Continuum vs Dual Screen? Lumia 950 XL vs LG V50 comparison

Published by at

It's a fair cop, the headline is a bit sensationalist, but it does link the two smartphones after a fashion, in that they each do interesting things with extra screens. Plus there's the extra link in that Microsoft's new Surface Duo ('Surface Phone') will be a two screened hinged affair, albeit available in a year's time, and the LG V50 Dual Screen is available right now, but with some of the same ideas.

Lumia 950 XL and LG V50 Dual Screen

Although there's a little life left in Windows 10 Mobile in terms of updates and support, new hardware is non-existent, plus repairs and spares for older hardware are heading the same way - so it makes sense for everyone to be aware of the best of the rest from other platforms. The LG V50 is particularly interesting for its Dual Screen supplied accessory/form factor - for anyone wanting a Surface Duo a year early then this will give much more than a taste of what's to come.

As usual, I've shaded in green an obvious 'win' for either device. Any row where a winner would be totally subjective is left uncoloured. Or, where all devices are utterly excellent but in different ways, I've given each a 'green'(!)

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

  Microsoft Lumia 950 XL LG V50 Dual Screen
Date first available November 2015 May 2019 in Asia, more recently in the UK
Current price, availability No longer officially for sale, though it's often on clearance prices if you're lucky and at outrageous profiteering prices due to rarity (if you're not!) £varies, available on contract and under exclusives (e.g. with EE)
Dimensions, form factor, weight

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

159 x 76 x 8mm, 183g, not including the Dual Screen accessory, which adds 6mm to take the dual screen device to 14mm.
Durability 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, even unscrewing the motherboard from the guts of the phone. I'm old-school here! All damage to the back or corners is trivial through replacement of the rear, but the screen's exposed, of course. The plastics used should absorb shock and, anecdotally, I've never bothered putting a case on any Lumia. Just saying.

IP68 for liquid and dust, the Dual Screen accessory counts as a case in terms of protection, but at the expense of bulk.

The Dual Screen is also IP68, but subject to wires through the hinges and the usual caveats on twisting wires dozens of times a day...

Operating system, interface Windows 10 Mobile, (dismissable) virtual controls, as needed, now officially updated to W10 Fall Creators Update (Redstone 3, Autumn 2017) with security to 'October 2019'. Android 9 with LG UI tweaks, May 2019 security only. 

5.7" AMOLED (1440p at 16:9 aspect ratio, matching most video media), Gorilla Glass 4, ClearBlack Display polarisers help with outdoor contrast, excellent viewing angles. Screen area is approximately 88 cm2

Glance screen available (in various colours) for always-on time, day and notification icons, plus some detailed info from a specified app, give the Lumia bonus points here.

6.4" 1440p AMOLED at 19.5:9 aspect ratio, Gorilla Glass 5, screen area is 100cm2

Glance screen is available with date, time, battery status and some notification icons.

Dual Screen display is 6.2" 18.7:9 1080p AMOLED and the main display drops to 1080p to match when fitted.


LTE, NFC (all uses), Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac, integral wifi tethering, Bluetooth 4.2 (all uses).

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

LTE, NFC (all uses), Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac, integral wifi tethering, Bluetooth 5.0 (all uses). 
Processor, performance Snapdragon 810 chipset, 3GB RAM, faster than it's ever been now on the Fall 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
Snapdragon 855, 6GB RAM, lightning fast at everything.
Capacity 32GB internal storage, expandable via (cheap) microSD to extra 256GB 128GB internal storage, expandable via (cheap) microSD to extra 512GB
Imaging (stills)

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

12 MP (standard), f/1.5, 1/2.6", dual pixel PDAF, 3-axis OIS
12 MP (telephoto), f/2.4, 1/3.4", 2x optical zoom, PDAF, OIS
16 MP (ultrawide), f/1.9, 1/3.1", no AF

Overall performance (including brownie points for zoom and wide angle) should be similar to the Lumia's, separate feature coming on AAWP! [Update: now here, it doesn't match the Lumia after all!]

