My full review of the Lumia 950



 

I have been using the Lumia 950 for 3 weeks now. You can check out my unboxing and first impressions on our YouTube page.
SInce using the device, I have taken note of how it runs, how well it runs, the camera quality (from a typical end user), the battery performance, Cortana, the new W10M OS, Continuum feature, iris scanner and more.

Here is my full review of the Lumia 950, showing the pros and cons of different aspects of the Lumia flagship device.

Let me start with giving you a...





 Lumia 950 Hardware Review:

It is a 5.2inch display smartphone encased in a removable back cover made from premium poly-carbonate plastic material, this removable cover is also the entire body of the 950. This means you can take it out and replace it with 3rd party covers like the MOZO leather cases.
The phone has all its physical buttons: The power button, the volume rockers and the physical camera button (which isn't common these days) on the right side of the device , the buttons look like they are made from aluminum?
The Lumia 950 has its 3.5mm audio jack at the top (which is where I like it) and it's new USB Type-C port at the bottom.
The phone weighs 150g, it feels good in the hand and with a thickness of 8.7mm, it is just slim enough to hold all the internals and it comfortable to hold.
After taking out the removable battery, you can insert a nano SIM, microSD card and yes it does support microSD, a feature most OEMs left out this year.
The Lumia 950 also has Qi wireless charging and has NFC for seamless connectivity.
There is a slight camera hump for the camera which is between the triple LED flash and the speakers. 

I don’t like  the placement of the speakers. Most smartphones today have their speakers either on the front panel or on the sides (preferably the bottom), this way, there is a less chance of the speakers being covered. The speakers on the back of the Lumia 950 means that anytime I have my device lying face up (on the bed for instance), I might not hear my alarm go off. Microsoft/Nokia have been placing the speakers at the back for some time now, and it's time they change this! 
The Lumia 950 being made from the typical, now boring poly-carbonate uni-body means that the device which is a flagship, does not have that premium high end feel to it, like the Galaxy S6 or the iPhone 6 or the Nexus 6P.



Lumia 950's CPU, RAM & Internal Storage Review:
The Lumia 950 is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 808 Hexa-core processor (Dual-core 1.82 GHz Cortex-A57 & quad-core 1.44 GHz Cortex-A53) with an Adreno 418 graphics chip on-board, it's got 3GB RAMemory and 32GB internal storage space. The Snapdragon 808 chip on-board means that the Lumia 950 supports Quick Charge 2.0. This is a feature that lets you charge your phone from 0% to 60% in 30mins. This actually works, I charge my 950 from 0% to full 100% in an hour and 15mins. The phone is also snappy but I don't want to give credit for that to the processor, I mean Windows OS is the only stable, fast OS I have used till date (never used an iPhone before though).
And lastly, the device never gets hot! I have never experienced it getting hot and I am a heavy user.



Lumia 950 Display & Touchscreen Review:
The display is really good, crisp and sharp. It's a 5.2inch AMOLED 2560x1440 HD resolution display with 564ppi (pixel density). It can be viewed under direct sunlight thanks to Clear Black Display technology and with an AMOLED screen, it brings out the colour without having an overly bright screen and hence saving battery life.
There is a Lumia color profile which allows you to set the color profile you want to use (I usually go with vivid).
All this is protected under Gorilla Glass 3.

The Lumia 950XL's display is protected by Gorilla Glass 4, why this wasn't used on the 950? I don't know. They went with last year's Gorilla Glass 3 instead.
The touchscreen is quite responsive, but now and again I have had situations where it doesn't work right or is not responsive. For instance, sometimes when swiping up on the start-screen, it instead swipes to the left to the app list. I have also had issues when multi-selecting photos, I might want to tap on a pic but it selects a different pic somewhere else on that page. This seems to be a touchscreen bug that's intermittent.
Also there is no "double tap to wake" which is a bummer! but these are nothing an update can't fix.


The Lumia Camera Review:
I'm not a professional photographer nor am I a photography enthusiast, what I am is someone who has been spoiled repeatedly by the amazing camera quality of past Nokia devices.
But OEMs like Samsung, Apple and LG have caught up to Nokia's photography prowess in recent times and I dare say Nokia/Microsoft phones are dominating the mobile photography space like they once did.
But that doesn't mean the camera on the 950 shouldn't be mentioned here. It is a 20MP Carl Zeiss camera with PureView technology that takes superb photos, in my opinion it takes the best photos in well lit environments, though it is important to note that white balance is set to auto by default so moving around will cause the white balance to automatically adjust. So it is recommended to wait for it to fully adjust, or you can pick one of the white balance options instead of using auto. 
The 950 has got triple flash LED's for that natural effect even after taking pics with flash. The low light pics are incredible (as you can see in the photo samples).
Taking photos has never been faster, once you press the camera button, it takes half a sec before it's ready for you to take another one! This is available on the Lumia 930 and 1520 but it is way faster on the 950.
Here are some sample photos taken with the Lumia 950...











