This year brought some great news to Microsoft. Its latest PC OS was widely appreciated by the customers for all platforms. Many people who already own a Microsoft smartphone were eager to get Windows 10 Update.
In mobile space, after Lumia 830, we did not witness the launch of a game changing Windows smartphone. Of late, Microsoft has been only smartphone brand without a running flagship phone in the market. However, this is now an old story.
The brand has greeted fans with the two new smartphones just before the end of this year. The Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950 XL have already created a center stage for worldwide speculation as both these smartphones are a powerhouse and offer a number of cool features. Are these mobiles enough good to lure Android and iOS users for a platform change? Let us find out.
Microsoft Lumia 950 Dual SIM
As a Windows phone flagship successor, the Lumia 950 has brought some cool upgrades over last year’s flagship. It comes equipped with a beasty processor, a great display, a high capacity battery, and an amazing camera. Moreover, the price of this smartphone is significantly less when compared to the flagship mobiles of other manufacturers. One can own the Lumia 950 for an amount of 43,699 rupees only.
Sturdy Build but Unattractive Design
Microsoft Lumia phones have long been appreciated for their design factors. However, from the last couple of years, we have not seen any major design overhauls. The Lumia 950 does not offer anything new and feels like just an ordinary Windows phone. However, the manufacturer has tried to enhance the end user experience with micro changes.
The device is just 8.2 mm thick and perfectly fits into the hand of any size. A dedicated camera button on the right side helps a lot when you want to capture important action shots. Pitch-black finish of front panel offers amazing feel to the eyes. However, while holding the phone, it does not give a premium feel. Use of plastic materials degrades the overall user experience.
20 MP PureView Camera
The rear 20 MP shooter of this smartphone is one of the best cameras currently available in the market. Carl Zeiss lens helps in capturing clear and crisp images. Wide aperture of f/1.9 allows the users to cover a bigger frame also generates background blur in the case of macro shots. The images are reproduced nicely. Saturation is good and color production is accurate. The background processing never over-sharpens the images.
Smartphone cameras perform badly for low light imaging, but the Lumia 950 busts that myth. Microsoft has done a great job by featuring triple LED (RGB) flash system on the back. It generates natural light. Moreover, the camera app of this smartphone lets the users adjust intensity of flash after taking the images.
Moving photographs were originally introduced by Lumia smartphones, but many people hate that feature because the images of these types eat up a significant space. Therefore, learning from previous generation smartphones, the camera on the Lumia 950 captures moving photographs only if the subject is moving.
Like most of the modern day premium smartphones, this device is also capable of shooting 4K videos. Mechanical image stabilization works great and results in smooth ultra-sharp videos.
Before we move on to next section, let us discuss the front camera of the Lumia 950. It shoots images in 5 megapixels. Even the minutest details of the subject are captured. You will certainly love playing with the camera effects.
Registering a huge upgrade, Microsoft has featured Snapdragon 808 chipset on this phone. There are actually two processors at the heart. One is based on Cortex A-57 architecture and offers two cores clocking at 1.82 GHz. Another processor features four 1.44 GHz cores and is of Cortex A53 architecture.
A much powerful Adreno 418 GPU supports the processing unit. A 3GB of RAM is enough for a phone that runs on Windows platform. Onboard storage of 32 GB seems good for everyday usage that can be further expanded up to a whopping 200 GB using a microSD card.
Since Windows ecosystem is not favored by top developers, you will not find too many rich graphic games at the Windows app store. Nevertheless, whatever is available currently can be easily downloaded on this phone and run flawlessly. Our gaming test shows the Lumia 950 is a friendly device for graphic intensive games.
Even on the busiest day, the Lumia hardly becomes uncomfortably hot. It will prove to be a perfect daily driver for average users.
Runs On Windows 10 Mobile Out Of the Box
One of the best selling points of the Lumia 950 will be the Windows 10 Mobile platform. The new OS brings an unprecedented design upgrade. The interface feels new and simplifies the user experience without putting extra load on hardware. The best thing about this platform is that Microsoft has made its app environment universal. You can run the same app on a smartphone, a laptop as well as on a tablet that runs on Windows 10 OS. It is clear that the latest Windows OS is the most powerful product that the brand has ever developed.
However, just developing an operating system is not enough for surviving in today’s app centric world. Lack of useful apps is what stops a number of customers from shifting to Windows environment. Microsoft will have to lure developers, which is current scenario seems difficult. Developers are mainly focusing Android and iOS devices because these platforms are offering them better earning potential.
