back to article Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950XL: Clear thoughts of Continuum with a snazzy camera

There’s only one reason you might want to buy either of the new flagship Microsoft Lumias. Straight off the bat, we can tell you it's not the party trick Continuum, where your phone doubles up as an ARM-based PC to run Microsoft Office. Nor is that reason Windows 10 – which is still buggy, bereft of significant new benefits …

  1. Jim McDonald

    Good review.

    TL;DR... mostly great hardware, now need the software to catch up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      mostly great hardware, now need the software to catch up

      The first release of Windows Mobile was April 2000, fifteen and a half years ago. How many more decades will Microsoft need to catch up?

      On current progress, by the time Microsoft have a credible and full functional phone OS, Apple will be offering a a neural interface from an earring.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The first release of Windows Mobile was April 2000, fifteen and a half years ago. How many more decades will Microsoft need to catch up?

        Don't be a bore. Every time iOS/Android is updated to a major version a horde of new bugs are introduced, even though Apple made their first mobile thingy 22 years ago.

        1. fishman

          "Don't be a bore. Every time iOS/Android is updated to a major version a horde of new bugs are introduced, even though Apple made their first mobile thingy 22 years ago."

          The problem with Microsoft is that they throw out the old for an entirely different "new". Windows Mobile 6.5 replaced by Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 7 replaced by Windows Phone 8, and Windows Phone 8 replaced by Windows Phone 10. All huge changes to the code base. It makes the amount of changes to Android and IOS look like minor updates.

          1. TheVogon Silver badge

            "The problem with Microsoft is that they throw out the old for an entirely different "new"."

            But this time it looks like that mess is finally fixed. As of this last patch Tuesday, Windows Mobile 10 is running the exact same build version of Windows 10 as desktops!

      2. Teddy the Bear

        Microsoft "catch up"

        Windows Mobile was at one time the best platform for 3rd party apps - I remember the days of Side Loading apps and so on. I was genuinely confused with Apple launched the app store on iPhone - I'd been able to load apps onto my phone for years, what's the fuss about?

        When Windows Phone 7 launched, its focus on integration of social media into the OS was genuinely groundbreaking - at a time where apps weren't reliable it brought a coherent way of doing things which made social networks genuinely useful on the phone.

        Now we're in a position where the hardware on Windows Phone 10 is great, but the software is not ready - it's still trying to do innovative things (and good for MS that it is) but isn't ready yet. I've felt for a while that the Agile way of developing Win10 shifts pain to the end user, and this isn't acceptable for WinPho10. Us die-hards have stuck with this mess for years - give us some bloody benefit MS!!

        (Incidentally, I use Android as my personal phone and use WinPho8.1 on my work phone)

        1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: Microsoft "catch up"

          > When Windows Phone 7 launched, its focus on integration of social media into the OS was genuinely groundbreaking

          No. It was copied from Kin, which MS bought when they purchased Danger (and then broke it).

    2. Def Silver badge

      ...mostly great hardware, now need the software to catch up.

      Which if you're going to screw something up, it's better you screw up the software which at least can (and will) be patched over the next X years. If you get the hardware wrong, nothing will help you.

      I'll probably pick up a 950 at some point in the near future.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > it's better you screw up the software which at least can (and will) be patched over the next X years

        Yeah right. Tell that to the people who bought Windows Phone 7 devices which couldn't be upgraded to Windows Phone 8.

        The strategy (to be fair, not only Microsoft but many Android vendors too): ship it - sell it - forget it.

        1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

          "The strategy (to be fair, not only Microsoft but many Android vendors too): ship it - sell it - forget it." Actually, 7 phones got a final update (to 7.8) that bought most of the 8 features to handsets that otherwise lacked the grunt to run 8.

          Of course, you could go the other way like Apple who are not above updating a product to destruction - with the oldest product receiving 'one last update' that tips it into unusable, as happened with the 3G and the 4.

          1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            > Actually, 7 phones got a final update (to 7.8) that bought most of the 8 features to handsets that otherwise lacked the grunt to run 8.

            What 7.8 added was a few extra colours and a couple more tile sizes. Nothing more.

            WP7 was WinCE based and incapable of utilizing more than a single core. It lacked any real multi-tasking and 'tomb stoned' apps when another was run. It had very limited background tasks, more like MS-DOS TSRs.

            WP8 required dual core as one was dedicated to the UI (which is why it seemed more responsive) so it could not run on any WP7 hardware.

            Apparently, no existing WP phones (other than 950 and XL) will get Continuum. Some phones may get W10M, certainly not all.

            1. Goffee

              There are alternatives to Continuum

              ScreenBeam for one, that work on a wider range of devices...

              http://www.windows10update.com/2015/12/screenbeam-brings-a-cheaper-continuum-solution/

    3. TheVogon Silver badge

      "mostly great hardware, now need the software to catch up."

      Just got my 950 XL from Amazon.fr today - both the hardware and the software are great so far. Zero issues for me (after updating to the latest 10586.29 build), and its very fast to use / navigate. Fastest phone I have ever used by far.

      1. TheVogon Silver badge

        To follow up after a day of using it - great handset, great camera, no OS issues so far - incredibly fast on Windows Mobile 10.

