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Review: Microsoft Lumia 950 XL

Microsoft reboots the smartphone OS


The Windows 10 operating system for smartphones is allowing Microsoft to renew its challenge to Android’s supremacy.

The Lumia 950 XL’s understated design doesn’t really attract attention, and while we will not hold the plastic chassis against the phone, it’s hard to ignore that the back panel does have some inward flex when you press on it, something one doesn’t expect from an expensive phone. The device is 8.1mm thick, and weighs 165g.

Microsoft has packed in Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 810 processor with 3 GB of RAM. The big 5.7-inch AMOLED display has a Quad HD resolution (2,560x1,440 pixels). It checks off most boxes in terms of crispness, readability, viewing angles and colour reproduction, except that there is a slight blue tint. The big 3,340 mAh battery offers solid one-day usage.

Windows 10 has been built from scratch, yet it doesn’t look very different from the Windows Phone 8.1 OS (WP 8.1 OS). Despite the powerful hardware, there are times when switching between apps induces slight stutter. And the Lumia 950 XL suffers because there aren’t enough quality apps for the platform. For example, the Facebook app feels massively inferior to the Android and iOS versions. It’s the same for Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp and Dropbox.

Windows 10 on the smartphone can also double up as a full-fledged PC OS when hooked to the Display Dock ( 5,999) and a TV. As Windows Continuum then, your phone transforms into a complete Windows 10 PC, with support for keyboard and mouse accessories. Power users will be able to utilize this to work on presentations and at meetings.

The 20-megapixel camera captures a lot of detail. There are certain shots where the colours are a bit oversaturated, but this camera does well across all lighting conditions.

Despite a genuine sense of optimism around Windows 10, Microsoft seems to be repeating the mistakes it made with the WP 8.1—the app gap being the biggest.

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