Windows Hello (beta)
Along with the new operating system, Microsoft has also featured a new security system on this phone, which it calls as Windows Hello. It is still in beta stage, so you will face some bugs. The main highlight of this security system is the “retina scanner” wherein an infrared camera sitting on the front scans user’s eyes. In our test, the system worked accurately. Of course, it works on glasses and ignores images. However, the software is a little bit buggy and many times requires one to cycle the screen lock.
This feature has started a new round of talks in the town. However, is it worth? In my opinion, a fingerprint scanner would have offered a more efficient way of unlocking the phone. Putting the smartphone screen at distance of about one foot from the eyes will feel a little awkward while standing in public. Moreover, the phone gets unlocked only if you are looking at it directly.
ClearBlack AMOLED Display Panel
The ClearBlack 5.2 inch display that the Lumia 950 flaunts is one of the most appealing panels on the planet earth. It produces true blacks and the viewing angles are great. Compared to all other smartphones in the market, this display offers better readability under the sun. Ultra high pixel density of 565 PPI helps the phone in generating razor sharp graphics. You will certainly enjoy watching movies and browsing the web on the Lumia 950.
Amazing Battery Life
Quad HD displays are famous for consuming a lot of juice, but that does not affect this smartphone because of the OLED technology. Moreover, it houses a super massive 3000 mAh battery inside that offers more than a day of moderate usage. In the box, users also get a fast charger that charges the battery by 50 percent in just 30 minutes.
USB Type-C ports became famous when Apple launched the MacBook 2015 earlier this year. Since then everyone is talking about its benefits. Therefore, adopting a futuristic approach, Microsoft has featured a USB Type-C port on the Lumia 950. Not to mention that other brands like Google and OnePlus have already shifted to this technology. Another thing to mention here would be that this phone features two SIM card slots both of which support LTE networks.
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL Dual SIM
The Lumia 950 XL is similar to the Lumia 950 in many ways. It has the same camera hardware, operating system, connectivity options, and storage capacity. In fact, the Lumia 950 XL offers the same display technology, however, its screen size has been increased to 5.7 inches. In next paragraphs, we will focus only on the differences that Lumia 950 XL has got in comparison with its younger brother.
Microsoft has not only made the Lumia 950 XL bigger than the Lumia 950, but also more powerful. It houses two quad-core CPUs that are supposed to give a performance boost to this phone. You might ask the need of this much power since Windows operating systems are known to be light on the hardware. Well, your implication is correct but there is one feature of this phone that I have not mentioned yet in this article so far.
Both Lumia 950 XL and Lumia 950 support Windows Continuum, which is a feature that allows the users to run a desktop version of the OS when connected to an external display and a keyboard. There are two ways to connect these accessories, first is using wireless technology and the second using the Microsoft Display Dock that comes in the box with both the phones. The younger brother of this phone does not suffer from too many frame drops, but offering an 8-core setup on the Lumia 950 XL is definitely a good thing.
At first, the Liquid Cooling feature seems unbelievable, unnecessary, and mythical while talking about smartphones. However, the eight-core processor of this phone generates a lot of heat and Microsoft had no other option than to install a liquid based cooling system on it. The good thing is that this technology really works. Moreover, it will help a lot while using the Windows Continuum feature.
Offering a bigger version of a smartphone prototype has become now a regular concept these days. However, whenever a brand launches an XL or Plus variant of a phone, it adopts the same design. Surprisingly, the Lumia 950 XL looks significantly different from the Lumia 950. In fact, it looks a lot better than its smaller sibling does. Plastic materials still dominate the construction, but the camera module of this device looks much premium. The position of loudspeaker, LED flash and hardware buttons has been changed, though.
The year 2015 will be remembered as one of the best years in terms of innovations, at least in regards of Microsoft. It has introduced two technologies to the smartphone market i.e. retina scanner and liquid cooling system. Windows 10 Mobile will certainly lure Microsoft fanboys to upgrade to one of these smartphones. However, for an average user, there is nothing extraordinary.
The Windows Continuum feature is a portable technology that allows user to get desktop experience anywhere and anytime. However, the Linux-based Ubuntu Mobile OS had displayed a feature very similar to this long before. Innovation is good, but Microsoft should also focus on creating a suitable environment for developers.