        The one thing I would fault it on is the incredibly poor quality rear cover for such a high spec handset. What were Microsoft thinking? It doesn't actually look that bad, but once you take it off you realise how cheap and crappy the cover is. Fortunately it is easily replaceable by design (as is the battery!)

        I have ordered a leather replacement cover from Mozo: http://www.mozoaccessories.com/

        1. Munkstar

          Are those covers available yet?

  2. dogged

    I found that Win10 Mobile on a Lumia 930 initially produced extraordinary battery life and then started burning power like it was a space heater.

    Beyond that, the only real issue with it was that it killed Skype (non-functional) but oddly, not Lync. Anyone who isn't an absolute email junky is unlikely to share Andrew's concerns. This also explains why he seems to like Blackberry so much.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      The battery life went through a bad period on my 1020 in October, but in November it was back up to very good.

      My 950 is excellent. I have 2 email accounts, but one is private and one work, so I keep them separate anyway, so I haven't missed the integrated inbox.

      The Hello camera has problems with glasses, so it is a bit hit and miss, but I haven't experienced any batter loss through it trying to scan when it is in my pocket or laying on my desk.

      The speaker is loud enough, but does lack a bit of bass, but hasn't really bothered me, compared to my 1020 - it provides clearer tones and is easier on the ear when listening to podcasts and audio books.

      The camera is a stonker, and I thought the 1020 was good. Low light (candle light, taking a photo of an advent crown with lit candles, produced a very clear image with little noise.

      It has been very stable and I haven't seen any significant bugs, yet. The only thing that played up was Bluetooth connection to my headphones - the in-car hands-free works fine, but the headphones connect, but it still plays sound out of the internal speak for 10 seconds or so, before it switches.

      Other than that, I am very happy with it.

      Skype is still working, both as an app and with the integrated messaging on my 950 (and previously on my 1020).

      I find the hardware is also nice. Functional? I suppose so, but I can't say anything negative about how it feels in the hand, the back is fine, certainly better than the Samsung Galaxies that I had.

    2. Arctic fox
      Windows

      @dogged Re:"then started burning power like it was a space heater."

      I have noticed a lot about this on various threads connected to this or that tech preview build and it does appear to be strangely random with regard to who is affected. I am running the latest build on a Lumia 640 and its bigger brother the 640XL and the battery life is excellent, at least as good as when they were running 8.1. However, I have seen a number of other 640/640XL owners reporting poor battery life and overheating issues (something which I have not experienced at all). There does not appear to be any explicable pattern currently. I confess that I am very puzzled.

      1. 0laf Silver badge

        Re: @dogged then started burning power like it was a space heater."

        My 920 does this on WP8.1. So doesn't seem to be a new issue at all. Phone might well run all day hardly using any charge then for some reason decides it wants to be a pocket warmer.

        Particularly annoying at night when the phone can be 100% when you go to sleep and a brick when you wake up.

        Other occasions you can go two days without recharging.

        1. Arctic fox
          Windows

          @Olaf Re: "Phone might well run all day hardly using any charge then for some reason.....

          ......decides it wants to be a pocket warmer."

          Just wondering old chap in context with my reply to "dogged", do you notice any context with which apps you are using when this happens? Genuine question, I am very puzzled by these phenomena. I get the feeling that a great deal of this is not connected to hardware issues in the phones concerned (at least not in the direct sense). I am beginning to wonder whether it is driven by the app-usage pattern. Just a guess on my part you understand.

          1. 0laf Silver badge

            Re: @Olaf "Phone might well run all day hardly using any charge then for some reason.....

            If there is a pattern it's eluded me.

            I've blamed the Facebook app, the few games I've ever had installed but on removing them it still seems to do it.

            I suspect (with little evidence) it might actually be a wifi problem. I've notice more regularly when coming home the phone picks up the wifi then starts to heat up. Is it an app firing up with the wifi becoming available, no idea. And again it's not always.

            I've very few apps on the phone really. Just FB, LinkedIn, camera apps (all MS or Nokia) and not much else.

      2. Indolent Wretch

        Re: @dogged then started burning power like it was a space heater."

        This isn't that bizarre is it? Microsoft have a perfectly visible track record producing operating systems and patches that after being installed for X amount of time just stop working properly. That it should happen on a phone as well seems as surprising as the sunrise.

  3. djstardust Silver badge

    Doomed .....

    This is just Microsoft all over. No strategy, half baked ideas and software to match.

    If it wasn't for the fact they make so much from business licensing they would go under. They certainly have lost the consumer and developer confidence so we'll see what happens in a few years when the landscape changes. Their new business licencing terms won't do them any favours either.

    Horrible company, full stop ...... but I love Windows 7 (and Office 2003) and have it on all my machines. If someone could only bring the "old" Microsoft back ......

    1. theOtherJT

      Re: Doomed .....

      Possibly.

      On the other hand, sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. It's like that bit where you're trying to tidy your house before you have people over and after half an hour all you've achieved is making even more of a mess because you had to take everything out of various cupboards and drawers in order to work out where to put things away logically.

