• $598.80

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL

It’s fair to say that I’m something of an apologist for Windows Phone, having flown the flag for the operating system even when things hit rock bottom. And yet, for all the waiting, the Microsoft Lumia 950 XL doesn’t feel like it’s making the most of the potential offered by Windows 10 Mobile.

The hardware definitely has its highs and lows. Build quality isn’t the best around, but handling is great. All of the lovely pixels on the AMOLED screen, along with the exceptional colour accuracy, make it one of the best around, but the speakers are a bit of a let-down.

Only the camera proves to be a real stand-out feature – alhough many of the former staff of the PureView team went over to Apple, clearly enough stayed around to make a difference. As someone who values the camera over almost everything else on a smartphone, for me the 950 XL was a real gem of a performer.

And yet, that app gap will likely be a problem for many users, while the buggy nature of Windows 10 Mobile is likely to test the patience of even the most dedicated Windows fans.

The real question is: after at least 18 months out of the game, has Microsoft done enough to earn a place at the top division once more? And the answer is yes, but with an enormous proviso.

As a device, the Lumia 950 XL, along with its slighter sibling, has been carved out as a tool for the purist. And to that end Microsoft has delivered, and has shown a promise that will likely be glorious when fully delivered on.

For those not sold on the Lumia dream, however, it’s a much harder sell. The stark truth is that, for most people, there are better phones out there, especially the likes of the Nexus 6P.

For the faithful, this will likely be enough to keep them going while rumours of the ‘Surface Phone’ fly around, and perhaps of a replacement for the Lumia 1020.