In-depth look at Microsoft's latest flagships, Lumia 950 and 950XL

Kareem Anderson


Microsoft showed, demoed and talked about an awful lot at its Windows 10 devices event today in New York. Over the course of two hours, journalists, enthusiasts, and Windows fans were bombarded with product after product. As different presenters took the stage seemingly trying to one-up each other with their product keynotes, it may have been easy for some products to get lost in all the noise. With Microsoft’s carefully planned ‘one more thing’ moment, the company may also have arguably stepped on the toes of one of its marquee products at the event.
However, the reality is, the pair of Lumia flagships shown at today’s event stand tall on their own. More so, the new phones stack up well, if not slightly better than, the current crop of competition in the smartphone space.
Today, Microsoft’s newly appointed head of devices Panos Panay pleaded an impassioned case for people to get to know the new Lumia 950 and 950XL. Panos started in deep on the hardware and the technology powering the new Lumia’s including tablet class liquid-cooling and adaptive antenna technology.
Adaptive Antennas

Ok, there are two antennas in this product, but why? Why? Why two? Who put’s two? They are vast, and they are some of the best on the planet. It’s literally…it’s like this whole thing of pushing more than one phone in a phone. Because when you’re holding it, when you’re holding your phone up, no matter where you are holding it, we will choose for you to give you the best connection you could possibly have.”

Qualcomm Hexa-core and Octa-core processors
On top of the adaptive antenna’s, both the Lumia 950 and 950XL house liquid cooling units intended to help the performance of Qualcomm’s latest Hexa-core and Octa-core processors. The Lumia 950 uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon Hexa-core processor while the 950XL is powered by an 810 Snapdragon Octa-core processor. To push the limits of both the Hexa-core and Octa-core processors, Microsoft implemented its Surface tablet-class liquid cooling technology. Panos didn’t drill down into how liquid cooling would work or when it would kick in on phones, but we speculate it probably has something to do with Windows 10 Mobile’s Continuum feature.
PureView, CarlZeiss, 20MP Camera
As for the camera, Microsoft has done away with the silly tradition of reducing camera abilities based on phone size. Both the Lumia 950 and 950XL will boast a 20MP sensor with Triple LED RGB Natural Flash. Microsoft also touted the camera modules are housing 5th gen optical image stabilization and both devices come with the more traditionally dedicated camera buttons. While some OEM’s have opted for a digital solution, Microsoft has stuck to the more traditional method of OIS. For those still skittish on the camera, both devices are using PureView Carl Zeiss technology, as have previously stellar Lumia camera phones.

If you wanted to use a flash we have a triple RGB flash off the back of the product. What does that mean? I don’t know, words? Here’s what it means, when you take a picture, there is no red eye. Here’s what it means, when you take a picture you don’t look like a ghost, you look like a human. You get the true color coming off.”

While it hasn’t shown up in many product announcements for the Lumia 950 or 950XL Panos, on stage, mentioned that the phone he was holding was also capable of shooting the crowd in 4K resolution.
32 GB Storage
On the topic of 4K video, many reviewers are commenting on the latest flagship phones offering limited storage intervals. Microsoft expounded on both the Lumia 950 and 950 XL’s ability to expand its starting 32GB storage options. Both the Lumia 950 and 950XL offer expanded micro storage options up to 256GB, and theoretically, 2TB’s in the future.
USB-C Connectors
As many OEM’s move towards the emerging standard of USB-C connection types, Microsoft’s latest flagships follow suit. The USB-C connector on both the Lumia 950 and 950XL are pushing 5GB/sec right into each phone. The new connector allows the phone to quick charge, giving users 50 percent battery life in less than 30 minutes. Another takeaway was that Microsoft is also using USB-C to run, arguably, the new Lumia’s most stand out feature, Continuum.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“I can be productive like a boss wherever I am now.”[/pullquote]
Panos took a break from the stage to allow Executive Demo Lead at Microsoft, Bryan Roper to reintroduce Continuum. We’ve been teased with Continuum with for a while now, but Bryan took 15 minutes to walk through how the new Lumia’s anchor the Continuum experience. The USB-C connector on the new flagships now connects to the Microsoft Display Dock dock that also houses ports for HDMI, 3 –USB ports and mini-HDMI display out.
Iris Scanner and Windows Hello
During Bryan’s time on stage, he quickly demoed Windows Hello. Since Windows Hello is tailored for the eyes of individuals with Lumia 950’s, his demo was rather short. He held the phone roughly a foot or so away from his face, and it quickly opened. Unfortunately, the Windows Hello experience hasn’t been replicated by a journalist at the event to test its reliability, but judging how quickly it worked for Bryan, it should work well.
5.2″and 5.7″ screen sizes
To round it out, the Lumia 950, the smaller of the devices, comes with a 5.2 inch OLED screen housing 564 PPI. The larger of the two devices, the Lumia 950XL is coming in at 5.7 inches on an OLED screen with 518 PP. As both devices don an OLED display, 950 users will also have access to Glance screen technology for quick info resting on the lock screen.
As for when the phones will be available, eager Windows Mobile fans can get their hands on the devices in November. The prices are listed at $549.00 (US) for the Lumia 950 and $649.00 (US) for the Lumia 950XL. Immediately after the even the phones we rumored to only be available on AT&T as a carrier exclusive. Since then, however, it looks like other carriers internationally may be also picking up the phones as well as the Microsoft Store online selling unlocked versions.
As for a complete spec breakdown:
Operating system