      It's possible this "One Windows" thing actually will pay off, and we'll get a useful integrated codebase across multiple device types a few years down the line. I want that to be true, I really do, because that sounds pretty good... but then I'm excited by the idea of an Ubuntu phone, because I like that sort of thing.

      If they can reign in whoever it is that decided they need to go full Google on the data slurp, and then spend the next 2 years beating their various UI designers with the projector used for the "YOU WILL ALL DO IT THE SAME WAY" presentation until they submit, this could work.

      Could.

      I hope.

      Not holding my breath.

    2. dogged

      Re: Doomed .....

      > If someone could only bring the "old" Microsoft back ......

      Steve Ballmer's Microsoft? Not the Microsoft that opens up its source code and releases (free) dev environments for OSX and linux then.

  4. hopkinse

    the main question is...

    Do they take pictures quicker than the 1020? I'm assuming so since the sensor is smaller and the processor is faster but who knows... The lag is the only gripe with my 1020 so I'm only going to be tempted by one of these if it's considerably snappier taking pictures.

    Another question is - do they allow you to save in DNG/RAW format like the 1020?

    Ever hopeful but increasingly despairing!

    1. dogged

      Re: the main question is...

      Yes and yes.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: the main question is...

      Much faster (I have a 1020 and a 950). The 950 is very quick and the results are excellent.

      The lag on the 1020 was really disappointing, it had an excellent camera, but I always found myself reaching for my compact camera or DSLR.

      1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

        Re: the main question is...

        I too have the 1020. It's Achilles Heal is this lag - largely down to driving a monster camera through a less powerful CPU. Still, I've yet to find an Android phone or iPhone I'd trade it for - 'er indoors has an iPhone 6+ which is massively over priced and offers me nothing, while my kid's Samsung was flimsy and I find Android too much of a faff.

        I'm interested in the 950XL, but I think I'm going to hold off for a while and see how things develop.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the main question is...

      I too have the 1020, and have tried the 950 and can honestly say the 950 is incredibly fast (in fact I wasn't sure it had taken the snap) and the picture quality is amazing especially displayed on the 950s high res screen. I will be replacing my 1020 as soon as possible.

  5. theOtherJT

    So, exactly what we all expected then.

    Microsoft has never really understood "Customer relations". They had a such a good product in WinPho7. Reviewers liked it. People who owned it liked it. It didn't need much to shine.

    What Microsoft then did was spend the next 5 years trying to make it fit better into THEIR ecosysem to the detriment of the overall user experience rather than iron out the glitches that stopped customers from actually buying one - and clearly this hasn't changed.

    One can only hope the worst of the pain is over now that they have finished "unifying the code base"* and they can get on with actually improving the thing for the user. Never really been their strong point tho, has it?

    * I'll believe that when I see it - ask me again in another 3 years.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, exactly what we all expected then.

      Sorry I disagree, 8 on Winphone is WAY better than 7. Not tried 10, waiting for it to settle down.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could have been a winner...

    ....if they'd put Android on it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Could have been a winner...

      Yes then I could own it by sending it a MMS.

    2. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Could have been a winner...

      "....if they'd put Android on it."

      Then it would be slower, laggy, have a shorter battery life, and a lot more security vulnerabilities. However the ignorant public would likely buy it by the milllion...

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Could have been a winner...

      If they had put Android on it, I wouldn't have bought one...

      1. dogged

        Re: Could have been a winner...

        > However the ignorant public would likely buy it by the milllion...

        I doubt that. It doesn't have an Apple on it or a Samsung logo.

      2. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Could have been a winner...

        "Then it would be slower, laggy, have a shorter battery life, and a lot more security vulnerabilities. However the ignorant public would likely buy it by the milllion..."

        I've owned several Windows Phones and I see no evidence to suggest they're any faster or responsive than Android.

        Yeah some versions of Android have vulns. As long as you don't get your apps from a warez website, your chances of being affected by them are close to zero.

        1. dogged
          Stop

          Re: Could have been a winner...

          > Yeah some versions of Android have vulns. As long as you don't get your apps from a warez website, your chances of being affected by them are close to zero.

          Stagefright.

        2. GitMeMyShootinIrons

          Re: Could have been a winner...

          "I've owned several Windows Phones and I see no evidence to suggest they're any faster or responsive than Android."

          Generally, that's because the Android manufacturers have loaded the phones with bigger CPU and more RAM to compensate. My various experiences with Android lead me to feel that it's 'adequate, but fiddly and underwhelming'.

          1. DrXym Silver badge

            Re: Could have been a winner...

            "Generally, that's because the Android manufacturers have loaded the phones with bigger CPU and more RAM to compensate. My various experiences with Android lead me to feel that it's 'adequate, but fiddly and underwhelming'."

            I don't know what the reason is. I just know in my experience that the performance and battery of Windows phones is little different to those of Android phones. My first Windows phone was a Lumia 800, the second was a lower spec 510 which is now a hand-me-down to my kid. At the time I had equivalent Android phones (since I develop mobile apps) and the general performance was dictated by the hardware, not the OS.

