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Deep-dive review: Microsoft's Lumia 950 phone introduces mobile Windows 10

Preston Gralla | Dec. 4, 2015
Both the phone and the OS have some interesting features, but neither is revolutionary.

I found other problems. The edges of the screen were cut off on my display so that the Start button, taskbar and Start menu were only partially visible. Microsoft acknowledges the problem in its FAQ and suggests that users with this issue should go to the settings menu on their TVs or monitors and select a picture or image setting that will resolve the issue. But the FAQ also notes, "Not all TVs and monitors have this setting." Mine didn't.

One more problem: At one point, my phone went to sleep; when I woke it up, all the apps I had been running had automatically closed.

For me, there's an even bigger issue: Currently, this feature (especially with the limited number of applications available) has little real practicality. After all, you're not going to lug a display, keyboard and mouse around with you when you travel or leave your office. You could use the Display Dock to bring work home (although you can probably do just as well using your home system to access cloud-based data) or to enable presentations at others' offices, for example. But from my point of view, Continuum on a phone is currently more a nifty parlor trick than it is a real-life productivity booster.

Other changes

Although Continuum is the main new Windows 10 feature for phones, there are other smaller changes as well.

Most important is that Windows 10 syncs all of your settings and a list of your most recently used files among all of your devices. So if you work on a Word file on your PC and then save and close it, when you launch Word on your Lumia 950, that file will show up on the list of recently used files -- and vice versa. Similarly, Cortana remembers you from device to device, and so becomes more useful the more you use it on your computers, tablets and phones.

Microsoft has also refined the general interface. Tiles are more subtly colored than in Windows Phone 8.1. Gone are the hardware buttons at the bottom of the phone. Instead there are three soft buttons that appear when you swipe up from the bottom of the screen.

Many Windows 10 apps have been redesigned to match their desktop-and-tablet counterparts, including Maps, Outlook (formerly called Mail), Calendar and the Store. In general, they're now more fully featured. For example, Maps now has a satellite view as well as a good local search that ties into Yelp. In addition, Edge replaces Internet Explorer as the phone's browser.

On the downside, the release of Windows 10 did nothing to solve a problem that has bedeviled Windows phones since their release: The fact that there are far fewer apps available for Windows than for iOS or Android. Want a Gmail or Google Drive app? You won't find one. How about one for Snapchat? You won't find that, either. Or for Pinterest, Tinder or others.

 

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