Review: HTC Windows Phone 8X. hardware
While much of the media attention might be focussed on the Nokia Lumia 920, the other flagship smartphone is quietly gathering fans and network support. HTC are no stranger to Windows Phone, and have promised to put some significant corporate spending behind their Windows Phone 8 devices. Microsoft have anointed the HTC Windows Phone 8X as a signature Windows Phone device, to be used by themselves while promoting the platform. That’s the handset we’re going to look at now. Over the next few weeks we’ll look at the HTC 8X in some depth alongside our coverage of the Windows Phone 8 platform.
Apart from the clunky name (which everyone is shortening to HTC 8X, so we’ll do the same in this review), the handset is as cutting edge as possible. It has to be, because HTC have not had a pretty year. Their leading Windows Phone 7.5 device, the Titan 2, was lost in the accolade around the US launch of the Lumia 900. Their signature range of Android devices, the ‘One’ range have not arrested the supremacy of the Samsung Galaxy handsets. They don’t have another consumer electronics area, or a range of feature phones, to fall back on. HTC are in a the middle of a very efficient squeeze. The 8X is their answer to those conditions, and it’s a powerful answer. Along with the HTC 8S, the Taiwanese firm is making a strong claim to be considered the leading Windows Phone 8 manufacturer.
In the box
The initial retail experience of the HTC 8X is not that stunning. Shipping in a rather weak feeling cardboard box (presumably recycled and recyclable), a simple white paper slip goes around the off-white cardboard to identify the phone inside. The box itself is incredibly rounded, along all the corners and edges. It’s a nice piece of construction, but in terms of design and promise it does not serve the 8X well. It deforms slightly in the hand, and for a flagship smartphone we’d expect something more than a ‘pile em high’ ethos in the packaging.
Inside, the 8X is presented on a tray under the lid, and under this can be found the paperwork, getting started pamphlets, and a SIM removal tool. Much like the iPhone has, you’ll need to push in a small paperclip sized spike to open the micro-SIM tray on the side of the 8X. Under the paperwork, you have a micro-USB cable, AC charger, and a pair of in-ear headphones. These also double up as a hands-free kit, with a single button remote controller. The sound reproduction, as you would expect from a bundled headset, is OK, but there’s plenty of room for improvement. Once we’ve listened to some more music and tried the Beats Audio system, we’ll let you know, but the suspicion is that audiophiles will skip over these cans and move onto their own favoured headsets.
As for the single button, there is no literature in the box on what the button does, nor is there on the phone. Most people will assume that it can be used to answer and end calls, but the fact that it doubles as a play/pause button during music playback is less obvious. Perhaps we’re old fashioned, but there’s a blank page in the getting started guide that could have featured the headset. Even a single page insert would have been welcome.
Design and materials
The HTC 8x has a fascinating shape. The hardware design process has placed the thicker components towards the centre of the smartphone, allowing the rear of the unit to have a graceful curve up to meet the edges of the unit. The screen is flat, but with very slightly curved edges that meet the bezel, which continues down to meet the same edge as the curve from the rear. This happens on all four edges. While the central spine of the HTC 8X checks in at around 10mm thick, about a third of the overall footprint is less than this, leading to a very interesting physical illusion of thinness. In the hand, the phone feels much thinner than it actually is.
As Rafe explained in our preview of the HTC 8X, the design has been inspired by Windows Phone’s Live Tiles:
In design terms, HTC decided to start from a blank piece of paper. While there are obviously design cues from other HTC devices, most notably the Android-powered One series, the company deliberately decided to give its Windows Phone 8 devices a distinctive character, recognising that a single design cannot serve all platforms.
The inspiration for the 8X’s overall design shape was the idea of a live tile drawn out of the Windows Phone Start screen and then inflated like a cushion, giving the distinctive tapered edges. From a technical point of view this is a challenging design to implement because it is necessary to place the thicker components towards the centre of the device, thus adding an additional design constraint.
The issue with this design is that it does lead to some rather thin edges. Not razor blade thin you understand, and bevelled so it’s comfortable on the skin, but enough to provide a distinctive tactile feel. It does take some getting used to and reminds me of a hardback book, where the cover reaches past the pages slightly. But hardback books don’t have volume controls on the edges, ready to be pressed when you hold the HTC 8X in too hard a grip. The pressure needed on the volume, power, and camera keys along the edges is not insubstantial, but it’s still rather light, which leads to a lot of accidental button presses. And because the buttons are almost flush with the side of the device, it’s not as easy to find and press them when you mean to.
The positioning of the power/lock button on the top of the device is standard for HTC, but it’s not as convenient as the side positioning found on other devices. While the top position is a more natural location for the power button, the side position makes it easier to lock and unlock the device with one hand, something that’s a much more common occurrence than powering the handset on or off.
Turn the 8X over and you’ll find the camera lens. It’s very slightly recessed away from the body, although this is a distinction that’s hard to confirm this visually you can feel the ridge under your fingers. There’s nothing to draw attention to the camera, which is in keeping with the sleek lines of the rest of the devices, and this layout is more attractive that the camera bumps found on some of HTC’s other devices, such as the One X.
HTC are to be congratulated that they have created a unique design that you don’t immediately think “this is like everything else in the shop”. It means that even though this is one of the larger smartphones on the market, it sits easily in the hand. The addition of a bumper case is sure to spoil all of that, but in its naked form the overall form of the 8X is a stunning piece of design. The only time it doesn’t really work is when the 8X has been placed screen side down. it’s a little awkward to get a good grip and pick up the handset when this happens.
The idea of being pleasingly-tactile and having a distinctive feel carries on to the coating on the 8X’s body shell, which HTC refer to as soft touch. Like the Nokia’s Lumia devices, each HTC 8X is shaped from a single block of coloured polycarbonate to create the unique shape discussed above. Right now it feels a little powdery to the touch, but it’s a high-friction coating that grips the skin of the hand relatively well when giving it a little shake to see if it stays or slips. Our review unit was the Graphite Black colour variant, but HTC are offering a number of other options. The Limelight Yellow and Flame Red variants are particularly striking, but our personal favourite is the California Blue. Do note that not all colours are available on all networks.
So, in terms of the big picture the design is a winner, but there are some small touches that give cause for concern. Let’s start with the alert/charging light. This appears to be a red LED on the circuit board, that shines through a small lens just behind the earpiece above the screen. That earpiece has a line of small holes punched out, and the LED shines through a few of them. It keeps catching the eye, leading us to wonder if something is missing, because the expectation is to see a solid block of light. What is on show feels like the designers who worked on the case weren’t around when deciding what to do with the alert light, thus the Heath Robinson effect created. That doesn’t say ‘flagship’.