            One thing I found very noticeable on Windows Phone were app startup times could be quite poor and this was exacerbated by the phone being extremely quick to freeze dry apps (i.e. tell them to persist state and kill them outright) so when they were next opened they had to be restarted and restored. I suspect that the phones had less free RAM to hold apps in an open state, or the OS simply didn't trust apps to behave well in the background (unlike Android where the general philosophy is the cream rises to the top) and prematurely killed them.

            With regard to the general experience I think Windows Phone is generally okay for casual use. The tiles are a neat idea and they work pretty well. Where it doesn't work is if you have a lot of apps and you find yourself hurling tiles around to find them. That's where it breaks down. Not to mention lack of folders. And the way that settings are separated from the apps themselves and stuffed in some unsorted list.

            My biggest complaint about Android is the up-front security permissions. It's being fixed in 6 but I use Cyanogenmod where I can override them the way I like.

            1. dogged

              Re: Could have been a winner...

              > Not to mention lack of folders. And the way that settings are separated from the apps themselves and stuffed in some unsorted list.

              I don't disagree, these were problems. But folders have been there since 8.1 and W10M has finally done something decent about the shitty "Settings" arrangement.

            2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

              Re: Could have been a winner...

              > exacerbated by the phone being extremely quick to freeze dry apps (i.e. tell them to persist state and kill them outright) so when they were next opened they had to be restarted and restored.

              Exactly. It is called 'tomb stoning'. WinCE on WP7 could not run multiple tasks so apps had to save state and kill themselves when 'put into background' and then reload and return to last state when activated again. WP8 should have been able to cope with multiple tasks, but I suspect that most apps carried on 'tomb stoning' themselves.

        3. TheVogon Silver badge

          Re: Could have been a winner...

          "I've owned several Windows Phones and I see no evidence to suggest they're any faster or responsive than Android."

          There are at least 2 handsets now - one running Windows Phone 8 - and one running Windows Phone 10 - that also run Android - and testing has proved that Windows Phone is consistently much faster and has better battery life...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Could have been a winner...

        You know not all phones are like the £30 Android you obviously bought right?

        Spend the same amount of money on an android as this Microsoft crap, and you will get a superb device, with a best in class camera , lightening performance and 2 day battery life.

        http://www.dxomark.com/Mobiles/Sony-Xperia-Z5-Mobile-review-Best-mobile-photo-video-scores-to-date

        1. dogged

          Re: Could have been a winner...

          > Spend the same amount of money on an android as this Microsoft crap, and you will get a superb device, with a best in class camera , lightening performance and 2 day battery life.

          that you can pwn with a video file or a text message, which crashes regularly and resembles Win3.1 Program Manager.

          Whoop de doo.

  7. Big_Ted
    FAIL

    Would I buy this

    Yes I would, if it was a stock Android phone.

    Will I buy it with any version of Windows on it ?

    Nope unless its a full version of Suface Pro with phone ability built in and phone mode rather than tablet mode then maybe I would as a replacement for a Laptop. desktop computer.

    Still an incomplete answer looking for a question no-one is asking....

    1. dogged

      Re: Would I buy this

      > Still an incomplete answer looking for a question no-one is asking...

      That's pretty much word-for-word what the Reg's commentariat said about the Surface.

      Surface seems to be selling quite well these days.

    2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In it's favour it has a few more things than just the camera - here are a few pros that spring to mind:

    The best camera on any mobile

    High dynamic range audio recording (wont distort at high volumes at a concert like say an iphone will)

    The best touch panel and AMOLED screen on any mobile (can work with gloves on!)

    The most secure general OS for a mobile

    Continuum (use like a desktop)

    Windows Hello (Iris Scanner)

    Wireless charging

    SD slot

    Cortana (Somewhat better than Siri)

    USB-C connector

    Fast Charge

    Also worth noting that you can't have been testing the current version of Windows Mobile 10 as it was only released for the Lumia 950 / XL today - this includes numerous fixes.

  9. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Plus ca change

    Microsoft has however ignored years of user feedback

    I love my little 635. I want something better. Maybe I'd even pitch some cash to a high end job if they don't make me a decent mid-range one.

    But I do want a unified inbox etc And not all these other," f**k what the users want " design features.

  10. TeeCee Gold badge
    Facepalm

    WIndows Phone.

    So what we seem to be saying here is that it wasn't very good and then they broke it?

  11. Sean Timarco Baggaley

    So...

    ...it's an excellent phone, and a damned good camera as well. Sounds like Microsoft cherry-picked the best organs from Nokia's twitching corpse for the transplant. Sold. I'm buying a 950 XL. My Nokia Lumia 1320 has given me sterling service, but my sister has been asking me less-than-subtle questions about when I plan to upgrade it, and can she have it when I do, preferably for Christmas, pleasepleasepleaseprettypleasewithacherryontop. Or words to that effect.

    I agree that Windows 10 Mobile is still a bit rough around the edges, but it has a hell of a lot of potential and it is already quite usable now. MS really needs this to work, and their track record on iterating and pig-headed stubbornness is a good one: It took until v3.1 for Windows to finally catch on, so they have form.

