Notebookcheck

Microsoft Lumia 950 Smartphone Review

Michael Moser (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 03/09/2016

Slow leader. With the Lumia 950 and its sister model Lumia 950 XL, Microsoft has renewed its Windows Phone flagship models. They are powered by the latest Windows 10 OS. The appearance is restrained, but the equipment is worthy of a top model. Our review explains why this is not enough for a place up front in our top list.

For the original German review, see here.

Microsoft skips a number, and thus the Lumia 950 is the direct successor of the Lumia 930 that we tested in 2014, which was built by Nokia back then. As usual, the latest version of the Windows Phone flagship offers a rich and powerful configuration. Our Lumia 950 DS review sample also features a dual-SIM function, but otherwise it is not that different from the Lumia 950. It is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 808 hexa-core SoC that clocks at 1.8 GHz and an integrated Adreno 418 graphics card as well as a generous 3 GB of RAM. The 32 GB storage device can be expanded by up to 200 GB via a micro-SD.

Consequently, the Lumia 950 DS faces flagships from the competition, such as Apple's iPhone 6S, Samsung's Galaxy S6 and Sony's Xperia Z5 as well as its predecessor, the Nokia Lumia 930Google's Nexus 6PAsus' ZenFone 2 Deluxe ZE551ML and HTC's One M9 are also included in our benchmark course as well as a few other comparisons.

Microsoft Lumia 950 (Lumia Series)
Graphics adapter
Memory
3072 MB 
Display
5.2 inch 16:9, 2560x1440 pixel, AMOLED, 564 PPI, WQHD, ClearBlack, TrueColor (24 bit/16 M), improved legibility in sunlight, easy to clean, high-brightness mode, Lumia color profile, Corning Gorilla Glass 3, glossy: yes
Storage
32 GB eMMC Flash, 32 GB 
, 24.65 GB free
Connections
1 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 DisplayPort, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm jack, Card Reader: micro-SDXC (max. 200 GB), Sensors: A-GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou; ambient light sensor, accelerometer, proximity sensor, barometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, SensorCore, NFC, OTG
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.1, GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz), UMTS (850/900/1700/1900/2100 MHz), LTE (B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B7/B8/B12/B17/B20/B28/B38/B40/teils B41), GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA+, bandwidth (download/upload): 300MB/s/50MB/s (LTE Cat.6), 42.2MB/s/5.76MB/s (UMTS), GPS
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 8.2 x 145 x 73.2 ( = 0.32 x 5.71 x 2.88 in)
Battery
12 Wh, 3000 mAh Lithium-Polymer, removeable, Talk time 2G (according to manufacturer): 18 h, Talk time 3G (according to manufacturer): 18 h, Standby 2G (according to manufacturer): 275 h, Standby 3G (according to manufacturer): 275 h
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Mobile
Camera
Primary Camera: 5 MPix FHD wide-angle, f/2.4 aperture, [email protected]
Secondary Camera: 20 MPix auto focus with two pressure points, digital 2x zoom, objective with 6 lenses, optical image stabilizer, sensor size 1/2.4", f/1.9, focal point 26 mm, Triple LED flash, PureView, real 16:9-Sensor, quick focus minimum distance 10 cm,4K [email protected] FPS
Additional features
Speakers: rear-sided mono speaker, Keyboard: virtual QWERTY keyboard, Keyboard Light: yes, battery, charger, USB-C cable, user guide, Microsoft Edge, Outlook, Facebook, WhatsApp, OneDrive, Xbox Live Hub, Skype, Microsoft Office (OneNote, Word, Excel, PowerPoint), Finances, Expedia, Fitbit, Maps, Lumia Creative Studio, Support + Tips, Shazam, Sky Online, Sky Go, MSN Weather, Xing, 24 Months Warranty, SAR rate: 0.48W/kg (head), 0.6W/kg (body); SIM-size: Nano-SIM; Features: Dual-SIM, FM radio, incorporated wireless charging, Quick charge (standard for wireless charging: Qi), fanless
Weight
150 g ( = 5.29 oz / 0.33 pounds), Power Supply: 70 g ( = 2.47 oz / 0.15 pounds)
Price
599 Euro

 

Case

Unfortunately, Microsoft does not continue where the former Nokia Lumia 930 left off in the choice of materials for the casing. The Lumia 950 is no longer metal, and now relies on matte plastic for the removable back cover. Although that makes the lightly rounded back pleasant to hold and relatively unsusceptible to scratches, it does not really add a flagship feeling to the smartphone. Despite the removable back - which, by the way, is fairly difficult to remove - the handset reaps in the full score in terms of stability and impeccable build. No matter how much pressure we apply, neither cracking noises nor image distortions are audible or visible. Only the keys on the casing's right are rather loose, but they still have a clear pressure point.

