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Microsoft Lumia 950 XL review



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Lumia 950 XL
  • Lumia 950 XL
  • Lumia 950 XL
  • Lumia 950 XL
  • Lumia 950 XL
  • Lumia 950 XL
  • Lumia 950 XL
  • Lumia 950 XL
  • Lumia 950 XL
  • Lumia 950 XL
  • Lumia 950 XL
  • Lumia 950 XL
  • Windows 10 mobile
  • Windows 10 mobile


Our Score:



  • Decent screen
  • Good camera
  • Cortana


  • Dull design
  • Not enough consumer apps
  • Buggy

Key Features

  • 20.1-megapixel PureView camera
  • Windows 10 Mobile
  • Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor
  • 5.7-inch AMOLED, QHD display
  • Manufacturer: Microsoft
  • Review Price: £529.99

What is the Lumia 950 XL?

Microsoft has been making big promises about Windows 10 Mobile for more than a year now. These have ranged from lofty claims about a new category of "Universal Apps", iris-scanning Windows Hello tech and, of course, the Lumia range's trademark PureView camera hardware.

The sheer number of promises have left many wondering if the company's flagship Windows 10 Mobile phablet can actually live up to the claims. Sadly, the answer is not really.

Watch: 5 things you need to know about Windows 10 Mobile

Lumia 950 XL – Design

Since Nokia, now Microsoft Devices, launched its first Windows Phone 7 smartphone – the Lumia 800 – many moons ago, the firm has rattled out a stream of unique-looking, brightly coloured handsets.

I’d hoped this trend would continue with the Lumia 950 XL, but sadly this isn't the case. The black Lumia 950 XL on review is one of the dullest-looking phones I’ve held in quite some time. The phone lacks any obvious design features, save the shiny PureView camera sensor on its rear.

The polycarbonate casing doesn’t feel as robust as past Lumias; pressing on the phone’s removable backplate displayed more give than I’d like. Note that removing this rear shell isn’t for the faint-hearted either. Whenever I pried off the rear plate to get access to the phone's microSD and SIM slots, it felt as though it was on the verge of snapping.

Once setup, though, the phone does tick many boxes. There's a USB Type-C connector along its bottom edge, which in the coming months is forecast to replace micro-USB as the smartphone’s standard connector.

The power, volume and shutter buttons are well placed, so you can still reach them one-handed despite the phone’s plus-sized 152 x 78 x 8.1mm dimensions. The 165g weight means the 950 XL isn't too heavy; the phone never feels cumbersome to hold.

Lumia 950 XL

Related: Best smartphones 2015

Lumia 950 XL – Display

Microsoft has loaded the Lumia 950 XL with an impressive 5.7-inch quad-HD, AMOLED display.

On paper, this puts the Lumia on a level-pegging with most competing plus-sized handsets. Google’s awesome Nexus 6P and Samsung’s reigning Galaxy Note 5 both feature similarly specced 5.7-inch QHD displays.

In real-world use, the Lumia 950 XL’s display easily matches its competitors. The screen’s 518ppi density ensures Live Tiles and text look universally sharp. The AMOLED tech also results in blacks that are among the deepest I’ve seen on a smartphone, and help to make colours look vibrant and rich. Whites do look a little red when compared to the Nexus 6P, but are far from the worst I’ve seen.

Although brightness isn't the highest I’ve seen, it's good enough for general use. Direct sunlight can result in the screen becoming reflective and therefore difficult to use, but that’s a universal issue affecting most of the smartphones I test.


December 7, 2015, 5:38 pm

more poor quality journalism from Trusted Reviews... I need to find a new tech review site

Darmok N. Jalad

December 7, 2015, 6:26 pm

Care to elaborate?

When I look at the final scores, I can agree on Value, and maybe battery life and design. Seems like the camera and the display should have scored higher, but I guess those are somewhat subjective.

Prem Desai

December 7, 2015, 7:04 pm

No need to. Forgetting the individual scores, there are worse pieces of tech out there that score more than 6/10.

Just because this phone is made out of plastic and has all the latest leading tech, it's being penalized .....

Dead Words

December 7, 2015, 9:56 pm

I have to agree with him. Trusted Reviews is failing in quality journalism. I'm considering GSM Arena as my new main source of tech news.


December 8, 2015, 2:03 am

Maybe iOS, but Android? Please. I used a Galaxy 5s at work, and I'd much rather use my Lumia 920.

