Microsoft's first true Windows 10 Mobile flagships are finally making their way to the hands of consumers, and they've certainly managed to stir up some buzz. As such, Microsoft has started on its journey to prove that Windows 10 Mobile, along with the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, are worthy competitors to the firmly entrenched Android and iOS.
The debate over whether the two new Lumias, and Windows 10 Mobile on the whole, are worth a go will undoubtedly rage on over the coming months. However, for businesses looking at moving to the two smartphones, there's certainly a lot to like. With that in mind, let's take a look at eight reasons your business might want to consider the Lumia 950 or 950 XL.
One of the big, hallmark features of Windows 10 was Continuum, allowing you to easily dip back and forth between tablet and desktop mode with a 2-in-1. That feature has also made its way to Windows 10 Mobile in a slightly more impressive manner, allowing you to turn your phone into a nearly full desktop machine on the fly.
Continuum on the Lumia 950 can be used either with or without wires, or with a mix of both. If you go the wireless route, you'll be broadcasting over Bluetooth or Miracast. If you opt for the wired method, you'll need Microsoft's Display Dock accessory to kick things off.
Either way you go, the experience is the same, however. Once you're using Continuum with a monitor, TV, or some other display, you're essentially using a full desktop version of Windows 10. You can connect a keyboard and monitor to complete the experience, or even use the phone as your trackpad and keyboard. Even better is that you can use your phone independently at the same time, taking calls, sending text messages, and checking apps on the small screen while you continue to work on the big screen.
Not only does this allow you to do a bit of extra multitasking, but it's a boon if you frequently have to move around the office, travel, or give an impromptu presentation. There are some limitations as far as compatible apps are concerned (mainly that you're currently restricted to universal apps), and there is a bit of hardware required, but the ability to carry around a desktop experience in your pocket is pretty impressive.
2. Universal apps
Speaking of Continuum, where the feature really shines is with universal apps. With Microsoft's push to make Windows 10 work across its entire device lineup going forward, developers are now able to code their apps to take advantage of multiple form factors in one singular app.
Essentially, this means that the same Word app that you use on your desktop has the ability to scale between desktop, tablet and phone modes. When combined with Continuum on the Lumia 950 or 950 XL, you'll be able to go from scanning over a document or presentation on your phone screen to working in a full, much more comfortable editing environment on your nearby monitor.
It remains to be seen whether all developers will embrace the universal model, but Microsoft is certainly encouraging its adoption. At the very least, if you're a heavy Microsoft app user, you can easily switch back and forth between a constrained phone app and a more robust work environment using the same app on the same device.
3. USB on the go
While USB On The Go (USB OTG) has been around since the Symbian days, and some Android phones have had the feature for a while, the Lumia 950 marks the first time it has been available on a Windows Phone device.
With USB OTG, you can use the Lumia 950's reversible USB-C port with an adaptor to connect any USB device to the phone. This opens up a wide range of possibilities, from connecting a USB storage stick to the phone for quick access to some important files, to hooking up a keyboard for some serious work.
If you often tote your important files around on a USB stick, the addition of USB OTG combined with the Windows ecosystem could prove to be be an invaluable tool.
4. Quick charging
Quick charging has just started to make a splash over in Android's neck of the woods over the last year or so, making it one of the hot new features that users expect with any new flagship. And with the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, Microsoft has answered that call.
If you find yourself frequently low on battery during long trips, quick charging could help alleviate the need to carry around a portable battery pack. Microsoft is claiming that users can get up to a 50% charge in just 30 minutes with quick charging on the Lumia 950. This means you can get hours of use out of a quick top off if you happen to have some spare time between meetings.
The feature may not negate the need for a battery pack for extended periods away from a power source, but it should prove to be incredibly useful when you have a bit of down time indoors.
5. Camera quality
Outstanding camera quality is now expected on any flagship smartphone, and Microsoft's latest entries are no slouch in this area. Both come equipped with 20-megapixel rear cameras with optical image stabilization and triple LED RGB flash. In addition, both support RAW image capture, along with 4K video recording.
However, where the real magic happens is with the camera software, which Microsoft says it has tweaked and tuned to pull as much quality out of photos as possible even in low-light settings. If you're tasked with taking event photos on the fly, or simply need to scan some documents, the cameras on both Lumias should be more than adequate for your needs.
6. Expandable storage
It feels a bit silly that this is a notable feature on a mobile device in 2015, but microSD card slots are an increasingly rare sight on flagship smartphones, so it's worth a mention.
Not only do the new Lumias come with 32GB of storage on board, but they also pack a microSD card slot, giving you the ability to store an incredibly large amount of media, apps, and games on your device. In an age where streaming music is the norm, and cloud storage makes documents accessible from nearly anywhere, this may not seem that important. However, with 4K video recording and the ability to capture photos in RAW format, local storage space can easily become an issue.
If you're the type that wants to get the most out of your photos and videos from events, or simply prefer local storage, the microSD support on the Lumia 950 and 950 XL is quite the boon.
7. Hello, iris
All of the interesting features in the world would mean nothing for business users if there was no reliable way to secure their data, and Microsoft has delivered in an interesting way: an iris scanner. The company has eschewed the fingerprint scanner that the competition has adopted in favor of the eye.
The feature works in a similar manner to the Windows Hello facial recognition on Windows 10 desktops and laptops outfitted with Intel's RealSense cameras. After a short training process, a user can simply hold the phone in front of his or her face to unlock the phone.
It's certainly a quick and convenient way to access your phone, with obvious security benefits. However, it would be great to see the sign-on method extended beyond unlocking the device, allowing more secure logins with apps as well. It remains to be seen whether Microsoft's iris scanner bests the fingerprint scanners that appear on the iPhone and Android devices, but it's certainly an interesting addition nonetheless.
Cortana has been a hallmark feature of Windows Phones since her appearance on past Windows Phones, and the digital assistant has only continued to get better since. Competing with Google Now and Siri, Cortana allows Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile users to easily dictate notes and texts, place calls, add events to their calendars, and query the meaning of life. To top it off, all of this can be done hands-free with the phrase "Hey, Cortana."
The race is definitely tight between digital assistants on all platforms, which has led to Microsoft frequently adding more and more new features to Cortana as time goes on. If you were worried that you'd miss out on some useful digital assistant magic by moving to the Lumia 950 or 950 XL, you can put those worries to rest.