Flagship head to head: LG G6 vs Lumia 950 XL

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How does the (unbelievably now) 18 month old Lumia 950 XL stand up, spec by spec, against the brand new LG G6, which i've been reviewing? Clammy glass against cheap plastic coated matt plastic with real wood, double camera against one really good PureView effort, and so on. Read on for my blow by blow comparison.

LG G6 and Lumia 950 XL

As usual, I've shaded in green an obvious 'win' for either device, I honestly have no idea which way this one's going to go (as I start to compile the feature)... Any row where a winner would be totally subjective is left uncoloured. Or, where both devices are utterly excellent but in different ways, I've given both a 'green'(!)

[By the way, if you're viewing this feature on a smaller-screened phone then the table may well cause you problems. Try viewing in landscape mode? Failing that, go view this on a laptop or tablet!]

  LG G6 Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
Date first available April 2017 November 2015 (can you believe that the 950 XL is now nearly 18 months old??)
Current price, availability £649 inc VAT £287, SIM-free, from Amazon UK, still available new, though prices rise and drop a lot due to availability from sellers
Dimensions, form factor, weight

149 x 72 x 8mm, aluminium frame, curved glass on back, 163g.


152 x 78 x 8mm, plastic chassis and replaceable backs (plastic/leather/wood etc, from Mozo, as modelled here!), 165g

Durability Waterproof and dustproof to IP68, but will definitely need a case because of the mass of surface glass.
No specific durability metrics, though the fact that the back comes off will help enormously for water damage, i.e. taking out battery and cards immediately, drying out the internals. Damage to the back or corners is trivial through replacement, but the screen's exposed, of course.
Operating system, interface Android 7.0 plus LG UX 6.0, virtual controls on screen
Windows 10 Mobile, (dismissable) virtual controls, as needed

5.7" LCD (1440p at 2:1 aspect ratio), Gorilla Glass 5, decent visibility in all lighting conditions, though contrast tails off if not viewed head-on. Glance functions, too.

Screen area is approximately 85 cm2

5.7" AMOLED (1440p at 16:9 aspect ratio), Gorilla Glass 4, ClearBlack Display polarisers help with outdoor contrast, Glance screen available (in various colours) for always-on time, day and notification icons, plus some detailed info from a specified app.

Screen area is larger than the G6's, it's approximately 90 cm2

Connectivity LTE, NFC, Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac, integral wifi tethering, Bluetooth 4.2 LTE, NFC, Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac, integral wifi tethering, Bluetooth 4.2. Continuum connectivity to use a wide range of first and third party UWP apps on external displays as secondary screen, independent of the phone display, this gets it the win here by a whisker!
Processor, performance Snapdragon 821 chipset, 4GB RAM, very fast indeed Snapdragon 810 chipset, 3GB RAM, faster than it's ever been now on the Creators Update though still slower for almost everything than on the Android phone. Multi tasking and app resumption is excellent though, at least with all the modern UWP apps
Capacity 32GB internal storage, expandable via microSD 32GB internal storage, expandable via microSD
Imaging (stills)

Twin 13MP rear cameras, main one is 1/1.8, 1/3" with OIS and Phase Detection auto-focus; the wide angle one is 1/2.4 and fixed focus. The wide angle option is genuinely fun to use and opens up new possibilities, but quality of images on both cameras is suspect due to cheap lenses and over-aggressive image processing.

5MP front camera

20MP PureView f/1.9 1/2.4" BSI sensor, Phase Detection auto-focus, dedicated camera shutter button and launch key, genuine 2x lossless digital zoom (in 8MP oversampled mode), OIS. 'Rich Capture' produces customisable HDR shots and 'dynamic flash', with triple LED illumination. Outstanding shots in most light conditions, with just focussing issues in low light as an Achilles heel.

