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Hands-on with the unreleased Microsoft Lumia 650 XL

Like many of you, I always thought the Lumia 650 was a great little phone. It was definitely the best looking Lumia to come out of Microsoft, with a relatively premium exterior that was let down by its low-end specifications. It would've been much better suited as a mid-ranger with slightly upped internal specs.

The main problem that I personally had with the Lumia 650 was that it was on the smaller side of the smartphone spectrum. It was a 5-inch 720p OLED screen, which thanks to the OLED technology, made for a beautiful display at that size. But in a market where, at the time, phone screens were pushing 5.5 to 5.7 inches with higher resolutions, 5 inches was just too small.

It turns out, Microsoft knew this and was working on a Lumia 650 XL. Codenamed Honjo, this device was specced almost identically to the Lumia 650 that was released, but with one key difference: it was bigger. Instead of rocking a 5.0 720p OLED display, the Lumia 650 XL featured a 5.5-inch 720p LCD instead. I got my hands on an early prototype device, so let's go hands-on.

Lumia 650 XL specifications

CategorySpecification
Operating SystemWindows 10 Mobile
Display5.5-inches
HD (1280x720) LCD
Rear Camera8MP
f/2.2 aperture
720p Video Recording
Front Camera5MP
Still image capture
Video call
Video recording
ProcessorsQualcomm Snapdragon 212
Quad-core
1.3GHz
Memory & StorageRAM: 1GB
Internal storage: 16GB (expandable up to 200GB)
PortsMicro-USB
Battery2300 mAh

Lumia 650 XL design and hardware

Much like the Lumia 650, the Lumia 650 XL features a glass front, with an aluminum frame and a removable plastic back cover. If you liked the look and feel of the Lumia 650, you'd also love the look of the Lumia 650 XL. It looks, in essence, identical to the Lumia 650, except bigger. There are a few minor differences worthy of note when it comes to the hardware, however.

The first notable change between the Lumia 650 and the Lumia 650 XL is positioning of the headphone jack and Micro-USB charging port. They're flipped and centered on both ends. The Micro-USB charging port is oddly located in the top middle of the device, and the headphone jack is at the bottom middle. Perhaps this was a temporary internal design choice during the prototyping phase; we'll never know.

Under the removable back cover, the Lumia 650 XL also doesn't have a removable battery. The area where the battery would be removable is covered with a thin metal sheet, which is a shame. And the final change worthy of note is that the speaker is rear-firing instead of front-facing. The Lumia 650 had a nice front-facing speaker at the bottom below the screen, but the Lumia 650 XL switches that out for one located on the back.

The display is not as good as the one found on the Lumia 650. It's not OLED, which is a real bummer. One of the greatest things about the Lumia 650 was its OLED display, which looked great for a device that costs less than $300. The Lumia 650 XL featured a bog standard, rather awful LCD with less than stellar viewing angles and muted, dull colors.

Unfortunately, Microsoft didn't opt to increase the resolution with the increase in display size, meaning the display itself doesn't look as crisp as it did on the Lumia 650. It's still okay, with text that looks good enough, but because this display is an LCD instead of OLED, the whole display experience just isn't as nice.

The aluminum frame is arguably the best thing about the design of the Lumia 650 and subsequently the Lumia 650 XL. Buttons are clicky and feel good. Holding the phone in your hand just feels nice, as the unit is nice and light yet still features that metal frame that so many higher-end devices rock. It's a real nice looking phone. The camera on our unit doesn't work, unfortunately, but I believe it would've been the same set of sensors as found on the Lumia 650, so nothing special.

Worth noting however is that our prototype appears to have a front-facing LED flash. Weird.

Lumia 650 XL size

The Lumia 650 XL is comparable in size to the Lumia 950 XL, which isn't so bad. Admittedly, the Lumia 650 XL doesn't do as good a job at the screen-to-body ratio that you find on the 950 XL. Since both the 950 XL and 650 XL are comparable in overall size, the smaller 5.5-inch screen on the 650 XL leaves for a much bigger chin at the bottom of the front of the device.

