This is the best Windows phone ever, according to Windows Central readers

The age of Windows Phone effectively came to an abrupt end a couple of years ago, when Microsoft revealed the platform was no longer the company's focus. The phones are swirling towards end-of-life for security updates, while being abandoned in droves by the big players from WhatsApp, Facebook, and even Microsoft's own apps like Skype.

Last week, we ran a poll to uncover which Windows Phone handsets are truly the best of all time. Thousands of you voted in the poll, which created some surprising results.

To that end, the Microsoft Lumia 950 XL took crown, which isn't really a surprise. The full list of results can be found below.

The most popular countries for votes were the U.S., the UK, India, Canada, and Australia. The Lumia 950 XL won out in almost every territory, except the U.S., which favored the Lumia 1520 in the top spot. Some of the lower-end Lumia handsets like the Lumia 720 and 520 were popular in Europe and Asia, breaking into the top five. The Lumia 920, 950 series and 1020 frequently hit the top five list for most areas.

What do you make of the results? Anything surprise you? Let us know in the comments!

Jez Corden
Managing Editor

Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

206 Comments
  • Hi Jez. I thought the HP Elite x3 would have made your cut? Was an amazing piece of hardware
  • It's on the list of devices! :)
  • My bad must have missed it
  • I also missed it. I have an HP phone but the Nokia were better in my opinion. Microsoft abandoned the Windows phone users and they are better than Android and I Phones any day.
  • I have to disagree for me the HD7 and Titan were the better wp. I had 2 Nokias but still perfered the HTC builds. For me though the 950xl was the best phone that was made it had everything the HTC & Nokia phones had and more. Ashame Microsoft stopped there as I think they could of pushed on after this phone but all could of should of.
  • Shortcomings:
    - missing camera button
    - missing glance screen
    - buggy drivers / firmware (typical on an HP device)
    - Windows 10 mobile sucks (8.1 was superior)
    - poor camera
    - some apps not supported
    - missing FM radio
    - limited NFC
    - missing clearblack OLED
    - buggy double tap
    - touch sensitively
    - bang & Olufsen
    - . . .
    I'd vote for 920
  • bang & Olufsen was a good thing
  • You are right, I'll take that back... it was actually the 950 with the stupid mono speaker that was offensive on a 'premium' phone.
  • It was a High Quality speaker. And since noone ever should listen to music via a phone speaker (REALLY NEVER) i prefer a good mono speaker with clear speach quality over 2 or even 4 cheap speakers.
  • 1520 for me. Same great build quality and features of the 920 but way more ram, faster (8 core) processor, more easily expandable memory, better camera etc etc.
    The ONLY bad thing was the non-removable battery which is the reason I eventually stopped using it.
    Its specs still outperform most phones today unless you want to spend $800+
  • I am still using my Elite x3 and refuse to change! It is still working fine, although I do not run many apps on it (since very few are written for Windows phones nowadays). I am a developer myself, and what cheeses me off is that I KNOW that if I were to write an app for Android, I can "flick a switch" in Windows.NET (i.e. Azure) to simultaneously produce code for both Android and Windows, ending up with two versions. I cannot understand why developers who are writing these apps don't also produce a Windows version. My guess, of course, is that they do not produce these apps since security updates to the Windows Phone system will not continue in the future.
    The death of Windows Phone (when Microsoft stops any interaction with it) will be totally the fault of Microsoft. The phone itself is fantastic even now, and (at approx. $1000) I am loathe to simply throw it in a drawer and to pay out more good money for an inferior Android phone (ugh) or, even worse, an Apple phone.
  • Just to be clear, I too still use it and so does my spouse. I also have the folio case and had the lapdock too, before it was stolen. And have also used 950xl and 950 in the past... but shortcomings are shortcomings and I would rate 920 as the best.
    The driver issues of the X3 are a bit frustrating.
  • Lumia 1020. At that time, it was incredible and far ahead of competition.
  • Absolutely, the 1020 was the top phone on any platform in its day and the only Windows Phone that ever achieved that.
  • There were several WP devices that were ahead of anything from Apple or Android.
    Examples...
    The Lumia 928 had the loudest speaker and the only 92x low light camera with Xeon flash. It's nearest competitor was the S4, which was significantly slower and even though the S4 had a 1080p screen, it was a lower quality display because of the sub pixel spacing.
