1. Aldrich Uyliong's Avatar
    I'm a bit late to the party but I'll post my first impression and thoughts on the Lumia 950 and 950 XL.

    They finally arrived at the still-Nokia branded Lumia store at the Glorietta mall in Makati. In fact, they're so fresh off the boat, they didn't have a display for them and the Continuum dock set up yet. As a result, I got a special viewing of sorts. The saleswoman had to get them from the back and presented black units for both in a wooden tray lined with velvet. I gotta say, that was spectacular. The saleswoman seemed to genuinely be excited about them too. I think they should keep it up and Microsoft should take note and learn from how cool the theatrics of it all felt. I doubt you'd get that kind of special presentation at the Microsoft store in New York or any Apple store for any new iPhone, for that matter.

    The first thing that struck me was how light they felt. Immediately gravitating toward the XL, I can corroborate a lot of reviews that noted its featherweight. I had my 1520 on hand for comparison since I was genuinely curious about upgrading and the XL was simply in a different league when it came to lightness. Its utterly shocking and amazing. Even more amazing was the fact the XL felt lighter than even the smaller 950. Another thing that was immediately apparent was how premium they felt. Yes, premium. I'm a fan of the idea of a magnesium bodied 'Surface Phone', but I can say right now the unflattering comparisons to the 640XL in tandem with accusations of being 'cheap feeling', like The Verge has done, is outright mendacious and deceitful. To begin, their polycarbonate backs didn't make a cheap feeling hollow plastic sound when you run your fingernails on them like they do on the 640XL, the 830 and the 930. Apart from a spot toward the bottom of the 950XL, there was also no flex at all.

    Even then, I heard no creaks despite how thin they felt without actually being anorexic. That solidity can be attributed to the fact that their main chassis is made out of super strong magnesium and the back covers fit over the form so tightly, there appears to almost be no gap for air. The plastic cover also felt pliant enough in hand (rather than hard and unforgiving like you'd find in cheap devices) that allied to the matte finish gave it the typical velvety texture brand new Lumias have always had. The best analogy I could use to describe it would be that the back covers almost felt like a high quality rubbery material vacuum fitted over hard metal. That's a premium experience without resorting to feeling cold and antiseptic to the touch.

    I even tried removing the cover and putting it back on to see if the creaking will start to manifest. I heard nothing.

    The styling of the 950s may not posses a lot of character but they were handsome nonetheless. Even though they were uninspired (whatever that means. I suppose the injection molded antenna lines on the iPhone are "inspired"), they were still elegant in an understated fashion. That counts for a lot. You don't fall in love with it at first sight but in no way were they ugly. To claim so is hyperbolic at best and malicious slander at worst. Something I'd like to address here was The Verge's disparagement of the 950 family as looking like "reference devices" - like they were unfinished development mules for the device. That claim is absolutely ridiculous. The hardware has none of the rough edges that development devices have. They felt very much finished products from a hardware standpoint.

    Besides, to malign 'reference designs' is like saying the Grado RS1 and RS2 Reference Series headphones are cheap, unfinished and unsophisticated garbage compared to the Apple owned Beats because they don't have an overtly clinical look/feel or any of the Beat's cheap parlor tricks to feel high end. Absurd.

    Moving toward the front of the devices, I was amazed by how small they looked and felt due to how much Microsoft shaved the bezels to give both devices the smallest possible footprint they could give it. Spec for spec, even though comparable Android devices have thinner bezels, the Lumias somehow looked and seemed smaller overall. I was both delightfully surprised and alarmed at how small even the XL appeared. I had gotten used to behemoths like the 1320 and 1520 so I was expecting a device that was slightly smaller. However, the 950 XL looked so small in comparison, I am hesitant to even call it a phablet. Seriously. That along with the phone's lower weight, made the screen seemed smaller than the advertised 5.7 inch. I never realized how much of a monster the 1520 was until I placed them side by side.

    Here we get to why I did not buy any of them.

    First is that I am a fan of largesse. I still think Microsoft's 'Surface Phone' should have a 6 inch screen with bezel reduction to give it easier handling. The 1520 as it stands is pushing the boundaries of one handed comfort and if they can shave off a few millimeters here and there from the overall width of the device, they will have a winner and a buyer in me. As I pointed out, the 950XL's size actually made the phone's screen look smaller than it is and that turned me off. While it'd be nice to some width and gain better comfort in handling, I am simply not prepared to lose any screen real estate, perceived or otherwise.

    Another thing that turned me off was the warm yellowish tint that pervaded its AMOLED screen. I am a fan of colder temp screens and despite changing both device's color profiles to cold, it still had the yellow tint. To be fair, I didn't get the opportunity to manually adjust this setting on both phones and I may end up getting the right mixture I want if I do. Needless to say, I had no idea what that Verge author was smoking when he said the screen looked washed out. I had problems making it look washed out or at least as blue and cold as I wanted.

    The screen's resolution was another reason I did not retire my 1520 and get the 950XL. I wear prescription glasses with a very high grades (875 on one eye and 825 on the other) so the refraction of my lenses may very well have distorted what I was seeing (everything looks a tiny bit smaller through my glasses than in real life, for instance) but even at a close range of three inches, I just did not see any difference or increase in sharpness in the 950XL. Sure, the AMOLED screen made Windows 10 Mobile "pop" a bit more but my eyes simply could not detect a vast improvement between 367PPI and 521PPI (or 567PPI either).

    I also tried out the camera but prefer not to share my impressions on it because I wasn't able to test it outside of the confines of the harshly lit Nokia store. I think the poor florescent lighting had a negative effect on the sensor as the resulting pictures had a lot of noise and the edges of objects, when zoomed in, were not crisp and straight but had a weird wave-like appearance. I have full faith that these phones' Pureviews are capable of taking the sort of spectacular DSLR-like shots Winbeta featured in their reviews.

    With all of that said, though, If you are in the Philippines and you are interested in getting either one I recommend it. It's still quite the device and felt better in hand than The Verge would have you believe. Also, it definitely had performance worthy of its price tag in spite of Windows 10 Mobile's current unfinished state. Speaking of price, the 950 is selling for around PHP 34,000 while the XL retails for around PHP 37,000. However I was told that for the rest of December, at least, both phones will be discounted with the 950 retailing at around PHP 29,000 and the XL at around PHP 33,000-34,000. The Continuum dock will be around PHP 3,000.
    dKp1977 and nokia4life like this.
    12-21-2015 07:30 AM

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