HTC 8X review

HTC 8X review

T3 4
  • It looks good, but will the HTC 8X suffer because it lacks 4G and is powered by an OS that’s still daunting to some users?

    HTC 8X review

    Love

    • Gorgeous design
    • Great feel
    • Eye-poppingly sharp screen

    Hate

    • Not enough HTC specialities
    • Average battery life
    • No expandable memory

    The Windows Phone 8X by HTC is its full name, but everyone’s going to be calling it the HTC 8X, so let’s do the same. This is one of the most handsome, tactile and pleasurable-to-hold phones you’ll come across. The glass screen has a gloss black frame, with the matte soft-touch case framing that.

    Since the case comes in various colours, including a purply blue, it looks pretty snazzy and feels very inviting to the touch. The UK version of the 8X will also be available in black and yellow, while the WP8 homepage will match the colour of the handset as default (although you can change the colour if you wish).

    The main competition comes from the Nokia Lumia 920 and 820, while the 8X is also joined by its Windows Phone 8 sibling - the HTC 8S.

    HTC 8X: Build

    This is HTC’s best constructed phone since the metal Legend phone. It feels solid and strong – there’s no creaking or flexing here. Partly that’s because the battery is sealed inside so there’s no back panel to pop off. The advantage is the battery can be bigger as there’s no internal frame which a removable battery would require.

    It also means the phone can be thinner. The result is sleek and small – it feels less hand-stretching than some 4.3-inch screened phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S2 or the monster-sized Samsung Galaxy S3, with it's 4.8-inch display.

    The edge where the polycarbonate frame joins the glass screen is pleasingly smooth, enough to make the phone into a worry stone that you can rotate satisfyingly through your fingers.

    The only disappointment in the build is the power button which is so flush with the top edge it needs a firm press to activate it. Since there’s no physical home button on the screen, it’s the only way to turn it on unless you launch the camera with its physical button.

    HTC 8X: Features

    HTC phones always sound good, since the company got involved with Beats Audio -  with the likes of the HTC One X and HTC One S and HTC One V. This model also includes Beats tech on board and has an extra amplifier to boost the sonics while still keeping them clear and sharp. This extra audio boost works throughout the phone, whether you’re listening to music or watching video.

    And there’s a good 8MP camera with wide-open f/2.0 aperture so lots of light gets in. HTC prides itself on cameras that are ready to go quickly with minimal shutter lag. There’s also a front-facing camera which, thanks to its 2.1MP resolution, is capable of 1080p HD video, just like the one round the back.

    But there are few of the trademark HTC features seen on its Android phones. Windows Phone 8 is much more uniform than Android and the HTC Hub is less busy than it was on Windows Phone 7. This is a shame as HTC’s skill with phone software is exceptional.

    The HTC Hub is here as a tile that stretches the width of the screen, but it’s unbranded and merely shows the time and weather info. Touch it and you have access to more weather details – though none of the visual flourishes the company was known for, along with Stocks and News.

    The phone has NFC, the contactless data transfer system, though implementations of this on Windows Phone 8 are still pretty minimal.

    HTC 8X: Screen

    The 4.3in display has a resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels, that’s 342 pixels per inch. No wonder it looks so good: it even beats the iPhone 5’s Retina Display (326ppi) and isn’t far off the Google Nexus 7 screen which is a full seven inches in size.

    It’s not AMOLED but is still bright and colourful. The live tiles that make up Windows Phone 8 gleam on this display, making this OS look inviting.

    Of course, it’s still so different from iOS or Android that many may find it too big a change to embrace, but the advantage of having more tiles on screen at once, thanks to different sizes, could be enough to tip the balance. If so, this phone’s screen certainly does it justice.

    HTC 8X: Performance

    Although the processor requirements for Windows Phone have become much more flexible with the new version of the software, manufacturers are limited by the choice of available processors. This one uses the Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon, the same dual-core 1.5GHz chip that features in the Nokia Lumia 920.

    In practice, this is more than enough to keep it all running along happily and without slowdowns or glitches. The touchscreen is responsive and butter-smooth, and the live tiles update endlessly.

    Another change to Windows Phone requirements means manufacturers can add a removable memory slot. But there isn’t one here, so you’re limited to the 32GB internal memory.

    HTC 8X: Battery

     

    The battery life here is acceptable but not exceptional. It will get you through a full day of reasonable use, even part way through day two, but as always we’d recommend nightly recharges for peace of mind. Still, memories of smartphones dying around lunchtime seem suddenly distant.