Microsoft's silver logo dominates on the glass front, which is otherwise restrained. The plain design is also reflected in the available colors; Microsoft's Lumia 950 is available only in black or white. Third-party manufacturers will have to set colorful accents with optional covers now.

Unlike the predecessor, a removable battery and slots for two nano-SIM cards and a micro-SD card are found under the removable back cover. Once again, Microsoft's Lumia 950 is visibly slim with a height of 8.2 mm (~0.32 in). It is also 20 grams (~0.7 oz) lighter than its predecessor with a total weight of now 150 grams (~5.3 oz). This puts it on the level of its rivals; Sony's Xperia Z5 weighs slightly more.

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Connectivity

The main point of criticism of the predecessor's connectivity - the lack of a micro-SD slot for easy storage expansion - has now been resolved by Microsoft. Up to 200 GB of additional storage are possible. As usual, it is possible to install apps directly on the micro-SD card. However, this slot as well as both SIM slots can only be accessed after removing the battery. Thus, hot-plugging is not supported. The Lumia 950 is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 808 MSM8992 SoC with a clock rate of 2 GHz and the integrated Adreno 418 graphics card as well as 3 GB of RAM. Once again, the Lumia 950 supports the Qi standard for wireless recharging via a compatible charging station. The layout of the other interfaces and the ergonomically perfectly placed buttons correspond with that of the predecessor. Microsoft's latest top model does not feature a fingerprint scanner that has become good feature among the flagship opponents. The manufacturer counters that with its retina scanner, Windows Hello. In addition, the USB-C 3.1 port (Gen 1, 5 GB/s) supports USB OTG.

Upper edge: Audio
Upper edge: Audio
Left: No interfaces or buttons
Left: No interfaces or buttons
Right: Volume control, power, camera
Right: Volume control, power, camera
Lower edge: USB, notch for removing the cover
Lower edge: USB, notch for removing the cover

Software

Like the larger Microsoft Lumia 950 XL that we have already tested, the Lumia 950 relies on the latest Windows 10 Mobile operating system. Microsoft has adapted it from the larger versions of desktop systems. Users familiar with the former Windows Phone 8.x system will adapt to it immediately. Once again, the programs in Live Tile design can be modified in size and placed on the home screen. The infinite transparency settings for the tiles and the genuine background images that the user can customize are new. The quick settings bar familiar from Android and iOS can now also be folded out. That was also the purpose of "Project Astoria" stopped late last year: It dealt with emulating Android apps for Windows 10 Mobile. "Project Islandwood" for porting Apple iOS apps exists parallel to that. That is essential as the latest Windows 10 Mobile also suffers under too few apps, even if it runs very stably and smoothly. The personal assistant "Cortana" that functions very decently is also installed. Like Apple, Microsoft now allows specific apps to continue processes started on the smartphone on a Windows 10 PC. Unfortunately, the wide application support is still lacking.

"Continuum" allows a desktop-like user experience in conjunction with an external screen, mouse and keyboard. Dedicated accessories, such as the Display Dock, support this. A drawback is that only the so-called universal apps like Microsoft's Office Suite or the maps app support "Continuum". Thus, the app developers are highly requested for making these features suitable for the real world. Another new feature is Windows' "Hello" that enables unlocking the screen without touch. That's right: Windows is the first to offer this James Bond-like Gadget! An infrared iris scanner that functions quickly but not always reliably under more difficult conditions, such as low-light or through glasses, is available. More information about the operating system can be found in our detailed review of the Microsoft Lumia 950 XL.

Communication & GPS

Microsoft's Lumia 950 uses HSPA+ or LTE Cat.6 (up to 300 Mbit/s) for mobile Internet connections. The review sample's high frequency coverage also enables reliable Internet connection abroad. Qualcomm's Wi-Fi module supports all the major standards with IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, and transmits in both the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. The range also proved very good in the test at a distance of approximately 10 meters (~33 ft) to the Telecom router and through several indoor walls. Opening pages always functioned impeccably and relatively fast. Video streaming via YouTube also functioned flawlessly.

