Lumia 950 XL, much room for improvement

The first surprise of the new Lumia is the fact that hardly anything can highlight its design. They are devices to outwardly currents, and even rescuing the traditional colors garish living that was a hallmark of the Lumia Nokia reaching us. They are terminals that have no personality, and that is something serious in high-end products.

Perhaps Microsoft did not want to raise a clear distinction in that paragraph, but that lack of ambition is too patent for a product which prompted highlight both inside and outside. Not since the use of plastic materials for the housing or that we are done with a “boring” device, it is that there are hardly remarkable details in the design.

In fact, there are more functional than anything else. It is appreciated, for example, that in that count design with a back cover that can be removed at any time to access the replaceable battery, the microSD slot – Great news, of course – or Nano sim card slot.

Nor should we forget that the terminal is not particularly large considering that we have a diagonal of 5.7 inches. Its weight of 165 grams and thickness of 8.1 mm are acceptable, but one would expect for example that has not obsessed with the thickness could enabling a higher capacity battery (3,340 mAh does not give the game much, as we shall see forward).

In that design itself there curious details. Probably the strangest is the placement of the power button, which is in the middle of the volume controls and, yes, has a somewhat larger. That placement is debatable, often one clicks one of the volumes buttons when you press the on ignition- but this probably has users who prefer that placement.

It was not my case: I prefer to have a clear access to the power button, but it is true that with time one gets used to that position and is “failing” less when using it. Equally important is the physical button for the camera, on the same side, and that makes clear the ambition of the Lumia 950 XL when taking pictures.

Lumia 950 XL

It’s a great idea but has a small problem: it is not difficult to be activated when we have it in my pocket, which makes the camera is activated without us noticing .Although not jump – something involuntary photos could also just want to have that involuntary pressing this button causes the battery terminal can consume that activation of the camera without us pretend.

Note: As indicated in the comments, you can lock the button from the system configuration so that that cannot happen, and we can take pictures with the touch button on the screen, of course.

Precisely the camera influences the design: despite having the same specifications as that of the Lumia 950, this model means that there is a noticeable protrusion on the back of the terminal, which again makes us wonder as in other cases: would not it have been better to add a millimeter thick, more battery and not have the protrusion ? The debate is served.

High-end specifications

The new Lumia 950 XL Microsoft are virtually identical to their brethren, the Lumia 950, of which only differ in screen size or processor. In both cases, we have a specification that clearly positioned at the high end of this section.

Physical dimensions 151.9 x 78.4 x 8.1 mm, 165 g
Screen 5.7-inch AMOLED Gorilla Glass 4 protected
Resolution 2,560 x 1,440 (518 dpi)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon ™ 810 (4 x Cortex A-53 1.5GHz + 4 x Cortex-A57 2GHz)
Graphics processor Adreno 430
Memory 32 GB (microSD up to 200 GB)
OS Windows 10 Mobile
Connectivity 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 Nanosim, Cat 6 LTE, NFC
Rear camera 20 Mpixels Flash LED RGB triple, f / 1.9, optical image stabilization, video 4K 30fps
Front camera 5 Mpixels, f / 2.4
Battery 3340 mAh
Others USB port type C, A-GPS, FM radio notification LED, wireless charging, fast charging, iris recognition


Others   USB port type C, A-GPS, FM radio notification LED, wireless charging, fast charging, iris recognition

The hardware is virtually identical to that present the Nexus 6P which recently analyzed except in sections such as the camera, for example, but essentially we find comparable devices in their approach to the physical components of the device.

There are however significant differences, not only on camera but in other sections as the biometric recognition system. While at Google have definitely opted for the fingerprint sensor, Microsoft uses an infrared sensor that can enable iris recognition.

The approach of this terminal there is several issues that Microsoft actually repeated in other terminals with similar specifications. The most important are probably the screen which is fantastic for size, quality, and definition. The AMOLED technology gives the C’s back in the Lumia 950 XL with good viewing angles, a representation of lively colors or uses the “Glances” mode that displays minimal information on the lock screen without having just battery consumption.

From that screen, however, what is striking is the commitment to a 2K resolution which again brings us back to the debate on whether or not this resolution compensates in a terminal of this size. Of course the definition of all the items on display is fantastic and obviously, that resolution 1440p allows us to presume especially when playing video content that resolution or when we broaden photos, but again our perception is that the 2K screens are perhaps an unnecessary whim.

