HTC Windows Phone 8X

HTC's Windows Phone 8X needed that "one more thing" to justify its place among the premium phones, but fails to deliver. It's a good phone, just not a great one.


7.2
CNET Rating
8.0
User Rating

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Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon


Design

If you can't beat them, join them. HTC has opted for the same coloured polycarbonate chassis design that Nokia has made popular with its Lumia line, and in true HTC style, it makes it its own. The Windows Phone 8X may have a smaller screen compared to the Nokia Lumia 920 — 4.3-inch compared with 4.5-inch — but many tossing up between the two phones will appreciate how much lighter the HTC is. At 130-grams, the Windows Phone 8X is nearly 50 per cent lighter than Nokia's flagship, and it's a noticeable difference.

Even though it has the smaller screen, the 8X shares the same footprint that we've seen on other phones this year. Laying it on the Motorola Razr HD, the handsets are the same width and height, though the 8X has a much larger bezel surrounding its Super LCD display. This makes the screen look long, but not in an awkward way. Visually, the screen is stunning, with rich, bright colours popping off the screen's deep blacks. Nokia may have spent more time and words describing its PureMotion HD display, but there is almost no discernible difference in the quality of these screens as far as we can tell.

We do think the 8X feels uncomfortable, though. The handset's design is a single, tapered dome, and this gives the phone rather sharp corners all the way around. Not skin-piercing, blood-gushing sharp, but enough so that it sits awkwardly against the curves of your hand. Nokia's phone may be heavier, but we'd argue that it has better ergonomics.

It's unibody design also means that the phone's battery is sealed within the chassis, which may or may not bother you. There is no expandable memory slot either, which we find more troublesome.

User experience

If you read our review of the Lumia 920, you should have a pretty good idea of what we have to say about the user experience on the Windows Phone 8X. If you covered both phones so that only the screens were visible, there would be very little to let you know which phone was which. The 8X offers the same slick, buttery-smooth user experience that we enjoyed when we reviewed the Lumia 920, thanks to it having the same dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm processor as the Nokia and the same 1GB RAM.

The inclusion of HTC designed applications — and the absence of Nokia-made apps — is what sets these phones apart. But in a battle of apps, HTC loses out — big time. While Nokia includes internally developed maps, music and camera lenses, not to mention several exclusive third-party titles like Angry Birds Roost, HTC offers the same boring suite of tools that we saw when we last reviewed an HTC Windows Phone. It's Weather and Time app is pre-installed with a Live Tile centrally located on the start screen, and there are a few other tools ready to download in the Store, like a Flashlight and a unit converter. This is a lazy collection of apps, and it pales in comparison to Nokia's range.

HTC includes an 1800mAh capacity battery in the 8X, and while a battery this size proved insufficient in the One X handset we reviewed earlier in the year, it does the trick here with the 8X. We comfortably made it through a busy work day using the 8X, with juice to spare for some browsing before bed.

Camera

With so little to add to the Windows Phone equation, it is disappointing that HTC hasn't used the best of its camera technology. It does include the same dedicated HTC ImageChip technology we saw in the One X earlier this year, but the photos just don't look as good.

Using the camera may not give you this impression; the software is clean and smooth, and taking photos is pleasingly fast. But, the photos that the rear-facing 8-megapixel camera takes just aren't that great. Colours are especially troublesome, with most of our photos spoiled by a yellow-greenish hue — possibly a problem with the auto white balance settings. It struggled with mixed temperatures in an image, with whites flaring in a number of our outdoor shots. We also noticed that the auto-focus struggled with subjects at about a half-metre from the lens. There are no focus-mode settings either, so switching to Macro is not an option.

Interestingly, HTC has included quite an impressive front-facing camera. It sports a 2-megapixel sensor, but more importantly, it has a wide lens with f/2.0 aperture. This is a plus for video conferencing, but also for people who love taking selfies with groups of friends — you can see yourself in the viewfinder and get everyone in the shot.

Whites flare in this photo as the sensor struggles with the mix of temperatures in the image.
(Credit: CBSi)


(Credit: CBSi)

This photo was taken with the front facing camera.
(Credit: CBSi)

Overall

Based on the basics and its slick user experience, the HTC Windows Phone 8X is a decent smartphone, but the same can be said about all of the Windows Phone 8 devices we've seen so far. Even the cheaper HTC and Nokia phones have a fast, smooth UI, so at the premium price point, we are looking for a little more. The 8X just doesn't have that "one more thing" to recommend itself. HTC's bonus apps are a bland assortment of tools that you can otherwise download for free through third-parties on the Windows Store, and its camera, which should be great, is mediocre. If you don't mind the weight, we suggest you take a look at the Nokia Lumia 920.