The loudspeaker grille, for handsfree calling and media playback sans headphones, is also on the back of the smartphone. With a speaker grille of tiny holes drilled directly through the polycarbonite casing but no extra plastic facade, it blends in far more than the earpiece on the front of the 8X.
Unfortunately, when you place the 8X down on a desk, the speaker holes are covered up, changing the tone of the music to something a little more tinny, squishing out many of the midtones and bass lines. Naturally there’s a trade off at play here, the speaker is a substantive part of the design and needs to stay in the central spine of thick equipment, but at the same time the direction of the sound is not optimal. We really noticed this when playing arcade games that needed both thumbs on the screen. The speaker wasn’t covered, but as our hands moved around, the sound quality was altered, making for a slightly frustrating audio experience.
The headphone jack is a 3.5mm design, and takes a standard headphone cable, but also headset kits with the extra input ring on the jack plug and conforming to the AHJ (think iPhone) control standard. Because of the curved design, part of the metal of the jack plug is left exposed. This doesn’t change the electrical connection, but again it’s something that doesn’t look elegant. There’s also a question around extra impact damage if the phone hits the ground on a jack. That could impart a bit more ‘twist’ onto the motherboard because of the effect of a ‘splint’ on one side of anything plugged in.
Design is an important part of the smartphone process just now, and overall HTC have done a cracking job in making the 8X stand out from the crowd. Certainly in Europe HTC is not held in as high regard as some other manufacturers, so making a desirable handset is key to the 8X’s success. That’s why the small touches around the LED light, side buttons, and the loudspeaker are so disappointing. HTC are close, but just miss giving us a perfect impression of the 8X. It’s almost as if too much weight was put on getting the perfect shape, and not quite enough on practical usage. It should be acknowledged that this is an area of intense debate. Many will prefer a device that puts more emphasis on design and styling, but others, most notably power users, will wonder if a little too much has been sacrificed to achieve this.
Size and weight
The HTC 8X manages to be incredibly average in the size and weight department. That’s a good thing, because it simply casts it as a regular phone. Not too heavy (130 grams, 86cc) and not too big ( 132.4 x 66.2 x 10.1 mm ), it sits in the middle when you list it with other smartphones of today.
|Device||Size (mm)||Volume (cc)||Weight (g)|
|HTC 8X||132.4 x 66.2 x 10.1||86||133|
|Nokia Lumia 920||130.0 x 70.8 x 10.7||99||185|
|HTC TITAN||131.5 x 70.7 x 9.9||92||160|
|HTC HD2||120.5 x 67 x 11||89||157|
|Lumia 800||116.5 x 61.2 x 12.1||76||142|
|HTC One X||134.4 x 69.9 x 8.9||84.4||130|
|Samsung Galaxy S III||136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6||82.2||133|
|Apple iPhone 5||123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6||76||112|
Without any standout points one way or another, HTC have made sure the 8X will be considered as a suitable smartphone. While people will FOCUS on the size of their mobile devices, the Smart styling and the curves that are part of the design do make the 8X look and feel smaller than it actually is. People will still be picking up the large screen, but at the same time next to a Galaxy or a Lumia, the 8X is going to be perceived as being small and ‘jam packed’ giving it an advantage on the sales floor that is easy to understand. Nobody can argue that 130 grammes is heavy, when it matches HTC’s One X smartphone, and is a shade lighter than Samsung’s Galaxy S III.
In terms of construction, the HTC 8X feels strong, but not indestructible. While the build quality is excellent, it is possible to flex the entire device, in a way that’s not possible with the much denser Lumia 920. Once you pass a 4 inch dimension on the screen, smartphones start to look fragile and you don’t feel they would survive any decent impact with the ground. The fact is they do, countless times, and perhaps it’s unfair to criticise the 8X here without comprehensive testing, but of the larger smartphones we’ve used, the 8X does feel more likely to ding itself when gravity takes over. In particular, we wonder how well the crisp edges on the handset will stand up to the multiple impacts that are likely to occur over two years of use.
The HTC 8X sports an 1800mAh battery, which puts it 10% down in terms of capacity on the Lumia 920, and 22% down on the Samsung ATIV S’s 2300mAh monster. Being a unibody construction, there’s no user-replaceable battery here. We’ll need to use the handset a bit more to get a clear idea how well this copes with day to day usage, but right now you should be looking to do a precautionary top up before finishing any office work and heading out for a night on the town.
US network Verizon’s announcement that they would have the exclusive deal on 8X units with Qi wireless charging is interesting, and shows that HTC have the capability to add this to the handset. Unfortunately, our review units are all UK models, so we can’t compare the charging to other handsets with similar technology.
Protected by Corning Gorilla Glass, the HTC 8X’s screen packs 1280 x 720 pixels into its 4.3 inch display. That’s 341 pixels per inch, one of the highest available of any smartphone. It’s certainly well past the point where the human eye can detect individuals pixels and you’ll struggle to do so even with an average magnifying glass. The 8X’s display is optically laminated to the rest of the screen stack (glass), which gives added vibrancy, superior viewing angles, cuts down on reflections, and makes it appear as if the screen is floating on the glass layer.
Outdoors visibility, in bright sunlight, is good, comparable to the iPhone 5, though not as good as recent Nokia devices, especially those devices with the adaptive image contrast technology. The non-pentile SUPER LCD 2 display that HTC is using is of high quality, but blacks do feel a little washed out. That’s to be expected in a comparison with an AMOLED screen, but there’s also a visible difference when compared to the IPS LCD-equipped Nokia Lumia 920. With the default Windows Phone UI heavily reliant on black, it’s more of an issue than with HTC’s Android devices.
Neither the outdoors visibility or blacks mean the HTC 8X’s screen is bad. In truth, it’s being rather picky to highlight these areas, and it’s only fair to note that in some areas, such as viewing angle, the HTC 8X outshines most of its competition. However, while it’s true to say many of the differences can only be fully appreciated in a direct comparison, it’s likely that those switching from specific devices and/or technologies will be aware of the difference (e.g. blacks in AMOLED to Super LCD 2, outdoors visibility in Nokia’s ClearBlack Display to HTC’s optical screen lamination).
Looking only at the Windows Phone side of things, there’s one area that’s not been much remarked upon, but is, perhaps, of greater importance than any of the factors mentioned above when deciding which device to buy. And that area is the aspect ratio of the screen.
