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Microsoft Lumia 950 vs iPhone 6S

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Lumia 950

Lumia 950 vs iPhone 6S: Do you go Apple or Microsoft?

Microsoft has just announced its first flagship Windows 10 smartphone, the Lumia 950, alongside the super-sized Lumia 950 XL. What chance does the smaller device have against the mighty iPhone 6S, though?

We're not talking about a simple sales projection here, of course. That would be a little pointless given Apple's current, nigh-on unassailable position.

From a pure hardware standpoint, however, the Lumia 950 is clearly specced to impress, and it points to a much stronger future for Microsoft in mobile. Check out how it compares to the current smartphone king, the iPhone 6S.

Related: Surface Pro 4 vs Surface Pro 3 - What's new?

Lumia design

The iPhone looks much better

Microsoft didn't really talk about the design of the Lumia 950 at its launch event, and it's easy to see why. From the outside this looks to be a device born of a previous generation, back when Nokia was still making Windows phones.

As such, we get what appears to be a chunky, all-polycarbonate smartphone body. It's rather 2011.

The iPhone 6S is hardly the most handsome phone Apple has ever made, but it looks a good deal more premium than the Lumia 950. It's made of series 7000 aluminium, which makes it a tougher proposition than previous models, and its rounded edges give it a subtle allure in the hand.

In design terms, the iPhone 6S is the clear winner here. Now, if Microsoft were to let the team behind a the Surface Pro 4 free on a phone design, then we'd have a contest...

3D Touch

Microsoft has won the resolution game

The Lumia 950 packs a 5.2-inch QHD OLED display, which means that it's much bigger and much sharper than the iPhone 6S's 4.7-inch LCD screen.

It'll also have more vibrant colours and deeper blacks, thanks to the use of OLED technology. Microsoft can thank the old Nokia team for that, as they were one of the only manufacturers other than Samsung to build up a significant body of work using such screen tech.

Of course, it remains to be seen if Microsoft can get the colour accuracy and balance right, which is often the issue with OLED screens.

On the flip side, it's OLED technology that enables the Lumia 950's Glance screen feature. This actually dates back to Nokia's independent days, but Glance enables only some of the screen to light up and provide key information.

Apple's flagship phone, meanwhile, provides 3D Touch technology. This is an innovative pressure-sensitive input system that its rivals are sure to want to copy over the coming years. It really is that transformational - at least potentially.

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iPhone 6S

These should be two very fast smartphones

It seems as if the iPhone 6S will have a considerable power advantage over the Lumia 950, based on the raw components used. The Snapdragon 808 is a capable chip, but it benchmarks far lower than the monstrous Apple A9 powering the iPhone 6S.

Apple has even closed the gap on its rivals in the RAM stakes, doubling up to 2GB. The Lumia 950 has 3GB, but one suspects that it needs the extra headroom to run Windows 10 (more on which later).

One point in the Lumia 950's favour here is the presence of liquid cooling technology. We haven't seen this in a smartphone before, but it could potentially enable its processor to run at full pelt for longer.

We'll have to wait and see how that particular component plays out.

Both go big on the cameras

As we've already made reference to, Microsoft's Lumia team used to be Nokia, so the camera on the Lumia 950 will almost certainly be awesome.

Sure enough, it's a 20-megapixel PureView number with Carl Zeiss optics - a sentence that will warm the cockles of many a faithful Nokia fan.

You also get optical image stabilisation, which is something the iPhone 6S lacks, and a triple LED flash system where the iPhone 6S only has a double.

Both can handle 4K video.

Of course, it remains to be seen how the Lumia 950 actually performs as a day to day shooter, but there's genuine pedigree here. Oh, and the Lumia 950 also has a dedicated camera button, which wins it extra brownie points from us.

Related: Lumia 950 vs Lumia 950XLLumia camera

Storage wars

Surprisingly, there'll only be one storage option for the Lumia 950, and that's a rather modest 32GB.

Still, it's not as modest as the entry-level iPhone 6S, which comes with a pitiful 16GB of storage. You do get 64GB and 128GB options too, however.

On the flip side, the Lumia comes with a microSD slot, which has become a rare feature in a 2015 flagship smartphone. The iPhone 6S, as always, doesn't have the ability to expand its storage in this way.

Fingerprint vs iris

Apple was the company that really pushed biometric security into the smartphone mainstream with TouchID.

