Microsoft hasn't given up on making smartphones, but critics don't recommend the company's latest effort.
The reviews are in for the Lumia 950, the first Windows Phone to run the new Windows 10 operating system, and critics were far from kind. No one recommends buying the Lumia 950 over other devices.
The Lumia 950 goes on sale this week for $600, the same price range as other top-tier devices like the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S6. But even though it can do some nifty tricks like connect to a mouse, keyboard, and monitor and run sort of like a traditional desktop PC, reviewers agree that it doesn't have what it takes to compete.
Here's what reviewers are saying:
Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal complained about the Lumia 950's poor app selection, saying most popular apps either aren't available or haven't been updated in years. For example, Instagram is still in its "beta" phase and doesn't let you upload videos.
Dan Seifert of The Verge criticized the new Windows 10 operating system. He says it's very similar to the last version, Windows Phone 8.1 and "feels like a work in progress."
Peter Bright of Ars Technica had problems with the new "Hello" feature, which lets you unlock the Lumia after it scans your iris. Bright says he had difficulty getting Hello to work when wearing glasses. And the WSJ's Stern said the feature didn't work well in low light.
Those complaints were pretty consistent across all the early reviews. There's no compelling reason to buy Microsoft's newest phone, the reviewers say.
For what it's worth, one reviewer seemed to like the Lumia 950, but he was writing for Microsoft's own blog. So you might want to take what he says with a grain of salt. Still, the writer isn't a professional tech critic. He's a longtime fan of Windows Phones, and it seems like the Lumia 950 was designed for the small sliver of the population that's still dedicated to the platform.
There were some other positives: Reviewers generally saw a lot of potential in Continuum, the feature that lets you dock your Lumia with a mouse, keyboard, and monitor and run PC-like programs on the desktop. It hints at a future where you might not need a full PC for a lot of tasks. But for now, the hardware of the phone isn't powerful enough to run many PC programs. Critics also said the camera held up well against the excellent cameras in the iPhone 6S, Samsung Galaxy S6, and Nexus 6P.
But for most people, the Lumia 950 won't be the best option. It simply doesn't have the useful apps and services the iPhone and Android devices have. The Lumia, and other Windows Phones, are only good for people narrowly focused on using phones for the basics.