    Jump all the way to the Lumia 950 XL. On the Snapdragon 810 processor, it was faster than any Android on the 810 or on the 820. It was also nearly 2x faster than the current iPhone, and 1.5x faster than the iPhone that shipped the next year. The 950XL and 950 had the brightest display in the history of smartphones at the time, and still is brighter than the latest S10 or iPhone XR, with only a few LG devices having a brighter display. The 950XL/950's display was also the most color accurate screen, and holds this record until today. With full DirectX, the 950XL was also over 3x faster than Android in graphics performance on the same 810 and newer 820. The 950XL also didn't need a revised 810 SoC, as NT's thermal threading technologies allowed it to run all 8 cores with minimal throttling. The 950/950XL also introduced a new dual WiFi technology, that Continuum and Miracast worked well with, and probably 20 things I am forgetting. (Multi-Display Miracasting was a WP first, along with Continuum, etc.) There are tons of other technologies that were first/new on WP scattered throughout the years. The 929 Icon introduced full 5.1 surround recording along with other microphone array technologies, like directional audio recording. The features carried over and are also on the 950/950XL, and it is one of the few smartphones that you can tilt towards you speakphone and talk to someone, while the phone is sitting with its back a lot of noise, even a computer speaker playing music, and this sound is filtered out. And as you mention the 1020 was amazing; however, the 950/950XL's camera's were really good, and still holds up in the top 5 cameras of all time. It combined the pixels and features of the 929/930/1520 devices, with several new low light technologies that perform better than the Lumia 928 with a 20mp camera. The Icon/930 were the first 4K video capable phones, and the 950/950XL still produce some of the best 4K video content from a phone. PS It is all the over the top and new/extra technology in the 950/950XL that makes it possible to run the desktop version of Windows 10 on it today. (There are tons of other 'firsts' in other WP devices, I am only mentioning the ones I remember from the devices I owned. I still use a Lumia 950 when I'm at home, with the WM10 1709 OS, as it is just faster and easier to do things that still don't even exist on other smartphones.
  • Your comment made me reminisce about the good old days with WP. The 928 was my last WP phone. I never got the 950XL because I was on Verizon, so that's the point in time at which I had to depart from WP to Android. There was so much good about those devices. Such a shame. And unfortunately, I'll likely never trust Microsoft's commitment OR capabilities with consumer products like that again.
  • If only the rest of the phone was fast enough to keep up with the camera
  • yep here 2 the 1020 is/was my favorite phone of all time :)
  • The camera was only thing that seemed slow to me, but that was expected considering what it was doing.
  • The camera seemed slow because the hardware inside the phone just couldn't keep up.
  • No, the camera seemed slow but each photo took up to 41 GBs of space. The speed of the phone otherwise was just fine.
  • Actually, no @ mythos13. It was the SOC not the camera that was slow and not to mention it did not have a dedicated imaging chip like the Original 808 Pureview. Any photo taken has to be post processed and that is done by the SOC. Not to mention the phone did not have enough ram either.
  • mythos13, "but each photo took up to 41 GBs of space" I know you meant 41MB, that is the same thing that kills me. You have a 51MB capable camera where a good camera shot is about 41MB file size, then you locked the storage with no expansion possibility to 32GB storage space... I started thinking, where on God's green earth did they get these Non-Newyorker wise guys that flunked simple arithmetic from (Not Math) how hard is it add with your fingers... It was an arithment failure of humongous proportion.
  • Agreed. Totally agreed.
  • Out of the 7 Windows Phones I had, I agree, the 1020 was the best. My worst was probably the 950 XL, battery lasted maybe 1-2 hours.
  • Gotta agree here. It was rugged, as were all poly-carbonate Lumias. It had a camera that couldn't be touched at the time, and for several years after. I had the misfortune to have to replace the screen and while a unibody, it was engineered beautifully for maintenance. It had some great accessories, wireless charging back, camera back with extra battery. It had a wrist strap point of attachment. For me the size was perfect. If you could slide some current hardware in there, and keep the camera (with some upgrades) and Nokia's software, it would still be a killer device. Only thing wrong with it today is that the ecosystem (apps/OS) has been abandoned.
  • 920 for me. While not the first at everything, brought to the masses lots of innovative features like wireless charging, incredible low light camera, OIS, and glove support for touchscreen.
  • Not to mention high amplitude microphones.
  • Most forgot about that. The 1020 while having the better camera was just too slow in taking photos, but I'd rate that a close second.
  • Agreed, 920 was perfect!
  • Agreed, 920 was the 1020 in a much nicer form. Fantastic build. Still my favorite phone among the newer phones too.
