In their campaign to make affordable smartphones for the masses, Microsoft has been avoiding the flagship fight for quite a while. So Android and iOS based smartphones reigned freely and fought with each other, while Microsoft has been in their attempt to build their base. The last time they brought a high-end smartphone was two long years ago – a Windows Phone 8 OS phone with a Nokia logo.
Now that Windows 10 is settled in the PC world, Microsoft has long been planning for this time to bring their new flagship. We all knew that Lumia 950 and its larger 950XL counterparts were coming and their biggest selling point will be Windows 10. Sure, hardware is always important on the high end, but, Microsoft’s preference is to sell their phone, at least this time around on software.
The question is – have they succeeded?
These Microsoft beasts comes with all the possible high end hardware. The processor is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 with six core at 1.8GHz clock speed. There is plenty of memory to do the biggest things, with 3GB RAM in size. There is no want of firepower in there. It comes with built in 32 GB memory space, expandable MicroSD slot, so expand it however you like. A bit battery, with 3000 mAh size, is swappable; also they have wireless and quick charging features. The 5.2 inch screen is 564 dpi (Quad HD resolution), no way a slacker, at least on paper. It is all nice and dandy, but it can look a bit bland, coupled with typical Windows tiles, not very exciting.
The crux of the phone is, of course, not this. The hardware is fine, but in no way jaw dropping. It’s the software that counts, at this moment, for a Microsoft phone – It’s the Windows 10. Windows 10 is Microsoft’s go-to solution for everything right now. It is the last Windows. No other Windows is to come next and it will span from everything – PC, tablets and smartphones. That is exactly what Microsoft is doing with Lumia 950s, the smartphone instance of their famed Windows 10.
But no matter what it is, here, Windows 10 is on a phone. So, it is tailored to a phone. With some change here and there, the interface doesn’t look much different that previous Windows Phone 8.1. The revolution that Windows 10 has ushered, supposedly, is starkly absent in the phone. It feels more like an improvement, an evolution, rather minor, over predecessor. The Live Tile grid is still there and the alphabetical list of apps and the animations remain. If you didn’t like Windows Phone 8.1, there’s not much you would find has changed for a reconsideration.
The things from the desktop comes in are Cortana, Microsoft personable virtual assistant and the new Edge browser. All in all, it is an attempt to channel people’s love for Windows on a desktop into a phone. The phones also have Windows 10’s new Hello feature that enables you to unlock the phone just by looking at it. But reportedly, it is slow. You could type in you PIN code faster before Hello can unlock your phone for you.
The best thing about Lumia 950 could be the fun Continuum feature, which lets you run you phone on a computer screen. To do that, you need Microsoft’s $99 Display Dock (or a Miracast dongle), a mouse and keyboard (Bluetooth or USB), and an external display, such as a monitor or TV. Plug your phone to the dock, pair the peripherals and your phone effectively works as a PC, since it can detect the screen size. You can do different things with them if you want – start a movie on big screen while reviewing documents on the phone.
If these are not things to convince you, give the 20 megapixel camera a try. It’s not that there is anything groundbreaking going on there, but they take good pictures. The 5-megapixel wide-angle front camera is also fine for taking the occasional selfie, but like its rear counterpart, won’t blow anyone away.
Microsoft’s first attempt at Windows 10 phone left a lot to be desired. There is nothing in hardware that is mind-blowing. The OS looks more like a mere evolution rather anything mind blowing.
CPU: Qualcomm MSM8992 Snapdragon 808, Dual-core 1.82 GHz Cortex-A57 & quad-core 1.44 GHz Cortex-A53
GPU: Adreno 418
Storage: 32GB, expandable through MicroSD up to 200GB
Dimension: 145 x 73.2 x 8.2 mm (5.71 x 2.88 x 0.32 in)
Camera: 20MP back, 5MP front