Thankfully, HTC were much more restrained when it came to releasing their first Windows Phone 8 devices. Two smartphones were announced, the high-end 8X and mid-range 8S, both which adhered to Microsoft's strict chassis guidelines. Nonetheless, the two features unique design and more importantly, for me at least, a coherent naming scheme. The HTC Windows Phone 8X is what I will be reviewing here, and it is a wonderful thing.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8960 SoC with dual core 1.5 Ghz Krait and Adreno 225 GPU
- 1GB RAM and 16GB built-in flash storage (no expansion slot)
- 4.3" Super LCD2 capacitive touchscreen with 720 x 1280 resolution (342 ppi)
- Quad band GSM and 3G (LTE on select models)
- 42 Mbps DC-HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA
- 8 Megapixel autofocus camera with single LED flash and 1080p30 video recording
- 2.1 Megapixel front camera with 1080p30 video recording
- Bluetooth 3.1 and WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n
- GPS receiver with A-GPS, GLONASS
- NFC and microUSB
- Available in black, red, blue and yellow
- 1800mAh battery (none user replaceable)
With a thickness of 10.1mm, the 8X is considerd thick by today's standard, but thanks to the the tapered edges, it actually feels rather slim. It also also considerably lighter than the Lumia 920 (130g vs 185g). But despite its lightness and choice of material, the 8X is solidly build. Sadly, HTC has only managed to squeeze in a 1800mAh battery, small by today's standard. For example the RAZR MAXX, which features similar dimensions to the 8X, contains a massive 3300mAh battery. The battery is adequate enough for day to day use for regular users, but falters the moment it comes under the microscope of a power or social-heavy user. I regularly have top up the battery mid way through a typical day.
decent enough, but would hardly impress any pixel peepers. The front facing camera is a 2.1 Megapixel variety, which is hardly impressive. However, HTC has paired the camera with an ultra wide angle lens - meaning you can easily get 4-5 of your friends in the same picture or video call.
Like all Windows Phone 8 devices, powering the HTC 8X is Qualcomm's incredible Snapdragon S4 SoC. This comes with a pair of ARM Cortex A9 crushing next generation Krait clocked at 1.5 GHz and Adreno 225 GPU 3D hardware accelerator. While relatively outdated by today’s quad core standard, the Snapdragon MSM8960 is still an decent performer, especially when paired with a very efficient Windows Phone 8 operating system and 1GB RAM. The upgrade in processing technology over the previous Snapdragon S2 SoC is evident - apps launch faster and you will rarely encounter any form of lag. 16GB of fast NAND storage is included. After formatting, this amount to only 12GB - a ridiculous amount considering the 8X lacks any means of expandable storage either through USB on the Go or expansion card.
I did not initially like, but have grown to tolerate) and shared kernel with Windows 8. This means, in theory at least, Windows 8 RT apps can be easily ported to Windows Phone 8. Windows Phone 8 a good improvement over Windows Phone 7.5 Mango and adds plenty of features that we've been asking for. IE10 mobile is one of the best browser I have used on a mobile device yet, only betrayed by the lack of Flash plug-in.
On a whole, the stylish and usable Swiss style Metro UI design language has more or less been retained. HTC has not done anything to ruin the pure Windows Phone 8 experience, which is something I wish all Android manufacturers (including HTC!) would learn from. If the core experience is good enough, leave it alone! For big clock HTC fans, HTC has included a neat resizeable widget that simulates their HTC Sense Android big clock UI - only it is actually better looking here. There really isn't many apps that HTC has included, both theirs as well as third party apps, but anything missing can easily be downloaded via the Marketplace.
With the sim-free version available for £380 in Britain, the HTC Windows Phone 8X is good to honest, a great value for money smartphone for those looking for something a bit different than your average Android or iPhone. The design coupled with Windows Phone 8's intuitive UI proves a great pairing, but it isn't for anyone. The pricier but also heavier Nokia Lumia 920 will tempt power users with its larger 32GB storage, Qi wireless charging and PureView camera, but there is no shame in choosing the HTC 8X. Thanks to its lower cost and mobility, the 8X is a great Windows Phone 8 alternative.
+ Great design and build quality
+ Great performance
+ Ultra wide angle front camera
+ Decent pricing
- Average none-removable battery
- None expandable storage
- Lack of key apps such as Spotify