Ananth Bhat

December 8, 2015, 5:29 am

"trusted reviews" no longer trusted it seems. Going past the rating for the screen, it is BETTER than the note 5 with higher brightness as well as better colour accuracy, yet scores lower. Same holds for the camera. Only valid argument is of the battery life being lower than expected. 5 for design. Really? Folks with the worst designed website I've seen recently is judging about design? True, it is not going to be liked by everyone, but definitely more than 5.
Looks to be that bashing Lumia is something that you need to do to be acknowledged as a valid reviewer. The verge seems to be blessed with apple madness, what they tell seems to be treated as gospel and repeated by everyone else.
If anyone wants a genuine review, look for pocketnow and gsmarena. gsmarena is still a little forgiving and taking into account the potential of the new features. Pocket now will review it with no benefit of doubt. Their review is by far the most unbiased one I've seen so far, criticizing the faults where they truly exist and praising the features that truly deserve them.
What has the world come to, any idiot who can type is being hired to review phones, with a criteria that if it deviates from the apple trend, even for better, abuse and badly rate it.


December 8, 2015, 8:46 am

Actually is being penalized because it is a Windows phone mainly. Same case with most reviews.
I am coming from Android and I am fed up with it (keeping contact with it with my Z4 Tablet LTE though), so I'll give them a chance.


December 8, 2015, 11:33 am

Hey Alastair , you and this site deserve a big fat F word with this review. Trusted my ***.


December 8, 2015, 12:02 pm

I too am surprised by such a low mark, given the only negative I could see was that Facebook and Twitter look dated, which matter absolutely nothing to me.

There's not really any talk about the OS other than 'lack of apps', which considering is noted as the main point of interest of this device is a bit slack.

The device is pretty much the highest spec possible, screen sounds good, camera looks pretty impressive, has expandable memory, will boast Continuum support...
Need I go on?

Sounds like so long as I'm not boethered about Facebook being the best app on my phone, or downloading 150 torch apps the device is extremely capable.

I don't normally complain about reviews on this site, but this reads more like something that would be written by Joe iPublic rather than a tech journalist.

It's echoing all the other comments already here - the article doesn't add up.


December 8, 2015, 3:08 pm

Microsoft despite all that money have really failed with their design of phones, it is such a shame that the nokia designers were not kept on. Their products look like 1 part nokia mixed with 5 parts bland nothingness, and the result is not an object that deserves its price tag. I'm bewildered really, it wouldn't be that hard to have had better design. :(


December 8, 2015, 3:08 pm

the surface products are great looking however


December 9, 2015, 3:20 am

The writing in the articles these days often has poor grammar, and looks like it was written by a 12 year old.

The analysis of the products is very basic at best. The reviewer usually gives very subjective personal opinions without presenting a clear picture for an intelligent reader to make up their own mind based on facts.

Trusted Reviews has become a site which insults our intelligence as technology enthusiasts and simply throws their biased and simplistic view of technology at us.

If you want an example of good tech journalism, just take a look at Anandtech


December 9, 2015, 3:21 am

The writing in the articles these days often has poor grammar, and looks like it was written by a 12 year old.

The analysis of the products is very basic at best. The reviewer usually gives very subjective personal opinions without presenting a clear picture for an intelligent reader to make up their own mind based on facts.

Trusted Reviews has become a site which insults our intelligence as technology enthusiasts and simply throws their biased and simplistic view of technology at us.

If you want an example of good tech journalism, just take a look at Anandtech


December 9, 2015, 3:30 am

I'm glad I'm not the only one getting disappointed with Trusted Reviews.

@TRUSTED REVIEWS, if you're reading this: I used to visit your site as my main source of tech news and reviews in the UK. If you simply don't value me as a reader, then just ignore mine and other people's comments here and carry on the trend of recent articles.

I'm not a troll, I'm technology enthusiast who wants to see fair and intelligent analysis of new tech. I very much hope you editors at Trusted Reviews take the criticism from everyone here seriously.


December 9, 2015, 8:12 am

I have a 950 XL since yesterday and boy am I glad.
I have proven to myself that I do good trusting my own opinion in matters I KNOW about (and tech is something I KNOW about, the last 32 years of my life, more than half professionally).
I made the switch from Android (and always on high-end devices) - I don't miss much yet and the "user experience" is high quality, which is what matters and seems people have forgotten.

Darmok N. Jalad

December 9, 2015, 2:23 pm

I agree with you on Anandtech, as they seem to be one of the few that still invest in reviewing. I have seen many "tech" sites now basically writing an editorial about a product. Sadly, many sites have just become soapboxes or clickbait for whatever they feel like talking about.

