It is rumoured that the 950/XL (First looks article here) will be avaialble on 12 November to coincide with the opening of the new Microsoft Store in Pitt Street Mall Sydney - I will be at the head of the queue. Overall availability should be good prior to Christmas.
But also remember that soon more than 40 ODMs may release Windows 10 Mobile (W10M) handsets – Acer being the first and its Liquid Jade Primo looks good too.
In response to iTWire’s reader requests let’s look at why you should – and why you perhaps should not – wait for the new Lumia 950 and 950XL. What I say is that the decison is in two parts.
First, whether you will be happy enough with W10M and its features to perhaps trade off access to the 1.5M apps in iOS or Android App stores. Then there is the security issue - W10M is very good.
Second, whether Microsoft is capable of producing its first quality flagship phones free from the constraints of Nokia. Microsoft's response is that it will produce the reference standard for the best W10M experience. I am comfortable with that assertion - just look at the Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book to name a few items. In any case reviews will appear within a couple of weeks of release to confirm or disprove that.
Much of the following information has come from the Australian Microsoft site – product comparison. Of course we have not had one in our hands yet so the following is all in theory.
- It offers as close to a Windows 10 environment as you can possibly get on an ARM processor smartphone. That means if you use Windows 10 at work or home this is familiar
- The interface is uncluttered, simple, and very easy to use compared to the icon driven, multi-screens of Android and iOS
- Windows Hello – biometric face login is very good. Fingereprint is also supported
- It has Office 365, Outlook, Skype, OneDrive, Office Lens, and many more Microsoft productivity apps and they all work flawlessly with the smartphone. Outlook contacts drive the named caller ID. 100% compatibility. All this is provided out of the box!
- 15GB of included OneDrive cloud allows seamless handover of documents from your PC or Mac, to any type of tablet or notebook, to smartphone - work anywhere, with any device, with internet access
- Cortana and all of its features is a compelling reason to use W10M
- Less targetted advertising and more privacy features - a user editable notebook of what Cortana knows about you
- Edge browser is pure HTML 5 – no issues and I am beginning to appreciate just how good it is
- Full compatibility with Windows Explorer and PC and Mac file/folder system. Drag and drop files to and from PC/Mac to phone
- Continuum is the killer feature – OK its only available on new smartphones like these but the ease of use – plug in a dongle, attach a keyboard, mouse, the charger, and large screen and you are away using the phone and the screen as separate devices – two computers in one
- The most secure smartphone operating system without equal including full enterprise mobile management out of the box
- HERE Maps, Transit and more. In fact the out of the box its productivity and entertainment apps do more than all that other ecosystems provide
950/XL features (XL where different in [ ] brackets)
- An awesome rear camera – 20MP; 4992 x 3774 pixels; 1/2.4” BSI sensor; f/1.9 Zeiss 5 element lens; Optical Image stabilisation; triple LED flash; JPG and RAW files; 4K video recording; and indisputably the best camera app of all – PureView. By all rights it should outperform the current industry leader – the Samsung Galaxy S6 series cameras – by a fair margin
- The front 5MP camera has wide angle and full HD video – and uses the PureView camera app
- It has a 5.2” [5.7], QUAD HD (2560 x 1440), 564 ppi , AMOLED screen for blacker blacks and vivid colours, covered in tough Gorilla Glass 3 .
- 3GB RAM, 32GB storage, microSD up to 200GB and supports external hard disks up to 2TB.
- Uses Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 six-core [810 eight-core] chipset – amongst the fastest in use
- Wi-Fi AC MIMO and dual band. Bluetooth 4.1 LE and ANT+ for wearables
- 4G Cat 6 up to 600Mbps and lots of LTE bands
- Band 1 (2100 MHz)
- Band 2 (1900 MHz)
- Band 3 (1800 MHz)
- Band 4 (1700/2100 MHz)
- Band 5 (850MHz)
- Band 7 (2600 MHz)
- Band 8 (900MHz)
- Band 12 (700 MHz)
- Band 17 (700MHz)
- Band 20 (800MHz)
- Band 28 (700 MHz)
- Band 38 (2570-2620 MHz)
- Band 40 (2300-2400 MHz)
- USB-C connector for quick charge – 30 minutes for a 50% charge - and USB 3.1 speeds
- A replaceable battery - 3000mAh  battery 67  hours endurance
- Qi charging for convenient charge
- 145 x 73.2 x 8.2 mm and 150g [151.9 x 78.4 x 8.1 mm and 165g)
- Exchangeable back panels and colours
- NFC, FM Radio, Wi-Fi direct, DLNA, and screen connection
- Glance screen, voice commands, and Cortana for natural voice queries and editable voice to text
- Prices may be somewhat below Apple and Samsung equivalents
Sure, some flagship phones have some of these specifications but none currently wraps it up in one package.
And why not wait?
- Poor market share of Windows 8.1 Phone makes it harder to convince buyers it is a viable operating system - can Microsoft get it right this time?
- Street cred of Apple and Samsung exceeds Microsoft Devices Lumia – it is cool to own an iPhone or a Galaxy
- If you wait you may see 'better' series 7 smartphones from Apple and Samsung - then it starts over again and you grow old waiting ...
- iOS and Android apps stores have about 1.5M apps – Windows now has about 750K. But you have to ask if Windows has the apps you really need? Many of the 1.5M apps in the other stores are old and out of date. Windows universal apps are fresh and up-to-date
Opinion and Declaration
I have used and like Windows 8.1 Phone – my day phone is a Lumia 930. I am also a Windows insider gaining access to beta versions of Windows 10 Mobile.
I have recently extensively used (or have in-depth reviewed) Samsung Note 5, Samsung S6 Edge (and previous S5, S4), LG G4 (G3), Sony Xperia Z5 (Aqua M4), iPhone 6s/6s Plus (and previous 4/5/6 series), and many more smartphones like OPPO Find 7, N3, R7 and Plus, Huawei P7/8, Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3, and many others ranging in price from a few hundred dollars to $1500.
I like Android and iOS too. I think the Samsung S6 series and Note 5 are incredible (I like LG's G4 and Sony's Xperia Z5 as well), and I like the iPhone 6s/Plus. They are all worthy of the flagship moniker - and price.
So I think I know what a good smartphone is and what constitutes the various ecosystems.
All ecosystems have a place and all are suitable for consumer needs. Where W10M shines is in both corporate and consumer use.
- If you are an Android user, and are perfectly happy stick with it
- If you are an iOS user, the iPhone is for you and you will never know any better
- If you are not wedded to either ecosystem then I recommend without reservation that you try Windows 10 Mobile. It is an very easy OS to learn and use, has all the main apps, and prices are easier on the wallet
Two final things:
First it is not hard to change operting systems at all. W10M offers easy transfer from iOS and Android of mail, contacts, calendar, social media, audio, video, and files. There are apps for all of these that match or exceed iOS or Android ones. I strongly suggest you swap to the free Outlook anyway on iOS and Android - it is the world's best email manager.
Second, and most importantly it is time people stopped being brand snobs and looked seriously at these amazing phones - replaceable battery, amazing camera, microSD, talk to it, and use it as a PC – what more do you need?