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The Lumia Experience: Which Device Suits Your Style?

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Under the Lumia brand, Nokia introduced a number of smartphones in 2014. From the more entry-level, low-budget smartphones, to Dual-SIMs, to your more conventional flagship. Despite seeing the company’s mobile device arm sold off to Microsoft toward the latter part of 2014, the Nokia Lumia brand saw a market increase throughout the calendar year. To conclude a successful year, Nokia released a number of smartphones in Q4, including the Lumia 530, Lumia 630, Lumia 730 Dual-SIM, Lumia 830, and the, last flagship, Lumia 930. FoS has compiled a rundown of all these smartphones in our last review feature from the Nokia label, before switching to the Microsoft Lumia brand in 2015.

Nokia Lumia 530

The Lumia Experience-Lumia 530

This, Nokia’s lowest entry smartphone for its Lumia brand offers quite a lot, without breaking your bank. If you’re simply looking for a phone to get you through the work day ease while still being able to complete the most basic of tasks, the Lumia 530 is just right. If you’re looking for something that delivers breath-taking photography, and operates at lightning speeds, you’re better off spending your money elsewhere. That being said, running Windows Phone 8.1 OS on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 chipset, with a Quad-core 1.2GHz CPU and Adreno 302 GPU, and only 512MB RAM is pretty impressive. The experience is smooth on all fronts, and even manages to power through the more resource intensive games the Windows Store has to offer, sometimes without breaking a sweat, indicative of a stutter and lag here and there.

At a cost of R1,349, the unit is fairly cheap, which is even more than R500 less than the previously released, successful, Lumia 520 the year before. There is also a Dual-SIM version for R100 more if you want the additional capability on a budget. While there are many positives with the Lumia 530, it also has a number for shortcomings due to the cost-cutting nature of the device. The first of these is that the display isn’t the greatest. If there is one main thing that could be changed, even for a few extra Rand, this would be it. It isn’t bright by any means, and often looks washed out. The other, less important deficiencies and restrictions are the limited internal storage space (4GB, most of which is used by the OS), fixed-focus camera with no front-facing camera at all. All things considered, what you get for your buck is truly worth it. If, however, you already own the Lumia 520, it’s best to save a little extra if you can for the less-restrictive, Lumia 630.

  • Ease of Learning: 4/5
  • Ease of Use: 3/5
  • Design: 2.5/5
  • Value for Money: 4/5
  • Enjoyment: 1/5

Nokia Lumia 630

The Lumia Experience-Lumia 630

The Nokia Lumia 630 finds itself slightly above the low-budget smartphone category. Or so it was designed to be. At a RRP of R1,999, the unit is not that far off from the Lumia 530, and l almost the same price as the Lumia 520. Having been released earlier in the year than the 530, the 630 was the first Lumia unit to have Windows Phone 8.1 straight out the box. Unlike the latter above, the 630 has a Quad-core CPU clocked at 1.2GHz and an Adreno 305 GPU. The internal storage space has been doubled to 8GB, whereas the RAM remained the same at 512MB. What this achieves is a much faster response from the OS and is able to handle a lot more of the higher-end apps and games available in the Windows Store. The display has the same resolution of the 530, but is equipped with ClearBlack display and protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3. The end result is a slightly brighter screen and darker blacks, which don’t give off the same washed out look as on the 530.

The 630 has pretty much the same camera as is fitted on the 530, but for the autofocus capability. The result here is a photo that much closer resembles the image intended by the user, being able to focus on the desired object without having to physically move nearer or further to get the focus required. There is still no secondary, front-facing camera fitted, as is the case with the 530. Considering my conclusion above to the Lumia 530, the 630 fills most of the gaps discussed, most importantly, that of the poor display quality. At the added cost of under R600 for these ‘fixes’ the Lumia 630 would be my choice of a budget phone over the 530.

  • Ease of Learning: 4/5
  • Ease of Use: 3/5
  • Design: 3/5
  • Value for Money: 4/5
  • Enjoyment: 2/5

Nokia Lumia 730

The Lumia Experience-Lumia 730

The Lumia 730 is the first of the list, and possibly the only, mid-range smartphone on the list, since the Lumia 830 doesn’t quite fall within this category itself. While many of the above-mentioned phones offer a Dual-SIM variant for a nominal, additional fee, the 730 was released solely as a Dual-SIM smartphone. The unit is, arguably, one of the best buys in the mid-range sector, if you’re looking for a Windows Phone smartphone alternative to Android. It’s OLED display offers a great viewing experience. Under hood you’ll find pretty much the same specs as on the Lumia 630, and while these don’t top any charts, it still possesses enough fire power to get the job done. Difference in hardware (apart from the display) include its 1GB RAM, 6.7MP camera with Carl Zeiss lens, a 5MP front-facing camera, and a 2200mAh battery, which accounts for excellent battery life.