Joe Hammerdink

December 9, 2015, 9:11 pm

Give me a break.

I have had the 950 since launch. I haven't encountered ANY bugs. None. Unlike Android which still to this day is steaming pile of bugs.

The camera is absolutely stunning.
Continuum if you need it.
Integrates seamlessly with your desktop.
The UI is hands-down the best in the business. No contest.
Wireless charging.
USB Type-C.
The battery is removable.
It has expandable storage.

Dull Design? I love the design. It doesn't have signal reducing metal in it and I love that it's light AND powerful. When did all these braindead morons decide that a phone needs to weigh more than a car and be filled with metal and useless junk to qualify as "premium"? THIS is a premium phone. It has all the specs you could want and they didn't waste time with materials that actually IMPEDE the performance. Stop trying to make your phone some reflection of success.

Top of class screen. Hold it up to any other phone in the store.

The app gap is the only point I concede and I do that with hesitation. I haven't found one single app that didn't have a replacement for it on the Windows app store that I actually use regularly. If you have 50 million one-off apps to every little bank branch in America then you aren't going to find it. But pretty much everything else is there. I don't let apps dictate my platform anyways. I will say the worst thing about Android is the CONSTANT app updates. 20 a day. Literally. If you get busy and don't update for a week or 2 you are looking at 100+ updates and a hour or so. Absurd.

The open source model is old-fashioned at this point and isn't really a selling feature. I will stick with a platform that is "open" but also has SOME QA.

Windows 10 mobile and specifically the Lumia 950 and 950 XL is the smoothest experience you can currently get on a phone. There are so many features that make you raise an eyebrow at other platforms and wonder what the hell they are doing.

If you value function over "form" then switch to Windows mobile. If you value usability and pure tech power then switch to Windows mobile. If you like control over your phone and updates and everything else that annoys you about iOS and Android switch.

I am migrating my entire family over to Windows Phone. It's cheaper by far ($149 with 2/yr), has features that actually matter, and it just feels futuristic.

I have yet to see reviews that aren't clearly written by very biased Apple or Android fanboys that couldn't write an objective article to save their life. The FACTS are Windows Mobile 10 and the Lumia 950 series stands absolutely toe to toe on most points and destroys the competition on the others. Other that "lack of apps", it's a better phone and experience on every level.

If you are a business user buy this phone now. With office along with presentation features and the dock it's a no-brainer. This is an elite class business phone for actually DOING work.

Alex Mason

December 10, 2015, 12:09 pm

I think these things are stop gaps until a proper "surface team" designed phone arrives.

Alex Mason

December 10, 2015, 12:13 pm

Have to agree. Used all but blackberry in my time and I would rate Android (which I currently use on HTC One M8) bottom. It does do a lot and is flexible, but I don't find it that user friendly, its still got an air of needing some nerd knowledge to get things sorted (see 1000's of individual folders turning up in gallery because Facebook installed new emoji icons). And then theres just the speed of it, often it just grinds to a halt for no reason. I've even found temperamental WiFi access points cause the phone to start stuttering and chugging. No idea why that should be, but it does. Constant app updates and having to use crap cleaner frequently to free up space (despite having not that many apps). I'd love to know what its harvesting!

I'd rate iOS on top and the main reason is the high number and high quality of apps. But for actual OS use, ignoring the apps, I think WP is right up there. Its gloriously smooth and fast, even on low end hardware.


December 10, 2015, 12:14 pm

This is a very nice self set trap.
If people don't buy these "stop gaps", Microsoft won't give much attention to the department.
Waiting and waiting never helps progress. Both for consumers and for companies.
I got 950 XL and boy did I do well! Very happy with the device.
"User experience" is great, something I have long forgotten.

Alex Mason

December 10, 2015, 12:15 pm

I am not sure they even tested the eye-scanning thing? Many reviews already mention you have to hold it too close to your face and its too slow to unlock in a seamless operation unlike Touch ID/Android equivalent. Not sure what they've done differently because by all accounts the implementation on Surface Pro 4 is exactly the fluid experience you'd expect.

I think FB does need work. It is an app I use a fair bit, but Twitter? The official app is kinda irrelevent IMO, there are very good third party twitter clients on WP and the same goes for YouTube (myTUBE for example).


December 14, 2015, 4:04 pm

Here my own feedback on the phone after using it for 6 days now.