This is made worse by the fact that the 650 XL uses on-screen navigation instead of dedicated capacitive buttons. So there's a lot of wasted space on the 650 XL, which isn't good for those with small hands. I guess that's what the smaller Lumia 650 exists, for those that would've struggled using the bigger version.

Microsoft did a much better job at utilizing the screen to body ratio real estate on the Lumia 950 XL, which crams a 5.7-inch display into what is essentially the size of a Lumia 650 XL. Still, if screen to body ratios aren't an issue to you, the Lumia 650 XL would've been more than fine. The bezels on the device definitely would've seem dated, even in 2016.

Nothing special

I don't know about you, but there was just something special about the Lumia 650 that was released. It was a charming little device, with a surprisingly nice design and build quality, relatively low-price, and way better than deserved display. While the Lumia 650 XL has a bigger display and bigger battery, it just doesn't feel special.

I think it's the less-than-stellar display that's making this phone unspecial. The best thing about the Lumia 650 was arguably its display, and that magic is gone on the Lumia 650 XL. I imagine the choice to go for an LCD on the larger one was a cost-cutting measure, as OLED screens are somewhat more expensive the bigger they are.

But because of this cost-cutting measure, the Lumia 650 XL has no charm. It doesn't have a standout feature that would've put it above the rest at the time. If the Lumia 650 and Lumia 650 XL had launched together, the smaller one would've had a better screen and overall better experience than the larger one. It would've made no sense.

So perhaps that's why Microsoft opted not to release a Lumia 650 XL. It had already done a great job with the Lumia 650 that was released, and an XL was likely unable to improve upon that at the time, while also keeping prices low-enough for the market that Microsoft was targetting. In a way, I'm glad the Lumia 650 XL was never released, because while a bigger display, bundled with that excellent 650 build quality is nice, the lack of OLED just ruins the best thing about the Lumia 650.

Alas, the Lumia 650 XL is just another device in a long list of Microsoft hardware to never see the light of day. What are your thoughts on this unreleased handset? Let us know in the comments!

