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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.

The bottom line

Will the Lumia 950 will help Microsoft gain mobile market share? The answer is: Not likely. According to Gartner, Windows Phone captured only 1.7% of smartphones shipped in the third quarter of this year, and the analyst firm doesn't expect Windows 10 to change that.

From a hardware perspective, the Lumia 950 is a decent phone that doesn't quite measure up against its more slickly designed competitors from the iOS and Android ecosystems. But no one will be buying this phone for its hardware. Instead, Microsoft is probably hoping that its new OS will be the big draw.

However, as I used the Lumia 950, I found that there was just not enough new in Windows 10 for it to make much of a difference to me. Windows 10 does have a nicer fit-and-finish than Windows Phone 8.1, including better Windows 10 apps. And Continuum lets you move your work smoothly from one device to another, although it is still a work in progress (and a Windows phone connected to a monitor, keyboard and mouse doesn't come close to replacing a desktop or a tablet). But little else in Windows 10 for phones is especially noteworthy compared to Windows Phone 8.1.

The upshot? If you don't use a Windows phone now, there's little reason to switch to one now. If you're committed to the Microsoft ecosystem, however, and are ready to upgrade to a more modern phone, the Lumia 950 could be a worthy upgrade.

At a Glance

Lumia 950

Microsoft

Price: $150 from AT&T with a two-year contract; $549 unlocked from the Microsoft Store

Pros: First phone with Windows 10; Continuum feature lets you connect your phone to a display and use it somewhat like a PC; excellent camera; clear and bright display; replaceable battery; SD card slot; uses USB-C port for better performance

Cons: Case has cheap feel; only available for a single carrier; few useful new features in Windows 10; Continuum promises more than it delivers

 

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