Microsoft Lumia 950 XL review: The Master Chief

The Master Chief

GSMArena team, 07 December, 2015.

Display

The Lumia 950 XL's display is half an inch bigger than the one on the Lumia 950, but it keeps the same Quad HD resolution and uses a similar premium AMOLED panel. With a diagonal of 5.7-inches the screen is quite big, but thanks to the high resolution, the pixel density is superb at 518ppi.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL review

Looking at it from a side angle, the screen on the Lumia 950XL gets a slight greenish color cast, which the Lumia 950 doesn't have.

Similarly to the Lumia 950 however, the Lumia 950XL has only average maximum brightness (335nits) if you have the brightness control set to manual, but as soon as you switch to Auto, the phone will push the brightness all the way up to 705nits given the environment is bright enough. Both numbers are slightly higher than what we measured on the Lumia 950.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Microsoft Lumia 950 0.00 105 0.00 328
Microsoft Lumia 950 (max auto) - - - 0.00 626
Microsoft Lumia 950XL 0.00 115 0.00 335
Microsoft Lumia 950XL (max auto) - - - 0.00 705
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 0.00 172 - 410
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ max auto - - - - 540 -
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 0.10 150 1563 0.43 590 1382
Nokia Lumia 1520 0.22 263 1174 0.43 522 1207
Meizu Pro 5 0 102 0 321
OnePlus Two 0.16 180 1139 0.30 399 1334
LG G Flex2 0.00 152 0.00 398
Samsung Galaxy Note5 0.00 183 - 439


The screen features what used to be Nokia's ClearBlack tech - a polarization filter that's used to reduced glare (something like how polarized sunglasses work). That along with the Auto brightness peaking in bright light means the screen should be more readable in bright light and indeed, the Lumia 950 XL model scores great in our sunlight chart.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy E7
    4.485
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    4.033
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Microsoft Lumia 950XL
    3.837
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
    3.799
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Oppo R5
    3.678
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    3.675
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    3.567
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3.565
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    3.547
  • Motorola Nexus 6
    3.543
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    3.527
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    3.512
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3.509
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.487
  • vivo X5Max
    3.472
  • LG G Flex2
    3.465
  • YotaPhone 2
    3.453
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.42
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Active
    3.406
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    3.174
  • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Lenovo S90 Sisley
    2.892
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Samsung I8730 Galaxy Express
    2.861
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • Sony Xperia Z3+
    2.824
  • HTC Desire Eye
    2.815
  • Gionee Elife S5.1
    2.812
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.79
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • Meizu MX4 Pro
    2.765
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2.618
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia T3
    2.609
  • BlackBerry Passport
    2.595
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • vivo Xshot
    2.465
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro
    2.416
  • LG G Flex
    2.407
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • HTC Desire 820
    2.372
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Meizu MX4
    2.366
  • Meizu m1 note
    2.362
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    2.352
  • HTC One M9
    2.334
  • LG G4
    2.317
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • HTC One (M8) for Windows
    2.291
  • Oppo R1x
    2.281
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Nokia Asha 311
    2.25
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    2.193
  • HTC One (E8)
    2.185
  • Oppo N3
    2.181
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    2.17
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML
    2.149
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Nokia Lumia 620
    2.142
  • Nokia 515
    2.134
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • HTC Desire 500
    2.129
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    2.12
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    2.119
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    2.103
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • Sony Xperia SL
    2.078
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    2.056
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    2.024
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    2.022
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    1.992
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Oppo R819
    1.957
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    1.952
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • Sony Xperia E3
    1.943
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    1.941
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.94
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    1.935
  • Sony Xperia J
    1.932
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    1.931
  • ZTE Blade S6
    1.927
  • LG Nexus 4
    1.926
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
    1.913
  • Nokia Asha 308
    1.911
  • HTC Butterfly 2
    1.905
  • Sony Xperia T
    1.894
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    1.887
  • HTC Desire X
    1.878
  • HTC Windows Phone 8X
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly S
    1.867
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    1.845
  • LG G2 mini
    1.838
  • LG G3
    1.82
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    1.813
  • HTC Desire 616 dual sim
    1.797
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.783
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    1.769
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • LG Optimus G
    1.753
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.74
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
    1.735
  • Acer Liquid Jade S
    1.734
  • Sony Xperia SP
    1.733
  • Oppo Find 7
    1.691
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    1.672
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • LG Optimus 3D Max
    1.658
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
    1.632
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • Microsoft Lumia 532
    1.615
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Microsoft Lumia 435
    1.598
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Sony Xperia go
    1.577
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160
    1.566
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    1.507
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320
    1.488
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Oppo N1
    1.47
  • Sony Xperia E4
    1.467
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1.462
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos
    1.4
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    1.38
  • Sony Xperia E1
    1.372
  • Nokia Lumia 625
    1.371
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1.35
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
    1.35
  • HTC Desire 510
    1.34
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1.331
  • Sony Xperia miro
    1.324
  • Samsung I9082 Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    1.315
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    1.311
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Nokia Asha 503
    1.281
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.27
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Nokia Lumia 510
    1.268
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame
    1.245
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Samsung Galaxy Young
    1.22
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215
  • Nokia XL
    1.204
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176C
    1.198
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.18
  • Nokia Asha 305
    1.178
  • Nokia Asha 306
    1.175
  • Sony Xperia neo L
    1.169
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    1.161
  • Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos
    1.148
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

