Lumia 650 VS. Lumia 830 ? Battle of the metal-framed mid-rangers

chancooluk

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Lumia 650 VS. Lumia 830 – Battle of the metal-framed mid-rangers

The Lumia 650 has just been released and it has garnered a lot of positive and negative comments: Positive because of its design, negative because of the extremely low end processor.

The Lumia 830 has been available for about 18 months, and its reception was pretty similar to that of the Lumia 650 upon release. It was praised for its design, but also criticized for its poor choice of processor, relative to its massively inflated price.

Here we are in 2016, the Lumia 830 can be bought in the UK for around ?90>?150 from that well known auction site, depending on its condition. Finding a brand-new one is tough though, as the phone went out of production months ago. This places the Lumia 830 and Lumia 650 in the same price range, with very similar metal-edged designs and target markets.

Can the Lumia 650 compete with its older brother? It’s a question I’ve asked myself over the past couple of weeks. My favourite Lumia is currently the Lumia 830, it has been for well over 12 months, and nothing else has been able to take its place. I saw Mr. Rubino commenting the other day in response to the question “is the Lumia 650 better than the Lumia 830?” to which Mr. Rubino replied “I don't like the 830 very much. This [Lumia 650] has a much better display, build quality. Regarding camera, I guess 830 may be slightly better, but I never cared for the 830 camera to begin with.” Mr. Rubino certainly thinks that the Lumia 650 is the better device, but is that true for me, or you? Let’s find out.

Both the Lumia 830 and Lumia 650 have been updated to the same OS version (W10M, 10586.164) for the purpose of this review.

Design and Build Quality

standing.jpg

Both phones follow a similar design structure: Glass front, metal sides, plastic back. But each phone has its own distinct design language, which means each one looks very different to each other.

The Lumia 830 is surrounded by a metal frame with squared off corners, which also lips over the front, back, and sides of the handset, and forms the bezel surrounding the screen. The Lumia 650 uses a metal strip that surrounds the outer edge of the phone, which isn’t particularly noticeable when looking directly at the front of the phone, but looks excellent from the sides.

The size of both handsets is similar, with the Lumia 830 being slightly shorter and narrower than the Lumia 650, whereas the Lumia 650 is much thinner and lighter than the Lumia 830. I can’t overstate just how much lighter the Lumia 650 feels in the hand compared to the Lumia 830. To some it may feel less substantial, but I personally prefer a lighter feeling phone, especially for prolonged one-handed use. The Lumia 650 uses software navigation buttons (which are part of the 5" screen), whereas the Lumia 830 has separate capacitive buttons beneath the display, this results in quite a bit of dead space on the front of the Lumia 650.

Both handsets use Gorilla Glass 3, but in very different ways. The glass covering the screen on the Lumia 830 is curved towards the edges, which feels good under the finger, and also looks much more premium than the standard flat glass covering the Lumia 650. Also, the glass on the Lumia 650 is surrounded by a thin plastic bezel separating it from the metal frame, whereas the glass on the 830 curves directly into the metal frame.

Both handsets use the same design structure around the back. Both have a thin polycarbonate plate, which can be pulled off to reveal the battery and card slots. The Lumia 650 looks very simple and classy from the back, with not much going on other than the camera\flash cut-outs and a shiny Microsoft logo. The Lumia 830 on the other hand is quite busy looking, with its many-holed speaker outlet, several text logos, and large glass covered camera “Oreo”. That’s not to say the Lumia 830 looks bad though, I think still looks far nicer than the majority of phones from the back.

The black coloured plastic back on the 650 picks up fingerprints very quickly, which can make it look shiny and ugly after only a small amount of use.

Overall, both phones have excellent designs and great build quality. I honestly can’t pick a winner here.

Screen

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The 5” AMOLED screen on the Lumia 650 has been touted by many as a large improvement over the 5” IPS LCD display on the Lumia 830. I’m sceptical of this, because I am very sensitive to the ‘Pentile matrix’ that many AMOLED screens use in order to prolong the life of the screen. I didn’t really like it on the Lumia 735, which I found to be fuzzy around the details (e.g. small text on a black background), and I could notice it on the Lumia 930, but it was less of a problem due to the 1080p screen having a much higher PPI.

