The latest Microsoft phablet, the Lumia 950 XL, will be forced to compete with a raft of other smartphone contenders. Some of the most obvious rivals to the Lumia 950 XL are the Apple iPhone 6s Plus, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, and the recently announced Google Nexus 6P. So how do these phablet contenders stack up against one another? Here is a breakdown of the specifications and qualities of the four handsets.
Lumia 950 XL vs iPhone 6s Plus vs Galaxy Note 5 vs Nexus 6P – Operating system
The four phablets in question all have slightly different operating systems, and which one users prefer will be very much down to personal choice. But the Lumia 950 XL is running the Windows 10 system, and thus is perhaps slightly distinct from the other three phablet offerings. The iPhone 6s Plus, the Galaxy Note 5 and the Google Nexus 6P are all reliant upon more traditional mobile operating systems.
The Apple device naturally runs its proprietarily iOS 9 operating system, and the combination of hardware and software both manufactured by Apple has always been an advantage for this iconic smartphone range. It is also worth noting that the Nexus 6P has a slight edge over the Galaxy Note 5, as it is running the more up-to-date Marshmallow version of Android.
The Lumia 950 XL is the smallest and lightest of the four devices being compared here, and the only one of the four to weigh in at under six ounces, while measuring under six inches. It must be said that the difference between the Lumia 950 XL and the Galaxy Note 5 is extremely negligible, but both the iPhone 6s Plus and Nexus 6P are significantly longer and heavier.
As screen resolution becomes increasingly important in the smartphone sector, it is perhaps not surprising that three of these phablets match-up extremely closely. The Lumia 950 XL, Galaxy Note 5, and Nexus 6P all feature almost identical resolution and pixel density ratings, being able to display 2,560 x 1,440 pixels at any one time, representing a pixel density of 518ppi.
It is surprising then that the definitive smartphone on the market, and unquestionably the world leader, features an inferior screen to any of the three other phablets. The iPhone 6s Plus has a slightly smaller 5.5-inch full HD LCD screen, that offers a pixel density of just over 400ppi. However, it is worth noting that the integration of 3D Touch in the iPhone 6s Plus has been extremely welcome in the latest iPhone generation, and is certainly a major selling point.
In the interest of balance, it should also be mentioned that the Galaxy Note 5 is the only phablet of the four that features a built-in stylus, ensuring that interaction with the screen is more precise. This peripheral is available with the iPhone 6s Plus as well, but requires an extra financial investment.
The Lumia 950 XL and the Nexus 6P share the same powerful 2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 CPU. By contrast, both Apple and Samsung have opted to fit their phablet devices with proprietary technology in recent releases, with the iPhone 6s Plus being driven by an A9 processor, and Samsung relying on its own Exynos technology.
This makes assessing the four devices in this department extremely complicated. What should be said firstly is that Apple has always squeezed every drop of juice out of the iPhone series by combining proprietary hardware and software.
Aside from this element, it should be pointed out that the iPhone 6s Plus and Galaxy Note 5 have performed at an extremely similar level in benchmark testing. The Lumia 950 XL and the Google Nexus 6P have the potential to rival these two market-leading phablets, but unquestionably the two consumer electronics giants that are Apple and Samsung will be pleased that these two major rivals are reliant on external Qualcomm chips.
Software and User Experience
Although Microsoft is working on delivering a truly contemporary smartphone experience with the Lumia 950 XL, even the biggest fan of the Lumia series would have to concede that Windows 10 is some way behind its iOS and Android competitors in terms of app availability. Microsoft has certainly attempted to address this situation, and also offered additional innovations in its operating system such as improved desktop integration and the Continuum system.
But the app stores available on the iOS and Android platforms are unquestionably superior, and this remains the biggest barrier to any competitors to the two operating systems. Of the two, the Apple App Store is still absolutely renowned as being the definitive source for the acquisition of apps, and this probably gives the iPhone 6s Plus a slight edge.
The comparison of user experience between iOS and Android has always been open to feverish debate and personal perspective, but the choice between the two will ultimately come down to what you expect your smartphone to deliver. Android is more flexible, and iOS has the reputation of being slicker and more user-friendly.
There is a significant difference between the camera units included in these four phablets. The Lumia 950 XL has the most impressive front-facing snapper of the four devices, with a 20.7-megapixel rating making this an extremely powerful performer. Samsung has been associated with quality cameras for quite some time, and the 16-megapixel unit in the Galaxy Note 5 is no exception.
Both Apple and Google are lagging behind somewhat in this department, although Apple has increased the megapixel rating in the iPhone range by 50 per cent with the iPhone 6s Plus. It is also notable that technology included in the iPhone release improves low-light shooting. The 12.3-megapixel rear-facing camera in the Google Nexus 6P is perhaps a little disappointing, but it is worth pointing out that the phablet is the only one of the four compared here to feature a better than 5-megapixel rear-facing snapper.
Memory and Storage
Finally, there are also differences between the memory and storage offered by the four phablets. The iPhone range has the smallest amount of memory of the four devices, although Apple has always compensated with its proprietary software. With just 2GB, the iPhone 6s Plus trails in last place. However, the iPhone 6s Plus does offer the largest amount of standard storage of the four devices, matched by the Google Nexus 6P, at 128GB.
The Lumia 950 XL has a relatively paltry 32GB of storage, but micro SD offers the opportunity to whack this up significantly to as much as 200GB. Its 3GB of memory is identical to that of the Google Nexus 6P, with the Galaxy Note 5 the leader in this department with 4GB.