The review sample uses both GPS and GLONASS for localization. Finding satellites via the map app is fast indoors, and also relatively accurate with approximately 10 meters (~33 ft). For a more detailed review, we took Microsoft's Lumia 950 and Garmin's Edge 500 navigation system on a  bike ride through our test route. As expected, Garmin's Edge 500 is more accurate, but the smartphone's deviations are kept within pleasingly tight limits. It is notable that the review sample determines the current position quite frequently, and thus displays a deviation of only approximately 140 meters (~459 ft) on the total route.

Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Microsoft Lumia 950 DS
Microsoft Lumia 950 DS
Microsoft Lumia 950 DS
Microsoft Lumia 950 DS
Microsoft Lumia 950 DS
Microsoft Lumia 950 DS
Phone app
Phone app

Telephone & Call Quality

The clearly arranged phone app of Microsoft's Lumia 950 offers the most important features, such as keypad, log and favorites. Skype has also been implemented nicely. Voices were rendered clearly and loudly during the test calls. The contact also confirmed a good intelligibility. The hands-free feature functioned well and at an acceptable volume, although a minor echo was heard.

Cameras & Multimedia

Like the larger Lumia 950 XL, the Lumia 950 is equipped with a 5 megapixel wide angle camera (2592x1936 pixels) with an f/2.4 aperture on the front. Videos are recorded in Full HD. The pictures look very appealing in good ambient light. Although the sensor captures a lot of light, a clear image noise is visible in the low-light test.

The rear-facing camera has a resolution of 20 megapixels (4864x3648 pixels, 4:3). However, only 17.7 megapixels can be used effectively in JPG format due to the digital 2x zoom. Even 19 MP are possible in the loss-free DNG format. The aperture is f/1.9. In addition to an optical image stabilizer, the lens has an auto focus with two pressure points and a triple LED flash. Videos can be recorded in 4K at 30 fps. The image quality is very good with decent sharpness and good color reproduction, especially in daylight or when the object is well-illuminated. However, the Lumia 950 cannot compete with Sony's Xperia Z5 Premium in a direct comparison. The camera does a really good job in low-light performance. Both the color reproduction and image sharpness are compelling when using the flash.

More information about the camera app and video performance can be found in the detailed test of the Microsoft Lumia 950 XL

Rear-facing camera with flash
Rear-facing camera with flash
Rear-facing camera low light
Rear-facing camera low light
Front-facing camera
Front-facing camera
Front-facing camera low light
Front-facing camera low light

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3
Screenshot of ColorChecker colors. Original colors in the lower half of each patch.
Screenshot of ColorChecker colors. Original colors in the lower half of each patch.

To examine the image sharpness more closely, we photographed our test chart as full-frame as possible in controlled light conditions. The photos are taken in automatic mode without editing them afterward. Here, slightly oversaturated colors are visible. However, the final colors look natural.

The sharpness is evaluated via a test chart that is again photographed in artificial light and as full-frame as possible. The Lumia 950 scores well here; the high image sharpness particularly in the image center is pleasing. It only decreases slightly toward the edge. Minor reproduction errors become evident in fonts and color gradients.

Accessories

Microsoft has included a 15 watt (5 volt, 3 ampere) power supply with a fixed cable and a USB Type A to Type-C data cable in the Lumia 950's box. Diverse accessories, such as a Display Dock at approximately 110 Euros (~$121), various cases, headsets, charging cushions or battery packs, are available in Microsoft's Shop.

Warranty

Microsoft includes a warranty period of 24 months. Battery and accessories are covered for six months.

Input Devices & Handling

The 5.2-inch, capacitive touchscreen in Microsoft's Lumia 50 is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4. Inputs are implemented accurately up into the corners. Typing is especially fast and, thanks to the screen and key size, very accurate. The screen's gliding qualities are also very good.

It is possible to place the keyboard edge-to-edge, right or left depending on personal preferences. However, the entire width is not used in landscape mode, which would enhance fast typing even more. The cursor can be placed where desired and moved quickly via pressing the TrackPoint in the keyboard. The input device conveys an overall very intuitive feel.

Like the larger model, the Lumia 950 has a dedicated camera button with two pressure levels. As with a digital camera, the latter is used for focusing and releasing. The camera app can also be opened from standby with this button. Unlike the Lumia 950 XL, the keys are situated in their usual place in the review sample.