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AnimusT posted a comment   

i can't install this app:http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/life-numbers/bfe28a35-e7fd-4ac7-b516-a840bbf0945b
on windows . someone can help?

 

LuisA1 posted a comment   
Spain

After a few weeks using this phone, I can say that the HTC Windows Phone 8X has an excellent design thanks to its curved lines and monochassis colorful body, which is also great to hold.

The screen has one of the highest pixel density in the market and, while it is a little bit small for today standards, it should be big enough for most users.

Performance in applications and games is excellent, and Windows 8 interface moves smoothly thanks to the Snapdragon S4 dual core processor at 1.5GHz and 1GB of RAM. Unfortunately the internal storage is quite limited with only 16GB.

The camera performance is quite good, also not as good as the Nokia Lumia 920 in low light conditions. If you want to see a comparison between pictures taken by HTC Windows Phone 8X, HTC One X and Nokia Lumia 920 check this analisis del HTC Windows Phone 8X article (text in Spanish but pictures can be easily found)

Finally, its price tag makes this telephone a very attractive option for anyone looking for a Windows Phone 8 device.

 

BrightBurner posted a comment   
Australia

In terms of how these two phones sell together, I generally find the features of the HTC 8X tenders more to the personal users while the Nokia 920 counterpart is more tailored to business users.

 

GusF posted a comment   

EDIT: 4G kicks **** too! And the battery is more than equal to any other phone out there.

GusF Facebook
8
Rating
 

"8X is a winner"

GusF posted a review   

My last phone was the HTC HD7 which had a big screen but terrible battery life and WP7 had run it's course by the time I got rid of it 2 weeks ago. App selection was an issue for me at first, but a sturdy OS on the whole. Saying that, HTC makes a sturdy phone and I dropped the HD7 a dozen times on hard surfaces and didn't once crack a single thing. By the end of the life of the phone there were a few software issues creeping in (such as once or twice no sound at all coming from the phone intermittently for no apparent reason), but overall the phone served me well. That's partly why I opted for the 8X as my next device. When I was standing in the shop deciding in a hurry which phone to get, it was either the Galaxy S3, iPhone5, Lumia 920 or the 8X.

When I picked up the Lumia I felt like and atrophied senior citizen who hadn't been to the gym in an eon. Heavy. Even after I'd just been holding the giant HD7.

The iPhone didn't have much that drew me to it. Too skinny, hard to hold comfortably in my large hand, buying into Macs world domination not on my agenda (I find it underwhelming that one of their main selling points was the fact there is an extra row of icons on the start screen...). iPhone 5 looks and feels no better than the new range of Samsung and WP8 devices.

I didn't get the Samsung mostly because all my friends now have one, and I really wanted to give WP8 a chance. However, most of my loyal iPhone pals have moved to Galaxy S3s and I must say the Android system has many many plus's on its side having played with the variety of OSs available now.

I then looked at the 8X with trepidation, hesitant of HTC's overall track record, but it felt right in my hand, it had the front-facing camera, and the screen clarity won me over. I'm also going back from Mac PCs to Windows 8, so it seemed like the best option. I'm glad I did. The more I hold it the better it feels in my hand. I've already accidentally thrown it half way across my living room onto the hardwood floor, and it only took a slight graze off the corner of the poly backing --- plus one for hardiness. WP8 is smoother than WP7 and easily as smooth as any other OS. The interface is great to use as a mid-range smartphone user, and would be great for the beginner smartphone users. I'm not trying to be a power user otherwise I'd be on Android, but the WP8 is customisable enough to satisfy my needs. Most of my Android buddy's love the way I can setup my Start screen to have everything I really need directly at my fingertips (my one remaining iPhone buddy is in denial that Windows could be better than iOS). The WP8 OS has great functionality and compatibility overall. And as a musician, I have payed special attention to the 'Beats' amplifier system they've built it. I was skeptical that it would make any difference, but it sounds great and is noticeably better than the sound coming out of any other phone.

