HTC Windows Phone 8X review

| November 6, 2012 More

HTC Windows Phone 8X review (© HTC)

What is it?
The HTC Windows Phone 8X is one of the first handsets to launch with Windows Phone 8. It’s bright, it’s light, and has top-end specs.

What’s great?
The 8X has an 8MP camera that shoots well in good light and wider camera than most on the front for better self-shots. It’s a gorgeous, colourful handset – and runs the latest greatest Windows operating system.

What’s not?
It’s a bit of a pain to deal with if you’re an iTunes user or Mac lover at the moment and the paltry 16GB storage may annoy you. Plus, it’s not got 4G – even though it still is fast for browsing.

The bottom line:
The HTC 8X is a smashing phone for someone who wants an elegant, functional handset that does what you’d want a smartphone to do. It’s not as easy to get lost in as an Android device if you’re a novice, and is a great alternative to an iPhone. It’ll certainly raise eyebrows when you pull it out – not just because its colourful, but as it’s so well made and beautiful in the hand.

HTC Windows Phone 8X review (© MSN)

HTC Windows Phone 8X: Review

Most people will know HTC from its Android phones – the ones with the big flip clocks on the screens. But it’s been making smartphones on the quiet for years for other companies and started out with Windows handsets, ironically.

It’s lost a bit of market share to other makers but is coming out fighting with the 8X. Launching early November, it’s one of the first handsets to run the new, souped-up Windows Phone 8.

The main competitor here will be Nokia’s Lumia 920 – another company struggling to regain its old glory days. Both handsets are bright and colourful and both run Windows Phone 8. But the HTC Windows Phone 8X is significantly smaller and lighter to hold. It’s also going to be cheaper.

HTC Windows Phone 8X: Design and Build:

The first thing that hits you when you pick up the HTC Windows Phone 8X is how amazing it looks. This is one seriously attractive son of a gun. It’s an all in one, unibody, polycarbonate design. What does that mean? Well, minimum breakages in the surface – so you won’t be taking that back off or fiddling around with SD card slots.

Aesthetics definitely won out here. Also, the polycarbonate gives it a feeling of solidity, exclusivity and durability.

And because of its curved back, it gives the impression of being slimmer than it really is. Good work, HTC.

The 8X has got a matte finish – meaning it not only looks great, but is easy to grip for those who drop their phones a lot – and the HTC 8X comes in four colours – vivid red, hideous yellow, a seductive purple (our favourite) and graphite black (for the boring among us.)

Beneath the display, you’ll see three standard Windows Phone 8 buttons which Microsoft insists on. The start button, back and search.

The top of the phone houses the headphone jack and standby/lock button which is easy to press with one hand, if not a little difficult to sometimes locate with one finger.

You’ll find little to remark on at the bottom, other than a charging port. The left hand side of the phone is bare – whilst the right has it all going on: SIM tray slot, volume rocker and camera shutter button. A camera lens sits around the back – along with the LED flash to keep it lit well.

HTC Windows Phone 8X review (© MSN)

HTC Windows Phone 8X: Display

The screen is similar to that of the HTC One X or Nokia Lumia 800 in that it looks as though it’s been placed on top of the panel, rather than being part of it and sticking out slightly – but in a good way with curves around the edges.

It’s a high resolution job too – coming in at 1280 x 720 and measuring 4.3 inches. Since Apple’s Retina appears to be the reference point for most, we’ll put it into context by saying it’s just as good and sharp.

HTC has also made sure the actual screen is pushed right up against the glass so just like the Samsung Galaxy S III and iPhone 5, you get an amazing clarity. We’d recommend using the light theme though – it’ll improve your outdoor visibility no end.

HTC Windows Phone 8X: Interface and OS

The HTC Windows Phone 8X is one of the first – if not the first Windows Phone 8 handsets and the OS brings some real improvements. Some are obvious, some more subtle. But all welcome.

The main one is live tiles. Windows Phone’s big selling point has always been these little bricks that update with live information – kind of like a more restricted, yet also more uniform and elegant version of Android’s widgets.

You can now resize them to a number of presets and while it sounds like an obvious thing, it was notable by its absence in Windows Phone 7. Being able to see more information at hand makes a huge difference.

There’s also improvements to the lock screen with some social media info being displayed and a brilliant ability to use Facebook albums as your screensaver (the OS picking images at random to shock and surprise you.)

You’re still restricted to one main home page and one menu page but at least you can see more at a glance now.

HTC Windows Phone 8X review (© HTC)

HTC Windows Phone 8X: Camera

HTC has made some of the best camera phones available – and the recent HTC One X was certainly no slouch. But we’re a little disappointed with the 8X offering though – if only because HTC made such a song and dance about how great it is.

The rear lens is 8MP which is pretty standard these days. It does a good job in reasonable light, but struggles in the dark. The flash is a little overly yellow and in pitch black situations, it just kicks in and takes the photo with no real focusing time.
Add to that a slow shutter speed and the blur you’ll get on some pics, you realise this is very much a phone camera and not up to Lumia 920 standards.

The front camera is a very respectable 2.1MP and yields impressive results. HTC promises you can fit more into a shot and we can verify that you can – if you hold it in landscape mode, you get a really nice big picture. Ideal if you have a mahoosive head!

HTC Windows Phone 8X: Performance

The HTC Windows Phone 8X flies along. This is perhaps the way that the OS works – similarly to iOS and unlike Android, things are monitored very closely and apps don’t get in the way of each other.

In fact, we encountered a lot less lag than we’ve experienced on much more souped up handsets. Watching video footage is quick, playing games is quick. You get the feeling that the HTC 8X can take anything you throw at it.

As for keeping yourself going all day, you will manage as long as you’re sensible. HTC doesn’t have the best track record for battery life, unfortunately. And it certainly won’t win any awards here. But that said, if you want a bigger battery, you’d probably end up with a larger casing, so it’s horses for courses. We averaged 12 hours with medium use which should be more than enough for most people.

HTC Windows Phone 8X review (© HTC)

HTC Windows Phone 8X: Verdict

HTC is getting in early while the appetite for Windows Phone 8 is strong. It’s definitely created a great product that retailers can push in the run up to Christmas.

Compared to its big rival, the Nokia Lumia 920, HTC is a lot, lot lighter and smaller in the hand. It just looks nicer. For those who want to stand out, this is a great handset. And those who love social networking will be in their element because of the unique way that Windows Phone handles contacts and networking.

We’re sure in time, there will be far superior Windows Phone 8 handsets – but for the time being at least, this is the best one you can get.

Windows Phone 8: Everything you need to know
On MSN: Windows Phone 8

HTC Windows Phone 8X rated four stars out of five (© MSN)

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Category: HTC Vivid

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