Display

Subpixel photo under microscope
Subpixel photo under microscope

The 5.2-inch AMOLED screen in Microsoft's Lumia 950 has a resolution of 2560x1440 pixels. This leads to a very high pixel density of 564 PPI. Currently, only Sony's Xperia Z5 Premium  offers more in an equally sized screen. Pixels are not visible to the naked eye, even on the review sample's very sharp screen.

The average maximum brightness of 298 cd/m² is lower than that of the rivals, although the illumination of 92% is very homogeneous. However, the maximum brightness climbs from 312 to 331 cd/m² when bright and dark areas are distributed evenly (APL 50). Enabling the automatic brightness sensor lets the brightness climbs to very good 676 cd/m², which is at the very front in the premium league.

Due to inactive pixels, the installed AMOLED technology allows a really deep black when required. The resulting contrast ratio theoretically tends toward infinity and is impressive.

311
cd/m²
293
cd/m²
286
cd/m²
307
cd/m²
292
cd/m²
289
cd/m²
312
cd/m²
302
cd/m²
290
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 312 cd/m² Average: 298 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 92 %
Center on Battery: 292 cd/m²
Contrast: ∞:1 (Black: 0 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 2.48 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 1.97 | - Ø
Gamma: 2.06
Microsoft Lumia 950
Adreno 418, 808 MSM8992, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Nokia Lumia 930
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Apple iPhone 6S
A9 / PowerVR GT7600, A9, Apple AP0064K (iPhone NVMe)
Sony Xperia Z5
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy S6
Mali-T760 MP8, 7420 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
Screen
-169%
-17%
-144%
-5%
Brightness
298
278
-7%
549
84%
624
109%
345
16%
Brightness Distribution
92
89
-3%
87
-5%
85
-8%
89
-3%
Black Level *
0.39
0.68
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
2.48
10.99
-343%
3.4
-37%
7.96
-221%
2.51
-1%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
1.97
8.29
-321%
4.16
-111%
10.95
-456%
2.59
-31%
Gamma
2.06 117%
2.16 111%
2.21 109%
2.61 92%
2.43 99%
CCT
6640 98%
6731 97%
7288 89%
7402 88%
6424 101%
Contrast
1415
984
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
62.18
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
95.93

* ... smaller is better

Color profiles
Color profiles
Color profiles (advanced)
Color profiles (advanced)

The screen's color reproduction is very impressive. The user can select from three different color profiles, and the advanced mode allows manual adjustments. The most natural mode is found in Standard, which achieved the best outcomes in all sectors. The grayscale level reproduction is very good with a maximum DeltaE deviation of 1.97. Both the color temperature and gamma are also very close to ideal. The mixed colors are also well-implemented, and the average DeltaE deviation of 2.48 is within acceptable limits. The naked eye will not see any potential deviations from the norm.

CalMAN ColorChecker AdobeRGB
CalMAN ColorChecker AdobeRGB
CalMAN ColorChecker sRGB
CalMAN ColorChecker sRGB
CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN Saturations Sweeps
CalMAN Saturations Sweeps

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 500 Hz

The display backlight flickers at 500 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) .

The frequency of 500 Hz is relatively high, so most users sensitive to PWM should not notice any flickering. However, there are reports that some users are still sensitive to PWM at 500 Hz and above, so be aware.

In comparison: 54 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 8568 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Outdoor use is no problem thanks to the tremendous brightness in conjunction with the brightness sensor, even though as in all smartphones the Gorilla Glass 4 is highly reflective. The high contrast allows recognizing images and text very well, even in bright conditions.

Screens based on AMOLED technology ensure very stable viewing angles without color inverting. A virtually invisible shift into green sets in at approximately 45 degrees. That is not noticed in everyday use.

Performance

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 808 MSM8992 clocked at 2 GHz and the integrated Adreno 418 graphics card are installed in the Lumia 950. They can fall back on 3 GB of RAM. Although the smartphone is sufficiently powered for all routine tasks, its configuration is weaker than that of its rivals. Great job: The Lumia 950 is the only smartphone to date that does not throttle the Snapdragon 808 SoC during full load - as we will see in the Temperature section.

Unfortunately, Microsoft's store still does not provide many benchmarks for cross-platform comparisons. Unlike Android smartphones, Windows 10 does not use the OpenGL interface in the GFX benchmark, but DirectX instead. Consequently, the results are also much worse than in comparable opponents. However, Basemark OS II is comparable and shows that some rivals have considerably higher performance reserves. Then again, the review sample can score in Linpack, and outperforms all opponents, especially in the multi-core test.
Comparing the storage device's speed is also difficult. Only Basemark OS II provides a vague hint that the storage operates a lot faster than all opponents.

