One common question fired at us over the last month has been how the new QHD-screened, Snapdragon 808/810-powered Lumias fare in terms of day to day operations, against each other and compared to yesterday's flagships in the Windows Phone world. Below, I attempt to answer this question with my usual real world benchmarks. The results are very surprising, though also good news if you already own a Lumia 930, Icon or Lumia 1520.
Judging from my postbag (ok, email-bag, these days) and from comments here on the site, I'm not the only one racked with doubt about the way to proceed in terms of these new Lumias. A while back, after my first few days with the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, I pronounced the 950 the one to go for. Then the Mozo arrived and I was then leaning towards the 'premium' 950 XL. And then I picked up my old Lumia 930 again. Sigh. See what you think after reading my thoughts below. Which one would you go for?
One oddity of Windows 10 Mobile and the transition from Windows Phone 8.1 is that the OS can get confused by some applications. There's probably an underlying pattern to the issue, but I haven't spotted it yet. But I do want to point out a way of fixing the problem of applications which fail to work, bringing up a blank screen with just a Windows 10 search box. You can easily spot the miscreants - they're denoted by blank icons in your main application list.
Having pitched these two smartphones head to head in terms of imaging (spoiler: the 950 wins by quite a way, though with some caveats), I wanted to pitch them against each other across the board, function for function. The LG G4 is a flagship from earlier in 2015 that's now an absolute steal at £320, while the Lumia 950 is... well, you know, you're reading AAWP after all! See my 950 review here.
One aspect of Windows Phone has traditionally been device and specification-dependent - the multitasking carousel, accessed by long pressing the 'back' control. Up to (and including) Build 10512 of Windows 10 Mobile, devices with 2GB or RAM were allowed up to 14 'slots' in the carousel, but this has now been trimmed to be just '7' - however much RAM a device has. And the OS is faster for it.
It's all very well saying that the Lumia 950 and 950 XL camera is the best, across all shots and use cases, that has ever existed in the Windows Phone world, but how does it compare with the best of the competition? The latter is almost unanimously the LG G4, running Android, so I got that in for direct comparison and a fight to the death. At least in terms of still imaging.
In advance of my full review part (2) for the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, I wanted to set some data points up. Specifically looking at the 950 (and 950 XL) camera against its predecessor, the 930 (from 18 months ago) and the Lumia 1020 (from two and a half years ago). That I'm comparing with a smartphone camera that's so old is a tribute to how good, in terms of raw image quality, the 1020 was, though the user experience and performance in the newer devices is dramatically better, more than a single order of magnitude, from 1020 to 950. So bear that in mind too!
Security is very much in the news recently, whether physical, in terms of terrorism, or personal, in terms of hacked servers, potential ID fraud, and so on. Then there's the raft of security holes found in various versions of Android, arguably the dominant OS on the planet at the moment. Regardless of other factors, including the 'app gap', you have to wonder whether security should be a factor when choosing which smartphone platform and ecosystem to invest your time and money in? I contend that it absolutely should be.
If I've learned anything in 20 years in the handheld and mobile industry, it's that one needs to have a sense of perspective. Leading me to observe the imminent new Lumia flagships from far enough away that I can see the hill that they may - or may not - have to climb in order to be pronounced a success. Who, aside from AAWP-reading Microsoft (and ex-Nokia) enthusiasts is actually going to buy the new Lumia 950 and 950 XL?
I can't believe that it was two years ago that the Lumia 1520 first became available - it still seems fresh and competitive in late 2015, thanks to the 'leap of faith' design decision by Nokia to go with a 6" display, leapfrogging the phablets of the day. In fact, they aimed a little too high (arguably), though it's evident in a world of ever-growing smartphones that a 6" display isn't as preposterous as it was two years ago.