Windows Phone 8 introduced two new screen resolutions: 1280×768 and 1280×720. The first of these, used by Nokia in the Lumia 920, has the same aspect ration (15:9) as all the Windows Phone 7 devices (480×800). However, the second, as used by HTC in the 8X and Samsung in the ATIV S, has an aspect ratio of 16:9.
Windows Phone 8 automatically handles scaling of the UI and is aided in this by the fact that Windows Phone’s developer environment does not encourage apps to lock to a specific resolution. We’ve yet to come across any app that has an issue going from 480×800 to 1280×768, but the change in aspect ratio does introduce an additional challenge when moving from 480×800 to 1280×720. Many apps, including all the built in ones, handle this challenge with grace. The width is used as the scaling constraint, which means the 16:9 screens will actually show more information than the 15:9 screens, and their on screen elements will also be proportionally smaller (a standard Live Tile is 315×315 at 16:9 and 336×336 at 15:9).
16:9 (left, HTC 8X) compared to 15:9 (right, Nokia Lumia 920)
However, in some third party apps there are portions of unused screen space. This usually takes the form of a black bar running near the top of the screen. Thanks to the chromeless nature of the Windows Phone UI it’s not immediately noticeable at first, but once you do start noticing it, it’s difficult to ignore. The degree of annoyance will depend on what and how many third party apps you use (and to what extent). This will vary from person to person, and obviously the issue can, in most cases, be solved by a simple app update. However, fixing all the third party apps that have this issue may take time, so it is an important factor to account for in the purchase equation.
Third party apps with black bar at the top (HTC 8X left, Lumia 920 right)
There’s a secondary effect of the aspect ratio that’s well worth mentioning too. Those devices with the 16:9 ratio, like the HTC 8X, are proportionally narrower and longer than those devices with a 15:9 ratio. A narrower device is easier to hold one handed, but the top of the screen is harder to reach with a taller device. Once a device is beyond the boundary of universal one-hand usage, generally considered to be a width of 60mm or less, our view is that width become less important than height, which means, for devices with screens over 3.8 inches in size, we would generally favour a 15:9 screen over a 16:9 screen, but this is a largely subjective opinion.
HTC have fitted the 8X with the same 8 megapixel camera module, and associated ImageChip technology, as they used in their Android-powered One X. As you might expect, the base line performance is very similar, but there are some differences as HTC has not implemented its full range of ImageSense use cases (e.g. HDR, burst, panorama modes). All of these could be added through Windows Phone 8’s camera app lenses functionality, but, rather disappointingly, at the time of writing, none of them were available.
As we noted in our Nokia Lumia 920 review, most of the leading smartphones have cameras with similar core specifications, and consequently have similar performance. The HTC 8X’s Backside Illuminated (BSI) 8.0 megapixel sensor is standard, but it does stand out a little from the pack thanks to its F2.0 and ImageChip image processing chip. The first of these means low light performance is a perhaps a little ahead of the pack, especially in full automatic mode, although it’s nowhere near Nokia’s Lumia 920. The second of these means performance, in speeds terms, is excellent, with good processing and shot-to-shot times.
|Device||Sensor Size||F number||BSI|
|Nokia Lumia 920||1/3″||2.0||Yes|
|Nokia Lumia 800||1/3″||2.2||No|
|HTC One X||1/3.2″||2.2||Yes|
|Samsung Galaxy SIII||1/3.2″||2.6||Yes|
|Nokia 808 PureView||1/1.2″||2.4||No|
Overall, the HTC 8X camera takes excellent images, comparable with most leading smartphones. Nokia does hold an edge, with both the 808 PureView and Lumia 920 containing imaging implementations that set them apart, but there’s far less to choose between the rest of the chasing pack. In our experience, the winner in any comparison will vary from shot to shot. Different manufacturers use different processing software and algorithms, which means precise performance is very dependent on what is being photographed and in what conditions. Personal preferences around colour saturation and other subjective characteristics also play a role in which device is perceived to have the best performance.
The inclusion of the ImageChip technology perhaps means that HTC is inclined to do more processing on captured images than some of its competitors. This can sometimes been seen in the form of extra sharpening and noise removal, which when zoomed in, to the pixel level, can give the photos an artificial feel. But, when zoomed out, the same pictures will generally feel crisper and seem to have extra warmth. The downside to this extra processing is that it’s harder to apply your own post-capture processing and adjustments. While extra processing will almost always result in the loss of information and detail, which is rightly seen as a bad thing, this should be balanced against the fact that, the vast majority of the time, photos will be used as they come out of the camera.
Video capture on the 8X (up to 1080p resolution, 30 frames per second, mono audio) is reasonable, but the quality drops off more than expected in low light, and, in general, it feels like HTC has spent less time optimising video performance than photo performance. If video capture is a primary concern when buying a Windows Phone device, or indeed any smartphone, then the optical image stabilisation-equipped Lumia 920 is going to be your first choice. If it is lower down your list of priorities then the HTC 8X should be more than sufficient.
The single LED flash on the 8X will fill in for close up work, but not much else, and it doesn’t seem to be quite as powerful as those found elsewhere. The two stage camera-capture button is easily distinguishable, but the thin edge of the device means a thin camera button, which is not quite as easy to press as it should be. There’s no way to avoid this and maintain the 8X’s sleek lines, but it does means the HTC 8X is more susceptible to camera shake. The easy way to get round this is to tap the screen to FOCUS and capture photos, rather than using the camera capture key.
Same scene capture with camera button (left), and screen tap (right). Note the camera-shake-blur with the camera capture button. Click through for full resolution.
Обзор HTC Windows Phone 8S
The camera capture key is not a major issue, but it is a good example of how the HTC 8X tends to favour style and design over utility. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because all smartphone design is the result of a competing set of compromises. How you judge that set of compromises will be dependent on your subjective priorities. Incidentally, we suspect that if HTC had a choice in the matter that, like in the One X, there would be no camera capture key on the HTC 8X. However, a camera capture key is part of Microsoft’s hardware requirements for Windows Phone 8, so HTC had to include one. Personally we think Microsoft is right here, users should have the choice, and the ability to wake up the phone and go straight into the camera app, which is only possible with a dedicated camera capture button, is particularly useful.