8MP, f/1.9, plus 5MP (wide), f/2.2 - front cameras

Imaging (video) Up to 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. Up to 4K video capture, with EIS, high quality stereo audio capture. 
Music and Multimedia
A tinny mono speaker by modern standards, though as ever you can trade volume for fidelity in a simple tweak on Lumias. Stereo speakers, though the left channel through the earpiece, is tinny, and the bottom/right speaker has little low end. Things improve when the bare phone is placed on a hard surface, but in real life the LG V50 will be cased, so this is somewhat moot.
3.5mm headphone jack, A2DP+AptX, so great wired and wireless headphone audio too.  Excellent pro-level DAC inside, outputting through a 3.5mm audio jack.

Windows 10 Maps is now pretty mature and impressive, especially once you've learned the live traffic routine trick! Offline maps save a lot of data bandwidth for those on tight contracts or anyone in a low signal (data) area, and these get the win here.

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, along with offline maps that auto-update.
Cortana/Voice Cortana is now mature and well integrated, though some functionality has been falling away, e.g. recognising ambient music, plus there are reliability concerns under Windows 10 Mobile. Google Assistant is baked in and works well (activated from the lockscreen or via voice), arguably superior to Cortana in 2019, due to the investment that Google has put in over the last few years.
Battery, life  Removable 3000mAh battery, and the ability to change cells gets brownie points here, plus USB Type C Power Delivery (up to 3A, so 15W) and 1A Qi wireless charging built-in. However, a Lumia running Windows 10 Mobile will now discharge in 24 hours even if you don't use it much.

Sealed 4000mAh battery, gets through a day, though heavy Dual Screen use might mean a tea time top-up. Quick Charge 3.0, Power Delivery 2.0, up to 18W fast charging. 2A Qi wireless charging built-in.

Cloud aids 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, for easy restoration on a new or factory reset phone. Google Photos does a great job of organising photos and syncing them across all signed-in phones and tablets, albeit at 'reduced' quality (re-compression server-side).
File compatibility As with all Windows phones, plugging into a Windows PC gives full drag and drop to the phone's user file system. Plugging into a Mac sadly isn't possible anymore. Plugging into a PC gives immediate MTP file access, plus this works well on a Mac with Google's Android File Transfer utility, for drag and drop of all user files.
Biometrics  Iris recognition ('Windows Hello') works well unless you wear varifocals(!), but takes a couple of seconds (including an animation!) in real world use. There's also no official way of paying in shops using this, at least not in most of the world. A capacitive fingerprint scanner on the V50 back is fast and accurate, though it helps to have a case on the phone that actually guides your finger to the scanner 'blind'!
Applications and ecosystem  Windows 10 Mobile has most (though not all) mainstream apps and services 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.

The might of Google and Android's app ecosystem - everything is available and almost always in first party form. 

Very few titles support the LG Dual Screen system, but the LG keyboard can itself be split off to use the 'other' screen in landscape mode - see the photos here. 

Upgrades and future Windows 10 Mobile will be updated through the end of 2019 - after that the OS will be useable but with more and more service caveats applying. LG's update record isn't great, witness that this 2019 flagship is still on its launch security update from the late Spring. I'm sure there will be a patch or two, but don't expect miracles.


Adding up the green 'wins' (for fun?!) gives a resounding 11-4 win to the much newer device, of course. Imaging is still up for grabs, so I'll report back on that in due course. The whole Dual Screen thing is indeed a glimpse of the sort of thing a Surface Duo might be capable of, though it's so clunky in terms of both hardware and software here that I really couldn't recommend it as a silky smooth 'folding' experience today. LG has done what it could, plus its solution is quite robust, but from my own hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Fold, the latter is a much more immersive and intuitive system.

The Surface Duo will be a different beast again, of course, with tightly integrated dual screen awareness out of the box for all its major applications, plus the hardware will be a lot slicker and sleeker.

Comments welcome though - would you consider a LG V50 Dual Screen for what you use a smartphone for?

Your comments welcome.