Microsoft Lumia 950 Review

Introduction


Would you believe that it’s already been 5 long years since Windows Phone 7 launched? Back then, we saw several manufacturers jump on board in producing devices that showcased Microsoft’s mobile platform, but their impact on the market was marginal at best. Fast forward to the present day, and we only have a single entity leading the way – Microsoft itself.

With the launch of Windows 10, however, Microsoft has an ambitious undertaking – to reinvigorate the interest in its mobile platform. Could it be too late, though? Well, Microsoft begs to differ, as its Lumia 950 has launched to promote the full arsenal and capability of the company's most advanced mobile platform to date.

Entering the holiday season, we’re already seeing a handful of quality smartphones vying for supremacy, so there’s no denying that the Lumia 950 is attempting to penetrate a space that’s heavily saturated. Without question, Microsoft is a legitimate force to be reckoned with, but the Lumia 950 needs a solid, heavy hand to swing the tide in Microsoft’s favor.

The package contains:

  • Wall Charger
  • USB Type-C to USB Type-A cable
  • Getting started guide
  • Warranty Information

Design

It looks more like a prototype than a finalized product.

We’re a bit perplexed with the final decision regarding the handset’s design, mainly because the handset lacks the style and premium workmanship that many other phones of this class exude. It looks more like a rough, first-round prototype than something that has been meticulously eyed over. Seriously, Microsoft could have opted for a more attention-grabbing look, considering that design is what helps in gravitating prospective buyers to a particular device. The choice of materials, in particular, is what gives the Lumia 950 the feel of a lower-grade Lumia model. With its matte plastic body, one that’s offered in white or black, the phone lacks the visual appeal and substance to attract people – it feels somewhat hollow. Unlike previous phones like the Lumia 1520 or 930, with their stylish and angular designs, the 950 simply comes off dull and boring. It is not all bad news, however: in the hand, the handset feels lightweight and comfortable to hold. But in all fairness, if we’re to peruse the phones on display in a store, we’d certainly overlook the Lumia 950 because of its subdued presence and underachieving design.

As many previous Lumia models, the 950 features a dedicated shutter key on its right edge, and we do appreciate having it at our disposal. It gives us quick access to the camera app and comes in handy when snapping photos. Other notable design choices include the new USB Type-C port. As the connector is reversible, the charging cable conveniently goes in either way. But the new USB standard can make for a tougher time charging when you’re away from home, as the still dominant Micro USB cables don't fit.


Microsoft Lumia 950

Microsoft Lumia 950

Dimensions

5.71 x 2.88 x 0.32 inches

145 x 73.2 x 8.2 mm

Weight

5.29 oz (150 g)

Google Nexus 5X

Google Nexus 5X

Dimensions

5.79 x 2.86 x 0.31 inches

147 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm

Weight

4.80 oz (136 g)

Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S6

Dimensions

5.65 x 2.78 x 0.27 inches

143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8 mm

Weight

4.87 oz (138 g)

LG G4

LG G4

Dimensions

5.86 x 3 x 0.39 inches

148.9 x 76.1 x 9.8 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

Microsoft Lumia 950

Microsoft Lumia 950

Dimensions

5.71 x 2.88 x 0.32 inches

145 x 73.2 x 8.2 mm

Weight

5.29 oz (150 g)

Google Nexus 5X

Google Nexus 5X

Dimensions

5.79 x 2.86 x 0.31 inches

147 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm

Weight

4.80 oz (136 g)

Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S6

Dimensions

5.65 x 2.78 x 0.27 inches

143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8 mm

Weight

4.87 oz (138 g)

LG G4

LG G4

Dimensions

5.86 x 3 x 0.39 inches

148.9 x 76.1 x 9.8 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page


Display

Finally, a Windows-powered phone enters Quad HD territory!

At long last, Windows on mobile has ushered into the Quad HD era, and we’re gladly accepting of this reality. Keep in mind, though, that there’s really nothing that warrants the Lumia 950 more adulation over its rivals because Quad HD resolution been in circulation for quite some time now. With the Lumia 950, we’re given a 5.2-inch, 1440 x 2560-pixel AMOLED display with the reflection-reducing ClearBlack technology. Certainly, there’s no shortage of details with the screen's pixel-crushing 564 ppi pixel density.

