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Microsoft’s Lumia 950 and 950XL bring Windows 10 to big little screens

Microsoft's Lumia 950 lands at AT&T on Nov. 20 and the 950XL goes up for pre-order unlocked

Microsoft has finally launched a set of high-spec new Lumia smartphones, the long-rumored 950 and 950XL. We’ve heard plenty about the over the past few months, thanks to extensive leaks, but do the real things live up to expectation? Here’s what you need to know.

Updated on 11-16-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added confirmation of a November 20 launch date for the Lumia 950 at AT&T. Also added pre-order info and news about the 950XL’s availability on the Microsoft store.

Price and release date

The Lumia 950 is finally scheduled to hit AT&T on November 20. The carrier announced different pricing options for the new Windows phone, which include the following:

  • Next 24 (30 months): $0 down and payments of $19.97
  • Next 18 (24 months): $0 down and payments of $24.96
  • Next 12 (20 months): $0 down and payments of $29.95
  • Two-year contract: $150

There’s no word on whether the Lumia 950 will reach other networks in the U.S. or if the Lumia 950 XL will be sold with carrier support in the States at all. Microsoft put the 950XL up for pre-order on its website unlocked for $650. You’ll even get the Microsoft Display Dock — which connects your phone to a PC and enables the Continuum feature in Windows 10 — with it for free. Meanwhile, the unlocked Lumia 950 is listed as coming soon on Microsoft’s website, as is the AT&T version.

So far, Vodafone in the UK and AT&T in the U.S. are the only networks to confirm they’ll stock the Lumia 950, but neither network mentioned the 950XL. We’ll keep you updated here.

Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL

Introduced by Panos Panay, the new man in control of Lumia and Surface at Microsoft, there are two phones — the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL.

The 5.2-inch Lumia 950 uses a hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, and comes with 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage space. The good news is under the rear cover is a MicroSD card slot that can raise this number by a massive 200GB, plus there’s a removable 3000mAh battery that can be wirelessly charged. The AMOLED 2560 x 1440 pixel screen is fitted to a 150 gram body that measures 8.2mm thick.

For the Lumia 950XL, Microsoft’s chosen the Snapdragon 810 octa-core processor and equipped it with the same amount of RAM and internal storage space. The removable battery’s capacity has increased to 3340mAh. The screen size has also been increased to 5.7-inches, and although it has the same 1440p resolution, it’s covered in Gorilla Glass 4, rather than Gorilla Glass 3 on the Lumia 950. The device is slightly heavier at 165 grams, and a little slimmer at 8.1mm.

Both Lumia phones get a 20-megapixel rear camera

Each phone has a 20-megapixel, f/1.9 aperture, 6-lens camera on the rear, equipped with optical image stabilization, a triple LED flash, and a dedicated camera shutter release. On the front, it’s the same 5-megapixel wide-angle selfie camera, that can shoot 1080p video. The rear camera can shoot 4K video at 30fps.

The Lumia phones use the latest USB Type-C connector, which provides a fast charge, and quick transfer of data across to your computer. Microsoft has installed Windows 10, along with various standard apps including Skype, Outlook, and Office. A beta version of Windows Hello is on the phone for quick, secure unlocking, and the major software draw is Continuum for phones. Using the USB Type-C connection, and a Microsoft Display Dock, the Continuum feature ports the phone’s main screen onto your desktop. Apps on the phone scale on a monitor for a PC-like experience.

Lumia 550

A Lumia 550 was also announced for $140, an affordable smartphone with a quad-core, 1GHz processor, a 5-megapixel rear camera, and 8GB of internal storage space. Windows 10 is installed, just like the 950 and 950XL. Rumors put the screen size at 5-inches with a 960 x 540 pixel resolution, but Microsoft hasn’t confirmed the final specs just yet. Vodafone in the UK has said it’ll stock the phone in the near future.

Previous updates:

Updated on 10-07-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added final specs for the Lumia 950 family.

Next page: All the rumors leading up to the Microsoft Lumia launch

Catch up on all the leaks and rumors surrounding the Lumia 950 and 950XL prior to the launch below

Are you waiting patiently for a new Microsoft Lumia smartphone? If you’ve been expecting the Lumia 940 and 940XL to make an appearance, you may be out of luck, but don’t despair as Microsoft may skip them — in name only, actually — and go straight to the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL instead. Here’s everything we think we know about the phones so far.

Specs leak on Microsoft’s website

Microsoft accidentally let the cat out of the bag with a huge leak on its own website, reports Windows Central. The posting reveals the specs for the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, but not the prices. Apparently, the Microsoft Lumia 950XL will come with a 5.7-inch screen with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, which rounds out to 515 pixels per inch. Meanwhile, the Lumia 950 will measure 5.2-inches and have the same resolution, but a pixel density of 565ppi due to its smaller screen.

Both Lumia phones will sport 20-megapixel cameras and Zeiss optics, which is pretty exciting for Windows Phone users who’ve been waiting on a really good camera. Microsoft plans to add a triple LED flash according to @Windows10Lover, a well known leaker of everything Microsoft. The tri-flash should offer impressive color balance far surpassing single LED flash cameras. The front cameras on both the Lumia 950 and 950 XL will apparently have 5 megapixels.