So how do the screens compare? The Lumia 650 does use a pentile matrix which is very similar to the Lumia 735, in fact, the screens are almost identical save for the slight size difference. This means that the screen on the Lumia 830 appears sharper in certain circumstances. I’ve used the example below of the action centre ‘Expand’ button, with a red accent theme. On the Lumia 650 it appears grainy and speckled, whereas it looks sharp and clean on the Lumia 830 (note the bottom of the letter 'd', it is much more defined on the Lumia 830, whereas the entire bottom of the letter appears flat on the Lumia 650 due to a lack of detail).

pentilevs.jpg

Otherwise, the screens are equally matched in general image quality, but have different strengths and weaknesses. The Lumia 650 has deep blacks, and great contrast, but struggles with whites which can look a shade of yellow or pink depending on the viewing angle. The unit I have also displays grey colours (such as in the settings app) unevenly across the screen when looked at head on; greys at the top of the screen have a slight blue tint, which gradually turns into a yellow tint towards the bottom of the display. It doesn't look clean, which is a bit annoying, especially as so many system apps in W10M have a grey background.

The Lumia 830 on the other hand appears slightly brighter, whites and greys are almost perfect across the screen, but blacks are a very dark shade of grey and nowhere near as deep as the blacks on the Lumia 650. The screen on the Lumia 830 also loses contrast and colour at wide viewing angles, its not the best example of an IPS display in this regard.

angle.jpg

Both screens perform roughly the same in direct sunlight, which is helped by the sunlight readability software enhancements featured on both handsets.

Both screens feature Glance standby notifications, but Glance isn’t fully featured on the Lumia 650. For example, the Lumia 830 can display detailed app information (e.g. calendar info) and a background photo, neither option is available on the Lumia 650 (it can only display Time, Date, and Notification icons). It does look slightly better though on the AMOLED screen though, thanks to its ability to completely switch off the black pixels.

glance.jpg

Another point in the Lumia 830’s favour is ‘Double-Tap to Wake’, which is unfortunately missing from the Lumia 650 (and all 50 series handsets for some reason).

Features and performance

I’m not going to start listing the detailed specs for each model, as that information can be found at hundreds of different sites (like GSMArena here). Also, I’m interested in how each phone performs in real-life situations, so I won’t be comparing meaningless benchmark scores.

Both phones are very similar when it comes to features. The only really noteworthy omission (that isn’t camera, screen or audio related) is Qi Wireless Charging. I personally don’t use wireless charging, as I like being able to use my phone at the same time that it is charging, so this isn’t a big deal for me.

Neither phone is a powerhouse, that’s for sure, but neither of them needs to be. Windows 10 Mobile runs smoothly for the most part, at least with the latest stable build (10586.164).

The SOC’s (System on Chip) used in both phones are almost the same, save for a few differences. The Lumia 650 uses a Snapdragon 212 that actually includes a slightly faster CPU when compared to the Snapdragon 400 used in the Lumia 830. Both use 4x Cortex-A7 cores, with the SD212 clocked at 1.3Ghz, and the SD400 clocked at 1.2Ghz. In theory this means that we should see a very slight performance boost for the Lumia 650, at least in apps that aren’t heavy on the GPU.

The GPU’s used in each phone are also very similar, but here we find the Lumia 650’s Adreno 304 clocked 50mhz (400mhz) lower than the Adreno 305 in the Lumia 830. In theory, this shouldn’t cause much of a difference between the two phones.
Swiping down the ‘Action Centre’ from the Start screen causes the animation to judder on the Lumia 650, as if it is struggling to keep up with the movement of the finger. The Lumia 830 remains perfectly smooth in comparison. The same issue also happens in the photos app when swiping photos in portrait mode.

After using both handsets in tandem for three days; there isn’t a noticeable difference in performance between the two handsets. Apps launch and load roughly at the same speed, and both phones display games at roughly the same frame rate.

The Lumia 650 has a slightly smaller battery (2000mah) compared to the Lumia 830 (2200mah). I actually found the battery on the Lumia 650 to last a bit longer than the Lumia 830. I would guess that this is down to the screen consuming far less power than the one on the 830, as there has been no improvement in power efficiency where the SOC is concerned.

Sound

Both phones feature a single loud speaker, the Lumia 650 goes for a front mounted speaker, whereas the Lumia 830 has a back mounted speaker.

speakers.jpg

The speaker on the Lumia 650 can produce a wider range of tones than the Lumia 830, and can produce bass much more cleanly. However, it isn’t anywhere near as good as the front facing speakers on some rival handsets, such as the Alcatel Idol 3, or HTC Boomsound.

The speaker on the Lumia 830 isn’t as clean sounding as the Lumia 650, but it is far louder. The Lumia 830 can reach ear piercing volume levels, whereas the Lumia 650 seems quiet in comparison.