In promoting the 8X, HTC has been keen to promote the characteristics of the front facing camera, which has a 2.1 megapixel BSI sensor, a wide angle, f2.0 lens, and ties into the ImageChip silicon. The wide angle (88 degrees) means it’s possible to fit more into a shot, so that rather than the the typical ‘two people’ arm length shot, it should be possible to squeeze in four people into a single shot. HTC says this is in response to the increasing number of self-shot images appearing on social network and photo sharing sites (i.e. those taken by holding a cameraphone at arm’s length, while using the screen as a view finder). It’s certainly true to say the wide angle lens fits in more, and it’s notable that several companies have followed HTC’s lead in this area. However, the quality of the front camera is poor, and while it’s fine for video calling (Skype) or the odd self-shot image destined only for social networks, it’s not enough to have an impact on a purchase decision.
We’ve already covered the loudspeaker for media playback, but the majority of time an 8X owner is going to be using headphones. Let’s assume that the headphones bundled with the HTC 8X are not going to be used for any significant period and everyone switches to using their own headphones. In our testing, Ewan used two pairs of headphones: the Sony MDR-W08 for day to day use and a pair of high end ‘Ultimate Ears’ in ear monitors for testing for audio quality.
One of the selling points that HTC are making with the 8X is the increased the voltage available to both the built in loudspeakers and the 3.5mm jack plug. As Rafe noted in our preview of the HTC 8X:
HTC has upped the voltage of the base audio output to 1.55V (a more usual level is 0.5V). For the 3.5mm audio out port there’s a secondary dedicated amplifier that further increases the output to 2.55V. This not only improves sound quality (and, to some extent, available volume), but also makes it possible to power standalone speakers. HTC feel this is important because the “quality of the 8X’s audio output is such that people will want to listen on more than just headphones”. There’s also a secondary amplifier on the loudspeaker circuitry, which significantly improves the audio quality output and means audio is crisper and deeper than it otherwise would be.
Testing on a set of portable Sony Walkman speakers, there’s a very slight difference in the sound volume (at least to Ewan’s ears) between the HTC 8X and the Lumia 800 while playing the same track (pegging both devices at the maximum volume of 30/30). The 8X is fractionally louder, and has a slightly crisper brass section when listening to some orchestral pieces.
Of course, most people are going to think it’s a lot louder because of the second audio area on the HTC 8X, and that’s the Beats Audio system. Again, this is going to be very subjective. The Beats Audio principle is to shape the output to match the music. Essentially it’s a great big semi-automatic graphic equalizer.
Actually make that fully automatic, because it is either off, or on, and there are no options for the user to tweak. It certainly boosts the loudness of the music coming out. It appears to do this by cranking up the bass, adding a little bit more on the high end treble, and squelching out the middle in the wall of energy from the lower tones. In short periods it’s a nice change, but it didn’t take Ewan long to reduce the bass levels. Unfortunately, the only option is to turn Beats Audio on or off.
Depending on your taste in music (and how much you enjoy migraines), Beats Audio could be a wonderful concept. But, for others, it will just get in the way of enjoying the music by forcing a specific equalizer setting. Audio purists, who are those most likely to want to tweak music, are going to want a bit more control than this. Of course the Beats branding has implications for the marketing of the device, and it’s probably fair to say the reasons for its presence are as much about the associated perception in certain market segments, as they are about audio quality.
HTC has some custom software apps, but none of them cover media, so you’ll be using the stock MusicVideos app for all your music needs. This is actually a bonus, because it’s very well featured, with history lists, newly added music, and pop up media controls on the lock screen and throughout the UI by tapping on the volume keys.
A related hardware issue that’s worth mentioning here is the 16GB internal memory capacity on the 8X. Knock off around 3GB for Windows Phone 8’s own usage and you don’t have that much space available for music or video, especially if you start loading up on applications and games. 16GB was cutting it close on the second generation Windows Phone 7.5 devices, as we move into Windows Phone 8 having just 16GB on the flagship models seems to be a penny pinching exercise too far. Knock that down to 8GB, as on one of the variants being offered by the ATT in the US, and the issue is exacerbated.
Internals and Performance
HTC have followed Mcirosoft’s recommendations for a Windows Phone 8 platform, so the 8X comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 system on chip, which has a 1.5 GHz dual-core Krait CPU and Adreno 225 GPU, backed up by 1GB of RAM.
In terms of specifications, this puts the 8X on a par with similar high-end devices both on Windows Phone and on Android. There’s no longer a perceived gap between Windows Phone and others, thanks to the increased hardware Microsoft have asked to be used on Windows Phone 8 devices.
Using the benchmarking software WPBench, the HTC 8X picks up a speed score of 230, which is within the margin of error of the Lumia 920’s score of 228. It also compares incredibly well with the HTC Titan (97) and HTC Trophy (58) of the two previous generations. Windows Phone 8 is a significant step up in terms of power, and the 8X manages to harness all of that extra capability very well.
The place you most notice it is returning to the Live Tile home screen. The three different sizes of tiles in the new UI all swing in from the side and lay themselves out very quickly, but remain smooth and distinct throughout the move. We love the little touch that when you open an app from a live tile the other live tiles will peel away as if you are turning a page over to go forward in a book, and the back key will see them return by peeling in as if you were turning a page back to check on something. A subtle touch that needs a fair bit of graphical oomph to run well. and it runs well.
Moving between the built-in apps is smooth as well. Yes, you have all the twisting and turning animations to signify movement through your information, but there’s no stutter, black screens, or dots travelling across the screen as you wait for one of these apps to open. Everything out of the box is well optimised. When you start to move to third-party apps it gets a little bit more suspect, but here the increased CPU power reduces the wait when compared to Windows Phone 7.5 devices.
The usual sensor suite for a Windows Phone can be found in the 8X, with an accelerometer and digital compass for local positioning, an ambient light sensor to help set the brightness on the screen as required, and a proximity sensor to stop your ear activating the touch screen when in a call.
In terms of communications, the 8X comes with Bluetooth 3.1, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, GPS with Glonass for location, and NFC for close range communication. In terms of cellular connections what you get in the HTC 8X depends on which variant you have:
- International variant: GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, WCDMA 850/900/1900/2100 MHz
- T-Mobile US variant: GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, WCDMA 850/1700/1900/2100 MHz
- ATT US variant: GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, WCDMA 850/1900/2100 MHz, LTE 700/850/1700/1900MHz
- Verizon US variant: GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, WCDMA 850/900/1900/2100 MHz, CDMA 800/1900 MHz, LTE 700 MHz and wireless charging support
The international variant is notable for its absence of LTE support. HTC are likely looking to keep the cost of the handset down, and, at £100 cheaper than the Nokia Lumia 920 in the UK SIM free market, the international variant of 8X is very competitive in this department. However, while LTE may not be that common outside the US, it’s clear that this is going to change, so it is somewhat strange to see a flagship device launching without it. On balance the split strategy for LTE support between variants is probably the right call, but it’s probably going to be the last time this applies.
