Hands-on with Microsoft's Lumia 830 -- 'the budget flagship'

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Microsoft-owned Nokia has just released the latest in its Lumia range of smartphones, the Lumia 830, promising "the world's first budget flagship" with a no-compromises experience and "completely hassle-free photography," all for just €330.

So how does the new Lumia hold up? We go hands on to find out.

Design

The design of the Lumia 830 follows Nokia's now-classic bright luminous chassis design, with an attractive curve to the edges of the screens.

The edges of the phone are plastic, as are the buttons around the outside -- though the black plate has a pleasing matte finish that is pleasant to hold. The phone has the same sharp-edged design as its predecessors, too. It might not be as thin as some phones out there, measuring in at 139.4 x 70.7 x 8.5 mm, but it's pretty light at 150g, and feels very comfortable in the hand.

Display

The display of the Nokia Lumia 830 is one of the areas where Nokia has made the savings on price that give the 830 its bottomed-out price tag. The 5in screen has a fairly low resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels for a total pixel density of 294 pixels per inch -- much lower than many smartphones on the market today.

However, the screen never looks budget or unclear, and my first impression was that Microsoft and Nokia have found a good medium, where the screen is just about good enough. There's a slightly weird effect where the photos taken by the powerful camera of the 830 can't actually be viewed in full resolution on the phone itself due to the low resolution screen, but you shouldn't let that put you off. It's still a very decent screen, and the low resolution will also help conserve battery life. The glass also integrates Nokia's ClearBlack tech, which reduces the reflectivity to improve sunlight legibility.

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Camera

The Lumia series is known for its cameras, and the Lumia 830 seeks to bring that to bear on a shoestring. The 10-megapixel rear cameras, with Nokia's optical image stabilization, autofocus and LED flash, can shoot impressively sharp images, and 1080p Full-HD video.

There are also a number of cool features, such as an action mode that allows you to rewind and pause the video easily, even taking high quality stills from it. There's also a function that allows you to add flash to a photo, and worked amazingly well in demonstrations.

Disappointingly, the front camera is only 0.9-megapixels, but the other features of the phone still make it a great photography experience.

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Under the hood

The Nokia Lumia 830 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chip, with a Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 processor and 1GB of RAM. That's not as powerful as a lot of phones on the market right now. The Nexus 5, for instance, comes in at significantly cheaper than the 830, and has 2GB of RAM.

I found that opening a number of games on the phone took a little while, the loading of a standard game taking maybe ten seconds. Playing more demanding games or running processor-heavy apps would probably end up slowing this phone down quite a lot, especially as it gets older.

Verdict

Nokia has come up with a very respectable budget handset, but it has poured lavish attention on the camera at the expense of some of the other features that make a phone worth using.

While the 10-megapixel rear camera will impress photography fans who don't want to shell out for one of the more expensive Lumias, people who want a better all-round phone and don't care much about the camera should just go for a Nexus 5.

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