There's plenty of good hardware in the Lumia 950 XL, but uninspiring looks and a relative lack of apps mean that it's not the advert for Windows 10 Mobile that Microsoft wants it to be.
Brilliant display, powerful processor, good cameras, removable fast-charging battery, can act as a PC with Display Dock
Windows 10 Mobile OS needs further development, Windows Hello iris recogntion doesn't always work, boring design
Display: 5.7in AMOLED, 2560x1440 at 518ppi
Processor: Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 (four 2GHz cores and four 1.5GHz cores)
Operating system: Windows 10 Mobile
Battery: Removable, 3,300mAh
Camera: 20.1MP rear, 5MP front
Windows 10 Mobile has arrived four months on from the launch of Windows 10, and Microsoft has two new handsets to lead the charge. The Lumia 950 XL phablet is arguably the more suitable choice for serious business users and high-end enthusiasts, sporting more screen space and a beefier processor than the Lumia 950 smartphone.
More importantly, though, is how it stacks up to its Android and iOS competition. After all, Microsoft wants people to switch operating systems, not just handsets, so this is what we've spent the past few days finding out.
The Lumia 950 XL is mildly chunky at 152x78x8.1mm and 165g, but deceptively light. It is, in fact, lighter than its phablet rivals the iPhone 6S Plus and Nexus 6P. This makes it comfortable to carry and hold, despite the squareness of its shape.
Yes, the matte plastic backplate is hard to love. It looks dull and feels cheap, as if it should be part of a much lower-tier handset. However, it can be removed, either to change to a better looking third-party replacement or to gain access to the battery, microSD card slot and microSIM slot, all of which are tucked away underneath.
This leaves just a few buttons and the USB-C port on the outside. This is one of what still remains a small number of devices to ditch the microUSB platform, and that's fine. It makes plugging in the bundled USB and charging cables much less fiddly, and allows it to charge much faster than most microUSB-equipped smartphones.
Another neat little feature is the dedicated camera button. This is placed on the right edge, a little lower down from the lock and volume buttons, and allows more intuitive photo-taking than having to tap the display, especially when using the rear camera. Speaking of the volume buttons, these have been unusually split into two, instead of forming a single rocker, with the larger lock button placed in between. This setup isn't hard to get used to, though.
Even with its huge 5.7in size, the Lumia 950 XL achieves a beautifully sharp 518ppi thanks to the 2560x1440 resolution. The display looks superb overall - pictures, videos and texts have excellent clarity, while AMOLED tech ensures high-quality colours, from vibrant reds and cool blues to clean whites and inky blacks.
The backlight is very bright by default. This won't do any favours for the battery life, but it does still manage to avoid bleeding around the edges. This brightness also does much to counteract the Gorilla Glass 4 screen's reflectivity, although it can still cause problems in the sun or under strong indoor lights.
The better news is that the glass is moderately resistant to fingerprints. We did feel the need to clean it every couple of days or so, but it doesn't get smudgy at anything near an alarming rate.
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