The Verizon variant is notable for the inclusion of wireless charging support (Qi standard). Unlike Nokia, HTC aren’t backing this up with a set of matching accessories, so it’s a feature that’s unlikely to draw much attention. The inclusion of wireless charging is almost certainly a direct request from Verizon, so it’ll be interesting to see if this is part of a wider push by Verizon to promote wireless charging.
There’s no doubt that the HTC Windows Phone 8X is an impressive smartphone. It’s one of the best smartphones seen from HTC, not just with Windows Phone, but over their whole range. It’s improved on many of the concepts from the One X series, and it benefits hugely from the Windows Phone OS, which follows it’s own design and usage paradigms. Despite one or two minor flaws that are easily forgiven, the HTC 8X is right up there with the equivalent models from Nokia and Samsung.
In fact the 8X is already attempting to reach out to as many potential customers as possible. The roll-out of the Samsung ATIV S is relatively slow, and the decision of Nokia to make the Lumia 920 a network exclusive handset in many regions limits the growth opportunities of the Finnish handset. That leaves the high street retailers wide open to accept HTC as their main Windows Phone handset for the festive period.
It is little things that dull the experience very slightly. 16GB is a touch too small for a leading device, and having the lowest battery capacity of the three main handsets is a worry. It may well be fine the week after you receive the phone, but as the battery becomes less efficient, and you are 20 months into a 24 month contract, the 8X may struggle to make it to the end of the working day without a ‘splash and go’ recharge.
The 8X is a really nice piece of kit. The design and shaping of the hardware really make it stand out, even more so when you get one of the coloured devices. Windows Phone 8 has removed the rough edges of Microsoft’s vision of a mobile platform, and the specifications are high enough that the whole OS can sing and dance without breaking sweat.
A lot of the reaction to the 8X is not going to come down to hardware, though, it’s going to come from people’s reactions to Windows Phone 8. We’ll be looking at the new version of Microsoft’s operating system in the near future, but for now know this. HTC have done everything that was asked and expected of them in developing the HTC Windows Phone 8X. While they might only have pushed the boat out in a few areas, and left some areas with a tiny bit of room for improvement, Windows Phone 8 is not going to be a failure because of the HTC 8X.
In part 2 of our HTC 8X review, we’ll look at the HTC specific software side on the device. We’ll also cover the camera in more detail in a separate review part. We’ll be covering the manufacturer-agnostic aspects of Windows Phone 8 itself in a separate in-depth review. We will also be doing a more direct comparison of the HTC 8X and Nokia Lumia 920.
Disclosure: Ewan’s review handset was loaned by Phones 4u. Phones 4u stocks a number of Windows Phone 8 devices and other mobile phones, including the HTC 8X, in both its retail and online stores.
Reviewed by Rafe Blandford, Ewan Spence at 15:15 UTC, November 20th 2012
Hands-on with the HTC Windows Phone 8X and HTC Windows Phone 8S
Microsoft is muscling back in to the smartphone market in a big way. And, like a weightlifter with a keen interest in military history, it’s bringing some very big guns. First came Nokia with its wireless-charging, NFC-toting new Lumia handsets, and now Microsoft has unveiled the second of its massive arms: HTC’s new Windows Phone 8X and 8S, named as the flagship phones for the new mobile OS by Steve Ballmer at its launch event in New York.
HTC Windows Phone 8X and HTC Windows Phone 8S – design
Like Windows Phone 8, the handsets are square and colourful. The design is touted as ‘seamless’, with every part – including the camera and buttons – lying flush with the case. The components are stacked along the spine, giving the handsets very thin, smooth edges. Both feel lighter, slimmer and slim and more able than the Samsung Galaxy S3, but the firmly rubbery construction means they don’t have the delicate, hope-I-don’t-snap-it feel of the iPhone 5.
HTC Windows Phone 8X and HTC Windows Phone 8S – power
Although there’s no quad-core beefcakery in HTC’s new toys, neither is lacking in power, with both phones running dual-core versions of Qualcomm’s new S4 chips: the 8X a 1.5GHz backed by 1GB RAM, the 8S runs a 1GB chip with 512MB RAM. We’re still only getting the briefest looks at Windows Phone 8, but from what we’ve seen so far it appears to be very fast and smooth.
HTC Windows Phone 8X and HTC Windows Phone 8S – sound
Like HTC’s highly successful One X, the 8X incorporates Beats Audio, which means each phone has been personally tuned by Dr Dre. Okay, it doesn’t. It means each phone contains two small amplifiers that boost the sound from the headphone jack and the built-in speaker – where every other phone packs around 1W of amplification, the Beats phones feed 2.5W into your rapper-branded headphones.
Giving the 8X a brief listen at HTC’s press event today, we can confirm that there was enough delicious bass to briefly convince us that we were in a well-stocked fish restaurant.
HTC Windows Phone 8X and HTC Windows Phone 8S – display
The 8X’s 4.3-inch 1280x720px display is bright and crisp, and the 8S’s smaller 4-inch screen is none too shabby either; both have superb viewing angles. Neither are Retina Display-beaters, but the smooth animations of Windows Phone 8 and the way the OS themes match the cases make for a really nice visual experience.
HTC Windows Phone 8X and HTC Windows Phone 8S – camera
The 8MP and 5MP rear cameras appear fast and fully-featured, but it’s the 8X’s front-facing camera that represents a bit of a breakthrough: it’s tiny, but offers a wide angle, an aperture of f/2.0 and 720p video, giving video calling via Skype (which is built into Windows Phone 8) a new dimension.
HTC Windows Phone 8X and HTC Windows Phone 8S – overall
Nicely designed, colourful and packing an exciting new OS, HTC’s new blowers appear fresher and more futuristic that the latest offerings from Samsung and, dare we say it, Apple.
Oddly enough it’s the smaller, 4-in-screened 8S that has really tickled our fancy, with its trendy two-colour design (the grey/yellow combo is particularly fetching) and arched, slender form. It might not be a 4G-packing powerhorse, but if it’s priced as attractively as it’s designed then we reckon HTC will move these by the ton.
And don’t assume that these phones will be short on apps – thanks to a shared core, for every new app that’s developed for Windows 8 Pro and RT, it’s a short step for the developer to make a Windows Phone 8 version.