Being of the AMOLED variety, the display exhibits all of the staple qualities of the technology – pure, deep black, fantastic clarity at wide viewing angles, rich contrast, and that unmistakeable glow in the dark. While our eyes tell us that we have a pleasant display here in the Lumia 950, the benchmarks help to validate that. Its color reproduction manages to accurately hit all of the target values in the sRGB color gamut chart. For all of its top-notch qualities, however, its luminance tops out at a mere 349 nits. That’s just underpowered by today's standards, which is why the Lumia 950 might be trickier to use under the sun compared to other recent high-end phones.

Pure and simple, there’s very little to complain about the Lumia 950’s display besides its weak brightness output. It’s just that, you know, we’ve seen Quad HD screens time after time in many other contemporary handsets.



FEATURED VIDEO

151 Comments

3. Dude2014

Posts: 448; Member since: Feb 12, 2014

These shots are sick. Definitely the best camera in the market. That alone makes me wanna buy this baby!!!!!

79. dimas

Posts: 3420; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Agree. My last lumia was 1020 and the camera never let me down so this is the perfect time to try wp again. As for the lack of apps, it's just a 2012 news, they improved a lot and essential apps are more important than flooding the microsoft store

150. mistercarter

Posts: 360; Member since: Sep 01, 2011

i dont see anything special... just crank up the saturation level after taking the pic and you'll have the same result with any other phone

5. adecvat

Posts: 658; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

Also cons: WP has no gamezzz and appzzz

8. ZeroCide

Posts: 816; Member since: Jan 09, 2013

And you use the platform?

95. Spedez

Posts: 542; Member since: Aug 29, 2014

I used to have two Lumias and I can tell you, no apps. For all the top tier apps and games back then, you had to wait for ages to get even the first ported version but those were buggy and lacked features. For instance Temple Run was cool game but the controls were so buggy that the game registered only maybe 3/4 of all the swipes so the game was pretty much unplayable.

9. jellmoo

Posts: 2660; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Sure it does. It has something like 600,000 of them. More accurately, it has fewer games and apps, and the ones it does have are often either third party versions, or seldom see updates or real development time.

15. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

You are also a con in Phonearena.

53. Plume-Veil

Posts: 174; Member since: Nov 19, 2015

Lmfao, how funny,+1

151. dalydose

Posts: 6; Member since: Mar 29, 2015

Hyperbolic nonsense.

11. cornerofthemoon

Posts: 620; Member since: Apr 20, 2010

Yet another half arsed mobile effort by Microsoft...Sad because I really like Windows Mobile/Phone/10 Mobile but they just can't seem to get it together. Why do they even bother anymore?

14. IAMBLCKJ3ZUS

Posts: 432; Member since: Sep 29, 2015

Honestly as a windows fan and 930 owner the phone to me is a solid 9. That's because I don't care about having a luxury phone I'm afraid to drop. Also the potential behind this phone. People.have iPhone 6s or note 5 and don't even know what the phone looks like sice they have a ugly case on.

17. IAMBLCKJ3ZUS

Posts: 432; Member since: Sep 29, 2015

Also one complaint idms this camera is far better than what he giving it credit for. He seems a bit biased. Cause I have yet to see better. Maybe equal but not better.

20. HTC_ONE_MAX

Posts: 170; Member since: Feb 06, 2015

The back looks kinda Samsung A series and J series.

22. xq10xa

Posts: 810; Member since: Dec 07, 2010

So this review confirms my thoughts.......I don't want the Lumia 950. I want the Lumia 950 XL.

23. Martineverest

Posts: 521; Member since: Oct 27, 2015

Phone of the year.. Case closed

27. Rydsmith unregistered

Do you guys actually read the review or see the score then complain? It is as though each phone should be reviewed in a vacuum but that is not the case and the 950 has some rather legitimate complaints against it. If your top differentiator is the use of Continuum then the lack of apps supporting it is rather large. Apps constantly refreshing is unacceptable at this day and age with the specs that it has and this is a failing on the Windows 10 Mobile OS. And as I previously mentioned this phone isn't reviewed in a vacuum by itself. For the cost it must compete with the Nexus 6P or the Galaxy S6, which it doesn't. It's a great Windows Phone, but Windows Phone is still very far behind in the apps category. - Chase Bank - Amex - Snapchat Just to name a few...

