How Microsoft’s ambitious new Lumia 950 phones compare to rivals

Could you fall in love with a Lumia? Photo: Microsoft

Could you fall in love with a Lumia? Photo: Microsoft

Microsoft’s new Lumia¬†950 and Lumia 950 XL have arrived, with high-end specifications, iris recognition technology, and the latest Windows 10 software. But do they have what it takes¬†to persuade you to give up Android or iOS?

Find out in our in-depth comparison below.

We’ve put the Lumia 950 and 950 XL up against rival devices from Apple, Samsung, Motorola, Sony, and Google in the comparison below to make it easy to see which one delivers the biggest bank for the buck.

Click the table below to view it at full size.


Windows 10

By far the biggest reason to buy one of Microsoft’s new Lumias is for Windows 10. There are plenty of other smartphones powered by that Snapdragon 810 chip, with Quad HD displays and excellent cameras. But the Lumia 950 and 950 XL are the only ones with Microsoft’s platform.

Whether that’s really an advantage depends on what you use a smartphone for, and it’s still too early to tell whether Windows 10 can be successful on a phone. Microsoft is making it easier than ever for Android and iOS developers to port their apps, which will help, but will it be enough?

It’ll take Microsoft a long time to catch up with Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store, and for those who value apps and games more than anything, that makes Windows 10 a hard sell. But if you’re already tied into the Windows ecosystem, it may be worth it.

One advantage to Windows 10 on phones is its ability to act as a PC. With Microsoft’s Display Dock, you can connect your Lumia to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, and get things done just like you would on a regular computer with a desktop interface.

Windows Hello

The Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL don’t come with fingerprint scanners like competing flagships, but they do have facial recognition technology. Combined with Windows Hello, this allows you to unlock your device simply by looking at it.

No more swiping, taping, or typing in passwords and codes. This is true facial recognition, too — not the same as Android’s, which is inconsistent and inaccurate at best.

Lumia 950 and 950 XL pack 20-megapixel cameras with triple LED flash. Photo: Microsoft

Lumia 950 and 950 XL pack 20-megapixel cameras with triple LED flash. Photo: Microsoft

Liquid cooling

Microsoft’s new devices are the first smartphones from a major manufacturer to employ a liquid cooling system.

We won’t know exactly how effective it is until the Lumia 950 and 950 XL make their debuts, but this could well eliminate the Snapdragon 810 overheating issue that has been plaguing rival devices from manufactures like HTC and Sony.


I’m a massive fan of both Android and iOS — I use both platforms daily — but I’ve also been enjoying Windows 10 on the desktop, too. I’m intrigued to see how well it performs on a smartphone, then, and I hope that it will be successful.

But right now, it’s hard to recommend a Lumia 950 or 950 XL over an iPhone, or a competing device powered by Android. Unless you’re already a Windows fan who is invested in the ecosystem, you’re going to be missing out — especially when it comes to third-party apps.