The 950 records 4K video but do e aware that a 1 min 4K video recorded on your 950 will take up a little over 300MB. 
You can record 720p @ 60fps (for slow motion video capture). The slow motion is a cool feature that has finally made its way to Windows 10 Mobile and it is awesome. There are rumors that we will be able to record with 720p@120fps early next year. 
The Lumia 950 has 4, yes 4 microphones for rich recording. So it's not just the video that's exceptional, the audio is clear too.
Here is a sample video recorded in 4K with the Lumia 950...




 
The front facing camera is a 5MP camera that can record in 1080p HD and taking selfies with its wide angle camera comes out beautifully.
I don't hate anything about the camera. It rocks!



Lumia 950 Battery performance Review:
The Battery is a 3000mAh battery, but the best part is that it is removable. Something that a bunch of popular phone manufacturers can't say about their flagship devices this year. The battery w=should last you a whole day under moderate use and with the Quick Charge 2.0, you can charge it from 0% to 60% in 30mins. I can also confirm that the 950 battery can go form 0% to 100% in a little over an hour.

The abysmal battery performance I experienced with my Lumia 930 unfortunately is still present with the 950. I am a heavy user and after testing the battery under heavy use, I get an estimated 7 hours of use before it's dead. 
I did notice that if you are extra cautious of what apps are running in the background and using your phone moderately, you can get 11hours of use before it's dead.
You can also try setting the battery saver mode to come on at say 30%, this will allow your battery last longer.
I hope Microsoft does something about the poor battery performance in a future update.



Lumia 950 Iris Scanner Review:
I love that Microsoft went with iris scanner for its bio-metric authentication, in a year that saw most phone manufacturers use finger prints, Microsoft wanted to be unique and chose the iris scanner.
It is a nice feature, as you can unlock your device with even touching the phone. And it works even in the dark or if you have sunglasses on. From my testing, you need at least a foot between your face and the phone and you have got to be still. It takes about a second and a half to authenticate (in perfect condition)

Iris scanner authentication can be slow, too slow sometimes and you are better off just using the PIN sign-in option (way faster).
Also authentication is 50/50, sometimes it works, sometimes it just doesn't.
It definitely needs some refinements, hopefully we will get this in future updates.



Lumia 950 Continuum Review:
I absolutely love continuum, I'm sure you have heard about it by now. It allows you to connect your phone to a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and an external display that turns your 950 into a mini PC. There is also a continuum feature that allows you to use your 950 as a mouse when you connect it to an external display (wireless or wired). continuum is compatible with most Miracast dongles. And if you connect a USB hub cable, you can add multiple USB peripherals (keyboard and mouse) and with wireless connection to a TV, you have a full PC!
This is my best feature about continuum.

Continuum is not quite ready just yet, it is buggy and crashes or freezes when I am done and try to disconnect, this happens 50% of the time and I have to reboot my phone. Hope they fix this in future updates.



Lumia 950 Windows 10 OS Review:
The OS is still not ready, there is still an app gap but it is looking promising. I will dedicate another article to review and talk about the Windows 10 Mobile OS. So be sure subscribe to this website or YouTube channel.
But I will say this, "Hey Cortana" passive voice activation is iffy, doesn't work well. I often find myself yelling "Hey Cortana" a few times before she finally acknowledges.



In Conclusion

PROS
·        The device is light, and with the poly-carbonate matte finish, it is easy and feels comfortable to hold.
·        The Camera is great!
The USB Type-C with fast charging
·        The screen is gorgeous to look at
·        The Windows 10 OS is refreshing, fluid and smooth.
·        Physical camera button
·        Removable battery (with interchangeable back cover)
·        MicroSD card slot is available

CONS
·        “Hey Cortana” voice activation works half the time
·        No double tap to wake… yet
·        App gap (also some apps haven’t been updated to Windows 10 yet, so compatibility issues on some apps)
·        Battery life is miserable
·        Phone is expensive ($549 before tax)




In conclusion, the Lumia 950 is for those Lumia 920, 1020, 930 or 1520 users who have been waiting too long for a replacement flagship Lumia device. If that's you, then this device fits perfectly, the wait is over.
But if you are an Android or iPhone user, there is little this device can do to persuade you to switch. maybe after a major update to the OS and firmware and of course more apps for Windows 10 Mobile.
But Microsoft was right when they said this device was for Lumia faithfuls. It is exactly that and nothing more.
You can get the Lumia 950 from Microsoft store for $549 unlocked or from the At&t store on contract or off contract for $598


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