34. DoggyDangerous

Posts: 1028; Member since: Aug 28, 2015

You are perfectly right. Actually ppl make up their mind out of fan boyism and they don't accept if someone score their fav with lower rating. I have read many reviews and most reviews are saying same, more or less. Then why they are cursing John? They should curse Microsoft for failing to make a good phone. John is very generous with the score. It should be 6 in reality. I thought iPhone is the worst phone but Microsoft can easily take the title from apple.

44. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Problem with looking at apps, is that you are no longer reviewing the phone, instead reviewing the ecosystem. You cannot give the 950 a 7 or complain about snap chat, when the dev is a complete asshat, when he had a person who literally was going to give snapchat the code from 6snap. Instead? close down 3rd party tools (because of androids security problem), even when they did, 6snap worked, it wasn't until I updated devices that I couldn't use it. So no doing a device review and going well, the entire phone is excellent, but ecosystem still only, only has 600k apps, we give it a 7...

49. Rydsmith unregistered

The phone is a part of the eco system. That would be akin to saying "you can't judge the phone by its OS those are separate." No, when I get the phone it includes the eco system, for better or worse And yes 600k apps is great, when 599k of them are trash, broken, not updated, or ad spams the number means nothing.

63. jontaylor07

Posts: 169; Member since: Oct 12, 2015

How many crap Android apps are there? How many iOS apps are unneeded? The real question is this: Does it have the apps you need? If it does, then great. If snapchat is 100% of what you own a phone for, then this is 100% not the phone for you at this time. The phone and the apps are obviously separate, for the same reason that the phone and OS are judged together. The phone comes with an OS, but you have to choose and download apps on your own. Knocking points off because one app is missing is like doing the same with Android, or going out and downloading a virus-ridden Android app then giving a low score on a Samsung review because you got viruses on it.

66. DoggyDangerous

Posts: 1028; Member since: Aug 28, 2015

Who waste his time on snapchat? There are many many many more useful apps which are missing on windows. Even if android has 1℅ good apps, windows has .0001℅ of those good apps. I am using windows 10 on my tablet and I don't see it from a fan boy's eye. It is clearly incomplete, Microsoft should wait 6 months more before launching it. I become against Microsoft bcoz of this reason only.

76. iusshpandeh

Posts: 250; Member since: Jul 23, 2014

If Android gets Age Of Empires, Audiotica, Fanatasia Painter and Microsoft Games with XBOX Acheivements I'll switch to Android. For me, App Gap lies there in iOS and Android, because I cannot have apps there which I've in my Lumia 930 right now.

104. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Your tablet is Incomplete? it is a full OS, if you cannot download the millions of apps available from windows xp on up, then there isn't much to say, not to mention android emulator.

65. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

So that leaves android with 1% of good apps? if that? While yes, absolutely the ecosystem matters, knocking the phone down for a PHONE review, not an ECOSYSTEM review is dumb. You can certainly mention it, I never said not too, but to act like its a 7 because of devs, dose a great injustice to the actual phone itself. which should be a minimal of 8.

68. Cslfiero

Posts: 68; Member since: Jun 29, 2015

Continuum JUST DROPPED. Seriously, what are you gyuys looking for from this feature?? It's brand freaking new, most developers don't even know it exists yet and here I see all these reviews knocking it because only a few universal apps exist. That's like buying a PS4 on day one and wondering where the heck your 10,000 games are. Clueless.

82. Rydsmith unregistered

Except there was a Windows 10 Mobile preview for a good six months where they could develop their app to use Continuum and they decided not too.

105. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

And consoles are available for devs for about 6 months to a year depending on studio...point again?

90. gazmatic

Posts: 822; Member since: Sep 06, 2012

this phone competes with the blackberry priv and nexus 5x and iphone6s. the xl competes with the nexus 6p and iphone6s+ now... if you are telling me that the nexus 5x is a better phone than this... then there you go.

111. Ronnnie

Posts: 18; Member since: Nov 25, 2015

It's probably is better than the nexus 5x, but it also costs a lot more than a nexus 5x. I'm sure price is factoring in the lower score too.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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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