What's more, the iPhone 6S comes with a much improved TouchID system, which means that it detects your fingerprint much quicker and more accurately than before.

The Lumia 950 doesn't have a fingerprint sensor, but that's because it attempts something much more ambitious. It comes with an iris reader that scans your eyes.

It remains to be seen if this is as intuitive, fast, and reliable as TouchID and other touch-based security systems, but it should prove to be more secure.

Related: Windows Phone 10 Mobile Features

Lumia Continuum

Which OS do you prefer?

And so to the crux of this comparison. These two phones are mainly separated by their software, and the opposing visions of their manufacturers.

Apple's iOS 9 is the latest version of a bespoke mobile OS, designed specifically for use on portable devices - though playing increasingly nicely with Apple's OS X desktop OS.

Microsoft's Windows 10, by contrast, has been designed to run on all form factors, including smartphones like the Lumia 950.

The Lumia 950's biggest selling point over the iPhone 6S, then, is that you can plug in a monitor, mouse, and keyboard, and you'll get a passable PC experience. It's a feature Microsoft calls Continuum.

Universal Windows 10 apps on your phone will scale seamlessly to the plugged-in monitor, boosting productivity and negating the need to rely quite so much on cloud-based syncing when you can literally get the task done on your phone.

That's the theory, at least. It remains to be seen if this works day to day, and at an acceptable speed, or if Apple's discrete solution remains the best. We're intrigued by the potential of Microsoft's approach, though.

Early Verdict

The Lumia 950 won't put a dent in iPhone sales, and we suspect that Microsoft knows this. It's a first generation Windows 10 product with a last generation design, and we suspect that the first great Windows phone is still to come (possibly in Surface form).

As a proof of concept, however - which is what the Lumia 950 seems to be - it's got some compelling features. Its camera promises to be excellent, its 4K OLED screen could well be a Galaxy S6-like stunner, and the prospect of a flexible PC-like experience on your phone is a tantalising one.

Right now, though, the Lumia 950 and its compact take on Windows 10 have everything to prove, and the iPhone 6S looks likely to remain the top dog for the foreseeable future.

Miffy Wiffy

October 6, 2015, 11:22 pm

iPhone now, Lumia next year when the app gap is closed.

smguk

October 7, 2015, 8:16 am

Alway's Windows Phone over iPhone Apple just got floored in all area's by Microsoft

Graham Culleton

October 7, 2015, 11:38 am

The MS phone ticks the boxes, now it's down to implementation of the features.

MattMe

October 7, 2015, 11:51 am

As cool as the iris scanner is, the fingerprint scanner could be a big deal if we're to start using mobile phone for payments. Seems easier to hold it in your hand, finger on the scanner, then to hold it up to your face whilst paying for something.

lee taylor

October 7, 2015, 11:49 pm

Tested iphone 6s camera today, and saw massive noise reduction, sharpening, and information void. vodafone ultra 6 (£125) camera seems better, and device runs android - big bonus in my view. Is it not a better phone, being more capable than most people need? Why keep using iphones as benchmarks, as system extremely restrictive and so over valued? Why do so many people not just list their needs and identify the device best suited? You got to accept, sooner or later, that shiny isn't necessarily better. Apple, I believe, deserve to be seen as merely masters of milking the foolish. I get upset to see so many being ripped off, and so much power going to such practitioners. But people keep buying, and just make shallow excuses when questioned. People - so badly flawed and easily led, and now it's 2015. The future looks bleak.

lee taylor

October 8, 2015, 12:03 am

App gap? What are you trying to do? Are you sure windows can't do it better? Or do you mean 'perception of wealth'?

