- Iris detector feature doesn't work all the time
- Continuum feature requires peripheral accessories and only works with a few apps
- Very limited app selection in Microsoft Store
In the battle of smartphones, Microsoft trails well behind giants like Apple and Android. The Lumia 950 is Microsoft's latest attempt to attract more the market and keep their users interested. Does it accomplish this? On the design front, experts say no. They call it uninspired, bland and cheap feeling due to the use of an all plastic body. At 0.3 inches it is not the slimmest smartphone on the market nor is it the lightest at 150 grams. Still, critics note the boxy design fit well in their hands and they can easily use it with one hand.
The 5.2-inch AMOLED display offers a quad HD resolution of 2,560 x 1,440, which is sharper than both the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. For many reviewers, the display is the highlight of the Lumia 950 as it is incredibly sharp with decent sunlight legibility. They did notice, however, that colors tended to be a bit washed out though they add that blacks were nice and dark. Still Ars Technica calls the screen "glorious."
The Lumia 950 comes with modern internal hardware: a hexa-core processor made up of a 1.82GHz dual-core chip and 1.44GHz quad-core and 3GB of RAM. Surprisingly, experts found the processor ran rather hot even during normal use. As well, they noticed some slowness in between some apps, but for the most part Windows 10 mobile ran fairly smoothly for them during basic tasks as well as more intensive tasks. Unfortunately the 3,000mAh battery didn't last them much longer than a day of normal use though fortunately it is removable and, according to critics, charged incredibly fast.
On the back of the phone is a 20MP camera equipped with optical image stabilization and triple LED flash. For the most part critics were able to take excellent pictures with good color reproduction and decent amount of contrast. Even in low light situations they were able to fairly decent images. Even still, they note that it could not compete with other competing cameras. They noticed a lack of fine detail in some indoor lighting situations. The front 5MP camera also performed admirably though again critics could not call it the best on the market.
Besides taking selfies and video conferencing, the front camera doubles as an iris-scanner for the Windows Hello feature. Users only have to hold up the camera the phone to their eye to then unlock the phone. For the most part reviewers only noticed issues in certain lighting conditions, but luckily Microsoft combats this with a PIN backup. While an interesting software addition, they also add it isn't any easier or faster than a fingerprint scanner.
Microsoft intends the biggest draw to be the Continuum feature. In practice it is meant to turn the phone into a full-fledged PC with the use of the Display Dock peripheral, a mouse and keyboard and a display. Essentially, users simply need to connect the phone to the Display Dock and they would be able to access their apps on a larger screen. Like the Windows Hello, critics though the overall idea was good but the execution was flawed as they noticed it had issues loading full desktop browser pages and it only worked with a few apps. Speaking of apps, the Microsoft App Store still lags far behind Google and Apple in terms of sheer number and availability of even popular apps.
In general while reviewers enjoyed using the Lumia 950 they have a difficult time recommending due to its price and disappointing new software features. Tech Radar states, "It's an incomplete picture…Of course, this is more than enough for Windows Phone 8.1 users to upgrade to the Windows 10 Mobile flagship's debut." CNET adds, "I do believe there are some people who will like the Lumia 950, which is good from a hardware perspective…In my opinion though, you'll get more from similarly priced or even cheaper Android phones."