HTC Windows Phone 8X – review
It is a mere 130g of polycarbonate and glass encasing a miniature computer, but on this smartphone’s slim shoulders rest the future of two companies. Its manufacturer HTC is hoping the top-of-the-range Windows Phone 8X, and its lower-priced sibling, the 8S, will reverse its recent sales tailspin, while Microsoft hopes HTC’s efforts will convince a new generation of customers that Windows Phone is a genuine alternative to Android and Apple in mobile computing.
So far the signs are good. HTC’s sales rose 23% month on month in November, having been flat or down for six straight months. The numbers are not split out by model, but the improvement must be in part due to Windows Phones. If the trend continues into Christmas and the Chinese New Year, the Taiwanese manufacturer will be breathing a sigh of relief.
HTC began as a maker of Windows Mobile phones, before finding greater success building smartphones using Google’s Android. It continued to support Windows, helping with the arrival of Microsoft’s first true smartphone software, Windows Phone 7, but HTC’s efforts were minimal. Those handsets had little to please the eye and used basic processors, cameras and screens.
Lately, faced with Samsung’s technological leaps and massive marketing budgets, HTC has failed to gain traction with new Android launches. So it has cast its eyes back to Microsoft HQ in Redmond, Washington again. The result is the Windows Phone 8 range, released in November.
At first glance, HTC has thrown the kitchen sink at the task. The 8X is packed with much of the best technology developed for its top Android phones, and its hardware is a leap forward in design terms.
Its main Windows rival, Nokia’s Lumia 920, is only available on the EE 4G network in the UK, leaving the rest of the field free for HTC. For those who are willing to try an alternative to Apple and Android – an admittedly small group at the moment – the 8X is the high end handset to consider.
In keeping with the brightly coloured “live tiles” of the Windows interface, the 8X comes in red, violet and acid yellow as well as the traditional black. HTC has taken a few pointers from Nokia with the casing. Like Nokia’s Lumia range, the 8X is carved from a single shell of polycarbonate (a synthetic resin) with a matt finish. It takes a lot to dent or scratch this curved-cornered case. Unlike the iPhone 5, which seems to attract gashes like a magnet attracts iron filings, there is no need for the design purist’s nightmare of a rubber case for these handsets.
The phone is light at 130g (iPhone 5: 112g; Samsung Galaxy S3: 133g; Nokia Lumia 820: 160g; Lumia 920: 185g), and cushion-shaped, with a fattish 10.1mm bulge at the back housing the battery, tapering to thinner edges.
The top edge holds a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, a small hole for a secondary mic, and the power/lock key. The right hand side houses a micro-SIM tray with pin release hole, a volume rocker, and a camera button. The primary mic and power socket are at the bottom, and the left hand side is free of clutter.
One grumble: the buttons are so flush with the casing they are difficult to locate by touch – and once found they are hard to press.
Made of black gorilla glass with curved edges, the screen is absolutely top of the range. The resolution beats the iPhone 5, at 341 pixels per inch versus 326 for the Apple phone. At 4.3inch on the diagonal, it is wider than the iPhone 5 and a little longer too, but not as glaring large as the Nokia Lumia 920.
As an extra sweetener, the handset comes with Dr Dre’s Beats Audio technology, essentially an extra amplifier in the headphone jack which can crank up to 2.5V, compared to the usual 0.5V, and more than enough to pump up the volume on a large set of headphones.
The 8X uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon dual core 1.5Ghz processor with 1GB of RAM. This is a step up from the single core processor in HTC’s Windows Phone 7 models, and puts it on a par with the top smartphones. With a few exceptions such as the Huawei Ascend, which has a headline-grabbing quad-core processor, most manufacturers (including Apple) are content with dual core for now.
Standard-issue rather than bleeding-edge, the 8X’s camera leaves a little to be desired compared to rival models and even HTC’s flagship phone. At 8 megapixels, it’s on a par with the iPhone 5, but behind the Lumia 920, which sports 8.7MP and a range of Nokia photo-editing software which puts most other phones in the shade.
Unlike HTC’s Android One X, the 8X does not have the 30 shots per second burst mode, nor the panorama feature.
Before pointing and shooting, the shutter speed, colour and resolution are all adjustable. The Bing lens, named after Microsoft’s search engine, can scan barcodes and QR codes, as well as book, CD and DVD numbers and then call up information on the items.
For those who want more features, the only option is do it yourself. The camera screen links through to a range of recommended apps. One does Time Lapse, another uploads your citizen journalist photos to CNN.
The video camera resolution is excellent, recording in 1080p, which is good enough to view on a television set, and considered the standard for high definition today.
The 8X supports 4G in the US, but not in the UK, so don’t buy it on a two-year contract if you are hoping to be able to make the most of 4G wireless when it becomes available on all the main networks in May/June next year.
However, the 8X does support the fastest version of 3G, called HSPA, in the bands used by each one of the British networks. While they wait to catch up with EE (which was the first to launch 4G in the UK), Three, Vodafone and 02 are all investing in the latest 3G technology, which can connect to the internet as fast as the average home broadband service and – outside of smartphone rush hours – copes with even the most data hungry tasks like watching live video.
Whereas Windows Phone 7 was a revolution, Windows Phone 8 is a solid evolution. Microsoft has found an interface it thinks will catch on and is improving it. The standout feature are the live tiles, which replace the static icons that represent apps on Android and iOS. In design terms they are a bang-up-to-date digital-era feature. The best ones show live information from the sources they represent – photos stream from friends’ feeds, the calendared meeting you are meant to be in.
WP 8 now lets you choose from three sizes of tiles, so by pinning different ones in different sizes you can create a personalised, dynamic home screen.
Another improvement is the Kid’s Corner. This is a roped-off area which contains only apps you want your offspring (or friends) to play with, and can be accessed with a right-to-left swipe from the lock screen, meaning there is no need for them to enter more personal sensitive parts of your phone.
The range and quality of apps however is still disappointing. There may be thousands available, but some of the best are missing or are a little out of date. None of the BBC iPlayers are there, Instagram is absent, the and versions are bare bones compared to those on Android and iOS, and the eBay app, which still uses the old company logo, has been over-customised to the WP8 look.
The calendar, which should be one of the most accommodating features to use, is anything but. The WP8 house style of white script on a black background looks great when navigating screens with large writing, but hurts the eyes when reading small print calendar entries, and the information is only available by day or by month (the latter too small to be readable) with no weekly appointments view.
Maps are both a joy and a disappointment. Produced using Nokia’s excellent mapping service, they zoom in to satellite view and even show live traffic updates. The turn-by-turn navigation comes from Nokia – part of its move to monetise the Navteq maps company it bought.
