Microsoft nearly made the Lumia 950 into a miniature Surface

Microsoft’s Lumia 950 and 950 XL landed with a flop when they launched about a year and a half ago, but perhaps the response to them would have been a little bit better if Microsoft had stuck with its more ambitious original vision for the two devices. On Friday, Windows Central published concept images and video of both phones, indicating that Microsoft had initially planned to outfit the 950 with support for smart covers, a stylus, and edge gestures.

The most interesting element here is the stylus. The concept video, reportedly made inside Microsoft, shows the 950 supporting the same pen used on the Surface. At one point, the video shows someone taking a photo and marking it up on their Lumia in OneNote, before it all appears instantly on a nearby Surface tablet.

Windows Central also obtained photos of a smart cover for the Lumia 950, with a hole cut out where the phone would display information like the time or an incoming caller. The cover also seems to have a clip to hold the Surface Pen. Combined, the stylus and cover make the phones seem more like miniature Surfaces than the expensive showcases for Windows 10 that they ended up as.

There’s one other interesting feature that shows up in the concept video, though there’s little info on how it would actually work. At about the 33 second mark, the 950 seems to automatically detect that it’s being held and lights up the screen in response. It seems a bit like the feature HTC just debuted the other week on the U11, which has squeezable sides that can trigger different functions.

It’s not clear why Microsoft ultimately ditched these plans, nor does it really seem like they would have made a huge difference in the phone’s reception. Windows phones are effectively dead at this point. And while there are perpetual rumors of a true Surface phone launching eventually, Microsoft will have a lot to prove regardless of what name it puts on the device.

But for now, we can at least dream of being as pleased by a Windows phone as this guy in the concept video:

Comments

Surface phone is going to happen eventually. Whether it will matter, who knows.

I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

forget about surface phone for a moment, if only MS had not been too stringent on achieving market share targets for WP and allowed Nokia to function as a standalone entity, who know, they could have slowly kept climbing to the 10-15% mark worldwide. It would have at least kept WP alive and ready for next move. But for that to happen Nokia would have had to post at least break-even, which in itself was a big ask. Nadella didn’t have Ballmer’s patience and chopped WP off. Shame, had a lot of potential.

Nokia’s sales were dropping like a stone even before they were acquired, it’s why they were snapped up for chump change. All that initial growth was on the back of 520s, and no one was upgrading to more expensive Lumias.

WP did best in post-GFC markets with lingering fondness for the Nokia brand, sales were negligible in the two largest (USA, China) so 10% global is unrealistic. Once they started stamping phones with Microsoft and not Nokia, and Chinese OEMs like Xiaomi gutted their sales of budget phones, WP was doomed.

This only shows how much the 950 series that were released were half assed holdovers. If anyone remembers the 950 and 950 xl phones had a host of issues when they dropped. Could it because portions of the software were gutted before release?

I am truly wondering at this point whether current Windows Mobile users like being hipsterish at this point. But minus even a bit of cool and a lot of added personal frustration.

When I bought my lumia 930 two years ago I was in love with the thing. To be honest, I still love it. I payed $350 for it and it was a 2014 device with a 20mp 4k camera with IOS, slomo, and a dedicated camera button. camera still holds up to this day.
MS recently announced they were giving up on updating my phone anymore (the whole "if you have windows 10 it will always update" speech apparently doesn’t matter anymore). and the last few months developers are slowly stopping developing apps.
Only facebook still works on WP apps, but they are slower and not as good as other OS apps.

I want a new phone, but to make a significant jump in camera quality i’d have to spend at least $600 on a flagship. Not only that, but I live in a country where imports are super expensive so I would be spending $600 on a phone if I can get someone who’s travelling to hide a phone when they come into the country.

In the meantime, the phone still works great. I don’t need many apps so I don’t NEED to upgrade, but MS attitude towards the platform has made me want to get away from it.

"(the whole "if you have windows 10 it will always update" speech apparently doesn’t matter anymore)"
You forgot the footnote "during the supported lifetime or the device". I guess this is what they meant.

You don’t need $600 to buy a good phone anymore. That has been the case for a couple years now.

you missed is point, he needs 600$ to get a phone whit a camera that can compete whit the 950, probably is the critical point for him…

You don’t need $600 to get a phone with a camera that competes with the 950.

Try and find a better camera in a phone at the price of a 950.. Also he wants to upgrade reasonably from a 930, which still have delicious 20mp, OIS, 4K. How would you upgrade camerawise?

