Microsoft Lumia 950 XL review

Product Microsoft Lumia 950
Website Microsoft
Specifications 5.7in 2560×1440 564ppi AMOLED display, octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 32GB internal storage, microSD up to 2TB, 3GB RAM, 20MP rear-facing camera, 5MP front-facing camera, GSM/3G/4G, 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, Windows 10 Mobile OS, 3,300mAh battery, 152x78x8.1mm, 165g
Price £529 SIM free

WINDOWS 10 MOBILE arrived four months on from the launch of Windows 10, and Microsoft has two new handsets to lead the charge. The Lumia 950 XL phablet is arguably the more suitable choice for serious business users and high-end enthusiasts, sporting more screen space and a beefier processor than the Lumia 950 smartphone.

More importantly, though, is how it stacks up to its Android and iOS competition. After all, Microsoft wants people to switch operating systems, not just handsets, so this is what we’ve spent the past few days finding out.

The Lumia 950 XL is mildly chunky at 152x78x8.1mm and 165g, but deceptively light. It is, in fact, lighter than its phablet rivals the iPhone 6S Plus and Nexus 6P. This makes it comfortable to carry and hold, despite the squareness of its shape.

Yes, the matte plastic backplate is hard to love. It looks dull and feels cheap as if it should be part of a much lower-tier handset. However, it can be removed, either to change to a better looking third-party replacement or to gain access to the battery, microSD card slot and microSIM slot, all of which are tucked away underneath.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL design

This leaves just a few buttons and the USB Type-C port on the outside. This is one of what still remains a small number of devices to ditch the microUSB platform, and that’s fine. It makes plugging in the bundled USB and charging cables much less fiddly, and allows it to charge much faster than most microUSB-equipped smartphones.

Another neat little feature is the dedicated camera button. This is placed on the right edge, a little lower down from the lock and volume buttons, and allows more intuitive photo-taking than having to tap the display, especially when using the rear camera. Speaking of the volume buttons, these have been unusually split into two, instead of forming a single rocker, with the larger lock button placed in between. This setup isn’t hard to get used to, though.

Even with its huge 5.7in size, the Lumia 950 XL achieves a beautifully sharp 518ppi thanks to the 2560×1440 resolution. The display looks superb overall – pictures, videos and texts have excellent clarity, while AMOLED tech ensures high-quality colours, from vibrant reds and cool blues to clean whites and inky blacks.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL display

The backlight is very bright by default. This won’t do any favours for the battery life, but it does still manage to avoid bleeding around the edges. This brightness also does much to counteract the Gorilla Glass 4 screen’s reflectivity, although it can still cause problems in the sun or under strong indoor lights.

The better news is that the glass is moderately resistant to fingerprints. We did feel the need to clean it every couple of days or so, but it doesn’t get smudgy at anything near an alarming rate.

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