Microsoft Lumia 950 Review: Spearheading Windows 10 Mobile

The Verdict: Lumia 950

The Microsoft Lumia 950 is a very nice smartphone, though it is not without its faults. Performance during real-world usage scenarios is great. Windows 10 Mobile doesn’t require a ton of horsepower, so all animations are smooth and fluid, touch response is great, apps and web pages load quickly, and in general things feel snappy overall. Our benchmarks don’t necessarily reflect this – especially the graphics tests – but benchmarks don’t tell the complete experience story, especially with smartphones.

The Lumia 950’s camera is also top notch. The 5MP front-facing camera is more than adequate for selfies and video conferencing and the 20MP PureView rear-camera with Zeiss optics and triple-LED natural flash is excellent. If camera quality is one of your main considerations in a smartphone, do yourself a favor and check out one of Microsoft’s latest Lumias.

microsoft lumia 950
The Microsoft Lumia 950 -- Find It At Amazon.Com

Battery life is very good with the Lumia 950 as well, and overall the fit and finish of Windows 10 Mobile, and all of the included apps – like Office – is great. There is still a significant app-gap between the Windows Store and iOS and Android, but we don’t think that’s a deal breaker for most users. The average smartphone user who spends most of their time on social media or playing games will probably find what they need in the Windows Store. The sheer variety and number of apps available for the platform is clearly behind Google’s and Apple’s ecosystems though. That situation may change with the huge – and still growing – install base of Windows 10, but it seems we’ve all been saying something to that effect since Windows Mobile first hit the scene.

We have another couple of concerns as well. First, the Lumia 950 simply doesn’t feel like a premium device. If you hold the Lumia 950 in one hand and a Galaxy S6 or iPhone in the other, the material, composite backing and buttons on the 950 don’t exude the same kind of quality. To be clear, we DO NOT think the Lumia 950 is poorly built, but the finishes and design don’t feel quite as good as some other high-end smartphones in our opinion.

Secondly, while performance of the Lumia 950 is quite good, we were actually expecting more. In the lead-up to Windows 10 Mobile’s release, we’ve been using the beta builds on a Lumia 1520. The Lumia 1520 has a quad-core Snapdragon 800, versus the 950’s hexa-core 808. The 1520 also has 2GB of RAM, versus 3GB in the 950. And the 1520’s storage is slower too. Perhaps it’s a testament to the optimization work Microsoft has done with Windows 10 Mobile, but the Lumia 950 doesn’t feel all that much faster and more fluid than the Lumia 1520. This probably won’t be a concern for the vast majority of you, but if you’ve been waiting for the Lumia 950 as an upgrade over an older Windows Phone, you may be surprised that the experience isn’t all that different. That story may change with the Snapdragon 810 powered Lumia 950 XL, though. We hope to have one of those in for testing soon.

The Lumia 950 with 32GB of storage is available for $650 unlocked, $149 with a 2-year contract at AT&T, or $19.97 a month with AT&T Next. Considering the phone’s features and form factor, that’s about where we’d expect it to fall. Though, some promotional offers have been in effect that include a free display dock, which sweetens the deal a bit.

In the end, we really like the Microsoft Lumia 950. Fans of the Windows Mobile platform interested in a device of this size will undoubtedly dig the Lumia 950. The screen and camera are great, it fully supports Continuum, battery life is top-notch, and the overall experience is very good. We’re not sure the Lumia 950 will win over any converts from Android or iOS, but road warriors looking for an excellent mobile device for productivity should give the platform a serious look. If the apps you need are available in the Windows Store, the latest Lumia’s synergy with Windows 10 on desktops and OneDrive could change the way you work when travelling, and minimize the need to carry anything other than your smartphone when on the road.

  • Excellent Screen
  • Great Camera
  • Good Battery Life
  • Smooth Performance
  • Lacks A Premium Feel
  • App Gap Still Exists On The Platform

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