    HTC 8X: Verdict

    This is a spectacularly handsome phone with great touchability thanks to its appealing matte polycarbonate frame. The high-resolution screen means the Windows Phone 8 tiles gleam and the fast processor ensures it’s a pleasant phone to use – it won’t keep you waiting whatever you’re doing.

    It’s disappointing not to see more HTC specials in the phone. Windows Phone 8 accepts less customisation than Android, but there’s still room for manufacturers to stamp their personality on the OS – just ask Nokia. Still, this is a good-looking phone that’s a delight to use. Stay tuned for a full review of Windows Phone 8.

    HTC 8X release date: 2 November2012 (available to pre-order now)

    HTC 8X price: £400

  • The HTC 8X is the maker's new flagship Windows Phone 8 handset and we were invited along for a sneak preview...

    HTC 8X review

    Love

    • Gorgeous design
    • Great feel
    • Eye-poppingly sharp screen

    Hate

    • Not enough HTC specialities
    • Average battery life
    • No expandable memory

    The HTC 8X or Windows Phone 8X by HTC to give it its full, rather clunky title, is HTC's upcoming Windows Phone 8 handset.

    The new OS is set to launch in October with phones such as the Nokia Lumia 920 already announced. HTC actually started out making phones on the Microsoft's platform before moving more towards the Android OS in recent years, so it's no surprise that the maker has gone back to its roots for the launch of Windows Phone 8 with the 8X and the more affordable HTC 8S.

    But, does the 8X bring enough to the table to rival the likes of the new iPhone 5 or the Android-toting Samsung Galaxy S3?

    HTC 8X: Build

    There's no denying that the HTC 8X is very nice looking phone indeed. It may remind you a little of the Nokia Lumia 900 and the newer Lumia 920 - which is because, like the Nokias, it's been designed to reflect the tile- based, colourful look of the Windows Phone OS.

    At 10.12mm, the HTC 8X isn't the slimmest smartphone around, but the tapered edges make it look and feel slimmer than it actually is, while the slinky finish gives it the feel of a premium handset.

    The 8X will be available in three colours in the UK - blue, black and yellow, while the lucky old Americans will also have the option of a red handset. The Windows Phone 8 homepage will be the same colour as the phone it's on, by default, although naturally, you'll have the option to change it.

    HTC 8X: Features

    The 8X uses the same camera technology as the HTC One X and HTC One S, with an 8MP rear snapper and a front- facing 2.1MP cam and the option for 1080p video capture on both.

    Likewise, the 8X also features the same Beats audio tech that's found on the One range, although this time there are two new amps included - one on the audio output and one on the speaker for extra power.

    The phone has a 16GB built-in memory, which may sound a little on the small side to some, espcially if you plan to use your phone for lots of music and video. Plus, there's no option to expand it via micro SD card, which is sure to rile some smartphone fans.

    Along with the usual 3G and Wi-Fi connetivity that you'd expect from a top-tier smartphone, the 8X also features NFC, unlike the new iPhone 5.

    HTC 8X: Screen

    The 8X sports a 4.3-inch screen, so it's not as big as the 4.7-inch display on the HTC One X, but there's still plenty of room to show off Microsoft's shiny new OS. The 720p 1280x720 resolution offers 342 ppi which is decent enough, putting it in the same league as the iPhone 5's Retina display.

    HTC 8X: Performance

     

    The 8X is powered by a 1.5GHz Qualcomm S4 dual-core processor. We weren't permitted to look far beyond the Windows Phone 8 home screen, but what we did see of the phone in action certainly looked zippy and stutter-free. Obviously we'll bring you more details as soon as we can get a full review sample in for testing.

    HTC 8X: Verdict

    So far, we've only had a limited amount of time with the HTC 8X, but we were certainly impressed by what we saw. The overall design shows that the brand is innovating in terms of aesthetics - something that Apple seems to have slowed down on with the iPhone 5. The spec lineup is also strong - particularly the camera tech from the One range, along with the improved Beats technology.

    Is this the phone that will propel Windows Phone 8 into the mainstream? We'll let you know as soon as we get our mitts on a full review sample.

    HTC 8X release date: November 2012

    HTC 8X price: TBC

    Hands-on review by Libby Plummer

    • HTC 8X and HTC 8S Windows Phone 8 preview
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