Both phones feature an equaliser, but the Lumia 650 misses out on Dolby Surround and other enhancements that are featured on the Lumia 830 (e.g. Audio Levelling and Dialogue enhancer).

Overall, I would pick the Lumia 830 where sound is concerned. The speaker is louder (although not as clean sounding), and it’s otherwise much more fully featured when it comes to audio.

Cameras

cameras.jpg

I have compared the cameras in both the Lumia 650 and Lumia 830 in another forum post here. Which also includes the Moto G 3rd, which is probably the most popular Android phone available in the same price range.

The camera on the 650 is the most consistent, and has better dynamic range (without Rich Capture) in daylight compared to the Lumia 830. However, it isn’t as capable as the Lumia 830 in low light, and the 720p video recording is poor in comparison to the 1080p video with OIS on the Lumia 830.

Also, the Lumia 830 features a physical 2-stage camera button, which can also launch the camera quickly when on standby. The Lumia 650 does not feature a physical camera button, the only choice is the on-screen shutter button.

Conclusion

The Lumia 650 has a great looking (and feeling) design, a great screen, and a pair of very capable cameras.

Overall, the Lumia 650 is a great Windows phone. I would say that it is worth the upgrade (side-grade) over the Lumia 640 mainly because of the massively improved build quality, and significantly more useful camera set-up.

It’s not going to tear me away from my Lumia 830 though. I prefer having a sharper non-pentile screen over the deep blacks of the screen on the 650. I disagree with Mr. Rubino about the build quality; both are evenly matched in that regard. There are also a few too many things not included on the Lumia 650 that I would miss: Double-tap to wake, the extra audio enhancements, a fully featured glance screen.

What are your thoughts? Have you moved from the Lumia 830 to the Lumia 650?
 
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Paul1266

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Good comparison. I agree with most of what you say except the screen. I found the lcd on my 830 to be quite disappointing. Brightness levels weren't the best in my recollection and viewing angles not great. I prefer the oled on the 650. I would agree though, if you have an 830, then you won't gain a great deal in a swap. Also, i swapped the stock back for the mozo wood effect. It repels finger smudge but does add a little thickness. Build quality is great on both but the finish on the 650 is more refined I think.
 

chancooluk

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Good comparison. I agree with most of what you say except the screen. I found the lcd on my 830 to be quite disappointing. Brightness levels weren't the best in my recollection and viewing angles not great. I prefer the oled on the 650. I would agree though, if you have an 830, then you won't gain a great deal in a swap. Also, i swapped the stock back for the mozo wood effect. It repels finger smudge but does add a little thickness. Build quality is great on both but the finish on the 650 is more refined I think.

I agree that the screen on the Lumia 830 could be better. There are other phones out there with 720p IPS displays that are far superior. The best example I can think of is the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (4.7" 720p version), that phone has a beautiful screen for the price.

I like the screen on the Lumia 650, but I just hate the pentile matrix. I have never liked it on phones with less than 400PPI, small text becomes far too grainy and fuzzy for my eyes to cope with. Lots of people don't notice the pentile matrix on screens at all, unfortunately I'm not one of them.

I think Microsoft should have paid more attention to detail when it comes to the battery cover. The fact that it can look so greasy and shiny after only 10 minutes of use is something that should have been picked up on before the handset went into production. Obviously the white version has no such issues though.

The camera comparison is now up in the camera shootout forum, I've added a link to the original post above.
 

Kram Sacul

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A pretty good analysis of the pros and cons of each device. For me it's kind of easy though. The 830 can run Windows Phone 8.1. The 650 is stuck with W10M.
 

WPhone

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Nice comparison. I'd like to add physical camera button and back/home/search buttons as major plus for L830. The choice between the two is a no-brainer in my opinion. Overall (features+ price), L830 is the best Windows Phone yet. Or else the 640.
 

chancooluk

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Nice comparison. I'd like to add physical camera button and back/home/search buttons as major plus for L830. The choice between the two is a no-brainer in my opinion. Overall (features+ price), L830 is the best Windows Phone yet. Or else the 640.

Good points, I've worked them in to the OP.
 

Paul1266

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Nice comparison. I'd like to add physical camera button and back/home/search buttons as major plus for L830. The choice between the two is a no-brainer in my opinion. Overall (features+ price), L830 is the best Windows Phone yet. Or else the 640.

Sorry, I have to chuckle. I like the 830 but it was stupidly overpriced, much more so than the 650 (at least here in the UK). How that fits into your features price argument is strange. 640 was/is truly great value. 650 less so but the price will drop (as always).
 