    When I buy a phone -- or any computer for that matter -- one of my main criteria isn't just that it be good *today*, but what its prospects are for upgrades over its lifetime of service. Microsoft have been very good at providing good updates and upgrades over the years, whereas the same cannot be said for the vast majority of Android devices. (Apple are good too, but they didn't have a big-screen phone when I switched and none of their current iPhone models has sufficient on-board storage for my needs.)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "where your phone doubles up as an ARM-based PC to run Microsoft Office"

    However as anyone with an iota of sense and an aversion to torture would rather be subjected to reading old Andrew Orlowski articles than have to use office on a teenie weenie screen. Office is a desktop product irrespective of what Microsoft would like you to believe.

  13. Nathan 6
    FAIL

    Only thing that can save Microsoft phone is Android. I don't mean just having a MS phone with Android, but a hybrid phone built on an x86 chip, which runs desktop Windows when docked, and Android in phone mode.

  14. Robert Sneddon

    Mobile phone review

    Weird to read a review of a phone that actually considers voice call quality and the radio stack as being worthy of being discussed. That's usually relegated to page 23 of any review if it's mentioned at all.

    1. dogged

      that whole Continuum thing completely passed you by, didn't it?

    2. jaywin

      Re: WIndows Phone.

      No.

      Microsoft's phone division made something different to the competition, which worked well and was popular with those who used it. Then they started listening to marketing droids who told them that they needed to be more like Android. Then they also got forced to change direction twice by upper management wanting to create an "experience". End result is a weakened, fractured OS that's only real plus point is that it's more stable, smooth and secure than Android.

      If they'd just stuck with their vision, and marketed that, we could be seeing a very different market share today.

    3. Hellcat

      I think you missed that the sentance was about its use as a continuim device. Using the phone as a 'PC', and showing the display on an external monitor. In that sense for most users it would be just as functional as their desktop PCs.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So...

      "It took until v3.1 for Windows to finally catch on, so they have form."

      It took until v3.1 for Windows to finally be half-usable even then it would BSOD under load 2/3 times a day

      1. 0laf Silver badge

        I was pretty disappointed by the display dock which seems to be yet another little box with a cable.

        Would have been nicer if it could have been done wirelessly through an NFC charging plate or something similar. Lots more elegant than plugging in yet more fugging cables.

        The People app hasn't updated with pictures since WinPho lost integration with Facebook. So you don't get that on WP8 either now.

        It's also been one of the main advantages with Nokia WPs that they actually worked well as phones. The call quality on previous Samsungs was shocking.

        1. Teddy the Bear

          Think it uses Miracast

          I think it does work without wires, using Miracast - at least that's what the article said. I think the box is there if you DON'T have a miracast capable display. I think...

      2. Sean Timarco Baggaley

        Re: So...

        "It took until v3.1 for Windows to finally be half-usable even then it would BSOD under load 2/3 times a day"

        (sigh)

        Bloody kids these days. Can't even be arsed to troll properly!

        Windows 3.x, Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows ME were built on top of MS-DOS, which handled any crashes in its traditional manner of unexpectedly rebooting the machine or locking up. You needed to be running an NT-based version of Windows to get BSODs. Those didn't appear on consumer PCs until Windows 2000 and XP.

        Now, try again, but this time put some bloody effort into it.

        1. dogged

          Re: So...

          > Windows 3.x, Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows ME were built on top of MS-DOS, which handled any crashes in its traditional manner of unexpectedly rebooting the machine or locking up.

          Like Android.

        2. Maventi

          Re: So...

          "You needed to be running an NT-based version of Windows to get BSODs."

          Incorrect. I agree the troll was pretty weak, but your reply falls pretty short too.

          Windows 95 and its successors were certainly famous for their ability to product a BSOD and I remember them clearly. More often than not they were the result of failing hardware or crappy drivers. Don't tell me you've forgotten the infamous BSOD during the Windows 98 demo presentation delivered by Mr. Gates himself?

          Thanksfully things have really improved since those days. In fact since Windows moved entirely to NT I started seeing them much less frequently.

          I wouldn't exer expect to see them on something like the 950.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So...

          I remember the BlackSOD on Win3.1 and Win95. From NT/2000 forwards it became the BlueSOD

      3. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        > In that sense for most users it would be just as functional as their desktop PCs.

        Well, maybe as functional as Windows RT was, but without the apps.

    5. jaywin

      >a hybrid phone built on an x86 chip, which runs desktop Windows when docked, and Android in phone mode.

      Sounds like a vision of hell. A phone which runs two incompatible operating systems, which it chooses depending on whether you connect it to an external screen.

      "Sorry Bob, I did get your report, but I can't open it because I saved it on the Windows bit of my phone and can't access it until I'm back in the office next week."

    6. TheVogon Silver badge

      "than have to use office on a teenie weenie screen."

      Continuum works over WiDi to any screen you want.

      "Office is a desktop product "

      So is Continuum

    7. Geoff Campbell
      Facepalm

      Well, yes...

      ...that's why Continuum links up to big screens and real keyboards. Once again I feel duty bound to ask - did you not read the article?

      GJC

      1. Indolent Wretch

        Sounds like your describing Windows 8

    8. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      desktop Windows when docked, and Android in phone mode

      So you would have MS layout and design for say Skype or office, but then a totally different layout for Android versions of these. You'd have say "People" for all your contacts, social media etc in MS mode, and 3 different apps on Android.