Zac Bowden
Zac Bowden

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

89 Comments
  • Why do you TEase us SO!!!!
  • A pretty ****** phone to be honest. Thank God they didn't release it.
  • Ppl would've still gotten one if it was made available for a reasonable price.
  • How much did the original Lumia 650 release for? $200 (US)? In what world do you think MS would've charged a reasonable price for this thing?
  • Agree, the 640 XL is better in almost every way
  • "Thank god they didn't release it...god knows what a serious blow the release of this phone would have delivered to Windows 10 Mobile's reputation!"
    Keep "thank god" for something that would have an actual positive or negative effect. Nothing - and I do mean NOTHING - would have changed if this device was released.
  • How many prototypes do you still need to have all of the collection?
  • Nothing else to write about?
  • Nothing else to comment about?
  • Kiss my ass ****!
  • What a redundant, useless comment.   
  • What about surface phone?is it was also cancelled
  • As far as we know, it never existed.
  • White Whale
  • Another hands-on soon?
  • too bad it wasnt released :/ would have been nice if microsoft could still make phones
  • 650 was a nice upgrade to the 500 series. No stellar specs, but handsome and practical. Dual Sim capability also a plus. Spartan. For those prefering to live large, 1520 was the only way to go... running 950XL after 1520 died (beautiful design, poorly engineered... e.g., battery failure). 
  • 2300 mAh? Only slightly bigger. They should have went with 3000 mAh. Any chance we might find more of these units floating around...how many were actually in circulation Zac?  
  • I'd love to get one.
  • Have become a bit of a colector myself lately.  I only own one working prototype though.  
  • im still rocking my lumia 640.  LOL.  
  • 640xl is awesome.
  • 640XL has an inferioir build quality compared to...well, anything Nokia. Also the touch isn't as sensitive as it should be, sometimes it needs an extra push to register.
    Experience wise, 1320 was a much better device even though it had an inferior camera. I own three 1320's and got my mom a 640XL a few years ago.
  • Me too! Mine's still rocking WP8.1. 
  • If it was released with an OLED screen and lower chin reduced considerably then it would have made a decent phone for the budget conscious.
  • Wow it's beautiful even though the headphone jack placement is quirky for sure. It's interesting but the smaller one is a good size for me.
  • I actually prefer this layout of headphone/charging port. When using my headphones, I'm usually walking, and I put my phone in my pocket, top end first, so the bottom of the phone is nearest the opening of the pocket. When I'm charging my phone, it's usually in bed, or on a desk, the power for which is usually above. So it makes sense to me!
  • EXACTLY!  ding ding ding ding correct answer above!  This kind of placement is PERFECT.  I don't know WHY they don't do this as a norm on ALL smartphones.  People generally put their phones in their pockets upside down.  It makes perfect sense for the headphone jack to be on the bottom.  And naturally, power wires ALWAYS come from the rear of a table/desk/counter, whether it is computers, monitors, speakers, printers, routers, blenders, tvs, clocks, heck even PHONE DOCKS, you name it... everything is always powered from the back because it's stupid to have wires hanging off the FRONT of a table, counter, etc...  Think about working at your desk, wouldn't it be SO MUCH BETTER for the charging cable to be plugged up top and headphones plugged into the bottom facing you?  I just don't understand why phone makers don't make this configuration THE NORM.    
  • A practical observation,the same way I operate my phone.
  • ****, as i told windows 10 mobile is for 950xl and 950 only... They work smooth on it ...
  • It don't matter anymore.
  • Now not but they just had to announce only one flagship for this os coz it was pretty laggy in beginning and with cheap hardware it doesnt work smooth...
  • Google didn't even sell a million Pixel phones per quarter in 2017.
    Lumia's sold almost 10 million a quarter at the hight of their 'popularity'... But if you'd believe the tech blogosphere Pixel is the hottest little thing out there, while Lumia's where a major dud. Strange how these things work...
  • Do you realize the difference between a single niche phone and a whole platform?
  • What platform?  You mean the scroogle ad delivery platform?  pixel is just the most recent version of scroogle's insecure ad delivery platform.
  • If you're going to compare the Windows Phone platform to anything then? iOS would be a more fair comparison, as Lumia's basically where the sole providers of smartphones for the Windows Phone platform. 10 million a quarter versus 50 million iPhones (from the number one smartphone vendor in the world) a quarter, compared to a struggling OEM and platform. I didn't compare Lumia's to Android, but to Pixels for a reasons. As it's a big difference! It's like comparing Galaxy tablets towards Windowd 10 as a while or iPad to Android as a Whole. I compared a smartphone brand towards a Smartphone brand, not platform to platform! Pixels don't sell, nobody cares for them... And thus the way they are hyped? That's completely divorced from any relationship to reality, what so ever!