RickInFla

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Wow. Thanks for the excellent comparison. You actually sold me on the 830, even though I was interested in the 650 going into this!
However, I'm stuck right now and cannot buy either one, because both are unlocked, and so if I popped in a T-Mobile USA SIM into either one, I would not have access to Wi-Fi Calling. And that's a deal-breaker. (I wouldn't consider leaving T-Mo because of the value they offer and their coverage is good for me. However in some buildings I rely on Wi-Fi Calling.)
It seems that even Windows 10 Phone, with "native Wi-Fi Calling", (preinstalled on the 650) does not work on T-Mobile's network. And I have not seen the 830 on the Microsoft list of devices to get a Windows 10 Phone upgrade with native Wi-Fi Calling.
So, unless T-Mobile decides to come out with a T-Mobile branded 650 (or HTC M10 with Windows if it becomes reality, or a VAIO Windows 10 phone if it comes to the USA), I'm pretty well stuck with my 635.
But again, thanks for the great comparison!!
 

RickInFla

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Well, perhaps in the past, but not any longer. I see new unlocked North American 830's going for about $299 USD now here in the USA. Yes, that's still above the introductory price of $199 USD for the 650, but I think I would actually pay the extra for the 830 after reading the comparison. But that's just me.
 

anon(9600179)

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Lumia 650 definitely supports more bands, which attracts more to those who travel abroad very often.

It depends where. Here in France it (the single SIM model) only supports the following 4G frequencies : 900 MHz, 800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2600 MHz, 1 800 MHz. It doesn't even support the 700 MHz frequency even if it's currently being deployed in France.
I don't know what Microsoft did because the US single SIM variant supports the 700 MHz frequency.
 

XToro

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My wife has had her 830 for at least a year, and I've had my 650 for a few weeks now. We both prefer the 650 in every aspect except the quieter speaker. 650 is snappier, lighter, thinner, better battery life and yes, better display. We both agree that the 650 screen is nicer, even in sunlight. I also like that my polarized sunglasses don't make my screen black on the 650 like it did on LCD screens. As for screen pixels, can't tell. I mean, I don't hold my phone up to my nose or use a magnifying glass, I hold it at a half arm's length away. Those complaining about pixels are just being waaaay too picky and might as well be complaining about the shade of green that the circuit boards are inside the phone. No offence but come on...
 

John Weber2

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I read this review on my Lumia 830. Really good comparison. I still prefer the Lumia 830's design more unique with all the smooth transitions from the sculpted glass to the metal frame. I wonder how the Lumia 650 will hold up to a bend test, while it's not a representation of real world scenario everyday, i'm just curious.
 

swille1981

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I found the 650 to be appreciably slower than the 830 in almost every regard. I also found the 640 XL to perform better overall. The camera performance on the 830 is better, and it's a shame that more of the 830's lineage was not carried over into the 640/650 series. I think a solid mid-ranger with a reliable shooter in back would have kept a few users from wandering into Android and iOS territory.
 

Ten Four

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You have said that the 650 camera is better than the 640. Can you elaborate? Are you comparing them using the same builds of W10? On paper the cameras share similar specs.
 

chancooluk

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You have said that the 650 camera is better than the 640. Can you elaborate? Are you comparing them using the same builds of W10? On paper the cameras share similar specs.

Apologies for not having a Lumia 640 to hand when doing this comparison. The Lumia 640 has issues with colour reproduction (not white balance), where colours can appear to be ruined by a pink tint. I have noticed it on other comparisons I have done with the camera (see links below) on multiple units of the Lumia 640 (it wasn't just one handset that had this issue). The issue has been there since the Lumia 640 was released, it was present on the Lumia Camera 5 app in Windows Phone 8.1, and remains on photos captured with the Windows 10 Mobile camera app. I even found the 5MP camera on the Lumia 550 produced images that were truer to the actual scene in daylight (low light was a different story).

The Lumia 650 camera is better than the Lumia 640 camera for 2 reasons: It has no problem capturing colours accurately, and it has significantly better dynamic range (there are less blown out highlights and crushed dark areas with HDR disabled). Video recording on the Lumia 640 is much better though, due to its ability to capture 1080p (Lumia 650 is limited to 720p).

http://forums.windowscentral.com/de...d-range-lumia-shootout-535-640-735-830-a.html
http://forums.windowscentral.com/de...-lumia-550-vs-640-main-camera-comparison.html
 

Ten Four

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I have not noticed an objectionable pink tint with my 640, but the color palette is noticeably warmer than with some other phone cameras. In general, I prefer the warmer, richer color palette of the 640, and Lumias in general.
 

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