Microsoft’s Windows Phones, the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, went on sale in the US yesterday, initiating a first round of reviews from all over the web. We reviewed the Lumia 950 and rated the device very highly based mostly on its hardware. Although the scores varied, the media had the same reaction to the 950 as well.
The Verge’s actual review of the Lumia 950 was quite disappointing, lacking in detail and fiercely negative. It overlooked several qualities of the device and unnecessarily looked down on the hardware. I agree the Lumia 950 is no the absolute best phone you can buy tis year, however, its hardware and feature set is fiercely competitive to the point that it doesn’t deserve the score that Daniel Siefert gives it. He approaches the device in a manner that can best be described as “in bad faith”, and unsurprisingly, utterly dislikes it.
With that in mind, I think Dieter’s short and concise review is the one the Verge should have actually run with.
It seems like Microsoft nailed all the stuff it was able to nail, except hardware design. But the specs are fine and Continuum is a really great start. But it’s just a start, and way too soon to tell if it the continuum ecosystem can grow into something really cool. There are just a million things that Microsoft has to push back against to make this phone a success. It’s not going to be easy
The good: Easily connects to monitor, mouse, and keyboard; Excellent camera, Good battery life
The bad: Limited selection of apps; Fairly basic design
Who should buy it: Windows fans that primarily use their phone for productivity
The bottom line: The Lumia 950 is a nice phone that can act as a full PC when you need it to, but the app selection on Windows is still limited.
Joanna Stern concludes
If phones will one day replace our computers, we’re going to choose the phones with the apps and services we already love. Unfortunately for Microsoft, right now those are iPhones and Android phones, which already work great with Microsoft’s own apps and services.
It feels like the Lumia 950 is a proof of concept that might help Microsoft get momentum for its new strategy. But I can’t recommend buying a $600 proof of concept. For now, your phone stays … a phone
In their first impressions, they note:
Despite some of the issues I’ve run into, this is still probably the best Windows Phone yet. Well, the Lumia 950 XL – a slightly modified big brother with a larger screen and a faster processor – might actually be the best, but I haven’t spent time with that.
This is good news for Windows Phone fans who have been waiting for a new flagship. I don’t want to spoil thoughts for my review just yet, but I really like the screen, the design, the camera, and the idea of what Continuum and the app store can eventually offer.
I think it’s really important to keep in mind that some of these bugs I ran into can probably be addressed with software updates. And the app situations has the potential to improve quickly, but only if developers are willing to port their apps. That hasn’t always been the case in the past.
Peter Bright was semi-impressed with the 950. While he found the hardware powerful, the polycarbonate design and the non-functionality of the iris scanner for his use case put him off.
The Lumia 950 is a nice phone. The screen is very pretty. The camera is great. Its looks don’t excite me, but it feels solid. I’m sure Windows 10 Mobile will get better.
But I think the iris scanner was a mistake—Microsoft should have gone with a fingerprint reader—and the lack of all-carrier CDMA support hurts. And while Continuum is interesting and fascinates me in some ways, as things stand right now with limited availability both of Universal Windows Apps and hardware to use Continuum with, it’s not a reason to buy a Windows phone. Not yet.
If the Lumia 950 were more keenly priced then it might be easier to get excited about it. Along with its bigger brother, it fills a glaring gap in the Lumia range and does at last offer an upgrade path. For Windows Phone fans (and I am one), this phone, or its bigger brother, is much needed and very welcome. But this is not a phone that is likely to win over new converts. It does its job, and it keeps the platform ticking over. The struggle to attract new users, however, remains.
That’s just about every Lumia 950 review there is. It is important to note that how the reviewer approaches the review is down to their own individual biases and experience. For example, WMPoweruser are the perfect target audience for the 950, we can approach it and see it from the point of view of a Windows user while still appreciating its shortcomings- albeit in the abstract.
The Verge, WSJ and other sites primarily rely on iOS and Android and will have a set of apps and experiences that they would like to replicate and may not be able to do so. That too will colour their reviews.
Overall, what you need to know is that the device is impressive. If you’re a Windows Phone user looking for an upgrade, the Lumia 950 is a 9/10 and ticks just about every box you could ever want. If you’re an iOS and Android user, the Lumia 950 is top of the line hardware – however – unless you particularly like Windows 10 and don’t think you’ll be missing anything, it most likely won’t pull you over. That is the consensus and overall I agree with that.
What do you think of the Lumia 950? Discuss in the comments below.