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There's huge pent-up Windows Phone fan demand for the Lumia 950 and 950 XL

Lumia 950 XL
Lumia 950 XL (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

In our first look at the purchase interest and intent of the Mobile Nations' communities, we tapped into the level of demand for tablets, watches, and TV boxes being offered by the biggest smartphone providers. But the smartphone itself remains the primary digital device for many, and plenty of companies have debuted offerings in the past few months that vied to become holiday purchases — or at least a last-minute buy before the calendar flips over.

So late last month, we asked over 5,700 readers of Android Central, CrackBerry, iMore and Windows Central to share their thoughts on what could be taking their calls. Even the smartphones that garnered the most interest didn't muster the same amount of attention as some of the hot (and newer) non-smartphone products like as Android Wear, Apple TV and the Surface Book.

There are likely numerous reasons for this. First, there is far greater competition in the smartphone market and so there's more to dilute consumer interest in any given model. Second, unlike the new platforms and novel form factors discussed in our last article, the staid monoblock form factor has dominated the smartphone landscape for years now. Third, the contracts that once suppressed holiday season smartphone purchases have been replaced by upgrade plans that have a similar effect of spreading out smartphone purchases throughout the year. Therefore, particularly for devices that debuted earlier in the year, such as the LG G4 and Galaxy S6, many who may have been interested in those devices may have already purchased them.

All this said, some phones certainly fared better — and dramatically so — when it came to whether early adopters were interested in purchasing them or intended to purchase them before the end of 2015.

Android

One clear trend among Android phone owners in our community is that their next phone is likely to be large and true to stock Android. Three of the five top Android phones on their list featured screens over 5.5". In addition, three of them (the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P and Moto X 2015 Pure Edition) embrace Android as Google has conceived it, with a fourth (the BlackBerry Priv) coming pretty close both in terms of both stock purity and phablet contention.

Given BlackBerry's long history in mobile (many of you likely had a BlackBerry as your first smartphone) and the quiet clamoring of a subset of users for a good Android keyboard phone, it's not too surprising to see such a strong embrace of the Priv. Indeed, among Android phones, it ranked the second highest in terms of imminent purchase intent, with 6% of current Android phone owners (including perhaps some former BlackBerry owners) planning to lay down dollars to pick up the privacy-focused keyboard slider.

Android phone owner purchase intent

The big dog by far, though, was the Nexus 6P, with nearly half of Android phone owners interested in purchasing it and 13 percent planning to buy one before the end of 2015. Indeed, nearly twice as many Android phone owners would opt for the Nexus 6P versus the 5X. The 5X, though, was no slouch, ranking third overall and attracting purchase interest from nearly a quarter of Android phone owners.

Three of the five top Android phones featured screens larger than 5.5 inches.

Sandwiched between them was the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, which nearly 30% of Android phone owners said they were interested in purchasing. 2015 saw a significant redesign of the historically plastic Note and improvements to its S Pen stylus. These seem to have been enough to stave off some competition from its stablemate, the Galaxy 6 edge+, which boasts a thinner, and arguably cooler, curved screen design. The newcomer virtually tied with the LG G4 in terms of of both purchase interest and intent and fell below the even newer video-focused LG V10, which also offers an extended secondary display for quick access tools.

Both of the larger Samsung phones placed higher than the smaller and older Galaxy S6 devices which, as noted earlier, may have already been purchased by those eager to snap up Samsung's current generation of Galaxy S devices. While its screen may be shatterproof, demand for the Motorola Droid Turbo 2 was not. The Motorola flagship variant for Verizon had to contend with both carrier exclusivity and the software meddling of Verizon, despite Motorola having convinced Big Red to ease back a bit on the customizing. Also featuring a lighter skinning touch than in years past is the HTC One A9. The device, which hews closer to the iPhone's design than previous One devices like the M8 and M9, just isn't showing the overall muscle of more popular, larger devices.

iPhone

In contrast to the clear preference for bigger phones shown by Android users, iPhone users were split just about evenly between the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. A middling 14 percent of current iPhone owners planned to upgrade to one of Apple's newest smartphones in the near future. The relatively low number could be due in part to the relative burst of upgrades that accompany the launch of a new iPhone, landing well before the holiday season, with Apple showing record numbers for those upgrading early. However, at Apple's volumes, even 14% would represent a lot of shiny fruit logos moving quickly out of small white boxes.