While the live tiles interface may be struggling to find its raison d’etre in Windows 8, Microsoft’s traditional stomping ground of the personal computer, it is absolutely made for smartphones. Windows Phone 8 is among the easiest, most instinctive and visually entertaining mobile operating systems to use. I have found its new phone setup to be the simplest and fastest of the three operating systems, particularly when it comes to things like installing company email. It deserves a place as the third ecosystem. (Sorry, RIM.)
A big UK marketing campaign, with advertising and product placement for Nokia Lumia handsets around prime time TV shows like Homeland should help familiarise users with the look of WP8; HTC will benefit indirectly.
are a little more appealing than Nokia’s too. The 8X is available on PAYG from Carphone Warehouse from £380. Its opposite number at Nokia, the Lumia 920, is only on sale through EE in the UK.
The more basic Lumia 820, equivalent to the 8S, costs £350 on PAYG, making HTC’s top-end Windows Phone device is just £30 more expensive than the more basic new model from Nokia.
Overall? The 8X is a worthy Windows Phone torchbearer.
REVIEW: HTC Made The Best Windows Phone You Can Buy
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It makes one of the best Android phones, the One X, yet no one seems to care. All the attention is on Samsung’s Galaxy S III.
Now it has a brand new Windows Phone, the new Windows Phone 8x, yet no one seems to care. All the attention is on Nokia’s Lumia 920.
But HTC’s 8x is the best Windows Phone I’ve ever used, and it’s the only one you should consider buying if you’re interested in Microsoft’s latest mobile operating system, Windows Phone 8. It starts at 99.99 on ATT and 199.99 on Verizon.
I’ve been using a global, unlocked version of the 8x for a few weeks, but recently got my hands on the ATT variant with finalized U.S. software.
The 8x’s biggest advantage over other Windows Phones is its design. Unlike the fat and heavy Lumia 920, the 8x is thin and light, yet still offers advanced hardware features like wireless charging and improved sound from Beats Audio.
The phone’s main casing is made from a single piece of durable polycarbonate plastic and comes in a bunch of colors. I tested a neon green model, but there are plenty of tamer variations like black, red, and blue.
Обзор HTC 8X (review): Windows Phone 8 от HTC
Most importantly, the 8x is a delight to hold. The edges are tapered, so the phone feels thinner than it actually is. There’s a slight bulge in the back to fit more of the 8x’s guts, but that actually makes the phone easier to grip.
At 4.3 inches, the display is the perfect size (just slightly larger than the iPhone 5 screen), unlike some of the absurdly large screens found on other phones. You won’t have a problem swiping around with one hand.
I love using this thing, and haven’t felt this obsessed over a phone’s look and feel since the iPhone 5 launched. Great job, HTC.
The biggest hardware drawback on the 8x is its camera. It’s not horrible, but I was spoiled by the incredible camera on the Lumia 920, so pictures felt dull in comparison. Still, it’s plenty good enough to get by.
The screen is great too. Since Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 8 supports high-resolution displays, HTC was able to put one that’s just as good as the iPhone’s Retina display on the 8x.
Although HTC doesn’t make a fancy-looking wireless charging pad like Nokia does for its Lumia 920, it’s compatible with industry-standard wireless charging pads. (I didn’t get to test one, so make sure you ask if your phone will work with a charging pad before you buy it.) It’s a nifty feature, but probably not worth shelling out the extra cash for a special charging pad.
Windows Phone 8
I’ve covered Windows Phone 8 a lot since its launch this fall, so I won’t spend too much time going over all the latest features. Overall, it’s a great operating system and a viable alternative if you’re bored with iOS or Android. You can get more details from my full review of Windows Phone 8 right here.
But it is worth mentioning again that as great as the HTC 8x is, it still suffers from a poor app selection and lack of other content like books and movies in Windows Phone 8. However, you do get Xbox Music, a streaming service similar to Spotify and Pandora. It’s really good.
If you want a Windows Phone, then the HTC 8x is the only one you should consider. Just be warned that you’ll have to sacrifice access to the latest and greatest apps and other content.
Review: HTC Windows Phone 8X
Matt is the former News Editor for The Next Web. You can follow him on. subscribe to his updates on and catch up with him (show all) Matt is the former News Editor for The Next Web. You can follow him on. subscribe to his updates on and catch up with him on Google.
It’s been another tough year for HTC; its Android smartphone line-up has performed well but the company has found itself playing catch-up to its rivals, namely Apple and Samsung.
Nokia has its exclusive partnership with Microsoft, working to outfit its smartphone range with the latest Windows Phone features and settings. HTC, on the other hand, kept its Windows Phone portfolio small, introducing its Titan and Titan II handsets in the past year, but for the most part remained firmly in the Android camp.
That was until Microsoft announced the launch of Windows Phone 8.
We’d known that HTC planned to support the new Windows Phone operating system, but the company’s plans were only realised when it announced the launch of its flagship Windows Phone 8 device — the HTC 8X — and its mid-range counterpart — the HTC 8S back in September.
With Microsoft unveiling Windows Phone 8 today, The Next Web has been hands-on with the new HTC flagship to see just what HTC has introduced to help to pick up Windows Phone converts and whether it can show Nokia how devices on the platform should be made.
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Hardware and design
When HTC announced the 8X, pundits and readers alike were shocked at the company’s new design. This wasn’t because it was ugly or devoid of function, it was because the HTC had managed to output a completely new form factor, while keeping true to its rounded roots.
You probably wouldn’t believe it, but the HTC 8X design was inspired, in part, by a shoe. Scott Croyle, HTC’s vice president of design and the man behind the 8X’s form factor, has a history in sportswear design and boasted Nike as one of his clients before his company was acquired by HTC.
All this translates into a 4.3-inch handset that features rounded edges on all four sides of its reverse. While this means you won’t be standing it upright anytime soon, you’ll certainly enjoy its slick profile and minimal bezel, choosing from a variety of four colours – including Flame Red, Limelight Yellow, California Blue and Graphite Black.
Powering the device is Qualcomm’s popular dual-core 1.5 GHz S4 processor, complete with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. As with HTC’s updated range of Android devices, you won’t be able to add a micro-SD card even though the operating system is able to support it, and there’s a non-removeable 1,800 mAh Li-polymer battery.
The 8X maintains HTC’s optical FOCUS, featuring the same F/2.0, 8-megapixel camera with ImageChip functionality for faster photos. The front-facing camera includes an impressive 2.1-megapixel sensor with the same f/2.0 aperture, 88 degree ultra-wide angle lens, 1080p HD video and its own dedicated ImageChip.
