Microsoft Lumia 950 XL review – The Verge
Continuum is really the star of the show, however. It lets the phone transform into a low-powered PC, with a few catches. In addition to the phone, you’ll need Microsoft’s $99 Display Dock (or a Miracast adapter), a mouse and keyboard (Bluetooth or USB), and a monitor or TV. You plug the Lumia 950 XL into the dock or connect wirelessly, and the phone simply beams itself to the display. It looks very similar to a Windows 10 desktop PC, minus a few features like app snapping and full multitasking.
Microsoft designed this with universal apps in mind, but most of them don’t support Continuum yet. Microsoft’s own apps all work fine, but third-party ones need to be updated to support the feature, and the vast majority haven’t yet.
Continuum feels like a glimpse into the future, though. Every app developer is focusing their efforts on smartphones right now, not tablets or desktop PCs. If we arrive at a future where phones can be a single computing device, then Microsoft is well positioned to offer this. If Microsoft builds an Intel-powered phone with true desktop apps, Continuum could get very interesting. But that’s not where the 950 XL is at, and it’s little more than a parlor trick in its current state.
The app gap problem still exists
What’s not encouraging is the state of apps for the Lumia 950 XL. I wanted to switch back to using this as my daily device over the past two weeks, but I simply couldn’t hack it. It stayed in my pocket while I used my iPhone 6S Plus, simply because so many apps are still missing or inadequate on Windows Phone. I’ve been to a lot of events recently and need Periscope to stream from the Verge account, or to use Snapchat. I simply can’t do this with the Lumia 950 XL, and I can’t even access our Trello work app. If I can’t get my work done on the move, it’s really difficult to switch back to a Windows phone.
Microsoft’s original plan was to support Android apps on Windows 10 Mobile, but that seems very unlikely now. Most of the third-party apps are just poor ports from iOS and Android, and lack key new features. The Twitter and Instagram apps are still depressing examples of the state of Windows, and I don’t feel like much has changed over the past year. Microsoft’s mobile store needs some serious love, but it’s running out of time.