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: