Lumia 950: potentially huge, really minority

While we wait for a Surface phone, if it finally arrives (very disturbing the little or no relevance of Windows 10 Mobile in the past Microsoft Build), the reference smartphones of Microsoft today are the Lumia 950 XL and its little brother by size, the Lumia 950 .

You have the complete review, video included, of the giant Lumia 950 XL in Xataka. For the test of the Lumia 950 we propose a long-distance analysis to assess how this terminal is approached from a different point of view, in continuous use, without an exclusively technical review in use in mind.

Will an outstanding camera or performance be enough to forget the finish or the native applications when we use the Lumia 950 day after day? I tell you about my experience.

A high range whose design only sins of discreet finish

After quite a few months (almost two years actually) waiting for a real high-end from Microsoft, the staging of the Lumia 950 on our test table as soon as I got to my office was a surprise. In the negative sense.

2015 was a year of a real leap in materials, finish and overall, maximum attention to detail and design, not only from the high-end 700 euros the smarpthone unit, but a mid-range with more pedigree than ever in almost all sections that you consider key in a phone today. And this Lumia 950 is not up to scratch.

The finish of the Lumia 950 corresponds to a very discreet mid-range. Almost nothing remains of the class and personality of the Lumia of yesteryear

If until now we could defend the choice of plastic by the Lumia saga (first Nokia, now Microsoft) with some improvements such as the metal frame that I liked so much and it looked good on the Lumia 930, the step back taken by Microsoft in the Design and build of this Lumia 950 is amazing. No detail related to the finish we have been able to save in this month of use, always looking at the range in which it theoretically wants to compete (currently it is easy to get it for just over 500 euros) If you ignore the interior, the basis of the design of this Lumia 950 is not it is very different from the Lumia of much lower ranges.

Another song is how the terminal is handled due to its dimensions. There are few problems with it. The Lumia 950 is light for its screen size (150 grams), relatively thin, and controlled enough in width and height to be very comfortable to operate. In addition, its 5.2-inch screen seems to me a very suitable diagonal for users who want to get the most out of their smarpthone.

From the distribution of the controls, I am one of those who prefers to separate the power buttons from the volume buttons, and in fact the latter would have placed them on the left side and not on the right, where they are less accessible. The start button, centered on the side, is easily reached at least in the usual way in which I usually take a terminal of these characteristics.

What I would also have liked to find in the design of the physical controls is a differentiation of that control and the camera control. A regular user of the Lumia identifies it easily and knows that it is at the end, but whoever arrives for the first time (and we have verified it) is not clear either to the touch or at first glance which of the two buttons is the power button.

An advantage of the Lumia 950's plastic design is that the back cover is removable. And unlike other manufacturers who leave it to chance or user expertise to determine how to remove that cover, Microsoft has placed a clear and simple notch next to the USB C port for trauma-free removal of the back.

Once done we have access to the microSD card slot and the two nanoSIM, in addition to the battery, which is removable. This triple combination (Dual SIM, microSD and battery that we can exchange) is one of the most powerful arguments at the level of specifications of the Lumia 950 and those details that facilitate the choice of this terminal as the main one.

The Lumia 950 has, despite its discreet finish, a lot of value at the design level: comfortable, manageable, light and with a unique combination: dual SIM, microSD and removable battery

Incidentally, the camera's protrusion, very light, only makes the terminal dance when we have it on a table when pressing strongly and unnaturally on the sides of the screen.

Another detail that leaves us in doubt about Microsoft's interest in the design of this Lumia 950 is the hole in the middle of nowhere at the bottom of the terminal and corresponding to the main microphone.

Performance and biometric identification: more sand than lime

The phrase that we have already become accustomed to using when talking about performance in a Lumia with Windows for mobile, which used to be maximum optimization (even in the most discrete ranges in price), takes a moment of rest in this Lumia 950. And no It is for lack of first-class components, because as a processor there is the solvent 808 of Snapdragon with six cores, well supported by a 3 GB RAM memory.

In this month of use with the Lumia 950, the experience with the terminal has been fluid but with more inconsistencies and unexpected delays than before the arrival of Windows 10 Mobile, we had not found ourselves in the vast majority of Lumia phones of a certain level.

The fingerprint readers on the home button work so well and are so practical that it is incomprehensible that this Lumia 950 does not carry it

Where we have to congratulate Microsoft is in the choice of a 32 GB internal memory that allows us to expand easily and economically with microSD cards, as I have mentioned above.

One of the most important absences and that I have suffered day after day in the Lumia 950 is the fingerprint reader. Microsoft is committed to different technology that it wants to implement throughout its ecosystem (iris by means of an infrared sensor that does not work badly to be a first generation), but on a smartphone, today, we have found little use for it. Or at least when we face the fingerprint on the start button.

USB-C has been chosen as the charging port, which, although we regret it, right now is a limitation in the use of the terminal day by day. Forgetting the cable is a problem, something that does not happen with microUSBs.

It has happened to me more times than I wish my enemies, and it is quite frustrating to have to leave the house with one more mental burden: do not forget the USB-C cable in case we need it (or not lose sight of it if not we have more than the one that comes in the box), something that we had overcome with the microUSB, that you find under the stones. But we believe that we must take the step and Microsoft has been brave in doing so.

Screen and autonomy: at the level we expect

With the element that I have been most satisfied with in this one-month test with the Lumia 950 has been the screen. The Lumia 950 maintains the excellent level of this component of its most powerful terminals, and does not make many concessions: 5.2-inch AMOLED panel with 2K resolution, which leaves us with a pixel density figure that is an absolute pass: 564 ppp.

Little more to say if you are looking for maximum sharpness and you are not bothered by the peculiarities of AMOLED panels. It is a pleasure to see multimedia material with this Lumia 950, with fantastic blacks and a contrast and viewing angles of the highest level.

The screen and the camera are the two characteristics that keep the Lumia 950 in the highest range of the smartphone market.

On the contrary end of how good this screen feels for the Lumia 950 I have to tell you that this pixel density does not make any difference beyond the multimedia content. The Windows 10 for mobile interface isn't particularly critical of panel resolution, and it doesn't need excessive density to look great. There I would not have cared that Microsoft made a sacrifice with a 1080p panel if it improved autonomy.

In our month of use, the Lumia 950 has behaved as we expect from a high-end smartphone that is not a phablet format: a day of intensive use. No more, although sometimes less. As it happened to us with the Lumia 950 XL, when the terminal does not use the screen, especially in long hours blocked, we found ourselves with a not logical battery consumption. In the last update of Windows 10 it seems that everything has been solved and we have not been able to reproduce this erratic behavior.

In any case, the autonomy of this Lumia 950 seems to me to be average and expected. Neither better nor worse than its main rivals, although I think that with a capacity of 3000 mAh and an AMOLED panel, lowering the resolution could have given it an extra resistance that would have given value and differentiation with important rivals on that diagonal. Very good by the way for fast and wireless charging.

An excellent camera, yes, but it is no longer the only one

From the garish (I will never forget that yellow that I fell in love with) Lumia 1020, the reference when we wanted to talk about level cameras in a smartphone was marked by this Lumia. Microsoft relaxed the resolution of the following models but maintained an irresistible trio: manual controls, RAW format, and a good-sized sensor. In technique, he was capable of beating anyone, but in reality there were steps such as the speed of operation that played against him.

The Lumia 950 is a worthy heir to that way of understanding photography on the smartphone. Good performance sensor even in low light scenes, wide dynamic working range, 20 MP resolution that puts it practically at the forefront of the sector, stabilization, quality optics and f1.9 brightness, and one of the best control modes Handbook.

I am one of those who intensively uses the camera of their smartphone, from the image that I will upload to Instagram to the family photo of an important event or the image searched and worked for a long time. So I consider myself quite demanding both when it comes to taking pictures quickly and reliably, with very good results regardless of the situation or scene, and in the possibility of controlling elements of photography accurately.

The Lumia 950 photo set cannot be doubted. Great performance and results. However, it is no longer a factor that unbalances the balance in its favor because several rivals have equaled it and even surpassed it.

The camera of the Lumia 950 has seemed very solvent in all situations at the level of results. We can get from quick photos to complex scenes efficiently.

The big problem with the Lumia 950's camera is that, other things being equal, it is affected by the other factors and makes it evident compared to the competition, with which there is no longer any photographic advantage globally. Low light performance, video recording, manual modes, options ... Everything is already matched and even surpassed on other platforms with much better reception at all levels: users, developers, future ahead ...

Using Windows 10 Mobile on a daily basis

The great challenge of a terminal like the Lumia 950 is to convince intensive and productive smartphone users that they can trust Windows 10 Mobile. The rest, with ups and downs, it has.

But in terms of ecosystems there are already many years, versions and attempts without any real progress, and the distance with Android or iOS is increasing. In the test with the Lumia 950 I decided to recreate the usual use on the other two main platforms and although without alternatives, essential applications such as Telegram, Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram (in beta), Twitter or a decent email client were not lacking.

In general they are well adapted to the operating system, but not to the level, for example, Spotify, another essential one. Like Netflix. In the case of Spotify, it is an example of what Windows 10 Mobile could be if it had the interest of developers. But for now do not look for variety in the applications or closet ground. Neither the promises of facilitating the portability of iOS and Android apps to Windows 10 has been a trigger for anything in the app store.

From the experience with the Lumia 950, the best has been in the control and notification center, as well as in the Microsoft applications: mail, calendar, office automation ... and even a browser. But even in those cases, the versions for iOS or Android seem more productive and well focused.

Finally we must talk about Continuum, the only thing that can save Windows 10 Mobile in the large consumer market. If you arrive on time. This possibility is the closest thing there is today to the idea of ​​the future to which many aspire: a powerful smartphone that duplicates us when necessary as a desktop computer. But for now you can only touch it with your fingertips. And only a few. The smartphone market is going another way.

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