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Microsoft Lumia 950 XL review

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 470
inc VAT (SIM-free)

It's the best Windows 10 phone around, but it's still dogged by major performance issues

Specifications

Processor: Octa-core 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, Screen Size: 5.7in, Screen resolution: 2,560×1,440, Rear camera: 20 megapixels, Storage: 32GB (29.1GB), Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 152x78x8.1mm, Weight: 165g, Operating system: Windows 10

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Camera

The Lumia 950 XL’s 20-megapixel camera is superb. The f/1.9 aperture allows plenty of light into the Pureview Zeiss lens, and every single image I took looked fantastic, no matter what lighting conditions I was shooting in. Outdoors, shots had an astonishing level of detail right across the frame, and colours looked crisp and accurate despite the overcast weather conditions. There was hardly any noise present, either, so even the tiniest details weren’t lost at full resolution.

Indoors, the Lumia 950 XL was equally brilliant, producing clear, accurate photos both with and without our external lamp switched on. Noise started to creep in slightly in lower lighting conditions, but it didn’t make photos appear too grainy and our still life arrangement still looked perfectly sharp and defined. However, I’d recommend switching on the flash in these cases, as this brought a welcome punch to the image and allows you to pick out the fine details much more easily. It doesn’t adversely affect the image’s colour temperature either, as whites remained clean and pure.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL camera test

^ The camera is easily one of the Lumia 950 XL’s best features, producing beautifully exposed shots even in overcast weather

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL camera test indoors

^ Indoors, photos were even more impressive, particularly when there was a lot of light present

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL camera test indoors with no lamp

^ Noise started to appear when we switched off our external lamp, but images still had plenty of detail present

Battery Life

The Lumia 950 XL has a lot more stamina than its little brother as well, as its larger 3,340mAh battery lasted a full 13h 02m in our continuous video playback test with the brightness set to 170cd/m2. This is much better than the ten hours we got from the Lumia 950, and it puts it roughly on par with other phablets such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and the Nexus 6P.  

Windows 10 Continuum

It’s such a shame the Lumia 950 XL’s overall performance isn’t better, as this would be a great phone to use every day if it was just a little bit faster, particularly when it can essentially double up as a portable PC thanks to Windows 10’s Continuum feature. You can read more about Windows 10 and Continuum in my Lumia 950 review, but it essentially lets you plug your phone into a monitor via Microsoft’s optional £80 Display Dock connector and run fullscreen Windows apps such as Office, Outlook and Edge straight from your phone without the need for a PC. You can even use your phone to answer calls and send texts while it’s plugged in, too, giving you the best of both worlds. This works absolutely fine in practice, but it’s the phone’s everyday performance which lets it down.

Conclusion

As a result, the Lumia 950 XL is definitely the best Windows 10 phone available right now, but it’s still not quite good enough to be a viable alternative to its Android competition. Continuum is a really attractive feature and the Lumia’s camera is easily one of the best I’ve seen all year, but it has too many minor annoyances day-to-day holding it back to make it good value. 

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Hardware
ProcessorOcta-core 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810
RAM3GB
Screen size5.7in
Screen resolution2,560×1,440
Screen typeAMOLED
Front camera5 megapixels
Rear camera20 megapixels
FlashLED
GPSYes
CompassYes
Storage32GB (29.1GB)
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD
Wi-Fi802.11ac
BluetoothBluetooth 4.1
NFCYes
Wireless data3G, 4G
Size152x78x8.1mm
Weight165g
Features
Operating systemWindows 10
Battery size3,340mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£470
Price on contract (inc VAT)Free on £35-per-month contract
Prepay price (inc VAT)N/A
SIM-free supplierwww.carphonewarehouse.com
Contract/prepay supplierwww.carphonewarehouse.com
Detailswww.microsoft.com
Part codeRM-1085

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