lumia Demin, following on from the Lumia Cyan release (they go up alphabetically, like Ubuntu releases). Microsoft list the features here, and there’s a few nice additions. For Australians such as myself, along with Canadians and Indians, we have alpha Cortana support.

I’ve started to test this, and speech recognition is definitely better than it was previously. The other more important benefits relate to certain Lumia phones only, which mostly focus on camera improvements, as well as features for the glance screen.

Yes, the glance screen is back! This was one of the biggest features missing from the Lumia 930, but due to the 830 using an LCD screen rather than the 930’s OLED. Grabbing your phone out your pocket and just looking at it to know the date/time along with a second piece of information is simple but efficient.

I’d like to see more options around this – I don’t like choosing between weather OR my next meeting, I’d like to see both. Hopefully as glance screen matures, it will become even more customisable.

Despite both phones having a 5 inch screen, resolution wise, the 830 runs at 720 x 1280, which is much lower than the 930’s 1080 x 1920. I couldn’t visibly tell the difference in general day to day use, so although more pixels is better, I’d be happy enough with the lower res (which is still quite high).

Physically this is a lighter, less robust phone than the 930. There’s only 17 grams of difference between the two, but the 830 is also thinner. The micro usb port has moved to the top left of the phone, rather than the bottom middle.

I’m not sure which is a better spot – I’m tending to believe that the top is more convenient, so you can lean the phone upright against something if you had to, while charging or copying data. Wireless is where it’s at though, and just like the 930, wireless charging is built into the native backplate.

I have mentioned this in previous reviews, but once you are set up for wireless charging, you’ll miss it when you don’t have it.

The battery is removable in the 830, along with an internal Micro SD card slot – neither of which the 930 has. I prefer these options as it gives flexibility in being able to swap things around, but also allows for sleeker protective covers due to the back plate clipping completely off – a complaint I had about the official Nokia 930 cover making the phone too bulky.

The inbuilt camera for the 830 runs at 10 megapixels, much less than the 930’s 20 megapixels. Camera quality is still good as per any decent smart phone these days, and there’s plenty of people who have made comparison shots in details, so look those up if you’re interested. The camera doesn’t really extrude out the back of the phone (unlike the Lumia 1020’s 43 megapixel beast), but the cover does curve slightly to protect it, not that it bothered me.

One interesting thing I found was under Settings > Applications > photos+camera, you can choose which application launches by default when pressing the camera button. This was set to Nokia Camera, but changing it to Microsoft Camera resulted in a much faster loading time when pressing the camera button, as well as quicker pictures being taken. I’m not sure how this relates to the Lumia Camera app that’s also due for release very soon, but they do seem to be different programs:

wp_ss_20141202_0006Nokia Camera

wp_ss_20141202_0005Microsoft Camera

Photos in a darkened environment aren’t terrible – they’re nowhere near as good as the 930, but they’re passable. Washed out, but still better than what I’d expect without a flash being used. Here’s an example of a photo in a reasonably dark room:


Other bits
For Australians and possibly others, the Lumia 830 has the new 700Mhz band which Optus and Telstra are in the process of releasing. This should give better coverage and faster 4G speeds. The Lumia 930 doesn’t have this band, which is a consideration.

Should I Buy One?
If you’re trying to decide between the Lumia 830 and 930, then you need to pick between the main factors. The 830 is reasonably cheaper, has a swappable battery and micro sd slot, and glance. The 930 is faster cpu wise, has a higher res screen and a much better quality camera. Those are the selling points between the two, so pick the one that makes the most sense to you.

If you’re thinking of upgrading from an older Lumia handset, then unless it’s so old that it won’t run Windows Phone 8.1, then there’s no huge benefit in upgrading. I had to use a Lumia 920 for the last few weeks while my 930 was repaired, and it didn’t feel like I was going backwards.

This is a really nice solid phone, it’s light to hold and smooth to use. I don’t have any complaints about it, which shows that Microsoft/Nokia seem to know what they’re doing now. If I had bought this outright, it’s definitely not something I would regret.

About Adam Fowler

Adam Fowler is a systems administrator from Australia. He specializes in Microsoft technologies, though he has a wide range of experience with products and services from other vendors as well. Adam is a regular contributor to WeBreakTech, but he also writes for other technology magazines such as The Register and SearchServerVirtualization.
Adam has earned a position of respect resulting not only in a rising profile amongst his peers on social media but a strong following on his personal blog.

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