  • "....as Lumia's basically where the sole providers of smartphones for the Windows Phone platform."   "I compared a smartphone brand towards a Smartphone brand, not platform to platform!" Some would say these are contradictory statements.  
  • Lumias WERE a major dud.   That "height of popularity" lasted about 2 quarters.  Meanwhile, Apple sells between 40 - 80 million phones per quarter. Lumia's best year was 2014, with about 35 million sold.  In 2014, Apple sold about 170 million phones, and Apple is in second place!   How many Android phones were sold in 2014?   500 million?  Who knows.   This is why "the world did not need a 3rd phone".  They simply did not sell.  
  • Correction: NOKIA sold almost 10 million a quarter at the hight of Lumia popularity. The "Lumia" brand never sold a thing. Which is why in Q4 2017 a company that wasn't even a year old was able to sell over 4 million phones and outsell Google, HTC, Sony, OnePlus and a bunch of other Android OEMs. It's the "Nokia" brand that sells.   And yeah, you can't believe some blogs when it comes to the iPixel. Android Central has been shamelessly lying about them since they came out to the point of even writting idiotic pieces on "how Android is similiar to iOS" which couldn't be further from the truth.
  • Yes the Pixel sold 3.9 milllion in 2017 (alegedly) but we can guess at about 75% of those were Pixel 2s in the final quater as the 1st gen was so har to get hold of.  Not to bad for a two device range that goes for a premium price.  Most Lumia devices were low end cheap phones, the L520 was a classic example.  But the real point is that Pixels are still being sold and Lumias are dead.
  • Mmmm, was going to curse when I saw the headline, but then I read the review and thought thank goodness I've got the 650, ta Zac. I had a 535 before the 650, and that was a decent phone as well, I'm not one who spends a lot on these devices as you may figure. The trouble with the 535 was the photo app, it wouldn't load no matter what I did after going on forums and the like. Anyway a new phone was needed, and a 650 came up at £50 on E-bay, brand new, don't know the dollar equivelent but to me a snip in these days of £800 handsets. For me, if and when, the 650 leaves the connected world I will be gutted, I have looked on E-bay and strangely enough prices are, shall we say, rediculous, for a phone that although still supported but along with other Windows/Micorosoft handsets are really at home in a handset museum. I shall still look on E-bay and if another handset appears then I shall be bidding, if brand new again then all the better. I have invested in the Microsoft eco system with most of my computer gear, desktop, laptop, even a little 7 inch tablet that was a disaster buy, Hipstreet it was, hip it wasn't. So I want to hang on to my 650, but not at any cost as I do place restrictions on what I regard as value for money, and some of the prices asked on E-bay for this handset are far from that.
  • I still love my 928 Lumia.  Everywhere I go people ask me about it.  It does everything I need it to do and more.  Microsoft was crazy not to continue their phone line.  If they had done proper marketing I'm sure the Windows phone would be as popular as the iphone. 
  • Yep, NO marketing at all!!!
  • The standard 650 was the worst phone i ever owned. The screen and headphone jack broke repeatedly because it was so cheap and flimsy. The Lumia 950 was a must to enjoy the windows experience. 
  • I loved it for that price. 😎 still do. Collectible.
  • Why do you think this is interesting enough to write about it?  I mean, people didn't really care about these phones. Sadly, but realistically speaking. And if they didn't care much back when they were on sale, why do you think many people would care about it now? that the line is dead and burried.
    I am pretty sure there is no more than a few hundreds of people who would care to actually read the article. . 
  • You still read the article so the author got your attention.  He's got his clicks so mission accomplished :-)
  • Maybe this is the only sight his mom lets him access from the basement, this and lagdroid central, home of the google fanboy circle jerks.
  • I care to know. Very interesting.
  • In one year "Hands-on with the unreleased Microsoft Foldable Surface Phone" 😥
  • Wow, I had a 650 and loved it even with the 1GB RAM. Now my mother in law uses it. This would have been a great sized phone. They should have upped the RAM though. The screen was most likely shittier to save battery. Damn u MS and your stupid decisions.
  • I have the 650 and it's still a great phone today.
    I understand the "upside down" charging and headphone jacks. If you hold the phone im your hand with the headphones plugged in, then stick the phone if your pants pocket... it's the correct orientation. I never understood the putting it at the top.