Another positive remark we have about the screen is the excellent color rendering. The average DeltaE is only 1.6 is certainly among the lowest average deviations we've seen on a mobile phone - it's even lower than the Lumia 950. Furthermore, the highest recorded deviation is only 2.9 - an impressive score indeed. You have got to remember that anything below 3 is considered calibration-level color accuracy so we're really happy with the fact that Microsoft provides such color accuracy out of the box.

Microsoft has also supplied the Lumia 950 XL with its Color Profile app that lets you tune the saturation and color balance to your liking.

Battery life

The Lumia 950 XL comes powered by a beefy 3,340 mAh battery, 10% bigger than the one inside the Lumia 950. The phone supports fast charging and can recharge up to 50% of the battery capacity in just 30 minutes. Wireless charging is available, too.

The more demanding chipset and bigger screen didn't give us indications for a better battery endurance than the Lumia 950, yet it happened.

The Lumia 950 XL scored an overall endurance rating of 62 hours, while it did great on all three standalone tests. The standby performance turned out below average though at about 6 and a half days, and thus it played a great part in lowering the expected overall score.

The 62h rating means you can count on two and a half days if you do an hour each of calling, browsing and video playback a day. Opting to put a second SIM slot almost halves the standby time, which lowered the final endurance rating down to 47 hours.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL review

Such usage pattern is of course entirely artificial, but we've established it so our battery results are comparable across devices.

Our proprietary score also includes a standby battery draw test, which is not featured in our battery test scorecard but is calculated in the total endurance rating. Our battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you want to learn more about it.

Connectivity

The Lumia 950 XL supports 12 or 14 LTE bands (market dependent), there is rich 3G and quad-band GSM support, too. The phone uses one or two nano-SIM cards to tap to cellular networks.

The rest of the wireless connectivity features include dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac support. There is also support for Bluetooth 4.1, GPS and GLONASS, plus an FM radio. Wireless screen mirroring is available via the Miracast protocol.

The Lumia 950 XL supports USB Type-C - it's the new reversible connector for USB that builds on top of USB 3.1. If you like to use USB OTG or USB Host, you should either get the Microsoft's Display Dock or other compatible accessory or adapter.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL review: The Microsoft Display Dock Microsoft Lumia 950 XL review: The Microsoft Display Dock Microsoft Lumia 950 XL review: The Microsoft Display Dock Microsoft Lumia 950 XL review: The Microsoft Display Dock
The Microsoft Display Dock

The dock also allows you to connect the phone to an external monitor and is the backbone for enabling the full-blown Windows Continuum experience. Make note that you can also use Continuum over the standard wireless Miracast protocol or connect the phone directly to the display via a USB-C to HDMI adapter. In these cases however, you would not be able to use a wired mouse and keyboard or enjoy the USB host functionality the dock provides. You could use a wireless mouse and keyboard that connect over Bluetooth.

We'll discuss Continuum more in our dedicated section.

Windows 10, by the way, offers a very handy app called Gadgets, which is very similar to Sony's Smart Connect app and allows you to automate tasks based on the accessories connected to the phone.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL review: Gadgets app Microsoft Lumia 950 XL review: Gadgets app Microsoft Lumia 950 XL review: Gadgets app
Gadgets app

The Gadget's app allows you to set your device to do a variety of things - like launch an app - whenever you connect an accessory like a headset, dock or a charger.

Reader comments

  • Sem911

No it's not I use it every day in car, paired with Samsung buds, garmin watch, connect faster to car then note10+,

Unfortunately, nope! the supports ended in december last year

You can check out Aliexpress. I found a lot of display for sale.