Nearly 10% of Android phone owners considered jumping ship for the iPhone 6s Plus.

Apple also likes to talk up how many Android owners are switching to iPhone. We saw some limited evidence of that, with nearly 10% of Android phone owners considering jumping ship for the iPhone 6s Plus although immediate purchase intent was quite low. As for those crossing over the other way, only the Nexus 6P and Galaxy Note 5 — the same two phones most likely to woo Android users — came close to having a similar level of appeal to iPhone owners as the iPhone has to Android phone owners. The Note 5 fared particularly well, with 12% of iPhone users expressing interest in purchasing it. Only 1%, though, were prepared to do so before the end of 2015. In other words, while both Android and iPhone users may flirt with their main competitive OS, they're very rarely willing to commit to changing their relationship status.

iPhone purchase intent

Windows Mobile

The Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL are the first Windows flagships to not only bear the Microsoft brand, but also the first to drop the "Windows Phone" operating system in favor of Windows 10 Mobile. The prolonged wait for a new king of the Windows phone hill has resulted in some pent-up demand, with about a quarter of current Windows Phone owners expressing interest in both the 950 and 950 XL and a high 9% saying they were planning to upgrade to the larger Windows device by the end of 2015.

The prolonged wait for a new king of the Windows phone hill resulted in pent-up demand.

The better news for Microsoft, though, was that a similar if not higher percentage of Windows PC owners — a far larger group — expressed similar sentiment. The company's message of ecosystem integration may be paying off even as Microsoft embraces rival mobile operating systems more fully. Windows PC owners may also like the idea of recreating (much of) their desktop OS experience using the new phones' Continuum feature.

On the other hand, as with iPhone owners, the Note 5 also held a lot of appeal with 20% of Windows Phone owners expressing interest in it; the number was even higher (39%) for Windows PC owners. Also as with the iPhone owners, though, a minuscule percentage of Windows Phone owners actually saw themselves picking one up imminently.

Windows 10 Mobile purchase intent

BlackBerry

We already noted the BlackBerry Priv's appeal among current Android phone owners. BlackBerry owners, though, were even more eager to embrace the first smartphone that eschews BlackBerry 10 for Google-flavored Android. About 30% of current BlackBerry owners expressed interest in purchasing a Priv.

What was more impressive, though, was the number of BlackBerry owners planning to pony up for privacy, privilege and (Google) Play. About 11% of BlackBerry owners said they intended to buy a Priv before the end of 2015. That was the second highest intent percentage overall among the four phone ownership camps, trailing just Android phone owner intent to purchase a Nexus 6P.

Indeed, BlackBerry owners' interest in the Priv did not extend to other Android phones. No other phone — not even the otherwise strongly-embraced Note 5 — drew interest from more than 10% of BlackBerry owners, and no others tempted even 1% of BlackBerry owners to purchase them before the end of 2015. The BlackBerry flock may be smaller than in years past, but it's dedicated to BlackBerry regardless of their choice of OS.

For this article, Mobile Nations surveyed 5,757 Web site visitors from the U.S. and Canada between November 25th and December 5th, 2015.

