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11/12/2015
My thoughts after a week trialling the Lumia 950

I’ve been trialling the #Lumia950 for just over a week now so I thought it would be a good time to share with you my thoughts of the new Windows flagship phone. In short it is great. Read on for find out more details about it.

Windows 10

I have used #Windows10 Mobile on a few devices over the past few months so it’s new features, functionality and improved design don’t feel new to me. But, what I can say is on this device Windows 10 shines!

Since the update earlier in the week that brings the device up to build 10586.29 the OS in general has become more stable and the experience feels tighter, not that it was too bad before. However, having the occasional app crash wasn’t great, so far the new build seems to have resolved any those problems.

There have also been a number of app updates in the past week, most notable is to Groove which has introduced some much requested and needed improvements. These constant updates continue to improve the basic functionality of the device and because of them the OS is feeling good.

Windows Hello

Being able to unlock my phone by just looking at it is great. The problem is that I am too used to entering a PIN and do this without thinking before #WindowsHello has scanned my eye. Hello is fast, but I can enter my PIN faster and therein lies an issue. Whilst the feature is great if it takes longer than me entering a PIN then it can feel like it is just getting in the way. Also, because you have to have a PIN enabled it doesn’t really make my phone more secure as anyone who knows my PIN can still access the phone.

But, I can see a lot of potential for this feature and can see how this will make devices, apps and payments more secure on Windows. Did someone say “Microsoft Pay”?

As an aside, I find it amusing that #Microsoft has had a bad time with parts of the press who accuse its devices of spying on users and watching us like Big Brother and yet we can now sign in to our devices by watching them.

Continuum

Perhaps my favourite aspect of the #Lumia 950 is #Continuum and it’s even not something I have been able to try out extensively yet. Continuum is, without doubt, the best example of Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform (UWP) showing how an app can seamlessly transition from being displayed on a 5.2” screen to a 24” monitor. It’s the same app but the experience is tailored for the screen.

Being able to use the desktop experience for some apps whilst continuing to use my phone for others is great. In fact, it feels so much like a full PC experience that for a moment I was confused when the BBC iPlayer was saying Flash wasn’t installed, and then I remembered it was a phone powering the experience.

I have had a few similar experiences that remind me I am not really using a PC however much it feels like it. An example is that Aero Snap is missing so it’s not possible to have multiple windows side by side, I’m sure this will be added in a future update.

Another thing I found was that some websites, including Microsoft’s own, think that the device is a PC when using the Continuum experience for Edge. In some cases this is fine and others not so much, for example when opening a link to the Windows Store website to install a new app on my phone it said “not available for your device”, then opening that same page on the phone I could install the app.

Like Windows Hello this is a great first step and I can see many useful applications for it. I am especially interested to learn more about the Win32 Bridge that can bring Win32 apps to the UWP and the rumours of an Intel powered Surface Phone.

Taking the idea of Continuum and running with it, it is possible that we could install Photoshop or Visual Studio on our phones so that when we plug in a monitor we can use them. Of course, you wouldn’t want to use them on your phone. This really would mean that we could have a PC in our pocket. Long live the PocketPC, right?

I am looking forward to trying our Continuum more extensive and have a new project to share with you all soon and my plan is to release it using Continuum which will be a very apt way to do it. Stay tuned over the coming days for what it is.

Battery Life

When trying out Windows 10 on my Lumia 1020 I found that the battery life drained very quickly. Thankfully with the 950 it doesn’t drain nearly as fast, but I can see why Microsoft introduced fast charging on this device. The battery life is not as good as I would have liked, it doesn’t last a day even with only minimal usage and that’s why fast charging is useful. In 30 minutes I can have charged the battery to 50%!

All things being well I should receive my Lumia 950 XL tomorrow and I’m keen to find out how the bigger battery in that fares, I hope it can last a day of moderate usage.

Camera

Microsoft has been making a big thing of the camera in the Lumia 950 and 950 XL and for good reason, its superb! Granted, I’ve not taken a huge number of pictures over the past week (I’m looking to change that over the next few days), but those I have taken are great. There are 3 flashes on the 950 allowing you to choose the best lighting for the photo after you’ve taken it which can significantly improve a shot. I might even go as far to say that the photos on the 950 are better than my 1020’s. What I can definitely say though is that overall, as a camera the 950 is better than my 1020 as it doesn’t take half a day to save the image; I am able to quickly snap a number of photos and that is something the 1020 never could do.

You can see some of the photos I have taken above.

I will continue to use the 950 for the next week before handing it back and will continue to share my experiences on here and Twitter. I hope to be able to compare the 950 and 950 XL, well, if my new phone arrives in time! If you have anything you want to know more about then please let me know.

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