On the sides of the HTC 8X you’ll find a dedicated camera button (as per Microsoft’s requirements for Windows Phone devices), and a volume rocker on one side. On the top lies a power button (which doubles as your sleep button) and a headphone jack, and on the bottom is a microUSB port.
In our tests, the power button placement not only made it hard to locate instinctively (locking the device without looking, for instance), the fact that it sits almost flush with the top of the handset also makes it had to press. While it’s not something that occurs that often, it can be frustrating for the new user.
The case has a similar matte texture to the One X, which provides sufficient grip and purchase when in the hand. However, that same texture also finds itself capturing fingerprints and moisture, leaving a slightly greasy finish. A wipe can often remove smudges, but it’s very noticeable when you place the device down or inspect the reverse.
Borrowing again from its One range, the 8X also features a LED notification light in the loudspeaker grille and on the reverse, the camera is subtly integrated into the reverse with the tiniest of clearance so that it doesn’t scratch when placed on different surfaces.
The 8X’s 4.3-inch display features LCD 2 technology, offering a 1,280×720 pixel resolution (coming in at a Retina-busting 341 ppi) with Gorilla Glass 2 and optical lamination, which HTC says increases the display’s sharpness and reduces light reflection.
HTC has continued to push the very best display technology in its smartphones and the 8X is no different – the screen is ridiculously clear and colors are vibrant and balanced. With Windows Phone pushing tiles full of solid color, they almost pop out of the screen when contrasted against the black background.
The 8X does have a higher pixel density than the One X, thanks to its smaller display, but the viewing angles are just as impressive, making the screen one of the standout features on the device.
The HTC 8X, of course, runs Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 8 operating system. However, with the platform launching the same day as this review will go out, it would be best to point you in the direction of our Windows Phone 8 overview, delivering everything you need to know.
Although HTC doesn’t have the same level of control over Windows Phone 8 as it does with Android, the company has still tried to differentiate its devices from the stock OS. In this sense, HTC has embedded Beats audio in the device (signalling the fact on the back of the handset with its familiar logo), including in integrated Beats amp for ‘enhanced’ sound quality.
Beats may have been all the rage when HTC signed its deal with the Dr Dre-founded audio company but its inclusion doesn’t seem to hold any weight these days and many consumers would be pressed to notice the difference.
HTC has also included an ‘HTC Apps’ hub in the Windows Phone Store application, much the same as it did on its older Windows Phone 7.5 devices. You’re not going to get anything new from HTC on this front, which is a bit of a disappointment.
That said, the HTC 8X handles everything that you throw at it with ease. While the apps load instantly, Microsoft’s own loading transitions that make apps appear to be loading slowly when, in fact, they aren’t.
Windows Phone 8 is a lot more customisable, including the new adaptable home screen tiles. Microsoft now allows you to choose three different sizes for each tile, allowing you to include more content and detail on your homescreen.
If you’re used to Apple’s iOS ecosystem (less so on Android, with its widgets), a larger number of live tiles constantly updating and ticking over could prove a little overwhelming but now you have more control over what you want to display, you can see as much or as little as you wish.
You’re also going to run into some issues when it comes to apps. While the Windows Phone Store is gaining momentum and more and more high-profile developers port their apps to the platform, it is still lacking the Instagrams and Flipboards that enjoy extensive use on iOS and Android.
That said, with manufacturers backing the Windows Phone ecosystem and placing significant importance on designing and releasing devices that entice users to the platform, this could all change.
As mentioned above, the 8X features the same camera as the snapper included in the One X. However, it’s the front-facing snapper that gets an upgrade, including a 88-degree ultra-wide angle camera which allows users to “get up to four faces and additional background into your self-portraits.”
If you were expecting to be able to utilise the same burst photo mode as featured on HTC’s Android line-up, you will be in for some disappointment here. This appears to be down to Microsoft’s implementation and HTC’s inability to infringe on stock apps, but you will be able to take photos by pressing the screen, almost making the camera button on the side redundant.
However, if you press and hold the camera on the side of the 8X, you will be able to bypass the lockscreen, making it infinitely easier to snap a photo in the heat of the moment. HTC employs a camera ring on the lockscreen of its Android devices, but on the HTC 8X it’s all hardware.
As for the photos themselves, it’s another encouraging show from HTC. Colors are reproduced accurately, although we noticed some over-exposure on some of our photos:
It seems that the only new addition to the camera app is Microsoft’s new Lenses feature. With Lenses, app developers can integrate their apps right into the default camera application, expanding its use and adding more features to what was previously available.
On our review device we were treated to the Bing Vision Lense (which scans barcodes and more), but additional Lenses are available to download via a dedicated in-app link.
As for video, our samples played back well with little or no choppiness. However, the handset appeared to struggle when faced with low-light conditions (as evidenced in the lake video embedded below):
Battery life on the HTC 8X is solid, standing up well as a daily driver. In one day we were able to get more than 20 hours before even contemplating using a charger, taking a number of calls that totalled a couple of hours, and some social network/gaming use.
Only having the device for a small number of days, we were unable to get a complete overview of how the 8X will perform in real-world conditions, but early impressions were more than encouraging. Windows Phone has a tendency to be helpful when it comes to battery consumption, but this is also likely helped by Qualcomm’s impressive dual-core S4 processor quietly going about its business.
We were also unable to test the device on 4G networks (being in the UK and not signed up to EE’s 4G plan, which goes live on October 30), so you will need to check out a US specific device to build a better picture.
What you have here is a beautiful handset, running a very new and relatively untested operating system – that would normally mean that HTC is off to a bad start with its Windows Phone 8 devices, but it isn’t the case with the HTC 8X.
The soft tapered edges make the 8X a joy to use, the matte texture on the back ensures that it stays in your hand whilst in use and the hardware that is packed in the 10.12mm thick chassis is high level and makes (almost no compromises).
It’s inevitable that the 8X will be compared against Nokia’s Lumia 920 and Samsung’s Ativ S – Nokia’s flagship ships with wireless charging, PureView optics and the company’s dedicated range of Windows Phone apps, while Samsung continues to push similar designs that have made its Galaxy Android range so successful.
HTC’s slick design, powerful hardware and stunning display is the perfect device to help Microsoft show off the virtues of its new OS. It’s almost a shame that HTC has so much competition at launch, many will be forced to choose between a new Nokia, HTC or Samsung device and the Taiwanese smartphone giant may find itself losing out to its more popular and now more established Windows Phone rival.
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