Everyday use was never a problem even with multitasking, loading times were agreeably short, and subjectively, the smartphone always had more than enough power in reserve.

GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
Microsoft Lumia 950
12.3 fps ∼2%
Apple iPhone 6S
39.5 fps ∼7% +221%
Sony Xperia Z5
24 fps ∼4% +95%
Samsung Galaxy S6
22 fps ∼4% +79%
Google Nexus 6P
25 fps ∼5% +103%
Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe ZE551ML
13 fps ∼2% +6%
HTC One M9
23 fps ∼4% +87%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
Microsoft Lumia 950
6.76 fps ∼2%
Apple iPhone 6S
56 fps ∼15% +728%
Sony Xperia Z5
26 fps ∼7% +285%
Samsung Galaxy S6
16 fps ∼4% +137%
Google Nexus 6P
17 fps ∼5% +151%
Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe ZE551ML
12 fps ∼3% +78%
HTC One M9
24 fps ∼7% +255%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Microsoft Lumia 950
21.82 fps ∼2%
Nokia Lumia 930
15 fps ∼1% -31%
Apple iPhone 6S
79.6 fps ∼6% +265%
Sony Xperia Z5
49 fps ∼4% +125%
Samsung Galaxy S6
46 fps ∼3% +111%
Google Nexus 6P
44 fps ∼3% +102%
Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe ZE551ML
30 fps ∼2% +37%
HTC One M9
49 fps ∼4% +125%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Microsoft Lumia 950
13.73 fps ∼3%
Nokia Lumia 930
20 fps ∼4% +46%
Apple iPhone 6S
59.1 fps ∼13% +330%
Sony Xperia Z5
49 fps ∼11% +257%
Samsung Galaxy S6
30 fps ∼7% +118%
Google Nexus 6P
33 fps ∼7% +140%
Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe ZE551ML
30 fps ∼7% +118%
HTC One M9
50 fps ∼11% +264%
BaseMark OS II
Web (sort by value)
Microsoft Lumia 950
655 Points ∼39%
Nokia Lumia 930
579 Points ∼34% -12%
Apple iPhone 6S
1207 Points ∼71% +84%
Sony Xperia Z5
675 Points ∼40% +3%
Google Nexus 6P
791 Points ∼47% +21%
Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe ZE551ML
896 Points ∼53% +37%
HTC One M9
789 Points ∼47% +20%
Graphics (sort by value)
Microsoft Lumia 950
1437 Points ∼16%
Nokia Lumia 930
1233 Points ∼13% -14%
Apple iPhone 6S
4323 Points ∼47% +201%
Sony Xperia Z5
3095 Points ∼33% +115%
Google Nexus 6P
2424 Points ∼26% +69%
Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe ZE551ML
1411 Points ∼15% -2%
HTC One M9
3210 Points ∼35% +123%
Memory (sort by value)
Microsoft Lumia 950
1640 Points ∼37%
Nokia Lumia 930
1500 Points ∼34% -9%
Apple iPhone 6S
1281 Points ∼29% -22%
Sony Xperia Z5
865 Points ∼20% -47%
Google Nexus 6P
1136 Points ∼26% -31%
Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe ZE551ML
1035 Points ∼23% -37%
HTC One M9
933 Points ∼21% -43%
System (sort by value)
Microsoft Lumia 950
1096 Points ∼11%
Nokia Lumia 930
1296 Points ∼13% +18%
Apple iPhone 6S
3466 Points ∼34% +216%
Sony Xperia Z5
2360 Points ∼23% +115%
Google Nexus 6P
1798 Points ∼17% +64%
Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe ZE551ML
1968 Points ∼19% +80%
HTC One M9
1672 Points ∼16% +53%
Overall (sort by value)
Microsoft Lumia 950
1140 Points ∼30%
Nokia Lumia 930
1085 Points ∼29% -5%
Apple iPhone 6S
2194 Points ∼58% +92%
Sony Xperia Z5
1437 Points ∼38% +26%
Google Nexus 6P
1405 Points ∼37% +23%
Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe ZE551ML
1267 Points ∼33% +11%
HTC One M9
1410 Points ∼37% +24%
Basemark X 1.1 - Medium Quality (sort by value)
Microsoft Lumia 950
26223 Points ∼58%
Nokia Lumia 930
19987 Points ∼44% -24%
HTC One M9
27968 Points ∼62% +7%
Linpack Android / IOS
Multi Thread (sort by value)
Microsoft Lumia 950
1759.66 MFLOPS ∼60%
Nokia Lumia 930
930.16 MFLOPS ∼31% -47%
Apple iPhone 6S
1225 MFLOPS ∼41% -30%
Sony Xperia Z5
499.014 MFLOPS ∼17% -72%
Google Nexus 6P
262.042 MFLOPS ∼9% -85%
Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe ZE551ML
415.435 MFLOPS ∼14% -76%
HTC One M9
685.383 MFLOPS ∼23% -61%
Single Thread (sort by value)
Microsoft Lumia 950
293.277 MFLOPS ∼29%
Nokia Lumia 930
232.54 MFLOPS ∼23% -21%
Apple iPhone 6S
685 MFLOPS ∼67% +134%
Sony Xperia Z5
251.752 MFLOPS ∼25% -14%
Google Nexus 6P
87.088 MFLOPS ∼9% -70%
Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe ZE551ML
171.438 MFLOPS ∼17% -42%
HTC One M9
578.161 MFLOPS ∼57% +97%