Another of the highlights of this terminal is the inclusion of a USB-C port, which can be a nuisance when traveling takes it -not forget the cable or will have a serious problem but leaving the Lumia 950 XL well prepared for the future. That connection not only can take advantage of the rapid charging of the battery, it is also crucial for the other big star of the proposed Microsoft: Continuum, which will achieve optimally use the Display Dock, the small accessory that allows us to convert device in an “all PC” (the quotes are required, as discussed below) when needed.

Another noteworthy aspect of this USB-C port: is OTG, allowing us to connect all types of peripherals to be recognized by the terminal. We checked by connecting a flash drive via a USB adapter to USB-C: browse the contents and copy files to the flash drive, Lumia, 950 XL was easy thanks to the integrated file browser in Windows 10 Mobile, for example. They did not work the keyboards and mice we tested, but here there is probably simply a limitation on the drivers available on the platform: it is expected that as time passes we can connect more and more directly to that port which essentially returns to demonstrate that we have a PC with Windows 10 before us at all times.

Iris recognition and battery

Talking about the design and specifications is important, but what is really interesting is to discuss how the Lumia 950 XL once we started using it behaves. And that experience begins with the release of the terminal, which for the first time in a Microsoft device can be performed by iris recognition.

The technology Windows Hello already made its appearance on portable computers with Windows 10 is now an integral part of the new Lumia 950, and its operation is identical. After a short training where you have to look at the top of the screen, and not to the red light exiting the IR sensor identification we can begin to unlock the terminal for him.

The idea is curious, but after these days with the terminal has confirmed our suspicions: the fingerprint sensor is a much better option on a smartphone, and it is for the simple reason that this method is much more natural and comfortable. One ends up feeling weird looking at the screen and toward or away from the device of the eyes to find the right distance for iris recognition occurs.

The process is not always as fast or effective as expected, and although the sensors fingerprint footprint are not perfect, it is clear that they are much more comfortable to wear because we take the mobile so that access to the sensor is much more direct and natural. Hello, Windows technology and iris recognition are a perfect alternative to laptops or desktop PCs and even tablets if I appraised, but after our tests, it seems clear that the inclusion of a fingerprint sensor (in conjunction or even replacing a) it would have been much more interesting than iris recognition.

Another important point that behavior Lumia 950 XL has been erratic has been the battery. It is true that support wireless charging – not have been able valuable- and fast charging is welcome, and indeed the latter allows in less than an hour count with between 70% and 80% of the battery charged. We could, however, check during our tests the strange energy that presents the terminal.

We have experienced throughout all tests: no way to predict how that will hold 3340 mAh batteries. The phablets usually enjoy more guarantees in this regard because although their screens are larger batteries tend to favorably compensate for that section but in the case of Lumia 950 XL that theory has not been fulfilled. The terminal end of the day came with some battery – never the same despite making use more or less sustained Smartphone- functions, but something strange happened: the battery is discharged significantly overnight, and the situation was not unique to our terminal, as shown in the analysis of TechRadar.

Of course, here we can activate saving mode battery in the Windows setup menu and set to activate when the reduced power mode. That helps a lot especially at night, as does turn off background tasks, which are pre-activated by default and we have to go unchecking from the beginning for example, if we do not use Skype, Facebook or services Lumia, among others , and as we install applications. Also, can disable famous Glances, the “quick view screen” information showing that while we have reduced the locked device.

But the strange thing here is that you have to walk activating energy saving modes and accessing the “fine” system configuration to maximize autonomy. Perhaps Microsoft should raise the opposite and make it easier for nontechnical users: disable background services, alerting some that are probably important for -WhatsApp, Facebook, and mail- provide users exactly an alternative profile that maximizes this autonomy. It is not the case but may be so in the future, and that as it may, the battery consumption is problematic after these days of trial, which for example have confirmed the further analysis.

Camera on the Lumia 950 XL

The Pureview technology that had its greatest exponent in that fantastic Lumia 1020 has once again made its appearance in the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, that the advantage in conjunction with its rear camera with sensor 20 Mpixels and aperture f / 1.9 and that becomes one of these mobile cameras highlighted in recent months.

