News by Josh Dasey on Friday October 16, 2015.
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Microsoft has suffered an early setback in the launch of its new Lumia 950 XL phablet flagship as the company has been forced to pull its test units from Microsoft Stores across the United States. Those are the prototype demo units that you could have tested in the company's retail spaces around the country before the handset is launched for sale this month.It seems the issue must be a hardware one, which would be a bigger headache for Microsoft as it could mean the company having to make changes to the inventory it is readying to roll out to consumers. A software issue would be easily solved, but Microsoft spoke to PhoneArena and said it was tweaking the experience and that indeed the handsets have been pulled. "Last week's Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL phones announcements generated huge interest. We made some prototype devices available for a limited time in our retail stores, so that customers could get an early look at our best Windows experience with Windows 10, on our most productive smartphones ever. We?ve now removed the prototypes from the stores as we finalize the experience, and look forward to rolling the phones out next month."
Without a doubt, the weakest aspect of the new Lumia 950 devices is their design. It is tough to say the XL is ugly, but it is not exactly stand out beautiful either, and it is worth remembering that just about every major flagship rival has upped the aesthetic game this year. It's subjective of course and we don't think the relative blandness of the 950 XL should be a deal breaker, but if you put looks at the top of your list then this handset is unlikely to float your boat. This is a large smartphone too, although only about the same size as a Samsung Galaxy Note 5, so nothing we are not used to. The rear plate is made of plastic and Microsoft has made the plate removable so you can swap designs and colors (sadly not batteries), although at the moment only two colors are available, black and white. The new Lumia handsets are the first on the Windows OP to arrive with Quad HD screens, and in the case of the Lumia 950 XL it is a 5.7-inch OLED panel. That results in a pixel density of 518ppi, and the display also features Microsoft's Glance Screen feature that allows a user to see things like notifications by looking at the device without touching it. Microsoft opted to use Qualcomm?s Snapdragon 810 processor, the flagship in the company's silicon range but also a chipset that has been plagued with issues of overheating. How much of that led to Microsoft introducing liquid cooling to the Lumia 950 XL is up for debate, although the company says it had no influence. Regardless, this is the first smartphone to boast liquid cooling, lifting the technology from the Surface Pro 3. Redmond has not mentioned exactly how much RAM is on board, but considering the Lumia 950 XL matches other flagships closely in terms of specs, we figure probably 3GB. In terms of native storage, 32GB is becoming the standard for base models that are not from Apple and Microsoft has opted for that much here. You will probably be happy to know that the company has also added a micro SD card slot so you can expand the space. A 3340mAh battery should keep the lights on for a very long time, and there is a 30 minutes fast charging capability that will send the device from 0 to 50 per cent in that time. A USB Type-C connector port sits on the bottom of the device, letting you plug in your connector either way, so no more night time frustration trying to find the hole, if you know what we mean. Windows 10 Mobile is one of the biggest things here, Microsoft's brand new mobile operating system that it hopes will finally bridge the gap between it and its market rivals. A full Win 10 Mobile review will be imminent, but the OS does bring some slick new features to the table, as we detailed in our Lumia 950 post: Continuum is one of the new features that Microsoft is eager to talk about and with good reason as it is an interesting software idea. Because Windows 10 is a universal system across form factors, Continuum lets you connect your smartphone to a television and use it as a full PC. We are not sure what limitations there are, if any, but Microsoft says you can use a dedicated dock to connect to the PC, while you can still use the smartphone while it is hooked up. We will be hearing more about Continuum in the coming days and we guess it will be a major deal when we review the Lumia 950 and 950XL. Windows Hello is a new way of unlocking your smartphone, taking advantage of the iris scanner that the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL possess. They are both the only flagship smartphones boasting this technology and Microsoft is hoping it will become as popular as the fingerprint sensor has become. The infra-red scanner works in low light too, allowing you to unlock your 950 in the dark. Lumia devices have long been known for delivering excellent photography and in the case of the Lumia 808 and Lumia 1020, arguably the best ever mobile imaging. The 950 XL carries the PureView branding too, and while it is not going to be as outright excellent as the aforementioned camera oriented devices, we expect a lot. A 20 megapixel primary ZEISS lens (16:9 ratio) sits on the back of the handset with 5th gen OIS and triple LED flash among the goodies. Around the front there is a 5 megapixel lens to snap those selfies. Video recording up to 4K is available on the Lumia 950 XL and Microsoft has included four microphones to pick up what it says is excellent audio.
Josh is our European editor, tackling news events, reviews, and new items from his UK home. As a former HTC marketing employee, Josh is close to the industry and bring his experience to MobileBurn.