  • These unreleased prototype articles really bum me out.
  • Microsoft made a good decision not to release this phone it has no stand out feature. The Lumia 650 was a good looking phone but it was very sluggish and mine used to crash often. If they bumped the ram and processor with snapdragon 400 onwards this would of been a decent midranger.
  • Some things are looking better from far. This is the example. Many of Lumia phones were unreleased, most of them were unique. But this one isn't eye catching.
  • I think the charging port/headphone jack placement is almost perfect. They should just be aligned on the right side of the phone.
    Also, I'm glad this phone wasn't released. It wouldn't have changed anything. And it would've been even more mediocre than the Lumia 650, which was at least charming and had a great display.
    If Microsoft had released a mid-range device with a 5.2-5.5inch OLED display, 3GB of RAM, a Snapdragon 65x, USB Type-C, front facing speakers and a design similar to the 650... I think it would've seen relative success at least for Enterprise.
  • It sounds like you're describing a lot of budget Android phones. Mine has 5.5" full HD display, 3GB ram, 32GB storage, Snapdragon 625, USB type C, and a fingerprint reader, all for $140. I think Microsoft finally realized that they just couldn't keep up and compete in the budget market. The margins were just too small.
  • The problem with the 650 wasn't size, it was crappy specs... A SD212 really?
  • I'm glad it was never released, Android is so much better
  • Weren't reviews for the 650 underwhelming upon release? I remember getting the impression that the 640 was a better phone, especially for the price point each were at at the time.
  • Loved my 650, great design, screen, but I always found myself wanting more, and getting a 950 now is pointless no matter how much I cannot stand android and loathe iOS.
  • Microsoft wouldn't have gone wrong releasing this.
  • There is a front facing flash which Zac probably forgot to mention. 🙂
  • Who cares about it now. They always fail to launch their new devices on time. Microsoft's new Surface Pro is still waiting for a launch in India and many other markets. Then we as a buyer, why we should care about their always late to launch products?
  • December 2018 or 2019.
  • 1. For the person who had the problem with him producing this article, because it gave you something to read and as the time of me writing this you're 1 of 54.
    2. My 640 is still going strong, battery life is good, no lag, Cortana is better than any on mobile vocal assistant I've had my hands (Android, BlackBerry, Amazon, iOS). IT synched to my desktop, laptop and mine plays well with my tablet. Oh yeah, it's got a nice cover on it like 90% of all smartphone sold so it's no less attractive looking than any other device wrapped up for protection. And it beat the 650 in most side by side comparison test. Why did I write this comment? I just like talking about my Lumia.
  • I agree with you about the 640. I still like mine and I never even used it as a phone or activated it. I just wanted a good cheap phone to play with. Now it's my only working WM10 device. I still have a working WP8.1 (Lumia 822) and WP7.8 (HTC Arrive).
  • Sadly an avant garde designer Microsoft fell for the popularity of Android and started copying and competing on the same plane. Like iPhone, Lumia could have played the game as the avant garde creating a new market and aspirations for mobility. However guys like Joe at Microsoft depended on market research and became dependent on the rear view mirrors to drive the car. It had to fall into a ditch. Just sad. When you have capital, I don't how you can mess up an idea so badly. Heads must roll. Stupidity and mediocrity have no place in a team that could have created a new realm in mobility. Regards Someone who used windows 5 to windows 10 in around 11 years. 
  • "Sadly an avant garde designer Microsoft fell for the popularity of Android and started copying and competing on the same plane. Like iPhone, Lumia could have played the game as the avant garde creating a new market and aspirations for mobility." Huh?   Could you translate this into English please? BTW, there was never a Windows 5.  
  • There is Windows 5. Search it. Windows 5 mobile.
  • https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MOVyjgjTM-w
  • Seems like there are more unreleased Microsoft phones than released phones.  