These improvements make quite a big difference in overall experience, but not as much as the user experience from the UI. While the 630 was the first to use the Windows Phone 8.1 OS, Microsoft made sufficient updates over the few short months between the two devices’ releases. The Lumia 730 hits all the right notes to produce a meaningful composition. The good hardware, pleasant build and design, excellent software and user experience all add up. And at a cost of R4,499 (RRP), the unit is half the price of leading smartphones in all markets.

  • Ease of Learning: 4/5
  • Ease of Use: 4.5/5
  • Design: 4/5
  • Value for Money: 4/5
  • Enjoyment: 4/5

Nokia Lumia 830

The Lumia Experience-Lumia 830

It’s hard to sum up the Lumia 830’s performance in a few short lines without it coming across as a pure disaster. And while many people may view it as such, with a few hit and miss attempts to attract new buyers, there are some positives. Be that as it may, the 830 doesn’t live up to the same experience as with the 730. While Nokia have added a few improvements on the unit, such as its larger display, using the same internals as on the 730 to power these improvements was insufficient, to put it mildly. Staying with the display, the 5” size may, on paper, be a better choice over the 4.7” of the 730, but using an IPS panel instead of an OLED, makes for much lower viewing quality overall, especially considering they both have the same 720p resolution. The 830 was released shortly after the 930, and Nokia attempted to use the same aluminium-framed design that received great reviews on the latter. Unfortunately, this wasn’t carried out with the same distinction, and comes across as being rushed and gaudy.

Where the 830 does redeem itself a little is in its 10MP, 3520x2640px, rear-facing camera, which also has a Carl Zeiss lens, optical image stabilization, autofocus, LED flash. In addition Nokia has also used the successful PureView technology to power the camera, which makes the world of difference when snapping photos. Low-light images are impressive when compared to other, non-PureView tech, smartphone cameras. At a price of R5,989, the unit is almost R1,500 more than the Lumia 730 (more than the cost of the Lumia 530), and doesn’t offer nearly as good of an experience. If all you wanted from your smartphone was an excellent camera, then you won’t be disappointed. If, however, you require anything else over and above, it’s better looking elsewhere.

  • Ease of Learning: 4/5
  • Ease of Use: 3/5
  • Design: 2/5
  • Value for Money: 2/5
  • Enjoyment: 2/5

Nokia Lumia 930

The Lumia Experience-Lumia 930

Without a shadow of a doubt, this is by far Nokia’s best smartphone they’ve launched, and the best Windows Phone unit as well. As with the Lumia 730, the 930 ticks almost all the boxes. From its build and design, to the hardware and software, the 930 doesn’t disappoint…apart from one or two points mentioned below. Unlike all the other Lumia’s released previously, or since, the 930 competes on a hardware spec level, as well as in all other departments. Under the hood you’ll find the impressive Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset, with its Quad-core 2.2GHz Krait 400 CPU and Adreno 330 GPU. In addition, it also includes a 5” AMOLED screen with a display of 1080p resolution and 441ppi pixel density, 32GB internal storage, 2GB RAM, 20MP camera and 2420mAh battery. Apart from the Galaxy Note 4, the Lumia 930 is capable of holding its own in a head to head battle against the big dogs, as it were. The camera image quality is on par with that fitted to the Lumia 1020, minus the resolution, and with a few minute details added in, such as the Dolby Surround Sound, the device holds its own quite well.

I wish that is where I left off, but, unfortunately for the Lumia 930, the OS limits the unit from its full potential. The lack of apps compared to other platforms, as well as the lack of Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, etc. make for some fairly frustrated daily usage you’ve become accustomed to on your Android, and even the iPhone. While the user experience is cut short by the lack of these dedicated apps, since the Windows equivalents don’t quite match up, many users will still often avoid making the switch. With some fine-tuning and app downloads attempting to fill the hole, the device can become more useful as a whole. At a cost of R6,999, it isn’t that much more pricey than the Lumia 830, and quite a lot more affordable than many of the other leading competitors on the market. Apart from the limiting OS, the 930 is an extremely good smartphone at the starting cost.

  • Ease of Learning: 4/5
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Design: 4.5/5
  • Value for Money: 4/5
  • Enjoyment: 5/5

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