The 930 was good for its time but it isn’t exactly a camera that competes with the phones of 2017, same with the 950, the only people I’ve ever seen make the claim that the 950 has a better camera than its contemporaries are, forgive the term, WinMo fanboys. MP has been discredited as something that matters as much as OEMs think it does, the HTC m9 has a 20mp camera but it doesn’t mean it’s good. If you want to get a phone with a camera as good as or better than the 950 for under $600 you have a pretty strong list of options. You can get a OnePlus 3+, Galaxy S7, iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, LG G5, HTC 10, etc. The cheapest phone on this list is $300 from an official retailer and of course you can find it for cheaper on places like eBay. The cameras on Lumias have been stand out features but even at their best they were never exactly multiple generations ahead aside from the Lumia 1020- though that had its own host of issues. Basically sticking with WinMo just for the camera is pretty ridiculous in 2017 when the last Lumia flagship came out 2 years ago.

I hear you argumentations…but remember that he was talking about image quality.

I will argue that no camera really surpasses the Lumia 950 on image quality. Still some (Pixel XL, HTC11, Galaxy S7+8, LG V20, even occasionally the iPhone 7) will surpass it on noise reduction or white balance or micro detail. Sometimes the Lumia 950 on present firmware surpasses these.

Check out Lumia 950 vs LG G6 vs Galaxy S8+

Image quality is kind of vague, not really meaning any one thing. As far as your example goes it’s from a site called All About Windows Phone and it shows in the analysis. It exagurates what the Lumia does well while severely underplaying the advantages of the other phones. That actually becomes super obvious in the first set of photos where the writer posits that the 950 is "clearly better" despite it having noticeably worse white balance than either of the other two (the clock face actually looking a little pinkish) and there not being a real noticeable difference in detail between the S8 and 950 when you actually compare the jpegs. The bias is pretty blatant.

Granted I’m not calling the 950 a bad camera but saying it’s the best camera still in 2017 is pretty ridiculous. Even if you’re looking for phones that specifically capture detail and color accuracy the Pixel certainly does it better and the 7 Plus, along with the advantage of its second lens, comes from a long lineage of phones that do color accuracy better than most others.

Well, I have seen some weird result from the Pixel in The Verge comparisons for instance. There is not a camera that wins every round.

I do rate the image quality of the Lumia 950 duo to be right at the top. I am not saying it is the best, but it still rates in the top…in image quality.

It has been surpassed on some other camera-centric fronts like autofocus speed by the S7+S8 etc.

I know, but the problem I feel I have is that with android phones OS updates are never guaranteed, no matter if the phone was just released, and iphones are expensive (and I’m not a big fan of iOS). The OS I actually like has been abandoned so I have yet to find a phone I WANT. I hope the next pixel or the next iphone have something that makes me want to break the piggy bank.

I feel you, I was exited whit the S8 then saw it didn’t even had the last version of Nougat on launch it was a deal breaker, just got a 7 Plus, screen is no mach but I know that for 3/4 years the system will be updated and for me that is more important…

Can’t go much wrong with an iPhone really. Solid as hell and resell value is high.

But so boring OS, boring choice.

Honestly if you stopped looking at the OS as a thing to look at and enjoy the look at and as the tool for which it is. There is no such thing as a boring OS. I mean even iOS has interactable widgets something Windows Phone never go to. You should choose the OS on its utility not purely on aesthetics or looks.

I can not help the aesthetics have an impact on me, and I much, much prefer the whole UX of the OS on Windows 10 Mobile over iOS.
Windows 10 Mobile UX = Mature, effeciency
iOS = Looks are a bit ‘childlike’ for the lack of better wording, and it is old school in home screen functionality to me.

I give you, I have little experience. So take the superficiality of my views with a grain of salt, please

I know how exactly you feel as I came from Lumia 1520 and Imho it was The flagship for Windows phone and I still love its Camera capabilities.
To be frank there is nothing out there v which can match Nokia’s hardware or software abilities. But people rejected Windows phone for the blind hatred and users rejected it depending on what others think. Anyway it’s water under the bridge as I’m on Samsung Galaxy s7 Edge.
Also, do not go for Android I’m my opinion if it’s not Pixel, otherwise you will see lag and updates never come to your phone. Also, rooting is not worth it anymore as it breaks fingerprint tech and bypassing secure boot is not worth the risk.
Go with iOS if you like smoothness of the OS otherwise wait for next Note or iPhone to see if they tickle your fancy.

But people rejected Windows phone for the blind hatred and users rejected it depending on what others think.

No people rehected windows phone because it lacked apps that other platforms had and when the 1520 came about it dropped during a period when people really deciding platforms by app availability which explains why after 2014 WP users dropped in numbers and so did the number of apps.

I feel exactly the same as you.

Perhaps HTC or LG V30?

Well still your phone got software updates from 2014 until now and I that you still could get inside builds "on your own risk".

But I feel a little bit the same way with my Lumia 950. It’s such a great phone and the camera is still getting me surprised. Sometimes I wander if the updates to the phone and the camera app are still improving the image quality. At least it seems like this.

I know that this is the last Lumia and maybe the last smartphone from Microsoft and I will happily use this phone for the next few years to come, but there will be the day where I will have to upgrade. (a ultra mobile Surface device might be to phablety for me).
Only some engagement from MS to the platform would have helped.

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