The spec sheet of Microsoft’s Lumia 950 Dual SIM will impress you through and through. It has plenty of RAM, a very fast processor, a very impressive and sharp 5.2 inch screen and the ever so promising, long lasting battery life.
Considering all this, you would conclude this one to be a winner at once.
Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case, as the Lumia 950 Dual SIM is one of the most disappointing devices of this year!
Especially once that you have spared a glance at the spec sheet and kind of know what to expect given the numbers you’ll read, this device lets you down when you actually use it.
It is the first high-end phone from Microsoft with the latest Windows 10 OS – along with some shortcomings with the OS itself, the feel and look of the phone is equivalent to that of a budget phone. The performance? Let’s find out!
The Lumia 950 comes with a fairly impressive 5.2 inch Quad HD display (covered with Gorilla Glass 4) that is sharp and packed with pixels – 564 of them, per inch!! There’s no other word to express it, except – overkill.
The AMOLED panel Microsoft’s used provides solid vibrancy and saturation levels along with good colours. The one thing that stands out the most amongst the other qualities of the display is the superb viewing angles.
That said, it’s surprising that even though it is an AMOLED screen with all those pixel, it still does not quite match the level of some AMOLED screens from Samsung in terms of consistency. There’s something off about the screen.
Nevertheless, it is a worthy adversary from the Lumia series. Outdoor visibility is also good which is after ignoring the fact that the screen is a bit reflective, but then again that is something that almost all the devices in the market suffer from.
Generally speaking the screen is brilliant. The only thing that is worth complaining about here is the level of brightness the screen offers. Switching it from 50% to 75% and even 100% doesn’t result in an obvious difference, instead resulting in colours looking muddy. While this isn’t something you’ll notice unless you have all the flagships lined up, it’s frustrating nevertheless.
Nokia, in my view knew how to impress and had succeeded in doing so with almost of all its phones in terms of design and materials. The Lumia devices particularly have been very impressive. Be it a high-end phone or a budget phone, Nokia never failed to deliver some of the most sturdy, classy and elegant designs in the market.
With the Lumia 950 however, Microsoft has not really carried the baton forward. The 950 may have the Lumia name, but it lacks that Nokia charm.
It’s a Polycarbonate slab, with curved corners and flat sides, available in Black or White. Three clicky buttons can be found along one side of the phone – including one for triggering the camera app, while the USB Type-C charging port sits along the bottom. And that’s all there is to say.
The Lumia 950 is dull – and I’ve used budget Nokia phones in the past that feel better.
At 5.2 inches the 950 is fairly small, by today’s standards, and that makes it comfortable to use with one hand. it’s dense, though, weighing in at 150 grams – 7 grams more than the aluminium-clad iPhone 6s! One can argue if that’s a good or a bad thing. But the ends ought to be justified, either way.
Despite this heft, unlike other flagship devices like the iPhone 6s and the Nexus 6P, the Lumia 950 lacks the precision and finesse that is expected from a premium device.
So, the design is not a triumph, and if anything, Microsoft seems to have let down the legacy of Lumia devices.
Fortunately, the performance that you get out of this device is superb, which after going through the spec sheet, is expected of course.
The phone comes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 paired with 3 GB of RAM which is a popular combo in 2015 and works to good effect in the Lumia 950. One of the key saviours of this phone, is Microsoft’s decision to not go for the Snapdragon 810 like they did in the larger Microsoft Lumia 950 XL Dual SIM, which pays the price by overheating often).
Previously Lumia delivered devices that were extremely smooth to operate and handle, and what was an even more impressive trait of these devices was that no matter how long you used them, they were going to operate with the same smoothness, finesse and effortlessness.
The Lumia 950 too, is smooth to begin with. Scrolling through different pages, switching screens and opening and closing apps are tasks that you can do quite effortlessly. The one thing here though, that spoils the party a little bit, is the Windows 10 OS.
The Windows 10 OS seems to be a little buggy and sometimes is unresponsive, which is a complete opposite of the usual Lumia experience. This is something that is not expected from a Lumia device and a high-end one at that. One hopes that future iterations fixes the OS, so that this capable device, can stop fumbling about arbitrarily.
32 GB of internal storage comes as standard and there’s a microSD slot buried behind the back panel that will let you expand that storage by another 200 GB.