The quality of pictures taken with the camera of the Lumia 950 XL is fantastic in most situations, and here Microsoft can boast of having an extremely solvent chamber. Maybe in low light conditions, the quality is reduced somewhat in automatic modes, but there is a section that Microsoft stands out above all its competitors is in the presence of manual controls.

The old application of Lumia Nokia has adapted to changing times, but always with the same essence and with that enviable interface: to move from the outside to the inside of the screen (starting the movement on the touch shutter button ) we find these manual controls in the form of arcs that control shutter speed, ISO, exposure or focus.

There is no platform that has raised a comparable solution natively, and here Microsoft redials the difference for those seeking manual controls in the chambers of their smartphones. The support image capture RAW (DNG) merely strengthens the position of Microsoft in this area.

In that capacity, we add new features such as call Rich Capture, the technology that allows once we have taken the picture can change how to light it. Microsoft does not use the term that should be used because such control is nothing more than a way to provide powerful HDR mode that can tune with a progress bar afterward. Other platforms like iOS or Android simply offer an HDR mode that can enable or disable, but Microsoft photographs are taken with all the information by default, and then the software gives us the ability to adjust the use of HDR for the photo to be more or less “spectacular”.

The result is often striking, especially when you see it on the AMOLED screen on which images are especially vivid and colorful -can purists criticize it in terms of saturation, but that section can also be control- and certainly they make it easy to highlight.

These photos “animated” can be seen perfectly in the display of native photo Windows 10 (PCs and laptops), and we can share them with other platforms selecting sending them as video (given that choice, or share as photo no more) to the user in question via any of the methods available.

The effect is identical to the one Apple introduced in iOS 9 iPhone 6s / Plus (this feature is not supported on previous models) and creates a curious effect on the shots that recalls to some extent what happens with the photos that appear in the films of Harry Potter. It is a very striking feature, and even though some of the discarded quickly, it can be surprisingly fun in many scenarios: having children, for example, sure appreciate it.

Video recording is equally remarkable, with the 4K mode at 30 FPS and also with a slow – motion mode of 720p 120 FPS that offer almost “traditional” alternative on the market to record 1080p at 60 FPS. The image quality is very good, and here there is a component that helps a lot in that capacity: optical image stabilization, which is another of the highlights of these cameras. Audio recorded in these videos is equally remarkable thanks to the system of four microphones integrated into mobile and which has also been inherited from previous models of the Lumia family. The result is that both quality video audio and image are really remarkable.

Not all advantages, of course. In fact, there is a big disadvantage in this Lumia camera. Or rather, in your software: all it takes. It is unbearably or that leave very aggrieved experience, but something that affects their use and should be well understood to know what we can expect from the photographic function of the Lumia 950 XL.

To begin with, once made the photo post processing software is automatically activated to “add the finishing touches” to the photo. That means the final picture will levels, proper exposure and color, but also that immediate preview will be limited. We can see the photo, yes, but not enlarge or delete it: we have to wait for a few moments of a second- -around for full access to the final result.

It is also seen in other sections as the focus, which is fast but not as much as other cameras of other high-end devices, or subsequent work with photos, whose edition usually takes some more time. Again it is not something to condemn the experience, but it can be perceived as a problem of the camera or software when it is not.

Here the conclusion is obvious. There are other phones with cameras that are clearly geared to the quick photo and immediate sharing on social networks, instant messaging applications or other means Camera Lumia 950 XL is not the most appropriate for that purpose, and indeed the usability of the software is somewhat poorer in this area to share with others and networks. We can do it, of course, but as we shall see in the section of the software, the user experience lost over the competition.

This is, therefore, a mobile that is particularly geared to those who seek to put something more than “pampering” their photos were taken with their mobile. It is closer to what gives us a DSLR what offers a compact point and shoot. Shooting physical button that allows access to the camera quickly and allows these two traditional positions (approach shot) not only confirms that vocation that differentiates this camera from those of other devices.

We fear that the rule for those seeking quality snapshot -there best proposals in that sense- but for anyone who wants to have the power of those manual controls and a post-processing can become very powerful, this Lumia 950 XL, like its little brother, is indeed a smartphone to keep in mind.