Lumia 950 XL: How I ended my relationship with iPhones (but had an affair with them anyway, because Pokémon GO)

Over the past few months, I’ve gotten curious looks and inquiries from people whenever I’d whip out my phone and they see it’s not an iPhone or anything resembling an Android. It’s a Lumia 950 XL from Microsoft (née Nokia), and the first things I get asked are, “What is that?” “But why don’t you have an iPhone?”

For a number of completely superficial reasons, I hated my first and only iPhone, and was all too happy when my contract expired. Never say never and all, but I love my Lumia 950 XL and wouldn’t be inclined to look back anytime soon. Or so, I thought. Recently, in the light of Pokémon GO (and Niantec/Nintendo not developing it for Windows Phone, boo), I took out a spare iPhone 5c my mom sent from the US just to play the darned game. Having an iPhone in my hands again after all these months just reminded me why, Pokémon GO notwithstanding, I have no regrets about switching.

I grew up with Nokia phones and still remember the sheer giddiness I felt when my mom bought me a Nokia 3200 when I was 13. Heck, I even held on to the last vestige of having an actual keypad and got an E71 when everyone was moving on to touchscreen phones. But I’m the type who gets bored easily and wants something different from everyone else, so the recent decade has seen me with an ASUS (back when no one my age knew ASUS was making phones), a Blackberry (in purple, because it was ~*unique*~), a Sony Xperia X10 mini (it had a QWERTY slider keyboard) and the E71 (decidedly more business-y compared to the fun touchscreens). Eventually, I made the incredibly adult decision to take out a postpaid plan, so that meant an iPhone 5 that I loved… and grew to hate.

Fun fact: All my other phones broke over time with use, but my Nokias stayed well and healthy… until I lost them 😛

Months before my contract expired, I was on the market for something different. I wasn’t too keen on another iPhone, wasn’t too impressed with Blackberry’s lineup (or lack thereof), and didn’t like the Android OS – although I was seriously considering one of the models from the Sony Xperia Z line because it was so darn purdy.

My best guy pal Anton (henceforth referred to as my friend) was highly influential when it came to my final decision. As a total Windows fanboy, he had been singing praises over his Nokia Lumia 1020 for years, and as a bonus, I got to explore the polarizing Windows Mobile before I went and got the Microsoft Lumia 950 XL myself earlier this year. The rest, as they say, is history. What iPhone? (Oh, right. Pokémon GO. But I digress.)

As I’ve mentioned earlier, toting around an iPhone recently prompted further comparisons. So, in celebration of having the phone for six months, I’ve compiled a list of reasons why I’ve given up iPhones in favor of the Lumia 950 XL, point 0 of which is that Microsoft mobiles deserve more love.

  1. It’s a special snowflake. Shallow, but the reason that mattered the most to me. For years, I’ve endured the embarrassment of picking up an iPhone, only to realize it’s not mine. I definitely got a kick out of the first time I sat in a table with iPhone users and being the only one to have something different. Admittedly, there were some occasions I’ve picked up my friend’s 950 XL, but that has since been remedied since…
  2. The back cover is removable. This is one feature I missed from the older phones. The stock back cover is generic black plastic with a nice matte finish, but I’ve since traded that for a luxurious Mozo one in black leather with silver trim. Definitely gives the phone a more premium and sexy feel, and makes it look different than it already is.
  3. The battery is so much better. Let’s be real: iPhone batteries suck. I’ve gotten used to getting through an entire day doing various things on my 950 XL with a single charge – two at most – that when I started using the iPhone 5c again, I was displeased when the battery drained by midday… and to think I was only playing Pokémon GO! As a testament to the Microsoft’s infinitely better battery, I was using that as a hotspot for the iPhone 5c and that phone died just when I was about to go home.
  4. The battery is removable. As solutions to the sucky iPhone battery, I’ve used a power case and lugged around several power banks, all of which I kept forgetting to charge anyway. When my iPhone battery deteriorated, I had to undergo clandestine operations to get it fixed in some little shop in APM because apparently it costs an arm and a leg to get it done officially. In contrast, the battery on the 950 XL is removable, and therefore easily replaceable. I haven’t gotten around to buying a second battery for emergency purposes (not that I’ve needed to, yet), but my friend has borrowed my battery – a favor I fully expect returned when I need it –  to power up his 950 XL one time. It’s a simple matter of popping the battery in and out. Nifty.
  5. Clean interface. This one, I have no complaints about on iPhones, but I must say I like the look of Windows better. The 950 XL isn’t actually my first Windows Phone; I’ve briefly owned a low-end model that I won in a raffle. I sold it because it wasn’t as feature-packed as the phones I owned back then, but if there was one reason for me to keep it, it would have been the look. I like how my home screen now is much more useful because Live Tiles give me updates without having to open the action center.
  6. More useful action center. When I started using the iPhone 5c, I remembered my dismay at iPhones not being able to control a lot of things from the action center or whatever they called their version. No data, no mobile hotspot, nothing! In contrast, I can do all those things and even customize the action center on my 950 XL to my liking. As a writer, being able to pull up the Notes app really fast has changed my world. And, yes, being able to quickly turn the data on and off has made it easier to conserve my data.
  7. Much. Better. Photos. iPhones have nothing on the Lumia 950 XL. A low light situation is no challenge for the Lumia’s razor-sharp camera, and while I’ve taken some bad photos, it’s mainly because I’ve yet to learn how to tinker with the camera’s manual settings – and yes, this thing has manual controls like ISO, white balance, exposure, etc. on the default app. Those bad photos are rare and few in between though, like a Snorlax. I’ve already published photos on Zee Lifestyle that were taken by my phone, and if you wouldn’t know any better, you’d be hard-pressed to tell whether they’re from a phone or a DSLR. Most personal photos on this blog are also taken by my Lumia 950 XL.
  8. Better personal hotspot. A recent discovery I’ve made. Since my iPhone 5c has no SIM card inserted, I usually tether data via my Lumia 950 XL, and I can play Pokémon GO flawlessly. Just last night, I tried using the data from someone’s iPhone 6S Plus, and nope, no Poké Stops or Pokémon appeared no matter how many times I refreshed the damn app. FAIL.
  9. The app gap isn’t really that bad. This was the thing I was most wary about when making the switch, as it’s widely written about that Windows app store is severely lackluster when compared to Google or Apple. But as a matter of personal opinion, it’s not that terrible. I noticed I hoarded a lot of apps on my old iPhone that I never really used, so this was a nice way of figuring out just what I needed. Sure, I might not have Snapchat or Boomerang (yet?), but I have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Viber and Spotify, plus a seriously bad-ass version of Microsoft Office. I have everything I need. BUT SERIOUSLY, POKÉMON GO THOUGH.
  10. The bestest of the best and my favorite reason for switching: No more bloatware that is iTunes! 😀 😀 😀 I can plug this baby into my work computer and not worry about my data being wiped because I have to sync stuff. Plus, I can just load files and photos and whatnot like it’s a damn USB and not overthink about how I need another app just to play music I’ve added by skipping iTunes.

I’m sure I have more reasons, but these are 10 of the major ones. While tech writers and other critics might have written off the 950 XL as inferior compared to its contemporaries, take it from someone who’s using it as a daily driver: It’s awesome.


Disclaimer: Not a sponsored post. I wish though. Hello, Microsoft! 😛

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