I’m very happy with the Lumia 950 XL. I used to have a 1020 and then a
930. I was a bit disappointed with the 930 because of the Camera and
lack of Glance screen. Everything else was good but not perfect. In my
opinion the 950 XL fix all the problems.

Negative point: Finishing touch of the case does not feel Premium.
Camera and Screen looks brilliant and Premium. Solution here is to order
one of the case from Mozo, they are expensive but Premium look and

No oversampling in the Microsoft Photo app / Microsoft Camera.

On the positive side of things:

# Camera is much much better than the 930. Not as much detailed as the
one on the 1020 when zooming (a lot) at the picture but very very close
and the camera is also much much faster. Globally I’m very happy as I
was very disappointed with the camera on the 930. Macro (close-up) and
nigh shots are again very close or sometimes better than the 1020.

# Support for Micro SD card.

# Glance screen is finally back and I love it.

# Continuum works very good. So far only few Apps are compatible but
I’m confident it will increase. So far All MS apps are compatible
(Groove Music, Microsoft Photo, Outlook, Word, PowerPoint etc…) and also
FaceBook, TripAdvisor, FitBit, Uber. I’m looking forward to see
TubeCast and Plex compatible with Continuum. So far I only had a chance
to test it Wirelessly and it works very well. My free dock should arrive
in the coming weeks.

# Windows Hello is also a good surprise since I now see MS
Application such as OneDrive and Third Party Application such as
iHeartRadio using it to login rather than using a regular password. Just
using Windows Hello to unlock the device is fun and works very well and
quick but it is not that useful. However if in the future more apps use
it and we don’t need to enter password anymore, then it will become my
favorite new feature…


December 18, 2015, 6:02 pm

Alastair Stevenson, how long time do you use a windows phone? your article looks that do not spend enough time for review or journalistic capacity is limited, let me explain ... Windows 10 is the easiest and beautiful operating system to use. Anyone can tell me that cell can have 256 GB of storage? Windows Phone has it (see photo), MS Office by default and free, Live Tiles look super cool and not boring like the others, Hey Cortana is the future now. Mr. Stevesnon need to see that cell should be examined for the possible potential use, not specifications. Give 6/10 is irresponsible on their part.


December 22, 2015, 8:13 pm

For the life of me I can't understand why Lumia phones in general and the new 950 and XL are slammed by just about every review you read. A quick look at the Nexus 5X, and apart from the ugly lump housing the camera, the Nexus 6P shows that there is very little difference in the design of those and the two Lumia 950s yet you NEVER see the design of the Nexus' criticised anywhere.

I'm not a fan of any brand, I just want a decent phone that works well and having spent weeks reading reviews and looking at just about every other premium phone on the market I went for the 950 XL because those who had purchased it had nothing but good things to say about it. Well I figured that they can't all be wrong, and the result is I now have a phone that matches every other flagship in every way except for two points - the screen and the stunning camera, which easily surpass anything else I have seen. The photos will blow you away.

The case isn't flimsy at all and is obviously designed to accommodate wireless charging - incidentally you will wonder how you ever lived without it - and so the panel doesn't get permanently bent when removing it to swap memory cards or batteries. Obviously it will also help absorb more shock when dropped. I'm stunned that people who presumably review phones on a regular basis don't get this. It looks professional rather than blingy and you would not be embarrassed to show it to your friends who will be so impressed with the screen they won't be interested in anything else. Who sits looking at the back of their phone anyway?

Bugs? What bugs? Everything is beautifully smooth, the swipe keyboard is an absolute delight to use, the operating system is both smoke and great fun with so many options to design your home screen, and although I have only used Continuum for an hour using Miracast, it works wonderfully well and is a fantastic feature. Once you train the eye scanner it works every time too, even in a dark room with only my TV on.

All I can say to anybody interested in this phone that is put off by the reviews, take no notice of them. This is a brilliant phone that is more than a match for anything out there. You want bugs? Stick with Android - why do you think they are constantly changing the OS? Barely worth mentioning the ever so boring iphone as it's streets behind this Lumia. The only bad thing about it is the stream of our reviews which seem to be everywhere. I just don't get it because I can't put this phone down. Oh, and there are way more apps out there than you will ever need, and you get Microsoft Office too.


February 16, 2016, 9:20 pm

Tech Review sites get incentives to promote certain manufacturers & give them glowing reviews. I'm like you, cannot understand why they are so negative towards certain brands. It can only be they are given incentives to promote.

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