In our past Lumia reviews, we have gone over a lot of the new features brought to the table by the Lumia line. It makes little sense to rehash the same thing again, so I will just make mention of those before looking at a few new things. Refer back to the Lumia 630 and Lumia 930 reviews for a more in-depth look at the base software.

First, like the other new Lumias launched this year, the 830 also supports “SensorCore” to track movement data. The device hub is also available, as are the HERE navigation maps. Since Microsoft took over Nokia, the “Lumia Collection” in the Windows Phone store has shrunk quite a bit – but that is not a bad thing. There are still apps that are available just for Lumia phones but the majority of the apps have been pushed out to all Windows Phones now. Still, there are unique aspects to the software for the Lumia 830.

The 830 is the first device to ship with the “Lumia Denim” firmware update. Unlike previous releases though, Denim does not bring any major new features yet – although some new features are supposed to be coming soon which are enabled by Denim. Cortana should be able to be launched by voice for instance, and an updated Lumia Camera app is going to speed up photos as well as add missing features such as HDR. But for this review anyway, this is not here yet.

One thing that has been improved in the last month or two though is the Glance screen, and as this is the only Lumia device launched this year with Glance, we can finally discuss it.

In case you are unfamiliar with the Glance screen, it allows information to be displayed on the screen when the device is “off” or sleeping. While this started out as just a basic clock and notifications icons and numbers, it has expanded to include detailed notifications from an app you choose (mine is set to calendar so I can see my next appointment) and the latest update allows display on Glance from certain applications. Right now, those are limited to Health and Weather, so for instance you can take a look at the current temperature and forecast without even turning your phone on.

Glance is one of my favorite features and it has made me reluctant to recommend Lumia phones that were recently launched without it.

In order to enable Glance, the display must support panel self refresh, which was what held back the Lumia 930 from having Glance. That is not the case with the 830 though as it is supported and works well. Lumia phones with OLED displays are better for Glance, as the amount of power required for the display is pretty low when just a bit of white text is being displayed on a black background. For the LCD models (like the 830) the Glance screen runs the backlight at its lowest setting which keeps the power draw down but also makes the Glance text a bit more faint than the OLED version.

One of the Windows Phone requirements is that the basic user interface cannot be modified by OEMs, and all OEM and carrier apps must be able to be removed from the device, but Nokia paved the way to show that even with that in mind, there can be a lot of value added to the platform with software. Though there is not a lot of software changes to speak of on this particular device, that is only because all of the Lumia phones have a lot of the same features. Microsoft will hopefully continue this trend going forward.

Wi-Fi, Cellular, GNSS, Speaker Final Words
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  • Daniel Egger - Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - link

    Well, I called it months ago that this phone is in many ways inferior to its predecessor. Would have been nice to include the benchmarks for the 820 but I already have a good idea on how that would compare.

    @Microsoft, sign me up for the next phone with a <5" OLED display that is run by something else than those measly entry level Cortex A7s, no problem if it's "just" a dual-core...
  • BedfordTim - Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - link

    Add me to the list too. Changing to a smaller phone was a revelation and I don't want to go back to carting a tablet around all the time.
  • LittleB69 - Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - link

    Been waiting for a new flagship model with Glance support from Microsoft. It has not arrived yet so I am sticking with my 920. Actually I have been thinking about going back to Android. Moved from Apple to HTC (Android) and from Android to Windows Phone. Was pretty happy as an Android user. After being without my WP for less than a week and using a S4.. I am staying on WP for sure :-)
  • Gunbuster - Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - link

    I'm in pretty much the same boat. Waiting for an upper end SOC, Qi charging, Glance, and Hey Cortana, and a good camera. How hard is it to just check all the boxes.

    P.S. they need to figure out cross carrier WiFi calling and then just sell it unlocked through the Microsoft store supporting ATT and T-Mobile.
  • tolgerias - Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - link

    As the owner of a Lumia 920 I am very interested in this phone. I know it's not a flagship, but I love the design and I prefer the 5" screen even though it is only 720p. If I could find this phone for $300 off contract I would buy it instantly, so I'll keep an eye out for it. There are a few things that would be an upgrade for me:

    1. 5" vs 4.5" screen
    2. Sensor Core
    3. Thinner and lighter design
    4. Newer SoC

    Last year I bought an iPhone 5s on my contract renewal, but even though I like iOS 8, I find myself going back to my 920 most of the time. I just love the amount of information WP 8.1 provides me at a glance. Live tiles, glance screen, and wireless charging are absolutely brilliant and always miss them when I am on a phone that doesn't have them.

    So I'll stick with my 920 for now and will either jump on an 830 if the price is right, or I'll wait for the next true flagship to appear in 2015.
  • MarcSP - Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - link

    I know Anandtech is known for its extensive benchmarking, but I think the performance section should include also a subjective assessment of the performance during "normal" use. Just looking at the numbers someone could understand that the device lags badly or even that the user experience must be quite frustrating. None of the reviews on other sites said so, on the contrary, they praised the general fluidity of the system except in a few high end games or very specific CPU/GPU intensive apps.
  • cheshirster - Friday, November 28, 2014 - link

  • Brett Howse - Friday, November 28, 2014 - link

    Hi. I wanted to address this comment because it's important.

    I did mention this in the performance section: "Microsoft has done a great job with the UI and animations of Windows Phone to make them fast and without the jitter of some platforms, even on low end hardware. But that does not help in-app performance, nor the app loading times."

    Windows Phone has been fluid since practically day 1. They really nailed that part. But it is all of the other areas where the performance is a let down. You just see a lot more "Resuming..." screens on a device like the 830 than a much more powerful system like the 930. Opening apps can take far longer.

    Performance is important even if the UI is smooth. There seems to be a common misconception that due to the OS being well designed for a smooth UI, the performance is not as important but really that's never the case.

    I can give the Lumia 630 a pass by having Snapdragon 400 - that phone is now selling outright for under $100 in some places. I get it. But a device like the Lumia 830 has that same SoC yet costs 3-4 times more money than the Lumia 630. It needs to have something better. I mentioned Snapdragon 600 because the quad-core Krait is quite a bit more powerful even if it likely isn't the perfect choice due to no integrated baseband, but the OnePlus One comes with Snapdragon 801 for $299. For the price range the 830 came in at, it needs to be quicker.

    So yes, it's fluid when using the OS, but once you get past the OS and launch an app, it's not as good as it needs to be for this price range.
  • cheshirster - Friday, November 28, 2014 - link

    Please don't bring Cyanogen phones in compartion.
    830 is obviously not for extreme spec and adrenaline seekers.

    Do you have any tests on hands to post FAR longer times?
    There were no such evidences between last gen 520 and 920.

    S600 is not just "is'n perfect", it is largely outdated power-hungry SoC with no Sensor Core support (which you completely missed in the review).

    Basically even you can not provide the name of hypothetical "better soc for 830" so I don't understand where all those complains are coming from.
  • Brett Howse - Friday, November 28, 2014 - link

    Snapdragon 800. There you go.

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