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

234 Comments
  • Note 5 here waiting on a Windows phablet on Tmobile Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • The unlocked 950XL should work on tmobile
  • As long as you don't care about VVM or WiFi calling.
  • Take a look at iSeeVM as an alternative to VVM.  I'm using it on my dual-sim unlocked 950 (which also doesn't support VVM on AT&T) and it is great!  There's even a free (ad-supported) flavor of YouMail (although I have yet to see an ad).  I learned about it from the comments on another post at Windows Central so I feel like I should spread the love :-).
  • I can't say I've even recieved a VM since I've got the phone. I always have it with me and I answer when someone calls (but I kind of have to so it may be different for me) I also never have to worry about wifi calling. I have unlimited minutes, and one spot on my evening commute where I don't have service (I drive under some power lines and I'm pretty sure that's the issue) If tmobile can't provide that good coverage, it's time to look elsewhere. 
  • WiFi calling has nothing to do with your minutes, you are still billed for calls made over WiFi. (Just like if you use their Internet to 4G LTE gateway your data usage still counts against your plan even though you are using your own Internet connection.)
  • Never say never, I live in remote northern California, farrrr north almost Oregon.
    ATT cell service has gone down for over 24 hrs twice since September causing tens of thousands to be without cell service
    Suddenlink internet still worked, local paper/news were advising iPhone users to use WiFi calling.
  • WiFi calling works for me on unlocked 950xl on EE, handset direct from MS, I turned on WiFi calling and bang, working fine, even had an automated text from EE telling me WiFi calling was enabled and my signal info at the top if the screen says 'wifi' too ☺
  • I was specifically replying about the person saying that you could bring it to T-Mobile, where those features do not currently work. (And may never.)
  • I'm on EE, where is the WiFi calling toggle?
  • Check under Settings, Network & Wireless, Cellular & SIM, and then SIM 1 settings. (Or SIM 2 settings if you are setting up your second SIM.)
  • all settings - phone - mobile and sim - sim settings.. this is a carrier specific feature so it is only available on a EE contract..
  • Ya, many things you take for granted in other countries is not available in the States. Even though it's arguably the land of the free, but your freedom is as large as light your skin color or as deep as your pocket is.
  • Meanwhile, in Europe we are paying €150 for a 640...
  • I'm asking a serious question- How often do you really use WiFi Calling?  I've never used it, I've been a T-Mobile customer for 2.5 years.  I not sure why it's such an important feature. 
  • Mye you don't ever have to go into the basement, or sub-basement, of a big building where there is no cell signal. And maybe you never visit a friends house that is all but out of the the T-Mobile coverage area. (I have to walk out of the house to get even 1 bar of 2G.) It is great that you don't need it, but you can't assume nobody does. And BTW: I have been a T-Mobile customer for over 19 years. (I was with VoiceStream before T-Mobile bought them.)
  • How are the signals of other carriers in your area? They might be worth a look.
  • They might have better coverage, but they can't get anywhere near the rate I am paying. (I'm taking this plan to the grave with me.) Not to mention they don't offer unlimited high-speed data to new customers. (At least I thought nobody did that anymore.)
  • I held on to my unlimited data for like 4 years and then looked at what I use. There's WiFi in so many places (which you may notice with WiFi calling) I use only about a GB per month. I'm paying $42.50 inlcuting tax on AT&T, I have only seen that beat by like $5 everywhere else. I never get charged for extra data and have unlimited minutes and messaging. I re-evaluate my plan like every year.  
  • I pay less than half of that. (including taxes.) I have unlimited everything except minutes. But the first incoming minute of every call is free, and most of my calls are incoming and short. (I never pay more than a couple bucks a month in minute overage charges.) I probably average about 8GB/month. (The other phone on my plan uses closer to 16GB/month.)
  • MetroPCS has unlimited data for $60 taxes, etc. etc. etc. included.
  • Its not at all.. I used it and the quality was not as good as I hoped Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • VVM works great on the single SIM XL (ATT US)
  • How do you turn that on?
  • How's the WiFi calling working on ATT with a 950 series?
