Microsoft Lumia 950 XL review: The Master Chief

The Master Chief

GSMArena team, 07 December, 2015.


Microsoft Lumia 950 XL, the long-awaited comeback of the Windows phone phablet, is eagerly anticipated by every fan of the brand. It makes use of one of the best hardware around and it's the perfect demo platform for all newly introduced Windows 10 Mobile features.

The improvements that the Lumia 950 XL has compared to the Lumia 950 include the bigger screen (5.7" vs. 5.2") and the beefier chipset (an eight-core Snapdragon 810 vs. a six-core Snapdragon 808). The new liquid cooling system is also welcome, and hopefully it can take off some of the extra the heat generated while playing games or using Windows Continuum.

Hardware-wise, the Lumia 950XL has a lot going on for it. Windows 10 Mobile has also evolved into a well-rounded mobile OS and the prospects for its app eco system are brighter than ever, now that the long awaited universal apps will bring some cross-platform sharing of applications with desktop computers. Windows Continuum is another unique proposition, while Windows Hello is among the first iris-scanner based mobile authentication solutions. But before we get any further into that, here's our cheat sheet of the main specs points.

Key features

  • Windows 10 Mobile with Continuum support (via dock, HDMI adapter or Miracast), Display Dock is bundled in some markets
  • 5.7" Quad HD AMOLED display of 518ppi, ClearBlack technology, Glance Screen; Gorilla Glass 4
  • Snapdragon 810 with liquid cooling: octa-core processor with 4x 2.0GHz Cortex-A57 and 4x 1.5GHz Cortex -A53, Adreno 430 GPU, 3GB of RAM
  • 20MP BSI PureView camera sensor, ZEISS optics, optical image stabilization, tri-LED RGB flash, Rich Capture, RAW capture, Dynamic Flash, lossless zoom in the 8MP snaps, 50MP panoramic shots
  • 2160p video recording @30, 25 and 24 fps, 1080p video recording @ 60, 30, 25 and 24 fps; slow-mo capturing; Rich Audio Recording with four-directional microphones, lossless zoom in 1080p (3x) and 720p (4x) videos.
  • 5MP front-facing camera with 1080p@30fps video recording
  • 32GB of built-in storage; expandable via a microSD slot
  • Cat. 6 LTE (300/50Mbps); Dual SIM; Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; Bluetooth 4.1; GPS/GLONASS/Beidou; FM radio; USB Type-C port
  • Windows Hello user recognition with iris scanner
  • Active noise cancellation via dedicated mics
  • 3,340mAh battery with wireless charging (market-dependent)

Main disadvantages

  • Expensive at launch
  • No fingerprint reader (the lack is offset by the iris recognition)

Sure, Microsoft could have done better with the design, especially with such a high asking price. Matte plastic isn't considered premium anymore and whether the Lumia 950 series is entitled to such a high price tag is indeed debatable. Body materials are of course a matter of personal preference and some people may consider plastic to be more durable than glass and lighter than metal, not to mention that understated looks are actually preferred in certain circles.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL review

There are so many exciting features to discover that by the time we're finished, you would probably forget about the controversial matte finish altogether. The Lumia 950 XL is a phone that's easy to fall in love with. It has a promising specs sheet, and we already know first-hand that its sibling - the Lumia 950 - is a great phone, so join us as we attempt to find out whether the phablet in the family is actually any better or worse. Let's find out.

Reader comments

  • Anonymous
  • 01 Dec 2023
  • rZ1

Dual booting to Windows 10 on ARM was pretty neat. Too bad my battery died. It's really hard to find replacement batteries for old phones. I would still be using this if not for that.

  • Chisimdindu amalevi
  • 23 Sep 2023
  • mFd

I love the way that the made this phone

  • Manish
  • 15 Sep 2023
  • Dk5

Still this phone available?