The battery as always is very good and the removable 3,000 mAh cell tucked inside the Lumia 950 might sound fairly beefy for a compact phone, but in real use performance pretty much matches the vast majority of handsets on the market – because it’s being poached on by the hungry QHD screen, and a not-fully-optimized OS.
Fortunately the Lumia 950 also supports fast charging, so you don’t have to be stuck too long, juicing back up.
The new Lumia devices are aimed at showcasing one thing – the Windows 10 Mobile experience.
As in the PC world Microsoft jumped straight from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 on its mobile platform. While this might have been a good thing or an improvement so as to say for the PC’s, for the phones, it’s not turned out to be much of a good thing.
The reasons for saying this are two-fold. First, there isn’t much really that has changed in the mobile version of Windows 10. Yes, there are a few mention-worthy new features, but when you pick up a Windows 10 mobile phone like the Lumia 950 so little has changed on the visual interface front, you may think you’re using 8.1 until you are told otherwise.
Second, this new Windows 10 OS seems to be a little patchy at this time and that is not a good trait for any OS to have.
I’m not saying Windows 10 is dead in the water. It has plenty of scope of growth, but Microsoft needs to focus on that potential and harness it.
The main home screen has resizable Live Tiles, which flip around, throwing out titbits of information. The Outlook tile, for example, shows recent messages, while the tile for Spotify displays a recently played song. They’re handy, plus it’s nice to see something other than pages and pages of app icons.
Swiping in from the right brings up a list of all your apps, while pulling down from the top takes you into quick-settings and a list of your latest notifications.
Once you get used to how different the interface is from iOS and Android, you’ll discover that as well as being pleasing to the eye, it’s also simple to navigate.
The one standout future here is the Windows Hello.
Microsoft Lumia devices have are now not incorporating fingerprint scanners – they have iris scanners instead. You can use that for unlocking the phone and also some protected apps etc.
The Lumia 950 does pretty well with its camera. There have been some disappointments with this device, but the camera seems to be something that can be appreciated. If you are familiar with previous Lumias’ cameras, you shouldn’t be too surprised.
The rear camera is a 20 megapixel shooter and captures vividly detailed shots, with accurate colour representation, soft tones on skin and superb blurry backgrounds when you’re taking a macro picture. The camera isn’t the best in the segment, but it does get quite close to it.
The low light shots are very good too. However it does need a little skill to capture a good low light picture as the phone needs to be kept very still in order to avoid taking blurry pictures. The Optical Image Stabilisation helps here though, and the lens focuses really fast and reduces the time for which the phone needs to be held still
There’s also a triple-LED flash, which is probably the least offensive flash on any phone today. It’s still best used only when necessary, but it doesn’t ruin every photo it touches.
The phone’s software doesn’t do too much for you once you have already have taken a picture. It leaves you with the want of a little more but the camera app does make up for it. And you can always get an app to do stuff for you in terms of editing the captured snap.
The camera app is simple on the surface, but has plenty to offer those wanting a little more. There are manual options galore, whether you want to change white balance, ISO or exposure. And with some practice, altering these can leave you with an exceptional photo.
Entertainment on this device is not anywhere near being a special experience. The speaker on this phone is quite ordinary it distorts sound as soon as the volume is cranked up anywhere near maximum.
The screen is decent enough and does offer a good video viewing experience. But the battery consumption is a problem, and the fact is, a decent screen coupled to a bad speaker, does not a great entertainer make.
Processor and graphics unit wise, the Lumia 950 performs well during video playback. So you’re okay, if you rely on a set of good earphones or a decent external speaker.
The browser that this device uses as default is Microsoft Edge. It is fast, and it syncs well if you use it on the desktop. In addition, the whole Office and Outlook suite come preinstalled too. This would once have been quite an exclusive boon, but Word, Outlook and many of the other applications are now available on a number of other platforms.
In some cases, such as Outlook, the iOS and Android versions offer a better design and more features. Setting up your accounts both personal and business are pretty simple.
Microsoft’s iris scanner that powers Windows Hello is fairly simple, yet effective. It is a way of signing into your device more personally. It basically scans your iris for identification and eliminates the need for patterns and the unnecessary trouble if you forget them. It requires you to hold the device fairly close to your eyes which some say is more troublesome and inconvenient than a finger scan. But to be fair, it does work nine out of ten times, and to me, it’s easier than having to move my hand around, for yet another button to press.