If you'd expected the next Windows flagship to break pattern and came up with brand new looks, we have to disappoint you. There is no metal or glass on the Lumia 950 XL, just the good old matte polycarbonate. It sure looks good on the Lumia devices and makes them easily recognizable and unique, but we kind of expected more.
Anyway, the Lumia 950 XL, looks just like the Lumia 640 XL, it's just more powerful and offers a better display and camera. The phone is big, but not Lumia 1520 big, and feels great in hand thanks to the matte material.
The 5.7" Quad HD AMOLED display is superb and the ClearBlack tech provides for even deeper blacks. We've always loved the Glance Screen and we are glad Microsoft is sticking with it within the new Windows 10 OS.
The Lumia 950 XL offers flagship-grade power thanks to the latest generation Snapdragon 810 chip, coupled with 3GB of RAM. The new generation of this SoC offers better thermal management, thanks to a newly implemented liquid cooling much like the one found on the Surface Pro 3. Microsoft promises no heating problems and blazing fast performance.
Another major upgrade is the main 20MP PureView camera. In addition to the bigger sensor, it has been upgraded with ZEISS optics, optical stabilization and triple-LED RGB flash (no more red-eyes). It is placed on a circular piece of black glass that is making a small hump on the back.
The front camera is now a 5MP wide-angle one to help the selfie lovers. There is also iris recognition, which should compensate for the lack of fingerprint or similar advanced security tech.
The front of the Lumia 950 XL is occupied mostly by the screen, the earpiece and the front camera are above. All hardware keys are on the right of the smartphone, while the new USB Type C port is over at the bottom.
When handled, the Lumia 950 XL feels solidly built and grippy thanks to its matte polycarbonate shell. However, the smartphone can’t match today’s high-end Android smartphones or the Apple iPhone in terms of tactility. On this instance, the newcomer unfortunately feels like any other Microsoft Lumia device.
The Lumia 950 XL supports rich connectivity options including LTE Cat.6 support, Optional Dual SIM, plus it has wireless charging support out of the box. Windows 10 Continuum feature is also available via a Microsoft Display Dock - you can dock the Lumia 950 XL there and it will extend to a full-blown desktop Windows 10 on your external monitor.
This dock by the way is available for purchase, and it additionally supports mouse and keyboard input.
Windows 10 runs smooth on the Lumia 950 XL and while it looks a lot like its predecessor at first glance, there are major novelties that change the game. With the unification of Windows Desktop and Windows Phone we finally expect the Microsoft Store to catch up with apps.
We saw Windows Continuum on the Lumia 950 XL and it indeed transforms into a PC once connected to a monitor and keyboard via the dock. The Snapdragon 810 chip delivered lovely smooth performance with great multi-tasking, while you can still continue to use your phone. This feature alone makes the Lumia 950XL a worthy purchase.
Lumia 950 XL ticks all the right boxes and it is quite a tempting flagship. Hopefully, Microsoft's decision to stick with the old design won't hurt its sales. Microsoft will be selling the Lumia 950 XL for $649 starting this November.