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Microsoft Lumia 950 Review

Rahul R
Sr. Technology Reporter
Editors Rating

Microsoft’s Lumia 950, was released by Microsoft with the intention of offering a pure flagship experience to users. A major USP of the Lumia 950 is its Windows 10 operating platform which users can check out-of-the-box. This handset, along with the slightly advanced Lumia 950 XL are Microsoft’s very first Windows 10 smartphones.

Another notable aspect is the Windows Continuum feature that lets the Lumia 950 be used like a PC. All these factors, combined, got us interested in the phone and we decided to do a hands-on review of the device. Check out, how the Lumia 950 performed, below:

Design and Display

On holding the Lumia 950 in hand, the overall feel comes across as unconventional. The handset measures 145 x 73.2 x 8.2 mm in dimensions and comes with a thickness of 150 grams which is comparatively bulky. Putting the phone into a trouser pocket also could attract those odd stares from on-lookers.

The “unconventional” feel of the phone’s outer body, however, does not translate into slipperiness, we could easily hold the handset in one-hand and could even operate. In summary, the Lumia 950 sits well in the hand and you can even use the device while you are on the way back home, standing, in a public transit system.

On feeling the handset, you will get that uncanny feel of hardened plastic, as opposed to the metal outer structure present in today’s latest flagship smartphones.

On the top, there is the headphone jack (making it relatively easy for users to insert headphones, rather than at the bottom), and on the right you will find the power and volume keys. The designing, at the sides, is sure to remind loyalists of erstwhile Nokia branded phones.

As for its display, the Microsoft Lumia 950 features a relatively smaller 5.2-inch AMOLED capacitive touchscreen having resolutions of 1440 X 2560 pixels and pixel density of 564 ppi. These resolution values, in comparison, beat those of flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the Apple iPhone 6S, in terms of rendering of sharp images.

The power, supplied by the battery, also brightens-up the screen significantly such that outdoor viewing (of the display) in sunlight conditions is relatively hassle-free. Viewing of HD movies and videos within the smartphone seemed a pleasure.

 Processor and Memory

The Microsoft Lumia 950, under-the-hood, incorporates a 1.82 GHz dual-core Cortex-A57 and a 1.44 GHz Cortex-A53 quad-core CPU within the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 and there is also a 3GB RAM to complement the processor.

However, we encountered multiple heat-up scenarios especially when the brightness was set at maximum and during running of high-end games (like Modern Combat 5: Blackout and Halo 5: Spartan Strike), however these were neutralized soon.

As for games, these ran smoothly but with minor lags at certain points. Nonetheless, gamers (and even first-time Lumia 950 users), preferring to run the conventional Temple Run type of games, should not get to experience any glitches.

In-phone navigation and instruction processing, even in multiple-app scenarios is appreciable. Those preferring the Lumia 950 for business could grumble about minor lags especially when it comes to creating presentations and delivering these via the Continuum feature.

Also, by default users get 32 GB internal storage that can be expanded up to 256 GB via an external microSD card. The microSD card slot can be accessed without removing the battery (Lumia 950 features a removable battery).

Camera

At the rear end of the Lumia 950, you will be able to spot a 20MP rear camera with triple LED flash; this aspect is a first-for as far as Microsoft’s Lumia smartphones are concerned. The lens measures 26mm and has f/1.9 aperture. The rear shooter, maintained natural color balance, within rendered images.

Images of nature and scenery are rendered by harnessing the phone’s built-in Rich Capture technology. You can even adjust the amount of flash even weeks after the picture was taken.

The new automatic Rich Capture applies HDR only for the most challenging scenes. And when HDR is enabled, you can adjust the amount to your personal preference.

The triple LED flash automatically adjusts color as per the scene (to be captured), thereby maintaining naturality of images as close as possible.

Lumia 950 comes also comes with the slow-motion video capture technology. With this, we were able to capture 720p resolution videos at 120 fps. We were also able to trim videos, post capture, accordingly. These processes worked without lags, and relatively quickly as well.

Software, Apps and Windows Continuum

The Lumia 950 runs Microsoft’s newest Windows 10 Mobile operating platform, which is a USP of the device. We felt that Windows 10 would do a world of good for existing Windows Phone users (Windows Phone 8, 8.1) upon upgrading to the latest platform. We tested out Cortana that responded quite efficiently especially when there were circumstances when a new message arrived, or whenever we wanted to play a song over Bluetooth, or just wanted a message to be read out aloud.

A refined aspect, within the Windows 10 OS, is the ability to reply to a newly received message (after notifications are issued) without having to open the native app.

We also observed al our calendar entries and Google Contacts sync with precision; this is a notable improvement over earlier Windows Phone OS variants. In-phone navigation and readability of text/names, when the phone is placed under intense sunlight, has improved as a result of Color Inversion offered by Windows 10 Mobile.

What lets down the software, a tad, is the lack of applications which seems to be hitting Microsoft from the very beginning of the inception of Windows Phone OS. However, the Windows Store has been receiving frequent newer apps.

Windows Continuum

This feature, theoretically lets Lumia 950 to be used like PCs. With the Continuum functionality, the smartphone can be connected to a larger external monitor/display via an adapter. Users can also interface, keyboards and mice, to the phone. All your work is saved within the phone.

We could harness Continuum’s functionality in a relatively hassle-free manner. Also, using the display dock, in tandem with the Lumia 950, worked relatively well save for minor lags.

Battery

A major advantage, offered by the Microsoft Lumia 950, is its removable 3,000 mAh Lithium-Ion battery. battery; upon subjecting the battery to real world performance tests, we could get nearly a full day worth of backup time upon restricting usage to only audio/video calls over a 3G network.

While playing games, and when the screen brightness is set at maximum, the backup time ‘drastically’ reduced to half. The Lumia 950 also let us play videos, at a stretch, for upto 10 hours.

Overall performance and verdict

With manageable lags and glitches, the Lumia 950 consumes significant time to implement synchronization techniques. Be prepared to wait, if you have large volumes of data to sync from the cloud and from your multiple accounts. However, in case you own a Microsoft Account (MSA), syncing should be a breeze.

The user interface animations also talk to you relatively quickly, and the in-phone navigation also proves to be relatively glitch-free.

Verdict

Microsoft’s Lumia 950 is nothing extraordinary, but has all the basic flagship elements that first-time smartphone buyers would consider before finalizing purchase. The smartphone sets you back by at least AED 1440.

Positives

Rear 20 MP with triple LED flash

Here maps and their offline functionality

Windows Continuum

Negatives

Slight overheating

Plastic outer body

Relatively high price-tag