Microsoft Lumia 950 XL

[sc:mobile-category ]I’ve been waiting for the 950 to come out for a while so when pre-orders hit a few weeks ago I signed up and placed my order.

Delivery was scheduled for Nov 25th and it arrived right on time.  Which was a little bit of a problem as I was on vacation and out of the country.  No matter, Microsoft and UPS both assured me a signature was required and so it would be held at the UPS facility until I picked it up.

Which is why I was so surprised when I received a delivery confirmation from UPS that night.  It turns out UPS just decided to leave it at my door instead of getting a signature.  I quick call to a friend to pick it up so it didn’t sit on my door step for several days took care of the problem.

Unboxing was straight forward enough and the phone, while large, is remarkably thin and light (especially if you take the battery out).


I booted the phone up and started the install, which was smooth and easy.  I didn’t add a SIM to begin with and just used WiFi for my first install.

After the initial setup was complete I wanted to verify was support for the Wind network.  So I popped in my Wind SIM and re-started the phone.

As Wind doesn’t yet support 4G, I did have to change the SIM setting to 3G as the maximum network setting, but once done everything came up without issue.

A pleasant on the 950 XL is that it has dual SIM support, so I decided to try both my Bell and Wind SIM’s in it.

The first problem I ran in to was that my Bell SIM is a micro SIM only and the 950 takes a nano SIM.  A quick trip to the Bell store and I had a new nano SIM.

Putting in the Bell SIM to the secondary SIM slot and rebooting the phone turned up one significant limitation to the dual SIM configuration.  Both SIM slot’s support 4G, but only one of them can be active at a time with 4G.  The other SIM slot falls back to 2G.

That’s a problem here in Canada as 2G doesn’t exists anymore, all the carriers use 3G or better.  That means that the second SIM slot is basically useless in the 950 in Canada.

So after pulling my Wind SIM out and putting the Bell SIM in slot 1, I rebooted my phone and all was good.

The next item to do was install a SD card, I picked up an ADATA 128G card to toss in and it recognized it right away.

I moved my local music over to it and setup the rest of the phone without issue.


First off, the display is glorious; bright rich colors and incredibly sharp. There’s nothing bad to say about it, period.

Hardware Buttons

Many phones seem to be doing away with the hardware buttons at the bottom of the screen and the 950 is no different, instead going for soft keys.  I haven’t found any real difference with them and so it seems like a good trade-off.

The 950 does continue with hardware buttons for volume, power and camera.  They have a nice tactile click to them, there are two slight issues with them:

  1. The power button on the XL is between the volume up/down buttons so once in a while you’ll hit the volume instead of power or power instead of volume.  Not a big deal, just a little annoying.
  2. The buttons are thin, almost too thin really, but they really don’t have much space so I guess that was unavoidable.

Qi Charging

The 950 has built-in Qi charging, which works fine, but they’ve had to change the placement of the coil from their older phones so now the charging stand I had for my 925 no longer works with the 950 in portrait mode.  It does work if I lay the phone on its side, but that’s not a very good solution.

There are some third-party Qi stands around that look like they’ll work so I’ll have to give them a try.

Hard Case

Of course I wanted a protective case for the phone so I picked one up online from Amazon, the MoKo Hard case looks pretty good and was on sale so I actually received it before the 950.

It adds quite a bit of bulk to the phone, but that’s what you want in a hard case so it works pretty well.  The only complaint I have about it is that the hard shell only wraps around the sides and not the top and bottom of the phone.

The Perfect Phone?

A few years ago I made a list of the things that would be in my perfect phone, that list included built-in wireless charging, SD card slot and a few other things.

Guess what?  The 950 XL ticks off every single point I had about the perfect phone.

I can’t find anything I’m wanting from a hardware perspective that the 950 doesn’t have.  Clearly Windows 10 Mobile still has some room to grow, but that looks like it may happen over the next while with Microsoft’s big push towards Universal Apps.

I think I’ll be very happy with this phone for the foreseeable future.

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Greg is the head cat at JumbleCat, with over 20 years of experience in the computer field, he has done everything from programming to hardware solutions. You can contact Greg via the contact form on the main menu above.

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Greg is the head cat at JumbleCat, with over 20 years of experience in the computer field, he has done everything from programming to hardware solutions. You can contact Greg via the contact form on the main menu above.

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