      Yes that would so well.

    9. Adair

      "where your phone doubles up as an ARM-based PC to run Microsoft Office"

      Isn't the idea that in that mode the phone is intended to be connected to a standard monitor and keyboard combo, i.e. a quick and accessible desktop substitute?

    10. theOtherJT

      Re: WIndows Phone.

      No, we're saying it was excellent but unfinished. Then, instead of finishing it, they broke it.

      1. Youngdog

        Re: "where your phone doubles up as an ARM-based PC to run Microsoft Office"

        An idea that is then taken out at the knees by the use of the ARM processor. Don't get me wrong - it's a wonder of modern technology - but it's also the reason M$ were left with warehouses full of Surface RTs.

        If I can get a 7" tablet with an x86 processor for £50 is it really beyond our best'n'brightest to come up with a phone that runs full Win10? Then you would have true continuum.

    11. dogged

      Re: Plus ca change

      > But I do want a unified inbox

      Good news for you, then.

    12. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      Re: So...

      > Microsoft have been very good at providing good updates and upgrades over the years,

      You mean like Windows Mobile 6.x -> Windows Phone 7. WP7 -> WP8. It seems that only _some_ WP8 models will get W10M, maybe fewer.

      1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

        Re: So...

        As opposed to Android phones where you're lucky to get even a single, solitary update after release?

        The only Windows phones that are definitely not going to be able to handle Windows 10 are those with low built-in storage. (I.e. anything with 4GB built-in flash or less.) If you bought one of those, chances are you didn't pay much for it to begin with, and it's already given a few years of service as I don't recall seeing any models with such low storage space in the last two years. I'd consider 8GB the bare minimum for any modern smartphone OS, and even that's pushing it.

        As for not upgrading from Windows Mobile 7.x to 8.x: they're *completely different* OSes, with very different hardware requirements. Even Windows 10 also has plenty of under-the-hood changes from Windows 8, so it's hardly surprising some of the cheaper / low-end models aren't going to be able to run it. This sort of thing happens all the time in IT. I don't understand why you'd expect any company to deliberately cripple their software to support obsolete hardware.

        1. dogged
          Meh

          Re: So...

          > I don't understand why you'd expect any company to deliberately cripple their software to support obsolete hardware.

          Because any other company does it for exactly those reasons but Microsoft are eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil.

          Apparently.

        2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: So...

          > As opposed to Android phones where you're lucky to get even a single, solitary update after release?

          That is an issue for the makers. Some issue updates, some do not. Nexus are updated. Google services get updates all the time.

          Some may say that WP7, for example, was unfinished when released and needed updates to get where Apple and Android had been for years. Copy and paste for example.

          > I don't understand why you'd expect any company to deliberately cripple their software to support obsolete hardware.

          My response was to a comment that claimed MS was so good with updates and pointed out several instances when the complete platform: OS and apps; was deadended.

          The problem with WP7 hardware was that it was obsolete when it was first released. Because WP7 was still based on the obsolete WinCE it could only use single core CPUs when almost everyone else was using dual or quad core and starting to look at octo-core.

          MS was marketing by asking 'why would you need dual-core'. The actual answer was battery saving. With multi-core most could be shut down completely leaving just one at idle for standby and thus only use a fraction of the wattage used by a single-core in standby.

          WP7 never added more recent CPUs, so it fell even further behind than it started out. Elop complained about this, explaining the loss of market share on other makers not standing still while WP tried to catch up.

          The claim that WP7.8 "gave WP8 features" was nonsense, there were just a couple of cosmetic changes to the GUI.

          WP8 then dictated which chip sets could be used by which makers. Again these were not upgraded much during its life, so it fell behind. Were any WP8 more than dual-core ?

    13. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lumia 1320

      < Nokia Lumia 1320 has given me sterling service>

      Yeah, my better half loves hers, and sometimes I regret tossing it disdainfully in her direction since it doubles as a tablet and a phone.

      Brilliant move by Microsoft to kill it more or less as they issued it, then

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows Hello - working really well for me

    How do you get windows hello to go off in your pocket?

    perhaps you keep your hand in the pocked and hit the power/standby button at intervals?

  16. GlenP Silver badge

    Great cameras, but...

    Having had a 1020 since shortly after launch, primarily for the camera capabilities, I've finally got fed up.

    Even Phone 8.1 is still buggy, occasionally, and for no apparent reason, the phone will decide to burn the battery life in a couple of hours, WiFi won't pick up nearby hotspots and if you turn it off you have to reboot the phone to turn it on and various other issues. The single biggest issue though is with Apps. I only want a few but the ones that are available are often poor relations of the Android or iOS versions.

    I was waiting on a replacement to see what happened with Win10. Given the reports I've now bought a Wileyfox running Cyanogen. It works, simple as that. The camera is plenty good enough for putting on the web or social media, battery life is better and I can still use all the MS Office apps.

    It's a shame, I'd have bought a 950 but until Windows and the apps mature (if they ever do) I'll stick with the Android fork. I'll keep the 1020 though and may update it in a while to see how things look.

    1. Teddy the Bear

      Re: Great cameras, but...