Legend

 
Microsoft Lumia 950 Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 MSM8992, Qualcomm Adreno 418, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Nokia Lumia 930 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Apple iPhone 6S Apple A9, Apple A9 / PowerVR GT7600, Apple AP0064K (iPhone NVMe)
 
Sony Xperia Z5 Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 MSM8994, Qualcomm Adreno 430, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy S6 Samsung Exynos 7420 Octa, ARM Mali-T760 MP8, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
 
Google Nexus 6P Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 MSM8994, Qualcomm Adreno 430, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe ZE551ML Intel Atom Z3580, PowerVR G6430, 128 GB eMMC Flash
 
HTC One M9 Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 MSM8994, Qualcomm Adreno 430, 32 GB eMMC Flash

On the other hand, the browser-based benchmarks can be compared very well. Microsoft relies on its new Edge Browser that is considerably faster and better to use than the former versions. Although Apple's iPhone 6S and Google's Nexus 6P both clearly surpass the Lumia 950, it is more than impressive. Websites loaded quickly and the overall performance was beyond reproach in our practical test.

Sunspider - 1.0 Total Score (sort by value)
Microsoft Lumia 950
400.3 ms * ∼10%
Nokia Lumia 930
534 ms * ∼13% -33%
Apple iPhone 6S
223 ms * ∼6% +44%
Sony Xperia Z5
578.6 ms * ∼14% -45%
Samsung Galaxy S6
546 ms * ∼14% -36%
Google Nexus 6P
529.7 ms * ∼13% -32%
Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe ZE551ML
930.6 ms * ∼23% -132%
HTC One M9
839.7 ms * ∼21% -110%
Google V8 Ver. 7 - Google V8 Ver. 7 Score (sort by value)
Microsoft Lumia 950
6756 Points ∼35%
Apple iPhone 6S
15533 Points ∼79% +130%
Sony Xperia Z5
5633 Points ∼29% -17%
Google Nexus 6P
8622 Points ∼44% +28%
HTC One M9
6440 Points ∼33% -5%
Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
Microsoft Lumia 950
6990 Points ∼14%
Nokia Lumia 930
2737 Points ∼6% -61%
Apple iPhone 6S
16200 Points ∼33% +132%
Sony Xperia Z5
8627 Points ∼17% +23%
Samsung Galaxy S6
8518 Points ∼17% +22%
Google Nexus 6P
8804 Points ∼18% +26%
Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe ZE551ML
6379 Points ∼13% -9%
HTC One M9
6493 Points ∼13% -7%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Microsoft Lumia 950
6913.5 ms * ∼12%
Nokia Lumia 930
11108 ms * ∼19% -61%
Apple iPhone 6S
1715 ms * ∼3% +75%
Sony Xperia Z5
5693.1 ms * ∼10% +18%
Google Nexus 6P
4193 ms * ∼7% +39%
Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe ZE551ML
6002.2 ms * ∼10% +13%
HTC One M9
6508.2 ms * ∼11% +6%
WebXPRT 2015 - Overall Score (sort by value)
Microsoft Lumia 950
64 Points ∼9%
Apple iPhone 6S
187 Points ∼25% +192%
Sony Xperia Z5
73 Points ∼10% +14%
Google Nexus 6P
116 Points ∼15% +81%
HTC One M9
72 Points ∼10% +13%

* ... smaller is better

Games

The strong SoC allows the Lumia 950 to even render more sophisticated 3D games smoothly. The bright, high-contrast screen with decent color reproduction also contributes to that. The control is impeccable thanks to good gliding qualities, high accuracy and quick implementation of all inputs. The motion sensors do not give any reason for complaint, either. The only drawback is the speaker's rear-sided positioning as it is often covered by fingers.

