Microsoft Lumia 950 hands-on


Microsoft came roaring with a vengeance today at its big press event in New York City, where they unveiled as assortment of tech goodness that’s coming in time for this holiday season. On the smartphone front, we have two notable ones that finally give Windows Phone some credible presence in the space – the Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950 XL. In this article, we’ll focus our attention on the former, which sports the more manageable size between the two, potentially making it more appealing to a wider degree of consumers.

Design


While we’re enthused about finally experiencing Windows 10 on a smartphone level, the design of the Microsoft Lumia 950 is a bit dull and subdued. Right from the onset, its matte plastic bodied casing combined with its rounded corners, make us think about the Lumia 640 before it. True, the removable casing allows for more choice for the consumer, but its design language doesn’t scream anything premium – or even aggressive when we think about. It just lacks the substantial feel we get in other, recently announced smartphones in the space. In fact, we would’ve preferred the harder lined past Lumia smartphones like the 1520 or 930, but it is what it is.

Display


At the very least, they’ve fashioned on a high-resolution screen to this one, making it a relevant player in the space. Its 5.2-inch 1440 x 2560 AMOLED display ushers Microsoft’s smartphones into the Quad-HD realm, making for some lovely details that allow us to cram in even more live tiles in the Start screen. Of course, it’s exceptionally sharp thanks to its resolution, but it’s tough to gauge the usability outdoors. Under the dim lighting conditions at Microsoft’s event, it exhibits enough of a potent glow to make it visible to the eyes – while still exuding the qualities we know of AMOLED technology. The decision to go with this particular display technology, as opposed to LCD, is the fact that it helps with battery consumption with its Glance feature.

Interface


Beyond the high-end specs in tow with the Lumia 950, what’s most notable about the phone is that it’s one of the first to be running Windows 10 – and boy are we excited for it! Spending just a short time playing with the phone, we’re quite familiar with its layout and operation. In fact, users currently using a Windows Phone 8.1 device will transition easily to the new platform. We can see, however, that it shares many of the cues we already see in Windows 10 running on a PC.

What we’re really astounded about, though, is the new Continuum feature that’s baked into the experience. Essentially, it turns the smartphone to a fully function computer with the aid of this optional accessory dock – one that packs USB and a couple of display ports, to allow us to connect an assortment of devices and peripherals to it. Needless to say, this is pretty big news because we’re given a relatively faithful desktop experience with Continuum. Therefore, mobile apps like the Microsoft Office suite run identically to what we get with the desktop experience. It’s kind of a big thing, because we have the power of a PC in the palm of our hands.

Processor and Memory


Although it’s not classified as the highest end chipset from Qualcomm, the hexa-core Snapdragon 808 SoC with 3GB gives the Lumia 950 enough pep in its performance to make it enjoyable to use during our initial run-through. Well, this is certainly expected, seeing the Microsoft’s mobile platform in general is optimized to deliver great performance – even on lower spec’d devices. As much as we’re pleased by its performance from a superficial aspect, we’re curious to see how it handles more processor intensive things, such as 3D gaming.

Not only does Microsoft offer a generous 32GB of internal storage with the phone, but that tally can be supplemented by throwing in a card into its microSD slot. You’ll have to remove the rear casing in order to access it, but it’s nonetheless something we don’t mind doing.

Camera


High-end Lumia smartphones have this reputation of being outfitted with some fantastic camera gear – this one is no exception either! In the rear, they’ve slapped on a 20-megapixel 1/2.4” camera sensor, which features an f/1.9 aperture lens. Even more surprising, they managed to accompany it with not just one, two, but three LED flashes to better illuminate the scenery, while also eliminating red eye.

Now, as much as the gear sounds delicious, we’ll save our judgment until we see actual samples from a final retail unit. Even now, however, we’re inclined to believe that it should be able to tangle with the greats. What’s great as well, we’re given the same lovable camera interface – one that mimics the styling and offering of a traditional camera. So, with that, it means that manual controls are on board with this one, including with video recording. Interestingly, we notice that we’re able to adjust parameters such as the focus and exposure adjustment on the fly; while shooting video.

Expectations


We’re told that as of right now, AT&T will be the first to get the Lumia 950, which is attached with a full outright cost of $550 when it’s released sometime in November. The price is fine and dandy, undercutting some of its competition in the process, but if it pans out being an exclusive with AT&T right from the get-go, it’s going to be a really tough time for Microsoft. Still, the phone by itself offers some intriguing prospects that we don’t get in other smartphones – like Continuum, which is undeniably the one feature that could potentially lure people into its grasp.



Related phones

Lumia 950
  • Display 5.2" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 20 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, Hexa-core, 1800 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(18h 3G talk time)

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21 Comments

1. PhenomFaz

Posts: 1236; Member since: Sep 26, 2012

Both the 950 and 950XL are awesome phones with a killer OS and the game-changing Continuum feature!

6. Jango

Posts: 376; Member since: Oct 24, 2014

They look outdated

7. SamsungPhanboy

Posts: 765; Member since: Mar 31, 2015

+1 And overpriced based on what's already out there.

18. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Please do tell which phones are way cheaper

2. Gemmol

Posts: 793; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

I do not see why so many people complaining, its obvious what Microsoft is doing they are focusing on where they are strong at, which is on AT&T and overseas, these are the only places that sell a decent amount of hardware. I bet they hated what Verizon did to the Icon and probably some of the ways Tmobile treat their device where some of the tmobile phones do not even get updates.......While AT&T have been a smooth sailing and before people say it will not sell well, do people forget how much iphone 1, 2 and 3 sold on AT&T before it came on Verizon for the iphone 4, then tmobile and sprint with iphone 4s.....it sold pretty well for 1 carrier, NOT SAYING AT&T will get those numbers, but if they can make profit, its better to go after that profit then to be writing off all the devices they made for Verizon, Tmobile and Sprint...........Since I am on AT&T, well you already know I have no problems in getting this phone :) but still my post is far from bias

3. Amin_Dark

Posts: 10; Member since: Jul 16, 2014

What about iris scanner?

4. DeusExCellula

Posts: 1390; Member since: Oct 05, 2014

too bad about that price.... I got my Galaxy S6 for that price.. I dont see a WP being that level yet. who knows maybe ill be surprised

5. Deaconclgi

Posts: 405; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

It's not Windows Phone and yes, there is a difference in UI and features between Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile and the apps that you can get on both OSes. My Nexus 5 suits my Android needs well but I'd rather pay that price for a 950 and get more advanced technologies and a strong foot in the amazing Windows 10 ecosystem and universal apps than just another Android phone.

8. DFranch

Posts: 557; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

How many months after it came out did you get a s6 for $550?

9. CX3NT3_713

Posts: 2361; Member since: Apr 18, 2011

Will it record in 4k? And how's the new Edged browser??

14. Kattz

Posts: 7; Member since: Oct 07, 2015

Can't see why it wouldn't record in 4k. My Lumia 1520 does and it is 2 years old now.

19. plasteek

Posts: 265; Member since: Jun 07, 2015

Your NOKIA Lumia 1520 . Fixed !

10. 7thspaceman

Posts: 1597; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

Folks a commenter wrote the Microsoft Lumia 950 is not on the level of the Samsung S6 boy is this Person wrong the 950/950XL are pocket PC's and a smart phone a new class of mobile devices. the only advantages the Android devices and Apple iphones have over the 950/950XL is case designs and Apps and Popularity. the strength of the NEW Windows smart phones that have Continuum is they are Pocket PC/Smart phone hybrids with universal apps which are now starting to come a windows smartphone Owner WILL HAVE a more powerful Smartphone than any Android or Apple iPhone because it will run PC Programs in the future especially when Intel's new mobile x86 CPU's are used in Windows 10 mobile smart phones. now the challenge Microsoft has is to make Continuum capable smart phones way cheaper than 550 USA Dollars, if they can do that then wow.

11. 7thspaceman

Posts: 1597; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

Folks when if ever will Verizon get a NEW Windows 10 Lumia flagship. they killed off the Nokia Lumia 929 ICON and their trusty old Nokia Lumia 928. they have no Popular Microsoft Lumia smart available. they have Windows smart phone fans and owners like myself who will not buy ANY Android or Apple Iphone they sell I guess we will abandon Verizon. that is sad they have good services.

21. cdgoin

Posts: 614; Member since: Jul 28, 2010

I was like you but MS just sh**T the bed by going only AT&T and only selling ONE phone. Then no support for Android apps.. Apparently they dont give a crud about the US Market and have given up. I will be getting a BB Priv and switching to Android. At least BB got it. I hope to find a Android App that lets me have some faux Metro style.

12. ninawka

Posts: 22; Member since: Dec 07, 2010

Both the Lumia 950 and 950 XL are available unlocked from the Microsoft Store!

20. cdgoin

Posts: 614; Member since: Jul 28, 2010

At FULL Price ! No payment plan via my carrier and they wont have all the proper bands they will be GSM phones.. so not useable on Verizon or Sprint and hamstrung on Tmobile.. So no thanks.. This will be the last Windows Phone. MS will have to switch to Android within 1-2 years. Because after 10 years of dealing with crappy phone selection at Tmobile or having to move to a GSM phone.. I am going to a BB PRiv and switching to Android.

13. miketer

Posts: 531; Member since: Apr 02, 2015

Speakers should always be at the bottom, top, side or front...wherever it practically permits, but never at the back. Logical.

17. rishav20193

Posts: 242; Member since: Jul 18, 2015

agreed....my note 3 has speakers at th bottom & i love this thing abt it.

15. scramasax

Posts: 45; Member since: Mar 07, 2015

The Lumia and 950 XL look cheap and uninspiring. Nokia Lumia was much better. Now we have two pathetic low-range phones at the price of true flagship phones. FAIL.

16. benno

Posts: 94; Member since: Apr 17, 2015

Low range in the sense they are more featured than any other phone available. Yah ok.

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