Microsoft Lumia 950 Review: Spearheading Windows 10 Mobile

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Inspecting The Lumia 950

The Microsoft Lumia 950 is an unassuming, typical candy-bar design that generally looks good in our opinion, but belies the device’s advanced capabilities. Though Windows 10 Mobile trails Android an iOS in the number and diversity of apps currently available on the platform, the OS itself and some of the features Microsoft offers with the latest Lumias may still make the phones interesting to a certain subset of users, especially if they’re already familiar with Windows 10 and regularly use Office and OneDrive.
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The front of the Lumia 950 is a flat, sheet of glass with holes cut out for the speaker (top) and microphone (bottom). There is a Microsoft logo at the top, beneath the speaker cutout, and to the left of the cut out is the device’s front-facing 5MP, wide-angle camera. The back, Windows, and search “buttons” are not separate from the main screen as they are on older Windows Phone-based products like the Lumia 1520. Instead, the buttons slide down off screen when not in use, much as your taskbar would when set to auto-hide on desktop. To bring the button back onto the screen, a user simply needs to swipe up from the bottom.
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The back of the Lumia 950 is removable to give users access to the user-replaceable battery, nano-SIM card slot, and microSD expansion slot. A removable back and expansion are features many users crave, but in the case of the Lumia 950, the backing gives the phone a less-than-premium feel. It’s a smooth, lightweight composite back that, unfortunately, feels kind of cheap. Luckily there are replacement backs available, including some wrapped in leather, which should help. In terms of aesthetic features, the 21MP rear-facing camera is surrounded by a brushed ring, and flanked by the triple-LED flash and a speaker grill. “PureView Zeiss” is emblazoned just below the camera and a reflective Windows logo sits just below that. This particular phone is for AT&T’s network, hence the additional logo at the bottom.
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On the top of the Lumia 950 rests a single 3.5mm headphone / microphone jack, and at the bottom is the device’s USB-C connector, which is used for charging, syncing, and for connecting to the Lumia 950 to a display dock to leverage Windows 10 Mobile’s Continuum functionality.
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The left side of the Lumia 950 is completely bare. The right side houses all of the physical buttons – a volume rocker resides at the top, the power / wake / lock button in the middle, and the camera button at the bottom. The button configuration is basically identical to previous Lumia devices. The actual buttons themselves though feel good and are clearly better then the lightweight plastic used on the Lumia 1520, though there is a bit of play / movement in them.
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The 5.2” AMOLED ClearBlack screen on the Lumia 950 is definitely one of the device’s standout features. The screen is excellent in our opinion. The 2560x1440 resolution and 564ppi density result in excellent crispness. Brightness, contrast, and saturation are also very good, as are the viewing angles. The screen is also very responsive to touch. Overall, the viewing experience is top notch and competes with the best smartphone screens we have seen to date.

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