- Best overall
- Best business
- Best budget
The Lumia 950 XL (about $539) is one heck of a phone, all things considered. It boasts a 1440p, 5.7-inch display that makes everything look downright gorgeous, a 20-megapixel PureView camera, wireless charging capability, and a 3340mAh battery. Everything you love about Windows 10 Mobile can be found here, including Continuum, Windows Hello, and your personal assistant, Cortana.
Bottom line: For the Windows phone that can do it all, you have to go with the Lumia 950 XL.
One more thing: The Lumia 950 is also available for about $100 less, and has most of what you love about the 950 XL but in a smaller body and a slightly slower processor (Snapdragon 808).
Why the Lumia 950 XL is the best
Microsoft decided to go with a double-threat flagship offering which brought us both the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL. While the two phones share a lot of similarities, the 950 XL (about $539) is definitely the better phone.
The 5.7-inch AMOLED display has a 1,440 x 2,560 resolution, which makes pretty much everything you view look amazing. Contrast is perfect, it's plenty bright for when you're using your phone in direct sunlight, and colors really pop out at you (you can adjust the color profile in settings too). Getting stuff done, especially when using Microsoft Office apps, is a breeze because of the size of the screen.
Even those of you with relatively small hands shouldn't find the phone uncomfortable to use over long periods of time. Big phones are usually heavy, but the Lumia 950 XL is surprisingly light at 5.82 ounces (165 grams). The body is also quite thin considering how much is packed into it, including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage.
This phone is a pleasure to shoot pictures with. The rear-facing, 20-megapixel PureView camera has a ZEISS F/1.9 lens and a three-LED flash that captures stunning stills and 4K video, while the front-facing, 5-megapixel camera is enough for selfies and video chats. The Lumia 950 XL comes with 32GB of included storage that can be expanded by up to 200GB with a microSD card, which is great for anyone who loves to shoot 4K video. Windows phones wouldn't be the same without all the mobile platform goodies, which you'll find here. A built-in iris scanner works with Windows Hello to add an extra layer of security to your device, Cortana is waiting to lend a hand, and Microsoft Continuum lets you plug in your phone at your desk to take advantage of a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. If you travel a lot or if you want to manage two numbers on the same phone, the Lumia 950 XL has a dual-SIM feature.
This phone is no longer available at the Microsoft Store, but it is available from Amazon. Be sure to check out our article on where to buy a Windows phone in 2018 for more information about the 950 XL and other great phones.
For the price you're paying — about $300 at Amazon — the Lumia 650 is an amazing phone. The display, a 5-inch 720p AMOLED panel, has a crisp picture with vivid colors and can be easily read despite its lower resolution. It comes with an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera that can record 720p video, a 5MP front-facing camera, and it has 16GB internal storage that can be expanded up to 200GB with a microSD card. So where does the price difference really appear? You won't find Windows Hello or Microsoft Continuum here.
HP's Windows phone is essentially a PC that's been shrunk down to fit in your pocket. An enormous 5.96-inch, 1440p AMOLED display lets you get more done when combined with Microsoft Office apps, and if you're sitting at your desk, you can use Microsoft Continuum to hook things up to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. HP understands how important security is in the business world, which is why they included fingerprint and iris scanners. The front-facing camera is a respectable 8MP to ensure you come in clear during conference calls, and the 4150mAh battery will keep your phone on and working for the entire day. This phone starts at about $500 new, and you should be able to find a certified refurbished option for about $350.
This first-class offering from Alcatel features a glass and metal body body that's just 6.9mm thin and weighs only 0.3 pounds (152 grams). The screen is a 5.5-inch AMOLED at 1080p that looks fantastic, and you get 64GB of internal storage that can be bumped up significantly with a microSD card. It has 4GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 820 processor, making it fly through whatever task you give it. A 3,000mAh battery will get you through a day and then some, and a fingerprint reader unlocks your phone with Windows Hello.
If you're interested in seeing what VR is all about, the Idol 4S comes bundled with a VR headset. Toss in Continuum compatibility and a 21MP camera, and you have an exceptional phone that starts at about $140.
If you want a great Windows phone but don't want to shell out the big bucks, check out the Alcatel Idol 4S. If you're in the market for a phone that was designed specifically for the business-oriented, you'll want the HP Elite x3. For the best overall Windows phone, stick with the Lumia 950 XL, and for something great that costs less, have a look at the Lumia 650. For information about the best places to find these phones, be sure to check out our companion article about buying a phone in 2018.
Updated June 20, 2018: I've refreshed this list to ensure you're still getting a look at the best of what's left of Windows 10 Mobile.
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