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Lumia 830: Microsoft hopes to seduce with slim 'affordable' model

Redmond takes a shot with another pic-tastic mobe

Get your Denim on

The software incorporates the “Denim” update (GDR1) to Windows Phone 8.1, which I described here in the Lumia 735 review, so won’t repeat those observations. Two things users will most notice: Cortana is now available in beta form in the UK, and Tiles can be put into “Folders”.

Thankfully, the randomly appearing Navigation Bar, a feature familiar on Android but making its debut in Denim, isn’t an issue here; this phone has classic dedicated buttons like all Windows Phones prior to 8.1.

Overall, Windows Phone 8.1 GDR1 finds Windows Phone moving away from its deep integration into a no man’s land that makes the phone feel much more fussy, like an Android, but without the maturity.

Not all of this is Microsoft’s fault; apps including Twitter still haven't updated been updated to show notifications in the new Android-style Notifications shade or in the People app. You don’t get Mute or Battery Saving as options in this panel either - these are standard options on ‘Droids.

The new Folders feature... and why was this necessary?

You can’t supersize the Tiles (Windows 8.1’s “Wide" Tile can show multiple entries) and a new and somewhat confusing “Folders” adds a very un-WP like dimension of uncertainty, because Tiles in Folders don’t follow the same behaviour semantics as Tiles outside Folders.

Some of the design choices here – like the randomly-appearing, randomly-swipeable soft navigation bar on other devices – show a surprising lack of attention to detail. And for the first time I’m regularly experiencing random reboots on Windows Phone, too: only once over ten days with this device, but pretty frequently with the soft-nav Lumia 730 – an otherwise super bit of kit.

It’s good to see updates to Windows Phone coming thick and fast, but this shouldn’t compromise its reputation for rock solid reliability and dependability. Or Zen-like simplicity. Reputations are hard won, and easily lost. Microsoft clearly thinks designing Windows Phone to be less distinctive and to look and work more like Android makes it more palatable to the mass market. But if that's the case, why wouldn’t the punter then go for the "real thing", now that Android is more flexible, and with glance-able widgets more convenient, and the app store is far richer?

Odd crashes aside, the Lumia 830 is a thoroughly solid midrange smartphone and I enjoyed revisiting Windows Phone again. Despite a succession of poor design choices since 8.0, it retains a nice consistency. And there's nothing wrong with the 830. It just feels the result of a logical process rather than one with leaps of inspiration.

As with the Lumia 730/735 trio, the marketing gurus at Microsoft Mobile Devices haven’t done this phone any favours. The 735 was branded as a "selfie phone”, suggesting it’s a one trick pony, not a good all-rounder. The 830 is described as an “affordable flagship”, presumably because the size and styling is similar to much more expensive 930. It’s a reasonably future-proofed midranger with no pretensions, and no worse for that.

The “flagship” simply invites us to look for a gimmick that isn’t there. Then again, a Windows flagship isn’t really there until Microsoft cranks out its next high-end imaging marvel, or HTC takes its One M8 for Windows (Verizon-only for now) worldwide. ®

Lumia 830: Microsoft hopes to seduce with slim 'affordable' model

Nothing wrong with this affordable flagship, but it won't set the world alight
Price: c £300 SIM-free, £25/month on contract RRP

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