  • Windows 10 Mobile


  • Lumia 950: Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, Hexa core, 1800 MHz
  • Lumia 950 XL: Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, Octa core, 2000 MHz


  • 5.7″ WQHD (2560 x 1440)
  • TrueColor (24-bit/16M)
  • OLED, ClearBlack
  • 518ppi
  • Orientation sensor, sunlight readability enhancements, easy to clean, high brightness mode, Lumia color profile, wide viewing angle, Corning Gorilla Glass 4, automatic brightness control
  • Super sensitive touch


  • Mass memory: 32GB
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Maximum memory card size: 2TB
  • Expandable memory card type: microSD
  • Free OneDrive cloud storage up to 30GB5


  • Replaceable battery
  • 3000 mAh for the 950, 3340mAh for 950XL
  • 3.8V
  • Built-in wireless charging, fast charging
  • Wireless charging standard: Qi
  • Max standby time: Up to 300 hr
  • Max talk time: Up to 19 hr
  • Max music playback time: 70 hr
  • Max Wi-Fi network browsing time: 9 hr
  • Max video playback time: 11 hr

IMG 0831

  • GSM network: 850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 1900MHz
  • GSM max data speed DL: EGPRS 296.0kbps
  • GSM max data speed UL: EGPRS 236.8kbps
  • WCDMA network: Band 1 (2100MHz), Band 2 (1900MHz), Band 4 (1700/2100 MHz), Band 5 (850MHz), Band 8 (900MHz)
  • WCDMA max data speed DL: 42.2Mbps (Cat 24)
  • WCDMA max data speed UL: 5.76Mbps (Cat 6)
  • LTE FDD network: Band 1 (2100MHz), Band 17 (700MHz), Band 2 (1900MHz), Band 20 (800MHz), Band 3 (1800MHz), Band 4 (1700/2100 MHz), Band 5 (850MHz), Band 7 (2600MHz), Band 8 (900MHz), Band 28 (700MHz), Band 12 (700MHz)
  • TD-LTE network: Band 38 (2570-2620MHz), Band 40 (2300-2400MHz), Band 41 partially (2555-2575 MHz)
  • LTE max data speed DL: 300 Mbps (Cat 6)
  • LTE max data speed UL: 50 Mbps (Cat 6)

Main camera

  • 20MP auto focus with two-stage capture key
  • Digital zoom: 2x
  • 6-lens optics
  • Optical image stabilization
  • Sensor size: 1/2.4″
  • F-number/aperture: f/1.9
  • Focal length: 26mm
  • Flash type: Natural flash
  • Features: Backside-illuminated image sensor, High-resolution zoom 2x, PureView, True 16:9 sensor, Fast Focus
  • Minimum focus range: 10cm

Front-facing camera

  • Full HD 5MP wide angle
  • F-number/aperture: f/2.4
  • Features: Still image capture, Video call, Video recording
  • Front camera video resolution: 1080p (Full HD, 1920 x 1080)

Video recording

  • Main camera video resolution: 4K (3840 x 2160)
  • Video frame rate: 30fps
  • Video zoom: 3x
  • Video recording features: Video zoom, optical image stabilization, Continuous autofocus, Video light, Lumia Rich Recording with four microphones, Lumia Video Trimmer app
  • Video recording formats: MP4/H.264


  • Recording codecs: AAC LC, AMR-NB, GSM FR
  • Recording: Lumia Rich Recording with four microphones
  • Playback: Graphical equalizer, virtualized loudspeaker listening
  • Radio features: FM Radio9

Video playback

  • 30fps
  • Codecs: H.263, H.264/AVC, MPEG-4, VC-1, Windows video, H.265/HEVC
  • Video streaming: YouTube browsing and video streaming, streaming from video services and Internet, progressive video download, Video Upload app


  • Design details: Exchangeable back cover
  • Other user interface features: Glance screen, tactile feedback, voice commands, voice dictation in edit fields

Keys and input methods

  • Touch, volume keys, camera key, power/lock key


  • Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Proximity sensor, Barometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer, SensorCore


  • Nano SIM
  • 3.5mm audio connector, DisplayPort over USB-C
  • Charging connectors: USB-C
  • System connectors: USB-C
  • USB, USB 3.1
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • Bluetooth profiles: Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) 1.2, Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP) 1.4, Generic Attribute Profile (GATT), Hands-free profile (HFP) 1.6, Human Interface Device Profile (HID), Object Push profile (OPP) 1.1, Personal Area Network Profile (PAN) 1.0, Phone Book Access Profile (PBAP) 1.1, HID over GATT profile (HOGP) 1.0, Message Access Profile (MAP)
  • NFC: Pairing, secure NFC for payment, sharing, tagging
  • Wi-Fi: WLAN IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, MIMO, Wi-Fi call
  • Wi-Fi hotspot: Up to 8 Wi-Fi-enabled devices
  • Other wireless connectivity: Screen projection


  • 5.98 x 3.09 x .33 inches (151.9 x 78.4 x 8.3 mm) (L x W x H11)


  • 5.82 ounces (165 grams

In the box

  • Product user guide
  • Battery
  • Charger
  • USB-C cable

While these phones are arguably the beefiest Microsoft phones to-date, I’m still troubled by one tiny omission. Apparently, Microsoft couldn’t be bothered to include a pair of Nokia Lumia earbuds, come on! Catch the event in its entirety here.