  • It is carrier specific feature generally the carrier only gives it to their Business or power user contracts.. If you are sim free deal I doubt you  will get it.
  • Sim free deal here.
    Microsoft and ATT both say not available on US 950 due to Microsoft's choice for now, so plz enlighten fellow users how this works on your phone again
    It's not an option in settings on 950
  • It works in the UK if you have an EE contract, they withold it from sim free as an incentive to get a contract they also offer 2xspeed 4g
  • Took a LOT to get the real information from you.
    Mislead much?
  • VVM is working on my 1520 for T-Mobile. Why could it work on 950(XL)?
  • 950 XL single sim works with VVM
  • Dear god, no I don't care about VVM. Listen to my voice messages to have to decide whether they're worth listening to? That's crazy in 2016. Aside from random access, VVM is no better than what I had in the '90s. MMS-based voice-to-text is where it's at. More carriers need to offer it IMO. When I get a voice message, it's converted to a text preview and sent to me as an MMS, with the sound file attached. The text comes up on my Microsoft Band, and I review it to quickly see how time imperative it is. The text isn't word for word accurate, but it doesn't need to be: it just needs to give me a good idea of what it's all about so I can prioritize it. The sound file is there if I want to listen to it, but I rarely do as I get there gist of it and generally call or text the person back. The voice message is inserted chronologically with my other texts, and backed up to OneDrive (in contrast, VVM messages generally disappear). VVM is terribly antiquated. More carriers need to start offering this far superior solution, IMO. I can't listen to my VM in a meeting, but I can read the text preview. Most Canadian carriers offer voice-to-text. Hell, even Vonage offers it. No excuse for the big telcos in the U.S. and elsewhere to not offer it, if you ask me.
  • Stick with your superior Note 5 Posted via the Windows Central App for Android on my Frost Nexus 6P
  • Buy the unlocked 950 XL. I'm using the 950 on T-Mobile and it works fine.
  • Band 12 doesn't work on the 950 on Tmo. Coverage(especially indoors) is massively improved once you have that, and the only way to get it on WM is via a TMo or Metro 640, full stop. Note that all of TMo's expansion over the past year is via Band 12, so you're paying for something you're not using with the 950 on TMo. Even more maddening is that the phone supports it, it just won't work.
  • Why the heck doesn't band 12 work on a device that supports it? Weird.
  • Even the unlocked version of the 950s do not support Tmobiles Band 12, which is an absolute must in my area and work place. Before the band 12 update on my Xperia Z3, I was constantly getting dropped calls and poor signal indoors. This is the only reason why I haven't snatched up a 950 yet. I'll wait for Tmobiles official variant. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • WiFi calling is a feature I use daily at work (12 hour shifts). That's why I need a tmo branded phone. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Windows Phone has no other option for WiFi calling? Hangouts lets you do it with any Android, does Skype not do the same? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • When they say WiFi calling they mean full-blown VoWiFi (where you can talk and text in WiFi with your regular phone number, hand it off to VoLTE without the call dropping, etc.).
  • Never happen.
  • Still waiting for 950xl from AT&T staying faithful with my 1520.
  • Im waiting too. Cuz I dropped my 1520red but dang I want a red color Lumia phone again. Bring the colors back. If I ended up buying a 950xl I wud buy the red leather gold plate from is it Mojo cases? But yeah ahah
  • From what I'm seeing, get either black or white and get the mozo case. I have a 950XL and it's nice, but other 3rd party casese aren't all that great, plus it'll increase the look and feel of the phone. Just my opinion though.
  • I picked up a white 950XL a few weeks ago and my Mozo cognac leather back finally arrived yesterday. It totally transforms this phone and gives it the look and feel that it deserves. Despite a few problems, which I expected, I'm totally happy with my decision. My one regret is that I dropped it when only a couple of days old and smashed the screen. Still waiting for replacements to become available.
  • That sucks, I'm sorry to hear that. Question though, I haven't been folloing the Mozo cases too close, did they come out of pre-order for a bit, I've been checking the last few days and they are still stuck in preorder for me. Also how are the buttons on that case? I bought a couple of other brands, and I could barely press anything but the camera button on my XL.
