Microsoft announced its new flagship smartphones, the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, today at its event in New York City. The onstage presentation left us with a number of lingering questions, and even when Microsoft published full specs for the two devices, some blank spots remain.
We've been pestering Microsoft's PR firm for answers, and although we're still waiting on some, we did get a few bits of clarifying information.
Windows 10 Mobile Coming In November December
Microsoft's materials indicated that the new phones are running "Windows 10," which doesn't make sense. There's a mobile variant of Windows 10 coming, but we're all still waiting for its rollout, and the company had not stated when that would even happen. So what did Microsoft mean by "Windows 10?"
The company's PR firm clarified that the phones will indeed run Windows 10 Mobile. Because they're shipping starting in November December, that means you can finally get a Windows 10 Mobile device. However, Tom's Hardware also learned that November December is the time frame during which Windows 10 Mobile will be rolling out to other handsets that the new OS will support.
USB Type-C Port
With apologies to those of you who have seen this link dozens of times already, when manufacturers state that a device has a "USB Type-C" port, that doesn't tell us anything at all about what protocols are supported over that Type-C connection on a given device.
Microsoft was no exception, offering zero details on what the Lumia 950/950 XL handsets offered beyond "fast charging." However, we have learned that the transfer speeds it offers are up to 5 Gbps, which means that the port supports USB 3.1 Gen1 "SuperSpeed." We have also surmised, by looking at the specs and support afforded by the Display Dock, that the USB Type-C port on the new Lumias supports DisplayPort.
We see that Microsoft mouse. Very clever product placement.
A Game-Changer: Microsoft Display Dock
Microsoft has apparently followed through on its promise from back at Build, by offering a technology and a piece of hardware that lets your phone function as a de facto PC.
That technology, which both the new Lumias support, is Continuum -- the technology that, among other things, allows you to connect your phone to a monitor and see its contents and apps displayed as if it were a PC. The piece of hardware is the Microsoft Display Dock (HD-500).
It's an optional feature, but it could be a total game-changer for many workers who find themselves frequently in and out of the office (or home, for that matter). The compact dock, which is just 64.1 x 25.6 x 64.1 mm (WxLxH), has the USB Type-C connector to connect the phone -- which will charge the handset -- as well as DisplayPort, HDMI, USB 2 (x2), and USB 2.0 (high current charging port). It also supports DisplayPort over USB Type-C.
If you're ticking off your peripherals, you could connect a mouse and a keyboard, at least one monitor, and another USB device such as external storage. (It's not clear if the dock supports multiple displays. The product page states support for 1080p HD, and then after an asterisk, says, "Additionally up to 1200p (WUXGA, 1920 x 1200) supported.")
It also supports HDCP 1.3/1.4, and the product page states that it offers a 60 fps refresh rate.
What are your lingering questions about the Lumia 950 and 950 XL?
Update, 10/6/15, 1:45pm PT: The Display Dock is expected to cost $99 when it becomes available, roughly at the same time the Lumia 950 and 950 XL land.
Update, 10/14/15, 12:20pm PT: Microsoft clarified that Windows 10 for phones, and the Lumia handsets, will start rolling out in December, not November. We have adjusted the article with the new information.