HTC has launched its new flagship Windows Phone 8 smartphone, the catchily-named ‘Windows Phone 8X by HTC’, to be used in partnership with Microsoft to promote Windows Phone 8. That partnership should prove interesting, considering Nokia has been a solid supporter of Windows Phone for over a year now – we wonder if the Lumia 920 will receive the same treatment from Microsoft.
Still, the Windows Phone 8X is shaping up to be another masterpiece from HTC, from its vibrant design to its bright, sharp display and 8MP camera. We had a chance to fondle the 8X at a recent preview event, and while we couldn’t get past the lock screen because of Windows Phone 8’s frustratingly confidential nature, it’s certainly an exciting handset.
Windows Phone 8X by HTC hands-on
The 8X boasts a matt textured finish that feels soft to the touch and comes in four different colours: black, blue, red and yellow. The 4.3-inch Super LCD 2 screen rocks a sharp 720p resolution, and is made from thin Gorilla Glass. Although we could only admire the background on the lock screen, the 8X’s panel seems to be just as crisp as the HTC One X’s, with realistic colours.
We love the single-panel design, and the way the edges taper off, giving the 8X a unique and appealing look. As you can see, the front is glossy glass and features three touch buttons (Back, Search and the instantly recognisable Windows button).
The 8X’s 1.5GHz S4 processor packs two cores and should capably handle Windows Phone 8 apps (considering the light requirements of Windows Phone 7.5). You get 16GB of built-in storage for your apps and media, but no memory card slot.
Speaking of media, your music and movies will get the usual Beats Audio boost, with added flare: the audio out now has a built-in amp, apparently giving a greater clarity and crispness. A second amp on the 8X’s speakers should also help to cut distortion.
An 8MP rear-facing camera with flash and f/2.0 lens should produce better low-light shots than most rival phones, but the big talking point is the sharp 2.1MP front-facing wide-angle lens. We all know that self-portrait shots taken on front-facing cameras are generally grainy, rubbish affairs, but now you can shoot a small group in crisp detail without hassle. It’s also good news for Skype fans, with the video call app featuring in Windows Phone 8 from the off.
The 8X also has built-in NFC support, but no love for 4G in this model. Pricing and availability to be confirmed.
Windows Phone 8S by HTC hands-on
As well as the Windows Phone 8X, HTC is releasing a cheaper version with cut-down specs called the ‘Windows Phone 8S by HTC’. You’ll notice the design is massively different from the 8X, featuring a more compact yet chunkier body. The single panel of the 8X has been split in two near the lip, with the two sections coloured differently – we checked out a grey/yellow version, but it also comes in blue/purple, red/orange and black/white (if you can’t take the brightness of the others).
Once again we couldn’t progress past the One S’s lock screen thanks to Windows Phone 8 still being under wraps, but we got a full run-down of the specs and features from HTC.
The 8S has a smaller 4-inch Gorilla Glass screen that uses the same LCD 2 technology as the 8X, and those three touch buttons make another appearance just beneath. Again, the front is all glass with a soft matt finish to the rear. It’s comfortable to hold and a pleasing weight, while the split colouration gives it a unique appeal.
The first area where HTC has saved cash is the 1GHz dual-core S4 processor, a little slower than the 1.2GHz chip in the 8X but we’d be surprised to see any stuttering in the Windows Phone 8 interface. Built-in storage has also been slashed from 16GB to just 4GB, but the 8S has a Micro SD slot so you can actually expand by a further 64GB.
Beats Audio is again present in the 8S, albeit without the two amps present in the 8X. The rear-facing camera has been reduced from an 8MP model to a 5MP snapper, but more surprising is the complete lack of a front-facing lens. The only new addition is a physical camera button on the side of the 8S, which wasn’t present in the 8X.
Pricing and availability are again yet to be confirmed, more news when we have it!