Previous leaks were less high-spec for the 950, though the XL’s spec sheet was about the same. That means the 950 was thought to feature a 5.2-inch screen with a 1080p resolution, a Snapdragon 808 processor with 3GB of RAM, plus 32GB of internal storage space and a MicroSD card slot. Obviously, both Lumia phones will run Windows 10.

The 950XL was thought to have even higher specs, starting with a 1440p resolution on a big 5.7-inch display, and finishing with a Snapdragon 810 processor. The camera setup and the internal storage memory is rumored to be the same as the standard 950. While the specs sounds great, the real pull of the new Lumia phones will be Windows 10, which will almost certainly be pre-installed on the two devices.

Interestingly, both smartphones will come with dual-SIM variants. Microsoft has added dual-SIM to all of its low-end devices, but this is the first time one of its premium Lumia devices will receive a dual-SIM variant for the Asian market.

What happened to the Lumia 940?

Rumors have been spreading about the 940 family for a while, but a report from China stated that Microsoft intends to fast-forward past the 940 name, and release its new flagship phones as the 950. There’s no explanation given for this, but it may have to do with superstitions around the number 4 in parts of Asia, should the rumor be accurate.

What will the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL look like?

Hours before what’s expected to be the official unveiling of the new Lumia phones, another set of leaked images showing what could be the Lumia 950XL were leaked through the Weibo social network. While the phone itself looks very similar to previous leaks, the rear cover has been taken off in one shot, and a 3340mAh battery hides underneath. Although the camera lens placement makes it look a bit awkward, there’s a chance the battery may come out, ready for a freshly charged one to be slotted in.

Lumia 950XL Battery Leak
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The day before the launch event, Windows Central posted a few photos of two phones likely to be the 950 series, originally sourced by @Windows10Lover. The high resolution images show the front and back of both devices, revealing the differences in size and cameras. The photos also revealed a dual-SIM variant of the Lumia 950XL coming to some regions.

Lumia 950 and 950XL front running Windows 10 Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Lumia 950XL has the camera compacted into the lens, while the Lumia 950 has the triple-LED flash on the outside of the lens.

Back of the Lumia 950XL Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Lumia 950XL also appears to have a larger microphone grill on the back, with five holes instead of the one on the Lumia 950.

Back of the Lumia 950 Image used with permission by copyright holder

A week before the expected launch of the Lumia 950XL at Microsoft’s October 2015 hardware event, prominent leakers @OnLeaks and @evleaks both revealed new photos of what may be the Lumia 950XL.

Lumia 950XL CAD images Image used with permission by copyright holder

OnLeaks started by showing a factory CAD of the Lumia 950XL. The CAD image shows the dimensions for the smartphone, 7.8mm at its thinnest point, making it a touch larger than the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6S.

Lumia 950XL leaked press photos Evleaks/Onleaks/Twitter

Evleaks followed up a few hours later with a press photo of the Lumia 950XL, revealing black and white variants of the smartphone. Button placement appears to be all on the side of the device, a good move for customers with smaller hands who may be unable to reach the top of the device while holding it.

There’s evidence of a shutter release button on the side, and dual rear speaker grills at the top and bottom of the device, suggesting stereo speakers inside. There’s also a grill to the side of the camera lens array, which may be for the same multi-microphone set up we’ve seen on Lumia phones before.

Microsoft branding is restrained, with the four square logo on the rear, and the name above the screen. It’s joined by a PureView and Zeiss logo on the rear, both of which are related to the camera technology.

Before this, our best indication of the design came from Evan Blass on Twitter, who leaked a set of pictures showing two Lumia phones. He referred to them as the Cityman and the Talkman, codenames influenced by two of Nokia’s earliest mobile phones. The Talkman is the smaller of the two devices, and is seen here in black with a chrome camera lens surround.

The Cityman is in blue, has a pronounced camera lens bump, and a lens design that will be familiar to Lumia fans.

Lumia 'Cityman' 950XL
Lumia ‘Cityman’ 950XL @evleaks/Twitter

The Cityman was also leaked in another tweet, where a phone that certainly resembles the blue phone in @evleaks photo is seen linked up to multi-USB port block.

Lumia Cityman Leak

The same Chinese site that published the 940 name-change rumor also leaked a set of images that were apparently verified as accurate by The Verge, said to show the Lumia 950XL. Covered in a protective case, perhaps to hide the final design, it didn’t give much away about how the phone will look — but the test prototype does appear to be equipped with a USB Type-C connector, a new addition to the Lumia range.

Microsoft hasn’t made anything related to the 950 and 950XL official yet, but we’re expecting an announcement very soon. Microsoft has a major hardware event planned for October 6, where Windows 10 is the focus, and the new Lumia phones may be revealed. We’ll keep you updated with more news and rumors here in the meantime.



Previous updates:

Updated on 10-06-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added more detailed processor and screen specs after the event, as well as battery sizes. Also added news that AT&T will carry the Lumia 950.

Updated on 10-06-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added leaked new images of the 950XL.

Updated on 10-05-2015 by David Curry: Added new images of the Lumia 950 and 950XL, alongside more specs rumors. 

Updated on 09-28-2015 by David Curry: Added two leaked photos of what may be the Lumia 950XL. 

Updated on 09-30-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added leak of the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL on Microsoft’s website.

Andy Boxall
Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for…
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