5MP front camera


Imaging (video) 4K, optically (and optionally digitally) stabilised, stereo audio track. 4K, optically (and optionally digitally) stabilised, with 'Best photo' 8MP grabbing built-in, plus Rich Recording and HAAC microphones for high quality, gig-level stereo capture.
Music and Multimedia Bottom mounted mono speaker, pretty loud and of good quality, wins this by a nose. 3.5mm headphone jack, A2DP+APT-X Decent mono speaker, loud but lacking in bass and depth, though you can trade volume for fidelity in a simple tweak. 3.5mm headphone jack, A2DP+APT-X, so great headphone audio too, but it can't make up for the weedier speaker overall.
Navigation  Google Maps is now the gold standard in phone navigation, tied in with many other Google services and offering true real time navigation around traffic issues.

Windows 10 Maps is now pretty mature and impressive, though at least one rung down from Google Maps in terms of live traffic awareness and re-routing.

Cortana/Voice Google Assistant is built-in and matches Cortana, though neither are really as mature as they should be by now, in my opinion. It turns out that really conversational comprehension is hard! Cortana is now mature and well integrated, and with a surprising degree of 'assistance'.
Battery, life  Sealed 3300mAh battery, plus USB Type C fast charging and compatibility with Qualcomm's Quickcharge 3.0. Removable 3300mAh battery, and the ability to change cells gets the win here in my book, the 950 XL easily gets through a day (on latest firmware), plus USB Type C (up to 3A) and Qi wireless charging built-in.
Cloud aids Google Photos, once installed, does a great job of organising photos and syncing them across all signed-in phones and tablets. Plus backup space is free forever, with only a few caveats... Windows Photos syncs across all signed-in devices, subject to your OneDrive tariff (stingy, unless you have Office 365), should you have thousands of images in the system. Plus Windows 10 backs all your media, application data and settings to a separate backup folder system, tariff-free on OneDrive.
Biometrics  Fingerprint sensor (on the back) works well, though can be slightly hard to find 'blind'. Iris recognition ('Windows Hello') works well unless you wear varifocals(!), but takes a few seconds in real world use.
Applications and ecosystem  The might of Google and Android's app ecosystem - everything is available and almost always in first party form. Windows 10 Mobile now has just about every mainstream app covered. Often third party clients are involved, mind you, there are companies who hate Microsoft so much that they simply refuse to write for Windows, it seems. And 'long tail' niche/boutique apps are hard to find for real world companies and shops.
Upgrades and future LG has a good track record of delivering OS updates, albeit delayed by six months or so behind the cutting edge. Still, the G6 should be good through mid 2018. Windows 10 Mobile will be updated through 2017, of course, as part of the global Windows 10 ecosystem. Production devices can expect updates every month, Insiders every few weeks. The 950 XL is part of the Insider program if needed, 'Redstone 3' (or whatever the mobile SKU is codenamed by then) is scheduled for H2, 2017 and I'd wager that the 950 XL will again be upgradeable, so updates should continue, at least at the security/core level, into 2018.


Adding up the green 'wins' gives the new LG G6 seven to the Lumia 950 XL's six. A close run thing then, though the usual caveats apply about totally different ecosystems and going where the services and apps you need live. That the Lumia 950 XL is up with the 18-month-newer LG G6, is actually somewhat remarkable and, not for the first time, I bemoan Microsoft's decision to kill production.

Of particular note above is the switch by LG to a 18:9 display, i.e. it's longer and narrower. This makes for an easier-to-handle phone, but does mean that there's less screen real estate overall - there's simply less in terms of screen area. Plus the vast majority of Internet-hosted media is in 16:9 aspect ratio and I'm not convinced that enough content creators will get behind crafting 18:9 material, which means users will either have parts of their picture chopped off or have to suffer black bars and a smaller image. On the black G6 here, the bars meld invisibly into the case, but they'll be an ugly problem on the white or silver G6 units.

All of this shows, yet again, that the Lumia 950 XL remains competitive if you're not too worried about boutique applications - the camera is still class leading, the screen's excellent, and there are a ton of real USPs in 2017.

Comments welcome - have I been fair overall?