Hands-On: Nokia Lumia 830 and 735
Nokia debuted two new smartphones in Berlin today, both of which focus on providing a better camera experience. These Windows Phones are solid addition to Nokia's lineup. Here are our first thoughts.
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Microsoft's Nokia division showed off two new smartphones, the Lumia 830 and 735. The devices follow in the same path Nokia has charted for several years with respect to design and don't push the envelope much. They are fine phones with a focus on photography.
This "affordable flagship" mimics many features of the Lumia 930 / Icon, but is somewhat less costly thanks to changes under the hood. The design is quite appealing, with a mix of metals and polycarbonate giving the 830 a unique and attractive look.
Like the 930, the 830 has an aluminum frame forming the outer edges. This frame has flat sides, which give the 830 a somewhat blocky appearance. the feel of the metal is good, though, and Nokia did a good job combining it with the Gorilla Glass 3 front and rear shell. The metal has a raw look that I rather like. The rear shell is removable and interchangeable. Nokia says it supports wireless charging without the need for an add on or special rear shell. That's a bonus. The quality of the materials is excellent. The polycarbonate don't feel cheap at all, and the seams appeared tight.
The 830 is a bit heavy and isn't the slimmest phone ever made. It's probably not fair to call a device measuring 8.4mm thick as chunky, but that's the reality of the phone market these days. The size isn't too large as to require two hands, though, which is a bonus. I didn't have any trouble reaching the far edges of the display with my thumb. The sharp corners along the side edges don't help the 830 slip into your pocket, but it isn't terribly uncomfortable once there.
Like most Lumia devices, there are no buttons along the left edge. The volume toggle, screen lock, and dedicated camera button are all along the right edge. The buttons stand out nicely from the aluminum side. I had no trouble finding them. Travel and feedback was quite decent, as well. The USB port and stereo headphone hack are positioned on top.
The display measures 5.0 inches across the diagonal, but includes only 1280 x 720 pixels. Sure, it's HD, but the 930's full HD screen is nicer. That said Nokia's LCD screens are generally good, and the ClearBlack technology really helps with contrast. I though the display looked good, and colors are excellent.
The Windows Phone 8.1.1 user interface is the same as on other phones, though the "Denim" system update makes improvements to Cortana and the speed of the camera.
Microsoft is pitching the Lumia 735 as a "Selfie Phone." It has a capable user-facing camera that Nokia believes will help people bring out their inner ego with stunning self portraits.
The 735 is a true mid-range device. It reminds me a lot of the Lumia 800. It has a smaller frame made entirely of polycarbonate with the rounded side edges that Nokia has used on many of its designs. The polycarbonate feels great in the hand, with a pleasing mix of strength and just the right amount of texture to make it easy to hold. The size and weight are quite comfortable, and I had no trouble reaching the entire screen with my thumb. It slips easily into pockets.
The 4.7-inch display offers 720p HD resolution, and it comes off as slightly nicer looking than the 830's, in my opinion, thanks to the slightly higher pixel density. It uses Nokia's ClearBlack technology for better contrast and includes Gorilla Glass 3 for protection. It can function when the owner is wearing gloves.
There are no controls on the left edge; they are all crammed onto the right edge. The volume toggle, screen lock, and camera button are all easy to locate. Travel and feedback is decent but not the best. It is easy to accidentally activate the camera button if you grip the bottom of the phone too tightly. The USB port is on the bottom and the stereo headphone jack is on top.
Nokia made a big stink about the Selfie Cam app and the user-facing camera, but at 5-megapixels its capabilities are limited. What Nokia did do was to give it a wide angle of view and a low aperture for improved low-light performance. The Selfie App that accompanies the camera has a few neat tricks that make capturing and editing selfies more appealing.
Otherwise, the Lumia 735 runs the same software as the Lumia 830 - which is to say Windows Phone 8.1.1 with Denim.