I'm coming to this phone from having used various flavours of Android for years as my mobile OS of choice, and having more recently been using Windows 8.1 as my desktop & tablet OS of choice. I want to like Windows Phone, but I remember the mediocre reviews and limitations it had when Windows Phone 7 (re)launched a few years ago.
But to the Lumia 830 itself: Firstly its physically quite a big handset for a 5.0 inch screen, easily outsizing a Samsung Galaxy S4 and being almost identical in size to the LG G3 (which boasts a 5.5 inch screen). One of the reasons for this is the excessive top and bottom bezels around the screen, plus Windows Phone's use of "fixed" touch buttons for navigation. The handset itself is actually more rectangular than it looks, with the metalic corners of the chassis being quite a pronounced rectangle, whereas the screen corners are far more rounded. While this produces quite a nice design statement, it doesn't necessarily make the phone the most comfortable to hold.
Being a mid range handset means that the phone sports a relatively old "platform" - the processor is a 1.2GHz. Snapdragon 400 with 1GB RAM and 16GB onboard storage. The phone also supports up to 128GB MicroSD cards and has a thankfully removable 22mAh battery.
The phone's screen is a slightly mediocre 720 x 1280 (720p) resolution, which is quite a way below the qHD and 4xHD screens we're seeing on flagship devices now, but due to the clever design of the Windows Phone UI, along with the strict design parameters that Microsoft have implemented, the lack of resolution is not a major problem; indeed most of the time you don't even notice it! (the screen is a RGB matrix IPS panel, which means it has more sub-pixels than a similar Pentile panel, greatly helping the look of the display)
What does get noticed, quite a lot on my review handset, is the relative weakness of the phone and its chassis in particular. With the recent "bendgate" furore surrounding the iPhone 6, inherent phone strength is quite a big deal at the moment, and unfortunately I have to report that the Lumia 830 doesn't do very well here at all. OK, so it doesn't have a tendancy to bend in half like the iPhone does, but it is very susceptible to the chassis being twisted along its length. This then causes issues with the touch layer of the screen either not working, or as I've seen a lot, producing constant key presses on the search key, putting the phone into a pretty relentless search / Cortana loop.
Talking of Cortana, the Lumia 830 comes with the "Denim" (GDR1) update to Windows Phone 8.1, which brings Cortana to the UK, albeit in beta form. I've got to say, as someone who doesn't really get on with Siri or OK Google either, that I found Cortana to be a bit of a pain and something which I didn't make much use of. If the recent TV adverts are to be believed, then it could be a useful feature, but then again, we've heard that before... I think in realistic terms its one of those features you'll either love or hate - there's nothing wrong with it per-say (barring a couple of "random" results), but I doubt it's going to set your world alight.
Of way more use is the camera on the Lumia 830 - being a mid-range handset it's not one of Nokia's 40odd MPix efforts, but rather a 10MPix shooter which incorporates a new OIS (optical image stabilisation) platform. There's various blog posts about some new software which allows for 2 photos to be taken about 43ms apart, then post-processed together to give a sort of HDR effect; alas I couldn't actually find the software on the phone, so what you get is essentially just that 10MPix lens.
Camera results are pretty reasonable, but not exceptional. In general light and shooting a mid-distance subject the levels of detail reproduced were entirely acceptable, but the camera does suffer in low lgiht conditions, both with and without the single LED flash. Noise levels in these situtions were worse than expected, but again certainly not the worst I've seen!
Almost suprisingly, video recording is pretty decent; mainly due to the Nokia deviced multi-microphone rich audio recording system, which produces absolutely stunning audio quality.
As a phone (calls, texts etc.) the Lumia 830 is as reliable as you'd expect from a Nokia handset - audio quality in calls is excellent, signal strength is good, and basically there's no surprises. It all works nicely!
I'm not going to go into a full review of Windows Phone 8.1 here as we've covered that before and there's countless reviews and hands-on available on the net; suffice to say it's now a properly usable platform; while it may have a somewhat more limited application pool than Android or iOS, there's now enough options available in the Windows Store to mean you're not loosing out by using Windows Phone. I actually found it a joy to use and at no point did I find myself wishing "if only it could do this". Being a Microsoft OS, it goes without saying that integration with Microsoft's other services is exemplary; one of the potential killer features now being that Microsoft are to begin offering truly unlimited storage on OneDrive. That alone makes this a very had device to ignore!
Charging wise, the Lumia 830 supports wireless charging, as is becoming the norm these days. There's not much to say about this, but actually you should take that as a great compliment to the phone - it "just works", brilliantly. The Lumia 830 charges in slightly less time (about 50 minutes) than my LG G3, making it pretty quick; and best of all, that battery lasts forever!
I'm going to say this again, as it's easily my favourite feature of the phone - the battery lasts forever! After a full charge, and doing exactly the same set of tasks as my Samsung Galaxy S4, the Lumia 830 outlasted the S4 by over 4 days! If left turned on and receiving push email alone, the Lumia 830 can quite happily last well over a week between charges - this makes it an absolute god-send of a secondary "work" phone, which is how I found myself using it most of the time.
But in summary, I have to ask the two questions of would I buy this phone for myself, and would I recommend it to others? - well, to answer in reverse order:
I already have recommended the Lumia 830 to a couple of friends who want a "cheepish but well specc'd smartphone" - if you're not after an absolute top of the range device, then the 830 is perfectly capable. It's relative slowness of platform doesn't translate into a slow, or clunky handset in use. It's brilliant in what it does.
And lastly - I wouldn't buy the Lumia 830 as my main handset, mainly because of the screen size versus chassis size ratio mentioned above; but as a secondary phone, as a "work" phone, yes, I'd quite happily buy the Lumia 830.
I think that's praise indeed!