"Six Guns"
"Six Guns"
"Six Guns"
"Six Guns"
"Asphalt 8"
"Asphalt 8"

Emissions

Temperature

Unfortunately, Microsoft's Lumia 950 is not exactly restrained in terms of surface temperatures. We measured an average of 30 °C (~86 °F) on the underside and 30.8 °C (~87 °F) on the upper side while idling. The surface heats up to 47.5 °C (~117 °F) in certain places when we put the handset under full load via the app "Asphalt 8". An average of 42.4 °C (~108 °F) was reached here. Rivals like Apple's iPhone 6S with at most 38.4 °C (~101 °F) or Sony's Xperia Z5 with a maximum of 39.4 °C (~103 °F) remain much cooler. However, the temperature development is not critical in everyday use.

We checked whether the ascertained rates affect the Lumia 950's performance with the battery test of the GFXBench app. It performs the T-Rex test thirty times in succession, while recording both the frame rate and battery state - with a very surprising outcome. The performance never decreases and almost remains stable over the entire test course. Some rivals are clearly defeated here; especially Sony's Xperia Z5 shows a loss of approximately 30%.

Max. Load
 44.4 °C46.3 °C46.4 °C 
 43.1 °C44.1 °C43.8 °C 
 41.7 °C42.5 °C42.6 °C 
Maximum: 46.4 °C
Average: 43.9 °C
47.1 °C47.5 °C43.8 °C
42.9 °C43.3 °C40.2 °C
38.2 °C41.3 °C37 °C
Maximum: 47.5 °C
Average: 42.4 °C
Power Supply (max.)  29.5 °C | Room Temperature 21.6 °C | Voltcraft IR-260

Speaker

As mentioned before, Microsoft has placed the speaker in the Lumia 950 a bit unfavorably on the rear side on level with the camera module. Thus, it is often covered by a hand or a finger. At least the slightly protruding camera lifts the smartphone a bit when it is placed on a table so that the sound is not completely muffled. The maximum volume of approximately 85 dB(A) is generally acceptable. The rendered sound quality can be called good. As expected, the diagram of our Pink Noise measurement reveals a very low volume primarily in the bass range that climbs erratically at about 250 Hz. It increases consistently toward the ultra-high pitches. The decline in the medium trebles is very low. This leads to a somewhat tinny, very bass-poor sound - especially at high volumes.

Therefore, using the mini-audio jack is recommendable for music enjoyment. It renders a static-free sound at a good maximum volume.

Speaker evaluation: Pink Noise
Speaker evaluation: Pink Noise

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The measured idle power consumption of the Lumia 950 is particularly high in the category comparison, and is sometimes twice as high as that of its rivals. Samsung's Galaxy S6 and Apple's iPhone 6S in particular are considerably more frugal here. The review sample closes in on the field during load again, and is even more modest than some opponents. We did not ascertain any consumption in a turned off state, and the standby rate of 0.29 watts is also very good. It climbs to a till acceptable 0.41 watts when Windows Hello is enabled.

As usual with Lumia handsets, the Qi standard for wireless charging is also installed in the Lumia 950. The included power supply also supports Quick Charge. 50% is available in just one hour, and the handset is fully recharged within two hours.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0 / 0.29 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 1.97 / 2.42 / 2.96 Watt
Load midlight 5.94 / 7.79 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Gossen Metrahit Energy
Microsoft Lumia 950Nokia Lumia 930Sony Xperia Z5Samsung Galaxy S6Apple iPhone 6SHTC One M9Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe ZE551MLGoogle Nexus 6P
Power Consumption
36%
25%
49%
48%
13%
22%
25%
Idle Minimum *
1.97
1.1
44%
0.7
64%
0.4
80%
0.5
75%
1.1
44%
1.1
44%
0.83
58%
Idle Average *
2.42
1.4
42%
1.7
30%
0.6
75%
1.6
34%
2
17%
2.2
9%
1.09
55%
Idle Maximum *
2.96
1.8
39%
1.8
39%
1.2
59%
1.9
36%
2.4
19%
2.4
19%
1.17
60%
Load Average *
5.94
3.8
36%
5.6
6%
5
16%
2.5
58%
7.2
-21%
4.2
29%
7.49
-26%
Load Maximum *
7.79
6.5
17%
8.7
-12%
6.8
13%
4.8
38%
7.5
4%
7.2
8%
9.51
-22%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Runtime

