Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Microsoft Lumia 950

Microsoft's last flagship phone was launched almost two years ago, and since then they've tried to stay in the market by launching two phones; the Lumia 950 and 950 XL. This week I tried out the 950. So, how does it stack up?

Design, Display & Hardware:

The phone isn't a looker to begin with, sadly something that can be said about all the Lumia devices currently on the market. The design team needs to wake up and realsie this is a time when other flagships are making Aircraft grade Aluminium and metal phones while Microsoft is still churning out plastic, bland rectangular blocks which fail to inspire awe. This isn't a cheap phone by any means and definitely not something that you'd flaunt. From a company that's made the Surface Pro, this is a nightmare. Thankfully though, it's got a removable back cover and replaceable 3000 mAh battery. 

The only saving grace here is the beautiful QHD  OLED 5.2” display (564 ppi & Corning Gorilla glass 3). It's got the volume rockers on the right edge and the lock/power button in the centre with the shutter button below. The Headphone jack sits at the top edge on the extreme left and has a USB Type C charging port at the bottom centre edge. 20MP camera at the back stands out due to the raised design with a silver ring border. The phone is available only in two simple colour variants; Black and White. 

The 950 weighs a 150 gms and gets it power from a Snapdragon 808 Quad core CPU liaising with a Adreno 418 GPU. With 32GB ROM (SD card slot available as well) & 3GB RAM, these are the best specs yet on a Windows phone.


If you didn't like Windows 8 it's unlikely you'll like W10 as well on the phone. I love it on the desktop, but on the phone it always falls short with the usual tile interface and animations. The new stuff includes  Edge browser, Cortana (falls well short of Siri) and Hello (iris scanning to unlock the phone, fancy but similar to facial recognition on the Android). The best/most  usable feature though is the Continuum which turns your phone into a mini PC by connecting it to any TV/monitor via the Mirosoft Display Dock or a Miracast Dongle. The 950 recognises the external display size and changes the app resolution to display it like it's on the web. The phone can be used as a trackpad if you want or use it independently for your work while your videos play on the external screen. It works well but opening up multiple apps, web pages does slow it down a bit. 

Missing third party app support is hurting the OS the most now, and the same is also missing on the Continnum app. No netflix, no Slack means I'm better off using my tablet or a portable netbook.

Camera :

The 20MP f/1.9 rear camera with Carl Zeiss optics, OIS, autofocus has a great triple-LED RGB flash as well. It take good photos in daylight and low light ones come out pretty decent as well. Living images is something similar to Apple's Live Photos where your camera records a 1 sec video before the picture and makes the image looks more realistic. If you want to send this to someone though who doesn't have a Windows device, it can be sent either as  a high resolution image or an mp4 video.

It can take stable 4K videos as well without getting warm which is something of a problem with quite a few new phones. The 5MP front camera takes a good wide angle selfies and 1080p videos as well, but won't be the best amongst your friends front camera's for sure!

Gaming & Multimedia:

Since the windows store doesn't have too many games , I tried only a few casual games like Beach Buggy, CSR Racing and Leo's Fortune. All played smoothly without any glitches. Decent usage with YouTube, music and Skype on 4G gave me close to 10 hours of battery. Thankfully the bundled Fast charger can charge the phone close to 50% in 35 mins which is much needed and it supports Wireless charging as well.


At this price, buy the 950 or the 950 XL only if you love Windows devices . The phone is no match yet for the Android and iOS flagships in the market right now, and Microsoft needs more app support and a better designed phone for sure.

I give the Microsoft Lumia 950 a 3/5.


Pritesh Khilnani

Microsoft Lumia 950 at CeX

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