The New Lumia Phones

November 12, 2015 - Can they keep me in the fold?

The Lumia 950 Line

If you've been following my notes here about Windows Phone, you know I love the phone but am angry that Bank of America discontinued support for it. I was very disappointed that the CEO of BofA did not appear at Microsoft's event to announce that Lumia would be fully supported. (Okay, I didn't really expect that.)

My wife and I need new phones because the battery is pretty much gone in our Nokia Lumia 920s. Except for that, the phone would be good for longer. Assuming that we need to replace the phones and ignoring the BofA problem, is the Microsoft Lumia 950 a suitable next phone for us?

Here are some specs for you.

FeatureLumia 920Lumia 950iPhone 6s
Weight (oz) 6.5 5.3 5.0
HxWxD (in) 5.1 x 2.8 x .42 5.7 x 2.9 x .32 5.4 x 2.6 x .28
Processor dual-core six-core  dual-core
Clock Rate 1.5GHz 1.8GHz 1.8GHz 
Memory 1GB 3GB  2GB
Storage 32GB 32GB  16GB
SD Card n/a to 200GB  n/a
Battery 2000 mAh 3000 mAh  1715 mAh
Display  4.5"  5.2" 4.7" 
 Dimensions 768x1280   1440x2560 750x1334
 Connector micro-USB   USB Type C Apple
 Camera  8.7MP  20MP 12MP
 Front  1.3MP  5MP 5MP
 Video 1080p 4K   4K
OS Win 8.1, 10   Win 10  iOS 9

All in all, the 950 has impressive hardware. It is a big step up from the 920 and is clearly a "flagship" phone. As you can see, it compares very favorably to the newest iPhone, at least from a hardware perspective. It is thinner and lighter than the 920 and as a result slightly larger in the bargain.

I guess consumers are impressed with thin given how hard Apple bangs on that particular drum. I wish Microsoft hadn't worried about thin and had instead made it possible to replace the battery, as with the Lumia 830.

Here's the bad news. A staple of Apple's announcements is full information. Apple tells us how much the device costs, when it will be available (specifically), and which carriers will have it. Microsoft gave the unlocked purchase price as $549 in the Microsoft Store and said it would be available in November, but that's it. The next day it was reported that the phone would be exclusive to AT&T but that was later retracted. Rumor has it that AT&T will carry the 950 but not the 950XL. The Microsoft Store listings for the phones do not mention price or availability, saying only "Coming soon."

Oh, yeah, there were actually three phones announced, the 950, the bigger and badder 950XL (larger screen, octa-core processor, $649 unlocked), and the incredibly low-cost 550 ($139, European markets). Frustratingly, the low-end 550 has a replaceable battery. Go figure.

Why Microsoft doesn't have its ducks in a row on the phones is a mystery. One possibility is that the final build of Windows 10 for phones is not yet available. The absence of the pricing and availability details severely marred Panay's pitch, deflating the little bit of desire he had managed to create. Not good.

Instead, I'm left with uncertainty. I've found that I can live without the BofA app and because I live in the Microsoft stack, a Windows phone is a plus. The 950 is clearly a good phone, at least on paper. Is it my next phone? I don't know.



Tags: Smartphones, Windows

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