Munchy

October 27, 2015, 11:08 pm

I actually think both phones are ugly. I cant believe people think the iPhone 6 or 6s looks nice. It feels great in the hands but its so plain and well doesn't match up to their previous designs. Its not even close. Personally I think the 950 has a lot more character but again i LOVE WINDOWS and have a 930 that i love and still i think the 950 is ugly, just not as ugly as the iPhone 6 series phones. Lg, sony, Samsung and hwati all have much better looking phones but I'm a windows os fan and not android. Ill end up bying the 950 after all its lighter( and i like heavy phones, unlike my iPhone friends who hate heavy phones but 1-2 years later they are using a 6s plus that's much heavier than my 930 the one they said was to heavy lol, i have to laugh at people attitudes.), has a sd slot, beter processor, Better screen and well glance is cool but i love the os. I used iPhone for 6 years , it gets all rather boring after all that time. Windows phone made me interested in my phone again. I hope they have a replacement back that's metal sides and bright green or orange cause then I'm all in. Its all about individual tastes when it comes to the looks of the phone but spec wise the 950 wins. Apart from 3d touch but then again I'm happy with windows 8.1 and now 10 and all the options and ui i get.
I think hello iris scan is great on tablets and your desktop but i have a feeling id rather have a fingerprint scanner on the phone, but lets wait and see i might change my mind once i try it.
You pick a iPhone because of the eco system that's pretty much the only reason these days, competition from android and windows offers well sometimes and often superior products. Things like miricast that is more widespread than airplay or fully working nfc like on windows and android unlike iphones restricted nfc for their apple pay and iwatch.
If windows equalled iPhone and android in apps you would quickly see adoption and you would see a lot of fans on other phones change, and why well boredom. Change is good. Hell my 930 did everything my 6 years on iPhone did and a could of extra things too. Gesters beta anyone,, live tiles, pivoting system, glance oh the other day i took a photo on my phone and my iPhone friend told me to hook it up by usb to the computer and drag the image on my desktop. I simply went to one drive and it was already there on my pc. He was lost for iPhone words lol. I kinda loved that moment :))

People don't yet understand how good the windows phones are because of the app issue but it will change, well i hope so cause non living tiles would suck at this stage to me.

Munchy

October 27, 2015, 11:21 pm

id defiantly avoid Vodaphone their customer service sucks if you have phone issues they largely try to ignore you.

Munchy

October 27, 2015, 11:23 pm

i wish mbut its gona take more than 1 year to close such a big app gap. I personally iuse about 30 apps daily and have 267 currently on my phone, all very high quality apps and some games but there is 1-2 id like that are missing but its not enough for me to go change os.

lee taylor

October 27, 2015, 11:26 pm

Well you don't have to stay with vodafone. You can unlock the device for £2.99 via ebay, and once you've deleted the few vodafone apps you're free as a bird to go where you please. It is just a phone, after all!

TheNash

November 3, 2015, 4:25 pm

It's less about the apps Microsoft makes and more about if they can entice third party developers to port their iOS/Android apps over to WP10. Many of the few who tried on WP8 eventually abandoned their apps because of the lack of users compared to the competition.

With smartphones, it doesn't matter if you have the best hardware ever... if you don't have a strong app ecosystem then a lot of users won't be interested

Munchy

November 20, 2015, 4:46 pm

I have a contract with Vodaphone so yes until it runs out I do have to stay with Vodaphone, and this has nothing to do with the apps Vodaphone installs on my phone, I disabled them, its to do with a Vodaphone app to tell me what my data usage is, my messages and my phone usage.) Why do you think I was talking about removing Vodaphone apps or getting unlocked. I don't need to pay 2.899 cause in December next year itll be free, a simple phone call will do it. Not the built in windows thing is not good enough and going to the webpage and creating a shortcut is not a option. I just want to make sure people know vodaphone didn't support the 21 thousand people that asked for a windows app for the last 3 years even though most other service providers offered one.

Its just a phone to me really dude? its just a phone thast cost me just 40 pounds a month, that's just 480 pounds uk a year that's 960 pounds in the 2 years and I do expect a windows app from a company I pay 960 pounds min a year when they sell me that device.

My phone is pretty much so much more than a phone to me.
1)Its my personal assistant,
2)my alarm clock
opps 12)my portable media centre for flims via plex and Netflix especially while cooking,
3)its my wireless music Centre that Bluetooth to my speaker when I have a bath or cook,
4)its my pod caster,
5)my preferred you tube portal,
6)its my messaging apps like skype that is video calling or whats app to my family in different parts of the world,
7)its my games console for those long toilet stints,
8)its my camera to send pictures which I take many a day,
9)its my you tube chanel that I record in 4k and output to 1080p which gives me a lot of movement on my shots,
10)and it used to be my microsphne but that changes today.
11)Its also my sat nav and map main utility go too device.
and it does more but I'm bored.

