Head to head: Lumia 950 XL vs POCO X3 (NFC)

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It's brand new and it sets new boundaries for high specifications and low price in the smartphone world. £199 (inc VAT) for the 'POCO X3 (NFC)' in the UK is all it costs to get something which all but competes with other smartphones costing three times its price. But where are the compromises, if any, and how does this Android newcomer compare with the classic Lumia 950 XL, still the benchmark for many here on AAWP?

950 XL and POCO X3

Lumia 950 XL and POCO X3 (NFC)

That name, though. Why put 'NFC', in brackets, in the phone's name? I guess it's Xiaomi making the point that many of its previous designs, sweeping in from China, have missed this vital antenna and thus missed out on Google Pay compatibility in the West. No chance of that here, so they put NFC up front and centre so that no one could be confused.

950 XL and POCO X3

As usual, just for fun and curiosity, 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 POCO X3 (NFC)
Date first available November 2015 September 2020 
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!) £199 on the Xiaomi site and also on Amazon UK, or £249 for the 128GB storage variant (though with microSD on board, most people don't need to go big unless they need the dual SIM facility). I don't normally award 'wins' in price, but in this case the price is so amazingly low... 
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

165 x 77 x 9mm, 215g, quite a bit taller, due to the 20:9 screen, and a lot heavier/denser, mainly due to the large battery
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. I think that fact is significant.

IP53 certified for dust/water, so merely 'splash proof', though at this price being impervious to water isn't so important, i.e. the phone can be replaced easily. The frame and back are plastic, albeit glossy, so the phone should survive most knocks 'naked'. You do get a clear TPU case in the box, which is good, and putting this on does stop the plastic from getting scuffed.

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 'January 2020'.

Android 10, August 2020 security, with Mi UI 12 'skin', full-screen gesture controls available, or navigation buttons on-screen (the default). 


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.

6.7" 1080p IPS LCD display, 20:9 ratio, Gorilla glass 5, 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10-certified, screen area is roughly 107cm2

Also excellent viewing angles and better outdoors in the sun than the 2015 screen on the Lumia. But there's no always-on display, partly because of the power drain from this because of LCD technology. Gets the win here for general clarity, the high refresh rate (mainly for games), and for the high dynamic range support for videos.


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. Includes the new NexDock 2, transforming the Lumia into a Windows 10 S laptop, effectively.

LTE, NFC (all uses), Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac, integral wifi tethering, Bluetooth 5.1 (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 732G, 6GB RAM, very fast at everything, as you'd expect for a 2020 phone, especially with such a responsive display
Capacity 32GB internal storage, expandable via (cheap) microSD to extra 256GB 64 or 128GB, microSD expansion to 512GB
Imaging (stills)

20MP PureView f/1.9 1/2.4" BSI sensor, Phase Detection auto-focus, dedicated camera shutter button and launch key, 1.5x lossless digital zoom (in 8MP oversampled mode, and lossy digital after that), 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.

Main camera: 64 MP, f/1.9, 1/1.73", PDAF
Ultra-wide: 13 MP, f/2.2, 119˚
Plus 2 MP 'macro' camera and 2 MP depth camera to help with portrait shots.

An imaging head to head is next, don't worry - this one should be quite close, despite the budget price. So no wins just yet.

5MP front camera 20MP, f/2.2 front camera
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, digitally stabilised, 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. Terrific stereo speakers, loud and decent bass, happily resonating in the plastic back, so you 'feel' it too!
3.5mm headphone jack, A2DP+AptX, plus a decent internal DAC, so great wired and wireless headphone audio too.  3.5mm headphone jack, A2DP, all very similar in volume and quality to the Lumia (i.e. very good). The specs advertise 24-bit audio, but the DAC is - I suspect - just the Snapdragon 732's, so in practice it's not class leading (as the LG flagships - or the Windows-powered Alcatel IDOL 4 Pro - were), i.e. there's no dedicated DAC or power amp. Still great to see the jack in 2020 though, and it sounds good.

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. But it's all looking a little neglected in 2020 compared to the bells and whistles in Google Maps.

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, even at local level, along with offline maps that auto-update.
Cortana/Voice Cortana was mature and well integrated, though functionality had been falling away through 2019 and attempts to rouse her end in failure in 2020. A great shame. Google Assistant is baked in and works well, once assigned to a key combination - I used press and hold on the power button. All superior to the dead Cortana in 2019/2020, due to the investment that Google has put in over the last few years.
Battery, life  Removable 3340mAh battery, and the ability to change cells are a positive here (and you CAN still buy decent spare batteries), plus USB Type C Power Delivery (up to 3A, so 15W) and 1A Qi wireless charging built-in also helps. However, a Lumia running Windows 10 Mobile will now discharge in 24 hours even if you don't use it much.

Giant, sealed 5160mAh battery, gets easily through a day, with charge to spare. Type C port supports (up to) 33W wired charging.

Gets the win here, despite the sealed battery, partly through sheer capacity and also because the OS doesn't drain anywhere near as fast as W10M!!

Cloud aids Windows Photos syncs at full resolution and quality across all signed-in devices, subject to your OneDrive tariff (stingy, unless you have Office 365 - most of us do, hence the 'win' here), 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 is more problematic, though seems to work under Catalina. Plugging into any PC gives immediate MTP file access, plus this works on a Mac on all OS versions, with Google's Android File Transfer utility, for drag and drop of all user files. Seamless and lightning fast.
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.

The side-power-button-mounted capacitive fingerprint sensor is foolproof and 100% reliable, unlocking instantly. So much better than other modern phones with in-screen sensors. Works to authenticate transactions too, as you'd expect, with Google Pay or in the Play Store.

Applications and ecosystem  Windows 10 Mobile had most (though not all) mainstream apps and services covered, though some are dropping away now - see my guide! 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. 

Upgrades and future Windows 10 Mobile is now effectively out of support. From now on, it will be useable but with more and more service caveats applying. Still, 'end 2019' was a full four years since the Lumia 950 XL was launched, so it's hard to complain. Xiaomi is one of the world's leading mobile companies now and has a decent update record. The POCO line should see this, despite the relatively low prices. I'd guess at updates to the end of 2021 and then somewhat patchily into 2022.

950 XL and POCO X3


Adding up the green 'wins' (for fun?!) gives a 13-3 win to the much newer (though budget) device, which is rather overwhelming and shows what a great option this could be to get 'into Android' without spending a lot of money. It also shows just how far the phone world has come in terms of value for money in mid 2020.

I'll have an imaging comparison up very shortly, don't worry!