  • Worth canceling. I would have railed on Microsoft for releasing this, had they done it. End of the day, they kept going bare-minimum on hardware. A SD212 would NOT have been an acceptable SoC for a 600-series device, just as I didn't think it to be a worthwhile choice for the 650 itself, I imagine (as I don't recall my actual reaction to the 650 when it was new). The SD212 is a minimal choice for powering a smartphone, something you would expect in a 400/500 series. The original Lumia line did a MUCH better god of making the hardware a good value. They should have gone with a SD400-series (I don't recall what the 400-series SoC of the time was). This started almost as soon as MS took over the Lumia brand, like when they called the Lumia 830 an "affordable flagship," while giving it a low-tier SD400 as its SoC, which was laughable for a $450 phone (given the SD400 was barely better than the SDS4 that powered the Lumia 920 a year before for the same price). This would have deserved a price tage in the $200 range, maybe $250. Given the 650 launcched at $200, maybe they would have given it a reasonable $250 tag, but given you had this class of SoC powering $150 Android phones and the $100-150 Lumias that Nokia put out (not the same SoCs, but the same class of SoC form earlier Qualcomm lineups), even the $250 price tag would have been rather egregious, as was the SD808 in a $600 Lumia 950. Microsoft did just an atrocious job with the Lumia brand, cutting corners and raising prices. Sadly, I feel they have done this in 2017 with the Surface Pro line, which saw VERY few changes and a big price hike/value drop (removing the Surface Pen from the bundle and raising its standalone price, raising costs on all models, even after taking away the Pen, etc.).
  • Craoo from top to buttom. Good thing they did not released it. A monster screen with snapd.210? Are you kidding me? Mucrosoft would have been proving again they were never at the expectations of Nokia. They are more lame then my grandmothers Bicicle.
  • I would have bought one, definitly.
  • Good decision to not release this phone.Microsoft was still stuck with Snapdragon 212 and that boring design.
    Nokia's designs were better and colourfull. every first generation lumias had unique and differential design from each other.how beautiful were lumia 620 & 720 in midrange segment.
  • The 650 is an exceptionally bad phone. No regrets for 650xl not making it to the shelves.
  • Luv my dual sim 650 rm1154. Perfect for work and great for travel. Seems to work flawlessly wherever we go without changing sim cards. I think the larger screen on 650xl would not equate to better. I would pay the extra for the 950xl. If...
  • It's a shame i was a big fan of the Microsoft Lumia 650 i would have brought 650xl ☹ it was brilliant being on the windows 10 mobile platform but now my future mobile platform is android Oreo and beyond but if windows mobile ever did a come back well you never know i could be tempted to come back i had many good memories on the window mobile platform.
  • One of the biggest disavantages of Lumia is sharing the same hardware for many type of phones, for example : lumia 730, 640, 640xl, 830 has same ram memory, cpu and gpu ; lumia 930, lumia 1520 have the same gpu ; ... Late appearing phone is only system operator upgrading, not anything is especial. So this leading to the defeat, while other system operators like android have plenty of different hardwares and phone ; Iphone also have a good hardware and a beautiful design.
  • One of the biggest disavantages of Lumia is sharing the same hardware for many type of phones, for example : lumia 730, 640, 640xl, 830 has same ram memory, cpu and gpu ; lumia 930, lumia 1520 have the same gpu ; ... Late appearing phone is only system operator upgrading, not anything is especial. So this leading to the defeat, while other system operators like android have plenty of different hardwares and phone ; Iphone also have a good hardware and a beautiful design
  • its good they had not launch this phone. look at the specification- horrible. Though windows 10 mobile run smoothly in low specs phone. but for 3rd party application we need little high specification. I had a question- why Microsoft don't give windows hello in mid range smart phone?
  • The 640XL was the only Phone that worked for me
  • My W10M device is a Lumia 650.  It has a lovley screen thst really is a standout feature at the next to nothing price I picked it up for (£30) and it keeps me in touch with the platform.  I don't think that this XL variant would have interested me.
  • I've just powered back up my Lumia 650 got a unlimited everything sim card deal and I'm gonna use it has a third mobile phone I'll be here until the end welcome I'm back on windows 10 mobile 😃
  • windows phone altogether different andorid & iphone
    So it feels good to me
  • I have my 540,and i love it.Perhaps i'll try the 650/650XL..
  • I have my Lumia 640 single Sim which I bought on ebay as 2nd hand, when I could not get them in Nairobi. Unlocked from O2 ,the phone is fantastic. Its a shame they gave it only a paltry 8GB storage though. I have to delete some of my apps to install updates. 650 and 950 are killers. Microsoft needs to do something about Smartphones. Thinking android is hard for me. Am clinging to my Lumia 640 until is gives up. Even then I will still look up another nice Lumia on ebay. If not I'll try the Xiaomi Mi4 LTE whose compatible Windows 10 ROM I have already downloaded.
  • I still think that the Lumia 640 was always underappreciated. It didn't have the same build quality as the 650 (no metal frame) but It had pretty much the same functionality and was a fraction of the price. And it could shoot 1080 video. Also, the screen was only 5" with the same resolution so the ppi was even higher. I'm still amazed at what this cheap phone can do.