The bad points:
Non replaceable battery
No memory card slot (but not especially required depending on your needs)
The power and volume buttons aren't ideally placed

Overall 8X is the one of the best phones on the market today IMO. Recommended to anyone.

(Glad I go that out of my system! Thanks for reading!)

 

MotorMouth posted a comment   
Australia

This is a weird review, the first I've encountered to suggest the 8X is uncomfortable to hold. It is, in fact, ridiculous because the so-called "sharp edges" of the phone are actually beautifully rounded. The radius of the curve is about 2-3mm along the edges and the corners are at least double that radius. They need to be because all the buttons are housed on those edges. Comparing the feel in the hand of my new 8S with my Nokia 800 is like comparing the feel of a block of wood and a half-used cake of soap. The 8S sits beautifully in the hand, as does the 8X (from my experience checking them out in a few different shops). It is the Nokia, in reality, that has sharp edges around both top and bottom, although they are not uncomfortable in any way, either.

For me, the 8X is easily the pick of the new WP8 handsets - the Lumia 920 is like two Galaxy S3's glued together. If I was a power user, I'd have no trouble justifying it but, as a normal person, the 8S made a lot more sense for free on a $29 plan.

 

GeorgeG1 posted a comment   

I have been using this phone for two weeks after using the Iphone 5 and Samsung3 4g version as well as the Nokia 920. This is by far the best phone in terms of quality and size, camera and especially battery power compared to the other phones.

In terms of camera shots, I believe it is one of the best closly followed by iphone 5 and then Samsung in terms of colour, clarity of picture and brightness especially during the day.

In terms of its design, I think it feels great and doesn't need a phone cover to protect it as it is very sturdy and doesn't scratch that easily like other phones. I also agree that the button to switch on and off is a little stiff but protects you from calling others by accident if you have it in your jeans or pant pockets.

user234
8
Rating
 

"Best looking Windows Phone 8 Device"

user234 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Gorgeous 720p screen, absolutely beautiful design and finish, feels so much lighter and thinner than what it is, fits nicely in the pocket, excellent build quality

The Bad:Battery is good but not great, volume buttons are difficult to press especially the power button, the matte finish at the back does feel like it can get dirty, should have more storage.

This phone is one of the best phones I have come to owe, I absolutely love the design and feel of the phone. It fits perfectly in my pocket and so easy to use. The screen is beautiful showing great colours and very good outdoor view-ability.
The buttons are of particulate difficulty to press especially the lock button and does take some getting used too (requiring your second hand to lock most times). Camera is good, not SLR good it is a phone after all, but good for a phone. I have had this phone for 2 weeks and its been one the the best devices to use and WP8 is just such a great OS. Great alternative to an iPhone or android device. The battery is good, i can make it to a full day with moderate use and still have 30-45% battery left in the night.

 

trebor83 posted a comment   
Australia

One of the main complaints I have read elsewhere about the 8X has been that the combination of the power button being thin, flush with the body and positioned on the top of the relatively tall device makes using it particularly difficult and since it is the primary button for making a WP device wake/sleep you have to use it regularly and it gets very frustrating.

You don't seem to have mentioned this as a problem at all however. Is that because you didn't find it an issue or because you felt the other design issues were just more serious?

 

LabbyP posted a comment   
Australia

Again HTC are behind the times, they need to be setting the pace, not make boring phones. 16GB of ram, not good I thought 32 or 64 would have been a far better option. This is just a remade WP7.5

 

StefEBear posted a reply   
Australia

So you mean they are just like Apple's new iPhone 5 then, just a reworked iPhone 4...

 

1westy1 posted a reply   
Australia

16GB of ram would be pretty impressive




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User Reviews / Comments  HTC Windows Phone 8X

  • AnimusT

    AnimusT

    "i can't install this app:http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/life-numbers/bfe28a35-e7fd-4ac7-b516-a840bbf0945b
    on windows . someone can help?"

  • LuisA1

    LuisA1

    "After a few weeks using this phone, I can say that the HTC Windows Phone 8X has an excellent design thanks to its curved lines and monochassis colorful body, which is also great to hold.

  • BrightBurner

    BrightBurner

    "In terms of how these two phones sell together, I generally find the features of the HTC 8X tenders more to the personal users while the Nokia 920 counterpart is more tailored to business users."

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