The Lumia 1020 was the first smartphone that was really made with photography enthusiasts in mind, and it is still in need of a successor. While that successor might be the Lumia 1020 next year, for now, it’s actually the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL. Microsoft positioned the new Windows 10 phone duo as the phones that are continuing down the road of the Lumia 930, but by outfitting the new handset with surprisingly good cameras, Microsoft also created a pretty good cousin to the Lumia 1020.
The Microsoft Lumia 950 family of devices comes after Windows Phone struggled for a long time on the smartphone market, dominated by iOS and Android. The Lumia 950 is the push into the market that aims to disrupt and appeal to everyone. With a minimalist industrial design and the entirely revamped software experience, the Lumia 950 is truly a good smartphone that might make people come back to Windows Phone, if they left it. Whether it will turn people away from iOS or Android is an uncertainty at this point, although sings point towards interest from the Android community. Apple fans are harder to break, apparently.
Nonetheless, the Lumia 950 was designed to bridge the gap between hardware and software that exists with Android and simulate an ecosystem similar to that present in the Apple world of devices. Windows 10 is the unifying element, but contrary to iOS, it is present on all devices, not just touch interfaces. The Lumia 950 proves that Apple is not the only one to be able to create a remarkable software experience between all your devices, as Windows 10 and its features make for a completely different, yet familiar user experience for Windows users. Mac users won’t have anything to gain from the Lumia 950 and its Windows 10 integration features, but they might be interested in the camera.
Although the Lumia 950 is a good attempt at turning people from Android and iOS, it has a stronger possibility of getting the attention of the Android community, but only if Google integration will work seamlessly – which is Google’s job to do and it’s not really doing it. There’s a problem for Windows 10 on mobile because of its lack of apps that are popular among the users that the phone is targeting. Many Android users find themselves gloomy after deciding not to upgrade to the Lumia 950 because it doesn’t have Gmail, Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram and the list goes on. Developers are working to fix this issue and while there are apps that help you access these features, they are not the native apps that an Android user needs. But a Windows Phone user or someone not tied to the Google ecosystem too tightly can find their way around and once they get used to Windows 10 om a phone, the experience will be pretty positive.
It’s a bit gloomy and sad that the Lumia 950 is bound to the decisions Google and others make, but there is hope. The handset has one feature that everyone can benefit from, especially content creators that would use the apps that are missing from the Windows store. The Lumia 950 camera is almost as high-end as the one on the Lumia 1020 and it provides users with unmatched photography experiences. Although we’re still not going to get DSLR quality anytime soon, the cameras on this device have been refined to the point that they outdo even the setups Apple and Samsung used in their most recent flagships.
All of the recent flagships are either on their way to 21 MP cameras or are already there. The Galaxy Note 5 has a 16 MP sensor with OIS, the iPhone 6S Plus comes with a 12 iSight camera and the new Motorola Droid Turbo 2 gets a 21 MP camera. The Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL both get a 20 MP camera with Carl Zeiss optics, optical image stabilization and triple-RGB flash. That combination blows the competition away and positions the newest of Windows Phone as THE smartphone to get if you are a photography enthusiast. Discussing whether professional photography is possible on a smartphone is not my domain, but I do know that the Lumia 950 cameras come pretty close to what you would call DSLRs.
A nice macro shot created with the Lumia 950 XL camera by Instagram user jalakarhu helps the Lumia 950 prove its mettle in the camera department. The photo seems to be unedited and comes from an amateur photographer, but it shows how the optics and image stabilization work together in the camera to provide a macro shot that is so stunning you would think it came from a much more expensive camera. Osmosisfin on Instagram responded with another macro shot that is just as stunning and you can see that below. Camera samples from the handset reflect that Microsoft put a lot of work into post-processing as well as engineering the camera module on the rear of the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL.
With all this in mind, it is difficult for an Android and Windows user to decide whether to give up the convenience of the Google ecosystem for that of the Windows 10 ecosystem or to keep their Windows 10 limits to the desktop. I’m convinced that with Windows 10 being as popular as it is, the Microsoft Store will soon be showcasing new native apps from Google and others who are missing from the roster. Developers seem to be enjoying the universal app development platform and with the addition of Photoshop templates for developers, Microsoft is really welcoming developers to the platform. Now, it remains to be seen if Google wants to be on board. That’s a tricky question to ask, as the situation between Google and Microsoft is pretty tense in multiple departments.
Regardless, the Lumia 950 is a gem for photography lovers and I think it’s currently the best smartphone camera money can buy. Or should buy, because the handset isn’t available yet, and it won’t be available everywhere at once. The release schedule for the Lumia 950 is a bit hazy, but we do know that the Lumia 950 XL price is $650 in the Microsoft store, while the Lumia 950 price will be around $550. With rather friendly price tags and powerful specs, not to mention Windows 10, the Lumia 950 family has every chance of becoming a favorite next year, and mostly that will be thanks to the camera and Windows 10. I’m just curious about how Android fans will appreciate the software experience.