The "1-Minute" Review
- App gap between Android and iOS
- Mediocre sunlight legibility
- Boring and basic design
Windows continues to struggle in the smartphone market as Android and iOS gobble up the majority of their audience. Rather than focus on converting fans, the company now hopes to keep the remaining few they have with the release of the Lumia 950 XL.
As the name suggests, the XL sits firmly in the phablet territory, measuring in at 5.9 x 3 inches making it practically impossible for one-handed use. At 0.3 inches, it isn’t the thinnest smartphone on the market, but reviewers still found it quite comfortable to hold thanks to the rounded edges and light weight of 167 grams. This lightweight is due to the mainly plastic body, which critics found very flimsy. One of the best updates to the 950 XL, however, is the ability to switch out the case for something with a bit more flair. Users can choose from different designs and colors to suit their needs allowing for amazing personalization. Still despite this, many describe it as “bland” and “basic.”
For the most part, critics found the screen passable. The 5.7 inch AMOLED display has a resolution of 1,440 x 2,560, which translates to a pixel density of 518ppi. As expected, they didn’t have any issues with pixilation making for a very sharp display. Of course, sharpness isn’t everything, and luckily the 950 XL delivers. Almost everyone found the contrast perfect with excellent color accuracy all around. Unfortunately, it started to struggle once they got into bright light situations with text becoming almost illegible in sunlight.
Powering the phone is an octa-core 2.0GHz processor and 3GB of RAM. Microsoft has opted for liquid cooling to keep the processor from overheating, though reviewers still found it to get quite hot leading to worries about its longevity. In actual practice, the 950 XL performed well with no crashes or stutters occurring even when running multiple apps or gaming. And while it comes with 32GB of internal storage, it also has an expandable microSD slot. Like its predecessors, the biggest drawback is the lack of apps for Windows phones. The 3340mAh battery is also removable, which might come in handy as critics noticed battery life was fairly unpredictable. In general, they were able to get a full day’s worth of life with moderate usage.
Most Lumia owners don’t get the phone for its powerful specs. They get it for the camera and in this department the 950 XL excels. Armed with a 20MP rear camera, optical image stabilization and triple-LED RGB flash, experts consider this one of the strongest mobile cameras available. In good lighting, their pictures were detailed with accurate and vivid colors and excellent white balance. Even in low light situations, the pictures came out quite clear with very little noise. It also shoots 4K video, which they describe as “crisp and clear.”
Although the Lumia 950 is certainly a good phone, reviewers are hesitant to suggest it to those already in the Android or iOS market. For those already devoted to Windows phones, however, they highly recommend it. Tech Radar states, “As a device, the Lumia 950 XL...has been carved out as a tool for the purist...For the faithful, this will likely be enough to keep them going while rumours of the ‘Surface Phone’ fly around…” CNET adds, “...I’d have to say unless you’re a die-hard Windows fan then you’d have a better mobile experience from Android and iOS.
What the Critics Are Saying...
Prices (Where to Buy)
Microsoft released the Lumia 950 XL on October 31, 2015.
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL prices will vary depending on retailer, age, special offers and whether or not it's purchased with a service plan. If purchased with a 2 year service contract for example, you would likely pay much less for the phone itself up front. Microsoft's suggested retail price is $499.00. You can compare Lumia 950 XL prices from around the web here on The Informr.
We've got you covered! Download a free PDF copy of the Microsoft Lumia 950 XL user manual here.
Microsoft backs up the Lumia 950 XL with a 1 Year parts & labour warranty.
If your Lumia 950 XL has problems and is still within its warranty period, you could contact Microsoft support or the retailer you purchased the phone from. You'll find Microsoft's contact information here. If your phone is off warranty and needs repair for a physical problem such as a broken screen or bad battery, you should visit an authorized service centre or a local phone repair shop. You can also connect with others in The Informr Community Forum to find and share answers to questions.