Now I know everyone doesn't use their smart phone like me but most of my friends do and neither is wrong or right but my phone is so so much more than JUST a phone to me and I feel privileged to live in a era where it is such. If you just use your phone to telephone people well power to you but that isn't me. So yeh Vodaphone should have supported me and the other 21 thousand people in their forums yes many people counted it and it was just over 21 thousand people who wanted a windows phone app, something that takes about 40-60 hours to make and then then maybe a 4-8 hours a week job after that, after all its just a web rap.) with the employment of 1 person to make a very simple windows 8.1 phone app for windows phone instead of using so called Vodaphone forum champions, another word for Vodaphone bum lickers to anger their users more with some of the most stupid comments ever made.
In 10 months ill unlock my phone then I will move but ill also get a new phone. Like I said I am on a contract and if I leave now I get stung with a huge bill so its just not worth it. The main purpose of my comments is to let people know how shambolic, how let downs and how bad Vodaphone and their customer services are. If your buying a windows phone do your self a favour stay away from Vodaphone. Or at least ask them if they have a app for windows 10 mobile phone you are buying, I bet they'll tell you there's a workaround and it involves the words web and shortcut, save and pin to start, and if you don't know what those words mean and your making the move to windows it means Vodaphone hate customer services.

Munchy

November 20, 2015, 5:09 pm

I think id have preferred a heavier metal casing and a none protruding camera and well to be fair id personally rather have a fingerprint scanner for the phone. I think the iris scanner is awesome on tablets and laptops but on phones its a lot slower than say picking up the iPhone and its just on particularly the iPhone 6plus, that's way fast, but I love windows phones so yeh specs are great.

Munchy

November 20, 2015, 5:20 pm

if you go to the app store spend one hour in the games secion its a huge gap , after 1 year on my faverite phone and os of all time the 930 and 8.1 I am now struggling to find games I want to play, buyt they are all on the iPhone. Strangely android miss some of them but its beter by a big shot that windows mobile gaming. For me id like a bank app and flick nfl and Vodaphone app lol but I know most younger people need googles services, snapchat aloe and theres more but those alone represent a huge a significant user base that just wont want to even try windows and that's the reall app gap people are talking about. I have my gmail on my phone in the mail app I don't use hangouts. I do have 2 greta you tub apps both I think are better than my 6 years on iPhone but if google had its own you tube app I would consider using it.
The app gap is real unfortunately google know that the day they put their apps on windows phone is the day android will start loosing a lot of customers, so they aint rushing to help. IPhone well iPhone are great id sugest iPhone over android anyday but I don't think windows will win over apple users not when apple double icloud storage for free and microsoft just want to screw over all their users by removing the 15 or 30 gig they gave everyone and take it away oh and they halfed the storage capacity of their subscription OneDrive service but effectively that's doubling the cost for loyal windows users. And I think ione drive is great but hell microsoft just blew what trust they managed to muster after the surface book.
Perception of wealth has nothing to do with microsoft situation, microsoft are just very slow company, slow at releasing new products, new updates, slow at treating customers they way they need to, slow at being honest, slow at adding and fast at taking away phone features. They are possibly the worst big company I have ever seen at marketing, they timeing on onedrive just before 950 sales sucked loads. I love windows products but how can we say microsoft is a good company anymore and keep a straight face?

Brian D

January 2, 2016, 4:16 pm

I think the Iris scanner is because of where these phones are designed, Finland. Nokia (now MS) phones have had ultra high sensitivity touch screens, for quite a while now, that work through gloves, so this means you can unlock and use your phone w/o removing your gloves at all.

lcd recycling machine

March 27, 2016, 3:24 am

Third, don't get in the habit of stuffing the iPhone in a front or back pocket. This may be difficult to do, and of course you are likely going to do it anyway, but be warned. While the iPhone is built strong and made to last, continually sitting on your cell phone or exposing it to keys or other sharp objects in your pockets can quickly cause it harm. You will have to either replace the entire phone or look for a relatively expensive replacement LCD for the iPhone. Even if you can find a cheaper replacement LCD screen online, you don't want to have to do either. If you must choose between the front and back pocket, go with the front pocket and be sure to place keys in the other pockets. This way you will never inadvertently sit on your iPhone.

cell phone screen recycling

June 24, 2016, 11:45 am

Getting a replacement LCD for iPhone is not very difficult. While this replacement part generally costs you more than most other parts in a cell phone, it is possible to find one for less.

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