  • The buttons actually feel better than the originals, which were a little cheap and sharp at the edges. The ones on the mozo case feel much better, gone are the sharp edges. The power button feels a little lower too so easier to find in my opinion.
  • If I could have found a 950xl it would have been mine, unfortunately haven't been able to find one.
  • Try walking into a Microsoft Store if there is one near you. I did and walked out with a white one
  • My tan Mozo case arrived today.... They really should have bundled the things in. Mine looks awesome. I wanted red leather, but the gold band sullied the look, for me. The Mozo case takes the looks to a new level and is nicer to hold, less slippery.
  • I'm hoping that now that AT&T is getting rid of phone subsidies and contracts, they'll bring the 950XL into the fold, but not going to hold my breath.
  • Oh Microsoft
  • Would've been nice to get the 950xl from att and not half the duo. Only minor complaints from the 950 so far.
  • Stick with your 1520. I switched to the 950. Bottom line is it's not ready. It's buggy, clunky,reboots randomly, hangs on Bluetooth, needs to be rebooted at times to get it to connect to my car. Resume screen... Don't get me started there. I made a mistake, should have kept my 1520.....
  • Why didn't u get the xl, I have 1 and after am update a while ago I'm not having any trouble
  • My 950 XL was awful. Just ordered a Nexus 6P.
  • Yup Bluetooth is screwed. Car Bluetooth even more screwed. Reboots occur often, but if you turn off WiFi 5.0 and remove SD card you can get less random reboots.
  • Genuine SD card?
  • I got a 950 AT&T for Christmas and have had none of those issues ( haven't tried connecting to car) I have actually had no problems what so ever no glitches no bugs, Windows hello has been flawless, nothing. Best phone and OS experience I have ever had to date. I can't speak for others but if I was to give my opinion to someone based on my own experience I would highly recommend it.
  • I haven't had any of the issues your mentioning, I wonder if you got a bum device, or may need to do a factory restore? Sucks, but it's gotta be worth a try.   EDIT: Also, did you get the AT&T version or unlocked, who knows what the AT&T junk that's added did to the phone, can't blame MS entirely for that.
  • I got the ATT version. Use bluetooth everyday. Never have any issues.
  • You really think the issue is hardware? The problems are so widely reported that it seems as though it's software related. I'd advise everyone to hold off buying the phone for 6 more months. Posted from my Note 5
  • Did you try to load your backup from your other phone? I'm not having any of those issues, though granted I don't connect to my car.
  • I bought a 950 (unlocked as I am in India) and it works flawlessly! Connects to car bluetooth (sony xplod) in a flash. Apart from a bit of heating issue near the battery during charging, no major probs. Hope further updates will make it more stable!
  • I call it Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde phone. Each day brings me one or the other. The phone either works perfectly all day long or needs a reboot to get it back to working perfectly. Honestly I am going to see about swapping it for a different one. To answer the other questions. Got the 950 since the 960XL is not and had not been available yet in my area. It is an AT&T phone but I don't think there is large carrier bloat like android phones have.
  • Sounds like you have a fake or wrong type SDcard
  • Was the same SD card that I used in the 1520.... The 1520 was perfect with windows 8.x on it. Never had issues other than the sensitivity issue they all had with the screen.
  • 100% agree. 950 is a complete waste of money.
  • Would be interested in the 950 if T-Mobile offered it.
  • You can always buy it and bring it to tmobile.
  • As long as you don't care about VVM or WiFi calling, since those aren't available.
  • What is VVM?
  • Visual VoiceMail. (The ability to see voicemails in a list and listen to them without using phone minutes.)
  • Phone minutes: Is this even a concern for anyone not on a pre-paid plan? Is anyone using a flagship-ish phone on a pre-paid plan? Just curious, because the scenario seems very unlikely, even if not impossible.
  • I think you need to look closer at prepaid plans. I have unlimited minutes and texting as well as 1.5gb at full speed, the rest throttled. Using a 950xl too. My mother has one almost identical with an s5. We both save hundreds over the life of the plan compared to contracts.
  • I have a grandfathered post-paid plan with limited minutes that is ~13 years old. But it has unlimited everything else. (For less than half of what most people pay.) So while it isn't common, it does still exist.
  • Purchase it directly from Microsoft.  My wife has a 950XL unlocked.  It works great on T-Moble.
