It’s taken us a little while to get a hold of one, but thanks to the good people at Clove we finally get to test Windows 10 Mobile on something a little roomier: the Lumia 950 XL. Pay them a visit at clove.co.uk if you want one of these for your own collection, but first join us for a first impressions pass as we take a look at the Microsoft Lumia 950 XL!
The first thing to note about the 950 XL is that while it’s bigger than the 950, it doesn’t feel that much bigger. That’s an automatic win for the XL, because it’s bringing a bigger battery, better processor and a half-inch more screen real estate, among others. Otherwise, all of Windows 10 Mobile’s highs and lows seem to be accounted for with the XL, from the futuristic Windows Hello iris scanner and wireless charging to the fairly spartan app store and software bugs that remind you just how new this platform is.
There are little changes here and there that make the XL stand apart from its little sibling. The new side button configuration will take some getting used to, for instance, and it’s naturally a bit broader than the 950. The most obvious of the 950XL’s advantages, though, is its big screen size. Here’s where Windows 10 really gets a chance to shine: while you can leave the Start screen in its default configuration (which doesn’t give you any advantage over the 950), flipping a single toggle in the settings menu opens up that quad-HD panel to all the tile sizes you can dream of. This won’t be a good fit for people who already find the Live Tile look too busy and it’s a long way from the easy glanceability of Windows Phone 7 … but if you can figure out a configuration that works for you, there’s room here for a lot of information, making the 950XL feel more like a small Windows tablet than a phone. And if you type as much as you take in, the added real estate gives you plenty of room to spread out, especially in landscape. It’s a very roomy typing experience.
Our day-one takeaway is that the 950XL seems very well-named. Despite the added size, it’s a very similar in-hand feel to the 950. As we head into the full review, we’re going to keep an eye out for how well the Snapdragon 810 processor performs versus the 808 in the smaller phone, how much longer the bigger battery holds out, how much more utility the added screen size brings … and whether all that makes the XL’s larger price tag worth it. If there’s something in particular you want us to cover, leave it in the comments below!