      You're using a pre-release build there GlenP - the "can't turn wifi on without reboot" was a problem before the full release of 8.1 (I remember - I was using a Windows Insider build which had exactly that problem). Might be worth unticking the box in "preview for developers" - you should then get a standard build.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Great cameras, but...

      I've got a 1020 and the camera is great, as everyone says. It's also big enough as a near phablet. It is pushing its hardware, though, and I don't intend to upgrade to windows 10 - Microsoft killed off the 1020 a while ago and would rather you bought a new 950. They won't be able to support the 1020's inevitable problems running W10

      1. TheVogon Silver badge

        Re: Great cameras, but...

        "They won't be able to support the 1020's inevitable problems running W10"

        The 1020 is already great running W10.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Great cameras, but...

      I've got a 1020 updated to 8.1 and it's as solid as a rock. You may have a faulty unit or need to upgrade, but don't just jump on the bandwagon of slagging off the operating system.

      Sadly the 1020's best in class camera has been discontinued, so I'm a bit stumped for an upgrade as, while I know pixels aren't everything, the camera in the 1020 is outstanding. For a camera that makes phone calls, and so much more, it's such a pity there isn't a souped-up 1020 on the streets

  17. Franco Silver badge

    W10M isn't 100% yet but it's getting there, I'm happy with it on my Lumia 925. Will probably upgrade to a 950 at some point next year when it's cheaper and W10M is a bit more mature.

    Features like Linked Inboxes will come very soon, Outlook is getting almost daily updates at the moment and the feature was there but removed again due to some issues.

  18. JDX Gold badge

    So are these cameras better or worse than the 1020?

    I got the Lumia 1020 primarily to get a decent camera, and have been very pleased with it (I never knew it had HDR!)

    It's unclear from this review if the 950 has an even better camera, or if the 808/1020 still take the "best phone camera" prize?

    It seems a shame about WP10, I quite like my phone OS.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    both devices costing over £400

    why don't you put it in the header, would have saved me time getting THAT far! ;)

  20. The Original Steve

    Good review

    Glad to know what the hardware is like - excellent.

    I've been using Windows 10 via the insider preview on my Lumia 930 and personally find it to be excellent once getting to know the OS a little.

    The only thing I can't really test is hardware, which you've confirmed as being great. I personally find the OS pretty good to use so think I'll end up buying the XL shortly.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow

    Windows phone is still a thing? Having no userbase and no apps and a bug ridden platform is still not a reason for Microsoft to finally give up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      Re: Wow

      "bug ridden platform"

      I guess you miss the weekly Android bug reports on here then?

      1. Indolent Wretch

        Re: Wow

        Ahhh but a bug ridden platform with a massive user base has a future.

        1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

          Re: Wow

          Which is why Windows is so big on the desktop. Android - the mobile equivalent of PC Windows. A Pyrrhic victory at best.

    2. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: So are these cameras better or worse than the 1020?

      "It's unclear from this review if the 950 has an even better camera, "

      The general consensus is yet it does. See for example

      https://blogs.windows.com/devices/2015/12/08/exploring-the-great-barrier-reef-with-national-geographic-and-the-lumia-950-and-lumia-950-xl/

      http://allaboutwindowsphone.com/features/item/21110_Camera_head_to_head_Lumia_950_.php

      "It seems a shame about WP10, I quite like my phone OS."

      WP10 is just fine. You need to install the available updates on the 950 though to fix a number of out of the box bugs.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So are these cameras better or worse than the 1020?

      Define 'better' - in megapixels, the 808 and 1020 are better than the 950s. However, the 850s still have high resolution cameras, zeiss optics and updated software, and, people say, (I haven;t had a chance to use one yet) the cameras are very good. There's more to good images than the number of pixels

  22. captain veg

    Continuum

    Speaking as someone who first bought a smartphone in order to get a pocketable computer with internet and had little interest in the voice call ability, this intrigues. However, speaking as someone who has become used to the idea of actually using the thing as a phone from time to time, I do wonder what happens if you are using the device as a desktop replacement and need to take (or make) a call?

    Here's a crazy idea. Wouldn't it be better to separate the smart part from the phone part, making the former a removable module that you could plug into a docking station, leaving the basic handset with its phone functionality?

    -A.

    1. dogged

      Re: Continuum

      > I do wonder what happens if you are using the device as a desktop replacement and need to take (or make) a call?

      That was actually a part of the big reveal demo.

      You just pick it up and answer it. Everything on the monitor stays the same and you can even talk and type.

  23. nkuk

    £400!

    Given Microsofts very long and consistent track record of complete failure in mobile I think you would have to be nuts to pay over £400 for a phone with next to no app support and 3rd party support, a developer that has no clue what they want the phone to be and which direction to take it, and almost certainly no future.

    I think this is Microsofts last chance with Windows Phone, market share has dropped from a heady 3% to 1.7%, even half the early adopter evangelists (if after 5 years they can still be called that) have given up on it, and this yet another failed attempt seems to have fractured the tiny install base even further.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: £400!

      £400 is half the price of a top-end iPhone so if this is their top-spec then it's reasonable. Is the hardware spec comparable?

  24. Jim84

    Give up on ARM

    Android has won the ARM smartphone market (with Apple creaming off the top end).

