I had the Lumia 950 in use for over a month and of course I also compared it directly with my daily driver the Lumia 830 – which I still enjoy using. In this post I want to share some of my impression and I also will try to help you decide if you should upgrade to the Lumia 950 if you’re using a Lumia 830 at the moment.
Check my other articles about the Lumia 950:
- Lumia 950 Hands On & First Impressions
- One Week with the Lumia 950: Better than expected
- Using a Bluetooth Mouse with the Lumia 950
Before we take a look at my real world comparison based on my daily experience with the devices let’s take a quick look at the specifications:
5.2″ AMOLED, 2560 x 1440 (564 ppi) ; Glance Screen ; Double Tap to turn off
|5″ LCD, 1280 x 720 (295 ppi) ; Glance Screen ; Double Tap to wake up|
Qualcomm Snapdragon 808
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 400|
20 Megapixel (back), 5 Megapixel (front)
|10 Megapixel (back), 0.9 Megapixel (front)|
Windows 10 Mobile
|Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2|
Furthermore you should also note that this comparison is based on my experience with Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2 on the Lumina 830 and Windows 10 Mobile on the Lumina 950 so please keep in mind that the experience with a Lumina 830 running the same OS as the 950 might be different but I decided that I want to compare the experiences with the latest updates Microsoft is officially providing for each of the devices. I plan, however, to write a review of the Lumina 830 running W10M once Microsoft officially rolls it out to existing devices.
But now let’s compare the two devices! I will name a winner in each category….
Design and Build Quality
Probably one of the most controversially discussed and debated topic in the Windows (Phone) fan community for a couple of months was the Lumia 950’s plastic housing and whether it deserved being called a flagship. I have to admit that I wasn’t very excited about the 950’s design and build quality at first but now that I was able to use the phone for some time I actually fell in love with the design – at least in white the Lumia 950 looks very elegant and sleek in my opinion. Having said that, I still prefer the design of the Lumia 830 which for me is the most beautiful Lumia ever. Also in terms of build quality and finishing I do like my Lumia 830 better. Nevertheless, the Lumia 950 isn’t a bad phone either in terms of design and build quality.
Winner: Lumia 830
In terms of display, the Lumia 830 and Lumia 950 really are completely different: Not only does the 950 have a much higher resolution and uses another display technology (AMOLED vs. LCD) the new flagship also lacks the double tap to wake up feature. Therefor, the Lumia 830 lacks double tap to turn off the display – the Lumia 950 on the other hand does have that feature thanks to the onscreen navigation bar.
While I definitely miss double tap to wake up on the Lumia 950, I absolutely prefer its screen over the one of the 830. This doesn’t mean I don’t like the one of the 830, but the 950’s display is just so sharp and vibrant – it’s just a pleasure to look at the screen.
Winner: Lumia 950
When the first buyers received their Lumia 950s it didn’t take long till first complaints about the battery life arised online. When I used the Lumia 950 I always got through one day but definitely not more. Of course I would have hoped for a longer battery life – especially when considering that the battery is actually quite big – but since I read about the “problems” before I wasn’t too surprised I didn’t get through more than one day with a single charge. With my daily driver Lumia 830 I also get through one day with one charge so I’m kind of used to that. Therefore, for me both the Lumia 830 and Lumia 950 are winners – and losers as well since more battery life would always be better.
Winner: Lumia 830 and Lumia 950
In terms of speaker the Lumia 830 and Lumia 950 don’t differ much in my opinion. Both speakers can get very loud and provide a decent quality. What’s different though is the placement of the speakers: While the Lumia 950’s speaker sits at the top of the device’s back right next to the camera, the Lumia 830 has its speaker at the bottom of the device. None of the placements is perfect but I do actually prefer the speaker layout of the Lumia 830 for the simple reason that when you’re holding your phone with one hand in portrait mode the sound still should “come” to you since it your hand “reflects” the sound.
Winner: Lumia 830
One of the highlights of the Lumia 950 is of course the improved 20 megapixel camera on the back and – for the selfie fans out there – also the 5 megapixel front-facing camera. But not only does the Lumia 950 offer more regarding pixels but also does the camera launch noticeably quicker – even though Lumia Camera 5 on the 830 is much faster than previous versions as well. It’s just awesome that you can (finally!) just click the dedicated camera button and you’re ready to take a picture.
In terms of picture quality there’s definitely a huge difference regarding the sharpness of pictures taken with the front camera. The 0.9 megapixel shooter of the Lumia 830 is just bad while the one of the Lumia 950 takes some decent pictures. Moving on to the cameras on the back I have to say that I’m actually quite happy with the 10 megapixel shooter of the Lumia 830 but of course the 20 megapixel camera of the 950 is even more impressive. Pictures taken with the Lumia 950 just look gorgeous.
Winner: Lumia 950
While my Lumia 830 still runs Windows 8.1 Update 2 (still waiting for the official W10M rollout, Microsoft!) the Lumia 950 of course comes pre-installed with Windows 10 Mobile. It may not be completely fair to compare them without the same OS version but still for me it was a great opportunity to experience some of the new Windows 10 Mobile feature in reality instead of seeing them on pictures/or in videos (don’t want to join the Windows Insider program with my Lumia 830).
While I really think that using a mouse with the Lumia 950 is kind of cool, the most useful new feature of Windows 10 Mobile for me was the much improved action center. I will write about my Windows 10 Mobile experience in more detail in the Lumia 950 review.
Since the two devices aren’t running with the same OS version I won’t nominate a winner in this category.
While the Lumia 950 has a pretty current SoC (Qualcomm Snapdragon 808) the Snapdragon 400 of the Lumia 830 is already a bit older. Additionally, the Lumia 950 has 2 GB of RAM more than the 830. Of course those differences are noticeable when looking at the performance of the devices: Even though I’m not too disappointed by the performance of the Lumia 830 I still have to admit that the 950 does offer better performance. Especially noticeable is difference when switching between recently opened apps: On my Lumia 830 switching between apps is not really a pleasure as with some apps this takes really long and the well-known resuming screen is present very often. On the Lumia 950 on the other hand, switching between apps was fast and smooth and a very rarely (actually only once if I remember right) got to see the resuming screen. Of course this might also be due to some changes made to Windows 10 Mobile but the better SoC and the bigger amount of RAM definitely improved the situation as well. Since switching between apps is something I do very regularly this is a huge and probably the most important improvement for me. But of course also “heavy” games load quicker and play better on the Lumia 950.
Winner: Lumia 950
Both the Lumia 950 and Lumia 830 are great phones. At the end of the day, the Lumia 950 won more categories which isn’t too surprising – after all the 950 is supposed to be the new Windows 10 Mobile flagship. Nevertheless, I still absolutely love my Lumia 830 and I definitely won’t upgrade – at least at the moment. And even though I really quite liked the design of the Lumia 950, for me the 830 still is the most beautiful Lumia ever made. But if you want to have better display and impressivily great camera I don’t see any reason not to upgrade to the Lumia 950.