My first impressions of the Lumia 950

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After much delay I finally have a Lumia 950 in my hands, courtesy of Clove UK.

And right off the bat, I have to say I am impressed with the device.  From a design point of view, from the front it really looks like any other high-end handset, with the stepped edges (due to the wrap around back) adding a pleasing detail, and the expansive, massive and vibrant screen speaking for itself. The curved edges also make the device feel even thinner than it is and makes it very comfortable to hold.

Around the back everything is also pretty good, until one gets to the camera module, whose design I just can’t agree with. Ignoring that however I am otherwise perfectly happy.

The handset is impressively thin and light, and in those terms feels like a huge upgrade from the Lumia 930.

While the back is smooth and slightly slippery, the whole device overall is not, due to being light and due to having a complex stepped edge which exposes some of the grippy glass to your fingers, and also being quite narrow for its size. It therefore always sits very securely in your hand.

Getting the device open to get the nanoSIM in was a massive struggle but you only have to do that once or twice. In use I found the OS fast and super smooth, and the touch screen responsive, without the funny taps interpreted as gestures I have been seeing on my Lumia 930 with Windows 10 recently.

The screen is amazing, as no matter how hard I tried I could not see any pixels. The return of the Glance screen was a welcome surprise, after getting used to not having it for more than a year. Double tap to wake is missed, coming of the 930.

Camera start-up and shot to shot times feels about twice as fast as my Lumia 930, and the pictures have a certain clarity, particularly on the screen of the device, that make them seem somewhat surreal. The front facing camera also seems to work really well in low light and back-lit images.

I’ve already been using Windows 10 on my Lumia 930 for a few weeks, but it feels like a different OS on the 950, smooth and reliable.  Note than I did install Build .29 on my handset as part of the set up process.

Windows Hello works well most of the time. It did not work with my slightly tinted prescription glasses and I found looking at the red light made it more reliable, and certainly when it worked, it did work faster than typing in your pin, contrary to the criticism I have heard from some.  It does need one to lift the device up somewhat unnaturally to your face however so it’s not something that is easy to do discreetly in your office.

I of course had to connect a keyboard and mouse to the handset (over bluetooth) and due to the navigation buttons being on screen rather than physical I can now actually return to the start screen from an app using the mouse cursor, something which was impossible on the Lumia 930. Also by hiding the navigation keys (swipe up from the bezel) you can effectively lock less technical people into the application you left them in e.g. the photos app or browser, which is a plus this holiday season, when you may be passing snaps around.

Fast charging worked as advertised taking the device from about 25% charge when it arrived to 75% in less than an hour.  The reversible USB-C connector was as convenient as advertised. The handset has spent most of its time on the charger so far, but for the few hours I did have it off the battery meter hardly budged.

Build quality seems great, the buttons are clicky and easy to feel, and the handset does not creak.

As our readers may have gathered, coming from a Lumia 930, I am pretty happy with the device as an upgrade.

Our full and rather more professional Lumia 950 review can be read here.

Thank you to Clove for providing the handset, which they are selling for £449 unlocked here.

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