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October 7, 2015

By the numbers: Lumia 950 / XL vs the Android competition

by John_A

Microsoft-Lumia-950

Android smartphones and the iPhone tend to lead the way in the mobile market but Microsoft hopes that Windows 10 can change this status quo and has today unveiled two new devices to hoping to do just that: Lumia 950 and the Lumia 950 XL.

The most advanced Windows smartphones ever produced, the Lumia 950 and the Lumia 950 XL may certainly make a stand in the market but how do they compare to the best that Android has to offer? For this comparison, we’re bringing out the big guns in the form of the Galaxy G6 Edge, Galaxy Note 5, Xperia Z5 Premium, the LG G4 and the Google Nexus 6P.

  Lumia 950 Lumia 950 XL Nexus 6P Xperia Z5 Premium Galaxy Note 5 Galaxy S6 Edge LG G4
Display 5.2-inch AMOLED
QHD (2560×1440)
564 ppi
5.7-inch AMOLED
QHD (2560×1440)
518ppi
5.7-inch AMOLED
QHD (1440×2560)
518ppi
5.5-inch LCD
4K (3840 X 2160)
801ppi
5.7-inch AMOLED
QHD (2560×1440)
518ppi
5.1-inch AMOLED
QHD (2560×1440)
577ppi
5.5-inch LCD
QHD (2560×1440)
538ppi
SoC Snapdragon 808 Snapdragon 810 Snapdragon 810 Snapdragon 810 Exynos 7420 Exynos 7420 Snapdragon 808
CPU 2x 1.8GHz Cortex-A57
4x 1.44GHz Cortex-A53
4x 2GHz Cortex-A57
4x 1.5GHz Cortex-A53
4x 2GHz Cortex-A57
4x 1.55GHz Cortex-A53
4x 1.9GHz Cortex-A57
4x 1.5GHz Cortex-A53
4x 2.1GHz Cortex-A57
4x 1.5GHz Cortex-A53
4x 2.1GHz Cortex-A57
4x 1.5GHz Cortex-A53
2x 1.8GHz Cortex-A57
4x 1.4GHz Cortex-A53
GPU Adreno 518 Adreno 430 Adreno 430 Adreno 430 Mali-T760 MP8 Mali-T760 MP8 Adreno 418
RAM 3GB 3GB 3GB 3GB 4GB 3GB 3GB
Storage 32GB 32GB 32/64/128GB 32GB 32/64/128GB 32/64/128GB 32GB
MicroSD Yes, up to 200GB Yes, up to 200GB No yes, up to 200GB No No Yes, up to 128GB
Camera 20MP rear
5MP front
20MP rear
5MP front
12MP rear
8MP front
23MP rear
5MP front
16MP rear
5MP front
16MP rear
5MP front
16MP rear
8MP front

While many predicted that display technology would plateau at Full HD or QHD, this year has seen Samsung push the boat out with the curved QHD AMOLED display on the Edge range and Sony has trumped the competition with the introduction of the world’s first 4K smartphone display on the Xperia Z5.

The Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL are the first Windows powered smartphones to offer Quad HD resolution and with a pixel density of over 500 pixels per inch on each AMOLED panel, the displays can certainly challenge the best that Android has to offer. A key feature of the new devices is Glance Screen, which allows Microsoft to only turn the pixels it needs to display information at a glance as soon as you pull your phone out of your pocket.

Although Microsoft has previously insisted that the optimisation of the Windows core means Windows Phone doesn’t need quad-core devices, the company has included the latest Qualcomm chipsets inside its new devices. The smaller Lumia 950 comes with the hexa-core Snapdragon 808 found inside the Nexus 5X and the LG G4 while the Lumia 950 XL comes with an octa-core Snapdragon 810, as found in the Nexus 6P and Sony Xperia Z5 Premium.

nexus 6p vs nexus 6 quick look aa (17 of 18)

With so much processing power, none of these smartphones are going to struggle in demanding scenarios but there’s a key reason Microsoft chose these processors for its new devices; when paired with the new DisplayDock, both smartphones turn into a fully fledged PC. Windows 10 comes with universal apps, which means when connected to the DisplayDock and sharing to a big display, the same Windows Phone apps become full-sized desktop PC apps.

