Mi­crosoft Lumia 950 XL

Tech Advisor - - REVIEWS -

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

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