Although our analysis shows slightly better runtimes despite a smaller battery (3000 mAh, 12 Wh) compared with the former Nokia Lumia 930, the rivals prove that more efficiency is possible. Samsung's Galaxy S6 in particular lasts 42% longer on average. 4:10 hours is not a good rate, especially in the everyday Wi-Fi browsing test using a screen brightness setting of 150 cd/m². The Lumia can again surpass some opponents with 9.5 hours in the video playback test performed under the same conditions, and is almost on par with Sony's Xperia Z5. However, overall, the runtimes seen individually are quite decent.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
25h 00min
WiFi Surfing v1.3
4h 10min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
9h 30min
Load (maximum brightness)
3h 07min
Microsoft Lumia 950
Adreno 418, 808 MSM8992, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Nokia Lumia 930
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Sony Xperia Z5
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Apple iPhone 6S
A9 / PowerVR GT7600, A9, Apple AP0064K (iPhone NVMe)
Samsung Galaxy S6
Mali-T760 MP8, 7420 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe ZE551ML
PowerVR G6430, Z3580, 128 GB eMMC Flash
Google Nexus 6P
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Battery Runtime
-7%
26%
24%
42%
-2%
68%
23%
Reader / Idle
1500
1387
-8%
1669
11%
1510
1%
1300
-13%
805
-46%
1447
-4%
H.264
570
600
5%
699
23%
421
-26%
533
-6%
WiFi v1.3
250
438
75%
492
97%
475
90%
348
39%
420
68%
375
50%
Load
187
175
-6%
213
14%
137
-27%
278
49%
236
26%
280
50%
WiFi
1002
575
573

Pros

+ high-performance SoC
+ first device based on Snapdragon 808 SoC without performance losses during load
+ expandable storage
+ removable battery
+ USB 3.1
+ high WiFi range
+ Continuum
+ Windows Hello
+ good tracking performance
+ decent camera modules
+ bright, high-contrast screen with fast response times and good color reproduction
+ decent call quality

Cons

- design too plain for a flagship
- mixed battery life
- non-available apps in the store

Verdict

In review: Microsoft Lumia 950. Review sample courtesy of Notebooksbilliger.de
In review: Microsoft Lumia 950. Review sample courtesy of Notebooksbilliger.de

Microsoft's Lumia 950 is a decent smartphone with state-of-the-art equipment and without major shortcomings. The SoC is sufficiently fast for all applications and, for the first time in a smartphone, the installed Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 does not throttle under load. The generous storage can be expanded easily via a micro-SD card. The camera modules are good and also take decent photos, especially in low light. The new USB Type-C port with USB 3.1 is cutting edge. The rivals still lag behind in this regard. A great feature is "Continuum" that represents a real added value in conjunction with the optional display dock - particularly for business users. The removable battery compensates for the not quite perfect battery life. Microsoft has replaced the sorely missed fingerprint scanner for unlocking the smartphone with its Windows Hello function. However, the iris scan could be slightly more reliable sometimes.

Microsoft's Lumia 950 is a good Windows 10 smartphone with decent equipment and interesting technical features.

Unfortunately, the new operating system does not yet function quite smoothly. However, Microsoft continuously improves this via software updates. Windows 10 Mobile is generally very intuitive and fast to use, and its clearly arranged design is agreeable. The biggest drawback is probably the somewhat limited offerings in the app store. Users who can accept the mentioned shortcoming and are not deterred by the high price will find a good Windows-based smartphone that does not convey a genuine flagship feeling. By comparison, the larger Microsoft Lumia 950XL is currently the better choice.

Microsoft Lumia 950 - 03/03/2016 v5
Michael Moser

Chassis
85%
Keyboard
74 / 75 → 98%
Pointing Device
89%
Connectivity
58 / 60 → 96%
Weight
92%
Battery
83%
Display
87%
Games Performance
60 / 63 → 95%
Application Performance
51 / 70 → 73%
Temperature
84%
Noise
100%
Audio
70 / 91 → 77%
Camera
84%
Average
78%
87%
Smartphone - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Microsoft Lumia 950 Smartphone Review
Michael Moser, 2016-03- 9 (Update: 2016-03-10)