Last year, Microsoft completed its acquisition of Nokia and with it, the company gained Nokia’s pedigree for making smartphone cameras. In the time since Nokia last made a flagship smartphone, Android cameras have improved dramatically and Microsoft’s latest smartphones certainly have a challenge ahead.

sony xperia z5 premium vs galaxy Note 5 aa 5

Galaxy Note 5 vs Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

The company says the handsets have a 20MP PureView camera with Carl ZEISS Optics, fifth-generation Optical Image Stabilisation and a three-LED flash that helps to prevent Red Eye and results in clear photos. In comparison, Samsung has its highly impressive 16MP OIS camera in the Galaxy Note 5 (and S6 Edge), LG has a 16MP camera with OIS, laser autofocus and a colour spectrum sensor and Sony has a new 23MP camera inside the Xperia Z5.

Google has taken a different approach in the Nexus 6P, packing it with a 12MP camera with much larger pixels (1.55µm pixel size) and laser autofocus, which produces outstanding quality images. Which camera is best on the market remains to be seen but there’s no doubt that any of these smartphone cameras will be good enough for whatever you throw at it.

  Lumia 950 Lumia 950 XL Nexus 6P Xperia Z5 Premium Galaxy Note 5 Galaxy S6 Edge LG G4
Battery 3000mAh
Removable: Yes
3340mAh
Removable: Yes
3450mAh
Removable: No
3,430mAh
Removable: No
3,000mAh
Removable: No
2,600mAh
Removable: No
3,000mAh
Removable: Yes
Fast Charging? Yes Yes Yes Quick Charge 2.0 Yes Yes Quick Charge 2.0
Wireless Charging? Yes Yes No No Qi and PMA Qi and PMA Qi (optional cases)
Biometrics Windows Hello
Facial Recognition
Windows Hello
Facial Recognition
Fingerprint Scan Fingerprint Scan Fingerprint Scan Fingerprint Scan None
IP rating No No No IP68 No No No
Dimensions 145 x 73.2 x 8.2 mm 151.9 x 78.4 x 8.1mm 159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3mm 154.4 x 75.8 x 7.8mm 153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6mm 142.1 x 70.1 x 7mm 148.9 x 76.1 x 9.8 mm
Weight 150g 164g 180g 171g 132g 155g

When it comes to additional features, each of these handsets has something that makes it truly unique; Samsung’s S-Pen sets the Galaxy Note 5 aside, while the unique dual-curved edge set the Galaxy S6 Edge apart. Sony remains committed to water and dust resistance, while LG have opted for a removable battery and expandable storage – which are missing from many flagships – to set the G4 aside. For the Nexus 6P, Google has aimed to combine premium specs with a super smooth experience and fast updates to set its flagship apart from the competition.

There’s no denying that fingerprint sensors are a key part of the experience and most of these flagships sport one, except for the LG G4 and the new Lumia. Instead, Microsoft’s new devices come with a feature called Windows Hello that promises military-grade security and lets you unlock your phone just by looking at it. Which is perfect for you depends on whether you want a physical fingerprint sensor or want your phone to unlock automatically, but there’s no denying that biometrics are having an increasingly-growing part to play in the way we interact with our smartphones.

A key difference between the new Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL and the best of Android comes down to the platform as Microsoft’s latest devices run on Windows 10, while the other devices run on, well, Android. Microsoft’s platform is similar to Windows Phone 8 (albeit with some major improvements) and for the most part, the simplified interface and ease-of-use certainly make the handsets an interesting alternative to Android. Although Windows doesn’t have all the apps of Android, it does have most of them and devices like the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL may help to reduce the gap further.

So what do you think of Microsoft’s new devices and would you buy either? Let us know your views in the comments below guys!

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