How flagship is Microsoft's 'affordable flagship' phone?

As with most big _phone_ launches, the Lumia 830 leaked ahead of its official unveil. Now we have the complete story, though, it's clear Microsoft is pitching it as an 'affordable flagship'. A _phone_ to expose pricier rivals.

As ever with Nokia, it's the camera that drives this story. While its €330 price (no UK price yet) puts it in the mid-range category, it's camera punches above this weight. It has a 10-megapixel camera with built-in optical image stabilisation, something few phones have. Add some nifty new features and it's an attractive option.

Watch our Nokia Lumia 830 hands-on video

SEE ALSO: Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

Nokia Lumia: Specs and Features

I'll get onto the impressive camera in a moment. First, though, it's worth stressing you're not getting top-end specs for less here. This isn't a OnePlus One style bargain.

That much is clear from the Snapdragon 400 processor inside and the fact the 5-inch screen has a modest 1,280 x 720 resolution. Neither scream 'flagship' to me, especially when you consider the £100 Moto G offers similar specs.

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This doesn't tell the whole story, though. What you lose in 'performance' that most don't need you gain in useful features. Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC is included, and there's 16GB of built-in storage that's expandable through microSD.

Other neat features include extra mics that improve the audio recording in videos, which is particularly useful for concerts to add more 'location' to the audio. There's also optional wireless charging support through the removable covers -- a cool extra even top-end phones don't have.

This might not please those who care more about specs, but these are all great features I'd rather have than not.

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Nokia Lumia 830: Camera

This is doubly true of the camera. To get optical image stabilisation in a phone this size and price is damn impressive. A shot of the camera units from the Lumia 930 and Lumia 830 shows how Nokia has slimmed the unit down to fit. It's the thinnest OIS camera it has ever made.

But it's in software where some of the more interesting ideas peak interest. Nokia has made the camera and app faster, so you can go from a locked screen to taking a photo even faster when using the dedicated shutter button. A neat mode also lets you take stills from video in a simple way.

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Right, Lumia 930 camera; left, Lumia 830 camera

This is just a warm up for the main event, though, which is the Rich Capture and Dynamic Flash systems. These aim to make taking good photos much easier, and they do so in ingenious ways.

With Dynamic Flash, any photo you take with flash enabled will also include a shot without it. You can then use a slider to the merge the two photos to get the ideal balance between naturally lit and artificially lit shots. It's damn clever.

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Camera from Lumia 1020 is top-left

Another trick of Rich Capture comes in low-light without the flash. In this situation, the camera app will take two photos: one with a high ISO and short exposure, one with a low ISO and a long exposure. Then, as before, you can merge the two using a slider to get the ideal shot.

Finally, this mode also introduces something close to the HDR modes most phones have had for a while. This is a long overdue addition that strengthens the innovations seen elsewhere.

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Nokia Lumia 830: Design

Another aspect, like the camera, which is 'flagship' is the design. The Lumia 830 measures just 8.5mm thick and 150g, but it is how it's put together that's impressive.

The smooth, rounded metal edges and gentle curve of the removable plastic rear feel great in the hands. The build quality, meanwhile, is everything we come to expect from Nokia over the years.

There are few phones that you could argue look and feel much better than this.

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Nokia Lumia 830: Screen

The screen is more contentious. 1,280 x 720 on a 5-inch screen will put some people off, particularly when you consider the Nexus 5 has a 1080p screen at a similar price.

I'll leave other people to argue the merits of resolution, but this is still a good looking screen. It has the characteristic strong black contrast of Nokia phones and colours look rich. Is it the best screen on a phone, no. But it's a damn good one.

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First Impressions

Not everything about the Nokia Lumia 830 is 'flagship' but the important bits are. It looks fab, the camera is very advanced and I like the new camera software features. This looks like another excellent value Windows phone that I'd happily take over many 'mini' Android phones.

Next, watch our hands-on video of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4