Microsoft Lumia 950 review

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Microsoft Lumia 950 review

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Digging deeper into the Microsoft Lumia 950, the hardware reminds me of the Nexus 5X even more than the outside shell. It uses the same Snapdragon 808 System-on-a-Chip at its core with an embedded Adreno 418 graphics processor.

This popular, 64-bit Qualcomm hexa-core processor uses a faster 1.82GHz dual-core chip and more energy efficient quad-core 1.44GHz chip. The same combination can also be found in the LG V10, BlackBerry Priv, Moto X Style and LG G4.

The Lumia 950 is in good company, and bests some of the competition with 3GB of RAM instead of 2GB. This provides a higher ceiling for running more apps at once, when and if Windows 10 Mobile gets enough to max out its memory.

Lumia 950 review

The problem is that Microsoft's phone runs hot with normal use. This may not be the chip itself, but the screen and the back of the phone heat up steadily of the course of a half hour. I expect this from the troubled Snapdragon 810 processor, but not the 808 chip.

It's impossible to weigh the Lumia 950 against other phones using the standard GeekBench 3 benchmark app because, well, the operating system doesn't support it. I can tell there's some slowness between menus and apps, but it's also impossible to turn off animations and I can tell there are a lot of underdeveloped apps that are at the root of the problem.

Lumia 950 review

Overall, I glided through the Windows 10 Mobile experience with ease and not too much lag. There's the occasional glitch, but that's something I expected going into this phone. I really appreciated exploring the files, coming from using the iPhone 6S Plus. Microsoft isn't trying to lock down its file system, and that makes this phone stand out for tinkerers.

Call quality

The Lumia 950 can do a lot of neat things: the iris-scanner login screen is a cool party trick, Continuum mode is promising and the Microsoft Edge browser is competent.

Yet it can't quite pull off some fundamentals, like making clear phone calls. I've been experiencing voices that sound as if they were echoing out of a tin can because either the speaker or software is malfunctioning.

Lumia 950 review

The Lumia 950 speakerphone made things worse. I was immediately asked "Are you on the speakerphone now?" by my mother when I sneakily switched. Moms always know, but in this case so did everyone who I called via speakerphone.

If the call quality is a software error, which it sometimes is, this can be handled through a Windows 10 Mobile update. The speaker issue is a different problem altogether. I will say that the people on the other end of standard calls reported no problems hearing me whatsoever, so at least the microphone is spot-on.

Matt Swider