Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
Microsoft has launched two smartphones running Windows 10. In the previous issue we looked at the standard Lumia 950. This month we’ll be looking at the larger and more expensive XL model – £529 compared to its little brother’s £419.
The Lumia 950 XL is pretty much just a bigger version of the regular Lumia 950. There are a couple of small changes, such as the camera module and the placement of certain elements, but its similar design is not really a good thing.
We appreciated the metal frame of the good-looking Lumia 930, with its glass front that curved so perfectly to meet the aluminium. It felt like a premium product. Unfortunately, the Lumia 950 XL doesn’t give off this kind of vibe, with its flat glass front that meets a small plastic ridge and the budget-style plastic rear cover. The front is Gorilla Glass 4 instead of Gorilla Glass 3, though.
This comes off to allow access to the battery and card slots, though this isn’t much of a reason for the low-grade build. For a big phone, the Lumia 950 XL is pretty slender at 8.1mm and 165g, so it’s the basic design and plastic build that bothers us the most.
Microsoft has decided against offering bright colours – it’s available in black and white only. Navigation buttons have been moved onscreen and the physical buttons down the side are different to those on the Lumia 950. We don’t like the way the volume buttons are either side of the power button, making all three difficult to use without looking.
At 5.7in you get an extra half inch compared to the regular model. Other aspects remain the same, so you get a Quad HD resolution (2560x1440) display, though the extra size means the pixel density is slightly lower at 518ppi compared to the Lumia 950’a 564ppi. That’s not a noticeable difference and it’s up there with the top phablets around on the market. The AMOLED ClearBlack display also provides amazing contrast, viewing angles and colours that really pop.
As well as a bigger screen, Microsoft has reserved the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 for the Lumia 950 XL (the 950 has the 808), so there is some more power on paper here, with eight cores and a higher clock speed of 2GHz.
There’s still 3GB of memory, and although we didn’t notice a dramatic difference in performance compared to the Lumia 950, the XL does feel a little bit nipper and more responsive. Like its smaller brother, there is 32GB of storage, which is double what many rivals offer. There’s also a microSD card slot, so you can add up to 200GB more. Windows 10 takes up about 5.5GB of the internal storage.
A bigger phone means a bigger battery, so the Lumia 950 XL has 3340mAh of capacity. Despite the extra 340mAh compared to the regular model, Microsoft quotes 11 hours of video playback – an extra hour on the 950.
Only light users will get more than a day of use from the 950 XL, but it has a few features that will help you keep it topped up. First is a USB Type-C port, which is reversible and supports Fast Charging, while the other is Qi wireless charging support. A removable battery means you can always carry a spare if you’re going to be away from mains power for a long time.
Remaining hardware is identical to that in the Lumia 950, so you get 11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, GPS and 4G LTE support (Cat 6).
You also get the same 20Mp rear-facing camera – don’t be fooled