  • The 920 got my vote too. It was, in my humble opinion, THE phone that put Windows Phone on the map; the first with hardware that Windows Phone deserved.
  • 1520 followed by 950xl for me
  • Sounds about right.
  • Pretty much this, though I liked the Icon and 928 as well. I actually went from the 928 to the Icon, and then dropped verizon and got the 1520 followed by the 950xl. Nothing beats the 1520. I only "upgraded" to the 950xl because I started having touch screen issues with the 1520.
  • I agree with you. I got a Lumia 928 still running strong. Upgraded to an Icon. It too is running smoothly despite the recent lack of upgrades. Now I bought an Android device and in two weeks it has really disappointed. Crashes, ads, settings everywhere, slow. Nothing I have seen runs as smoothly as my Windows Phones do.
  • Currently my only phone is a Nokia 1520; I plan to continue to use it for another year, then it's over to Android. Windows Phone were great, although many don't know when you mention Windows Phone, they look perplexed. Windows Phone was like the desktop counterpart, great OS; yes could have had improvements but overall better then Android in many ways, one of which security.
  • I still hate Android. I can only imagine what Windows Phone would be like on my Galaxy S9+.
  • I agree, I like the Samsung hardware but i HATE DROID and all the crapola they load into it. Still, it is better than an i-Kiddie-Phone
  • Same here - but with Xiaomi Mi Mix. The two would work together so nice.
  • Stock Android is a far nicer experience than Samsung Android. Go with a phone that gives you stock Android next time, and you'll probably be much happier with it (like Pixel, or if Essential ever releases a second phone).
  • I'm still using a 1520 as my only phone, and I purchased another one off the WC Marketplace as a backup in case the one I'm using ever dies. It is a PERFECT phone for me and what I use it for.
  • NOKIA LUMIA 1520 WAS THE BEST WP DEVICE EVER.. IT HAD EVERYTHING!
  • I skipped the Lumia 1520, because AT&T didn’t include wireless charging due to them choosing (stupidly) the competitor to Qi. It was Duramat, or something like that. Nokia could have easily added Qi with a back cover like the Lumia 1020, but I think AT&T blocked them from doing that. Edit: If I remember correctly, it was only the U.S. version that didn’t include wireless charging, which made it all the more aggravating. I don’t remember if other carriers had the 1520 or if they had wireless charging.
  • So if you were AT&T customer there was an unbranded version of 1520 that you could purchase that supported AT&T. It also came with qi charging.
    So many good phones
    1520, 950XL, 1320 or 640XL, HTC 8X
  • Beyound the orbit of Nokia/MS I had no idea so many WM powered devices have had existed. I used to have HTC 8X for a very limited period of time.
  • 8x is still my favorite design of any smart phone I have owned! The camera was REALLY good when it came out as well.
  • Samsung Galaxy S8 "Microsoft Edition" LOL...
  • That hurt :D
  • This one was hard. I had a few windows phones during thier time. I ultimately chose the 1520, with the Idol 4 pro a close second followed by the Dell Venue pro.
  • My requirements were:
    Good/Great Camera
    Glance
    Wireless Charging
    Expandable Storage
    High(er) End Processor
    Hi Res Screen
    Camera Button The culmination of those requirements were finally met with the Lumia 950/950XL. I switched from Verizon to T-Mobile for the 950! Winner for best device "in hand" was my Lumia 735 (Verizon). It didn't have the specs but that phone was awesome to hold. Small for today's standards but just perfect, for me, for the time! Now, same requirements...Samsung Note 8...but I'd toss it in a heartbeat for a refreshed Lumia 950, apps be damed!
  • I am a long time Verizon Wireless customer. I wanted to purchase the 950XL to replace my Samsung Galaxy S4. Was unhappy with Microsoft's decision to limit the final Lumia phones to GSM networks. Ended up getting a Galaxy S7 Edge (which I still use). Knew about the Elite X3, but, by the time HP decided to release the VZW version, Microsoft had already wrapped up its Windows Mobile efforts. 🙁
  • Yep, exactly my situation at that time as well. Still on Verizon. The decision to switch is not so easy when you're on family plan, and that was an objectively bad decision by Microsoft. I bet you the 950/950XL not being on Verizon is the reason it didn't get top votes for the U.S. in this poll.
  • If you voted anything but Lumia 920 you are wrong.
  • Agreed.
    Although I also liked my 950XL
  • Yep. Out of all of them, the Lumia 920 was the most significant.
  • Absolutely. Dead wrong...
  • i have to disagree, slightly cause the 920 is only the second one...anyway the 925 wasnt that bad either The Lumia 1520 was superior
    - Outstanding battery
    - not heavier than the 920 So i say
    1. Lumia 1520
    2. Lumia 920
    3. Ativ S (price reason)
  • HTC 8X is still the best (and unique) design for a smartphone. Of all the Windows Phones I've had as well as the Sony Xperia XZ1 (with the travesty that is Android) that I currently have, the 8X is still the one I miss.
