Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950XL: Clear thoughts of Continuum with a snazzy camera
Sadly, these are for the collectors and diehards only
Wait. What about Continuum?
I was less impressed with the biometric authentication, Windows Hello, even though Microsoft strongly caveats this as a "beta". The phone has a third camera and an infrared scanner to scan your face, with the IR ensuring you're not holding up a 2D image.
After ensuring there's a backup PIN and giving it some training, you're good to go. However, while Hello works very well on the Surface Pro 4, it produced a success rate far below 50 per cent on the device. Worse, it zaps the battery, as the phone is continually woken up and attempts to perform an authentication.
I often picked up the phone and found it had exceeded the number of attempts it makes before requesting a PIN. At first I thought this was my kids picking it up, then I realised any movement or light change triggers it. You can lose a fair amount of battery just by having Hello turned on and your phone in your pocket.
The other party trick is Continuum, a glimpse into Microsoft's unified roadmap where phones double up as PCs. We were unable to test it as the promised Display Adapter unit wasn't available. We'll give this important feature a dedicated review. It's intriguing, but you should be aware of both the technical and practical limitations.
It only works with Miracast-capable TVs or a dock. Apps need to be Universal apps, of which there are only a handful, including Microsoft's own Office suite. More practically, if you nip out for coffee and need to take your phone with you (and who wouldn't?) you lose your context, and have to plug it all in again.
Overall the Lumias include some great hardware in a light package, but it's all dressed up with nowhere to go. The real world Windows 10 Mobile experience is not a good one, as the user is beset with bugs, half finished apps and needlessly fussy ways of doing things. Which is bit of a shame really.
Microsoft has waited two years to unleash new flagships. But with Windows 10 Mobile, it falls further behind the competition, and the worst thing is the wounds are entirely self-inflicted. ®