Lumia 950: Hands-on and first impressions of Microsoft's newest flagship

Microsoft announced all sorts of new electronic goodies early on in October. We have already gotten our hands on Microsoft's new Surface Book and Surface Pro 4, and now we are taking a look at the mobile side of the picture, specifically, their new Lumia 950 flagship.

The 950 is the smaller sibiling of the larger 950XL, sporting a 5.2 inch Quad HD display, at a resolution of 2560 x 1440. The screen is absolutely gorgeous - you won't see any pixels on this display. It also (thankfully) supports glance, which wasn't available on the last flagship around this size, the Lumia 930. Glance means that the phone is able to selectively light up pixels on the AMOLED display to show info like the time, date, and weather, without draining your battery life. It's a small but great feature of the device, and I was glad to see it included.

The phone features a large 3000 mAh removable battery as well as Qi wireless, and Fast Charging through the reversible Type-C USB port. Microsoft says the phone is able to go from low battery to 50% charge in roughly 30 minutes, which I found to be pretty accurate. In my brief testing I was able to go from completely drained to 50% is approximately 34 minutes - not bad. Something that did disappoint me was the phone's incompatibility with my Nokia Qi Wireless In-Car Charger. The device never seemed to stay charging which keep prompting the screen to turn off and on while driving.

As far as the design goes, it isn't particularly exciting, but I am excited for the cases and backplates being offered from 3rd-parties like Mozo. The polycarbonate body does mean that the phone is fairly light, weighing in at 150g, but it doesn't make it feel too cheap. The legendary polycarbonate - first used by Nokia on its Lumia range, really shines through - the device feels very well built.

So let's talk about that camera, while it's still a 20MP shooter, the camera is entirely different from the one found in the Lumia 930/Icon. The 950 features a 1/2.4" sensor size up, from the 1/2.5" sensor found in the 930. The camera also has a new triple RGB flash, which I have found to be pretty good in low light thus far. I have had only a couple good opportunities to take low light photos and videos, which you can see above and below respectively. For some reason, it had trouble focusing on the Christmas lights at a festival I went to, hopefully this will improve as the software matures.

Unfortunately, I haven't gotten a chance to use the Display Dock, but did have a chance to quickly utilize the Miracast feature on the Xbox One to set up the Lumia 950 via Continuum. With no keyboard or mouse connected, the Lumia 950 acts as a trackpad to navigate through the app on the big screen. The lag was noticeable, but not enough so that I would be discouraged to use it. It's a neat feature, and I imagine even more so with the Display Dock and an actual keyboard and mouse.

And then there is Windows Hello, the biometric authentication software introduced in Windows 10 which allows you to login via your fingerprint, face, or iris. Curiously enough, the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL have the latter. In my limited testing I was glad to see that it actually worked quite well, though it has some drawbacks that might be show stoppers for some. It works great without glasses, but as soon as my glasses come on, the time it takes to log me in doubles, making it way too slow. On average without glasses it takes approximately a second to successfully log me in. Despite these issues, it is still in beta with some clear room for improvement.

The Lumia 950 might not be the most attractive phone I have used, but it has still been a pleasure thus far. Stay tuned for our full device review in the coming weeks!

If you have any questions about the device, feel free to reach out in the comments below or on Twitter.

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