Microsoft Lumia 950 Review: Spearheading Windows 10 Mobile

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Camera and Battery Life

The Microsoft Lumia 950 is packing 5MP front and 20MP rear cameras. The front facing-camera can be used for still image captures or video recording (full HD 1080P) and it features an f/2.4 aperture. The quality of the front facing camera is nothing to write home about on its own, but it is better than most other front facing camera we have used. The rear facing 20MP camera on the Lumia 950 is something special, however. The rear facing camera features a 1/2.4" sensor, with 6-lens Zeiss optics, optical image stabilization, and an f/1.9 aperture.

front back
Microsoft Lumia 950

The Lumia 950 also features a triple-LED natural flash. The LED are all different colors, and when snapping shots with the flash, the overall image is analyzed and the flash is automatically tuned to take better, more color accurate shots. The physical shutter button also behaves like a regular camera, where a half press auto-focused and a full press captures the shot. If you're main concern with a smartphone is camera quality, the Lumia 950 definitely worth a look.

We should also mention that the camera app allows for a wide array of manual controls over ISO, white balance, HDR / rich capture, and the like. And additional "lenses", which essentially act like filters, are available in the Windows Store. The camera app can also capture "live" images, which provide a short animation of the events leading up to the shot.

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Unedited photos from the Lumia 950 - click for high res.

We took a number of photos with the Lumia 950 in a wide array of lighting conditions (dark, bright, lit from the front or back, with and without flash) and in all circumstances we think the images captured with the Lumia 950 are among the best of any smartphone. Colors are vibrant without being overly saturated. Images are sharp, crisp, and clear. And even in less-than-optimal lighting, there is minimal noise.  The camera is very strong on this device.  Notice the bottom shots of the pinwheel / branches. Those shots were snapped with an without flash. As you can see, the triple-LED natural flash does a good job of lighting the scene, without blowing out the colors.

1080P60 Lumia 950 Video Sample

4K30 Lumia 950 Video Sample

The Lumia 950 is capable of capturing video in a variety of formats as well, including 4K.  In well-lit environments, video capture is also very good with the device. In sub-optimal lighting situations, however, there can be some noise in the video capture, though the auto-focus is still pretty good.  Above are two video samples captures at 1080p60 and 4K30.

Battery Life Testing
How Long Will It Last?

Microsoft claimed that the Lumia 950 series would do "great things for battery life".  The Lumia 950 tested here features a 3000mAh user-replaceable battery, that Microsoft claims can handle 11 days of standby time, 13 hours of talk time, and 8.1 hours of browsing over Wi-Fi. Our testing didn't quite match Microsoft's claims, but battery life was pretty great nontheless.

lumia 950 battery life

In our web browsing run-down test, the Lumia 950 topped the charts. For this test, we set the screen brightness to 50%, connect via Wi-Fi, open the browser, and constantly refresh a particular page until the phone dies. The Lumia 950 outpaced every other device we tested.

bettery use

We also got a week of standby time without a problem (the screen capture above was taken half-way through the test). Generally speaking, even with moderate use, getting a full day of use out of the Lumia 950 should not be a problem. And if you are the type of user that can kill it before the day is out, the USB-C fast charger can charge the device quickly and the battery is user-replaceable too.

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