  • My wife's first windows phone! It was indeed a beautiful design.
  • I loved my Lumia 950. Even though I now have a Samsung Galaxy S10, I still occasionally use my 950. Even last night I used it.
  • 1520 followed by the 950 XL. The 920 was really good but you had to compromise with the lack of msd card. The 1520 hit all the marks and had crazy battery life too boot. The 1020 camera was just let down by the ancient soc, if they stuck that on either 950 XL or the 1520 it would have done pretty well.
  • Still have my 1020 with a broken screen, use it for when I go running, it has lasted well, curiously I dropped it from knee height onto a rubber mat in a Mcdonalds (it was in a case) and the screen shattered!
  • I think you can still find the screens, and they are super easy to replace.
  • Best ever I would probably say Lumia 950xl.
    But for the phone that really launched WP7, I'm going to say Lumia 900. Nokia really hit the market hard with the 900, even though we had no idea WP8 would be released 6 months later and the 900 wouldn't support it.
    And one of the original and most unique - the LG Quantum, with its slide out keyboard. I've owned the LG Quantum, Lumia 900, Lumia 920, and the Lumia 950. The 900 and 920 are still at home in a cabinet. The 950 is in my backpack with a live sim card, and I use as a wifi hotspot quite often, especially when traveling. Sadly though, my daily driver is a Galaxy S9+, which is a great phone, but its just not windows phone. Even in 2012, windows phone was just so much more refined that today's android OS.
  • Amen to the lack of refinement in Android.
  • Some thing are better in Android, like the alarm to pospone or to off
  • The best windows phone for me was the Lumia Icon since I was on VZW. I would have loved a 950XL.
  • What is the point of this article and the information? How is it helpful to anyone in this day and age? Slow news day again WC?
  • What is the point of this comment? How are you helpful to anyone in this day and age? etc. I wrote it for fun when I was bored last night.
  • Keep 'em coming Jez! I enjoy the discussion and am currently still using and loving my HP Elite x3. By the end of the year I will be forced to switch to an iPhone. Sad sad days to come.
  • sure thing mate
  • Nostalgia. You can look that up when you get older.
  • The point of this article is to generate comments. Windows phone articles ALWAYS generate comments. Large numbers of comments allows them to charge more for the advertising. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We all need money. But you asked.
  • 920.
    This phone and the 1020. The 1020, was great, just the look size got impacted by the camera. The 920 first phone that I had with wireless charger great screen great looks durable, great OS. I had no problem with holding on to it for 3+ years.
  • 950XL for sure. It has all the goods one needs in a Windows Phone. Good cpu, fysical camera button, glance screen, excellent camera, good battery, wireless charging, USB3.0 fast charging. And the software was fast, fluid and stable for me all those years I used it. It doesn't beat WP8.1 though. That was thé Windows Phone OS Microsoft should've developed more, but it's the best mobile OS to date. Nothing comes close. The current icon-based mobile OS's like iOS and Android still continue on a dated concept. The power of Windows mobile is that it is different, but in a good way. It's a shame it's gone. A darn shame.
  • HTC surround was the most influential phone I have ever owned. I thought it was just a giant gimmick, but I gave it a shot. I loved it and used the hell out of it. Every phone I have bought since I have purchased a case with a kickstand and tried to stick to devices with front facing or otherwise really good speakers.
    .
    I think the 1520 and 950xl are probably tied for second. I liked Nokia's polycarb bodies and Microsoft's very thin bezels.
  • I think the Icon & the 930 should be considered as one option rather than two.
  • Microsoft Lumia 950xl was my best Windows phone ever. It had everything you needed. And the camera was superb.
  • HTC HD2 is not on the list, and HD7 is just a "cheap copy" of it, so I went and voted for the second best, that is Lumia 950XL
  • Yeah I caught that after I voted. The HD2 could run and be hacked to run almost anything.
  • For purity of execution, it's the Nokia 925 for me. And android voice-to-sms still sucks compared to Windows Mobile from half a decade ago.
  • Really, and the IPhone 6 was a copy of it
  • Nokia 925 got my vote. It had all the advantages of the other Nokias but was also a thing of beauty. I still have mine running the last version of WP10 that was released to insiders. I still use my 950XL as a music player in the car running Foobar2000, with a 256GB SD card that's a lot of music!
  • 1520 was the phone I loved the most. really liked my950xl but for the time the 1520 was just the best dam phone ever. that design would still get me today with a good OS. please Microsoft get to work so I an get rid of my iPhone! I cant get myself to go with android. when google doesn't sell a