    Microsoft should just start using Intel Atom chips in its mobiles (which apparently now match ARM for power usage) and stick a full fat version of Windows 10 on them.

    1. Maventi

      Re: Give up on ARM

      "Microsoft should just start using Intel Atom chips in its mobiles."

      Please no. If that took off then we are back to no competition in the industry again, and look at what that did for the world through the late 90s and early 00s.

      As much as I'm glad we have a viable third choice in Windows Phone, I'm even more glad we actually have more competition in the entire marketplace. It's made everything much better for customers and kept the old incumbent Microsoft a lot more on its toes than ever.

  25. trillyuk
    Unhappy

    Microsoft has waited two years to unleash new flagships.

    "Microsoft has waited two years to unleash new flagships. But with Windows 10 Mobile, it falls further behind the competition, and the worst thing is the wounds are entirely self-inflicted."

    Been a Windows Mobile 6 and Windows Mobile 8.0 / 8.1 user and loved but defected to Apple not because it better, I don't think it is. I am seeing more OS related bugs in my Apple 6 Plus that I ever saw in Windows 8.1. But guess what the odd now and then switch it on and off works and I have access to a whole load of content, apps and support from many vendors.

    I miss a lot of things about Windows Mobile 8.1. My wifes phone is now my old 925 so I keep in touch and reminded how easy it is to zip around the system.

    As another comment pointed out by theotherJT a few years down the road it might pay off.

    As I found out during my career you can be wrong for a long time before you are right. With Windows Mobile, it my personal phone, its just not that important to me to stick to something that is busted and going through the pain it is I have enough grief elsewhere in my life without Microosft adding to it.

    I will continue to track how Windows Phone does, for work and personal use. I hope it becomes a viable and popular alternative chioce to iOS and Android. I do not see that happening anytime soon though which is a shame.

    As something else

  26. pstancer

    Just arrived, now sending it back.

    Sigh. I was looking forward to this phone. It arrived today and I was hopeful. Sadly, it's a let down.

    I have a Nokia 1520 which has proven its worth over the years. But the lure of a large screen dual-SIM phone I could use as a backup laptop during my frequent travels, seemed too good to be true. Er, well, It is.

    First the good, Continuum: the free dock didn't arrive (apparently you have to apply for that after you've activated your phone) but I was able to pair the display through wifi to one of our office TVs. Pretty good. That is a potential winner for people who only need Office in their lives. The 200Gb supported additional SD card makes this attractive. Once the Win 10 Universal apps start to gain some traction in the store, then things should improve. I've been on the Win 10 beta program for a while now on my Nokia so I am not wowed by the change. The mail app is pretty decent so I have no complaints.

    Now the bad. The screen sucks. It's clear and bright yes, but smaller than the 1520, around the same size as the large iPhone 6, but stupidly they've opted to make the three windows buttons soft, i.e. part of the screen. You can swipe them away, but most of the time it just steals screen space.

    Headphones: er, none in the box. You would thing for a supposed high end phone (£500+) you could stump up a set of headphones.

    Wireless charging ... hmm ... well it works on a flat plate, but if you've invested in the Nokia standup DT-910 charger then it won't work. I tried it on two. NFC picks up, but it won't charge. Helpfully there is an app that tells you what accessories work with the phone, but you have to buy the phone first to use it.

    Finally, the main reason this phone is going back: it's only single SIM! Despite 15 minutes on the phone to Microsoft while they checked and confirmed before I ordered, the damn thing only has one slot. When I queried this again today, they changed their mind are now only selling the dual-SIM phone in Germany at the moment.

    If the Microsoft team that designs the Surface 4 gets to design a phone, then I may take another look, but for now I'm sticking to my trusty Nokia.

  27. Scoob

    Last year, I owned a Lumia 930 for ~ 4 months and loved it. After a major fight with my mobile carrier, I found myself back to Android with a shiny new Galaxy S5 (free under year contract). I regretfully sold the 930, and after 6 months using the Samsung, I couldn't wait for the new 950/XL to be released. So, now I've ditched the Samsung once and for all, and I've been using my 950 XL for a week now.

    While I would agree with some of the complaints (mostly just the minor ones) I really can't find any major flaws with this phone. The OS seems quite refined and very easy to navigate. The "data transfer" tool worked very well to copy over all of the SMS messages from my Samsung, and linking to my hundreds of Google contacts in the address book was painless. Yes, the app selection isn't quite the same as Apple and Android offerings, but the popular apps are all there. It seems to do everything I need it to.

    The hardware is top notch, the screen quality is beautiful, and the camera is absolutely the best I've ever seen in a pocket mobile device. Anyone looking for a bargain on a gently used Galaxy S5?

  28. Munkstar

    Windows 10 transfer cost me a few weeks of laptop rebuild so it will be 2016 before i touch the mobile version.

  29. stevenotinit
    Windows

    Just bought a 950

    I just bought a Lumia 950 mainly because of the smaller screen size. The 950XL is just too big for my pants pockets. I think Microsoft will gradually fix all the bugs and improve things, but yea, it will never be a player in the smartphone market. Maybe the Windows Mobile will do well in the corporate market ?

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