  • Really? So VVM and WiFi calling are working great for her?
  • Not everyone cares about those. I do care about visual voicemail, but I never bothered to use wifi calling on my old phone anyway. Besides, I get like 1 voicemail per month. Who uses voicemail anymore?
  • It's funny you say who uses VM, I've been at my job for 3 years in Feb, and I still ahven't even set up my VM there. I'm trying to see how long I can go before anyone even notices. Phone calls are getting more and more rare, and when I get them, I gotta answer lol.
  • She doesn't use VMM or WiFi Calling.  There was a problem with MMS initially, but it was fixed with a reset.
  • Great that you got your Cortana Triggers installed and working already - if text contains t-mobile then moan about VVM & Wifi
  • I just don't want people to get mislead by false/incomplete information.
  • Speaking of then, what major US carrier allows your 950 series to use WiFi calling?
  • AT&T
  • Really? Since when? What phone/version?
  • Just saw a 950XL in the wild, 40 minutes ago. Got talking and the guy said experience has been so far so good. In terms of battery life for his usage has been a day n half on average.
  • I can attest to that as well. If I play games a lot I will only get like12-14 hours, but on my normal day, with a bunch of texting and moderate internet use, I am around 20% when I go to bed around 10-11PM, it comes off the charger before 7AM
  • My battery is no worse than my 920. I always get a day with moderate use. And the quick charge is a revelation.
  • Got my 950XL, just need some firmware and OS tweaks to make it worthwhile. Not at all disappointed but not 100% happy so far. #TheWindowsStory
  • Same here except I went 950.
  • Loving my green 1520. Waiting for the flagship for 2016! If they nail it, awesome! If not, iPhone 7, here I come.
  • Trust me, they will. I'm sure it's going to be awesome :D
  • They said that about the 950XL...
  • Huh... I heard it was something for the Fans... ie good but not ground breaking to draw new users?
  • this
  • The title of this article has little too sou with its content... Briefly and only a little bit is 950 phone's mentioned. Great article content... Terrible title.
  • I'm guessing the same article was posted on all four sites (android, iPhone, Windows, crackberry) with a different title for each site.
  • Been with the Lumia brand for quite some yrs now but in a couple months when my upgrade is here I'm jumping ship! Love the phones but the app situation has run my patience out. Keep saying it'll get better but 5 yrs later here we are. Gonna take Android for a test drive now.
  • Did you enter the contest on AndroidCentral for the Nexus 6P or 5X? Posted from my Moto X Pure Edition via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I've got the 950xl and it's a lovely piece of kit especially with the mozo leather back on it, makes the phone feel more 'premium'. Yes the software was buggy when first switched on but 2 updates later it's a LOT smoother though I have to admit I still prefer the Nokia Lumia 1020 camera for the quality of the pictures. I haven't regretted buying this phone at all - even the wife likes the looks of it :)
  • Agreed, just wish I'd avoided the forums. I might then not have noticed the red tint on the screen. Fine in daylight, but in artificial low light it is slightly noticeable.
  • Is the camera that bad? The 1020 does not compare to current flagships. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Just get one on Swappa. A white XL went for $475 shipped a week ago. Deals to be had.
  • Yea, swappa is a great place or watch ebay, a snipe time to time could get you a UNREAL deal... (that is so good you wonder if the seller is going to ship the item) !
  • Do NOT believe you. Not for these lackluster phones anyway. Whatever Panos is working on is where the real hype is!
  • A living dog is better than a dead lion
  • A living lion is better than both. That's what the Surface Phone will be!
  • Holy sh @rollindice that was deep af :O
  • Whatever.
  • I know exactly ZERO Windows Phone owners who have been dying to get a 950 or 950XL.  They are sticking with what they have now (in most cases 920, 1020 or 1520).  And my wife and I both regret buying 950's.
  • Why do you regret it?
  • Probably the unfinished OS
  • The 950 is a cheap piece of junk, poorly built and designed. NOTHING as beautiful and solid as the 920, 1020 and 1520.  And there is NOTHING about Windows 10 that I like NOTHING.  I'd look past the HORRIBLE build and design of the 950 if it had WP8.1 on it, but there's nothing redeeming about this junk.  My wife and I experience nothing but frustration with our devices daily.  Missing features, apps that suck (or are missing al