HTC Windows Phone 8X review
|Review: November 2012|
Last updated January 2013
In a nutshell: The Windows Phone 8X is HTC's signature phone featuring the Windows Phone 8 operating system. It's a good-looking phone with a premium feel. Equipped with a HD screen and a fast dual-core processor it has many impressive features, not least the new operating system itself. Now that the price has fallen, it's a phone we can highly recommend.
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Update (January 2013): The Windows Phone 8X is HTC's flagship Windows Phone 8 smartphone. At S21, we're very enamoured with Windows Phone 8, and now that the price of the 8X has dropped from £30 per month to around £20 per month, we're happy to upgrade our rating for this phone to 5 stars from our initial 4 star rating.
The 8X looks and feels premium. The matte finish polycarbonate unibody is very sleek and minimalist. The camera button (a welcome addition) is flush with the body. It's clear that a lot of attention has been paid to the build quality of the phone.
It's a relatively large handset - significantly bigger than the iPhone 5 - but narrower and lighter than its rival from Nokia - the Lumia 920. Although not that thin, it looks and feels thinner than it really is, thanks to clever tapering at the edges. The screen is flush with the front of the phone, which adds to the sleek overall look & feel. The form factor feels good, and it sits well in the hand.
It's available in a range of colours, with Black and Blue being the most widely available.
The display is a very good size at 4.3 inches and with a fine HD resolution, but it's not the biggest screen by any means. The Nokia Lumia 920 has a 4.5 inch screen and Android flagships like Samsung Galaxy S3 are way ahead with 4.8 inch displays. Don't get us wrong - it's a lovely screen with a resolution higher than Apple's retina display - but don't choose this phone if you're looking for a big-screen blockbuster.
Windows Phone 8 supports multicore processors, and the 8X takes advantage of that with a Qualcomm S4 1.5 GHz dual-core processor. That makes it very fast indeed.
The memory available is adequate, though not exceptional. 16GB is provided, plus 1GB RAM, but there's strangely no memory card slot for expanding beyond this.
A smartphone is as much about software as it is about hardware, and if you've read our review of Windows Phone 8, you'll know we're very keen on the new operating system. The user interface is built around Live Tiles, which are like shortcuts to apps, but live. This means they're constantly displaying updates and useful information, showing any missed calls, new messages, social media updates, photos and weather forecasts. The Lock Screen can also display information like missed calls, texts, updates and appointments.
The new Start screen is wider than in Windows Phone 7, so there's more room for those tiles to strut their stuff, but you can still access a full list of apps just by swiping left. You can customise the Start screen with the tiles you use most, and touch them to launch the app.
Windows Phone 8 includes new features like voice commands, automated cloud backup (SkyDrive) and NFC sharing.
Windows Phone Store is growing, but it's still a lot smaller than the Apple and Android equivalents, with around 10,000 apps. But you do get a very good range of useful apps pre-installed:
- People Hub (address book plus messaging & social media feeds)
- Photos Hub (your own photos plus feeds of your friends' photos)
- Music & Videos Hub (music, video, podcasts and playlists)
- Games Hub
- Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
- Internet Explorer 10
Ultra-wide-angle camera lens
HTC phones have been steadily building a solid reputation for their cameras and the 8X does pretty well. The main camera is 8 megapixels with a BSI low-light sensor and an extremely large f2.0 aperture, making it a strong performer in low-light conditions. It has autofocus and an LED flash. A dedicated imaging chip makes the camera fast to start up, find a focus and take shots. The dedicated camera button also makes it fast and easy to snap away - even from the Lock screen. Image quality isn't perfect however and not as good as we were anticipating.
The main camera is competent at video recording and can record at 1080p HD resolution.
The front camera has a resolution of 2.1 megapixels, making it capable of taking some decent shots, especially since it also has an f2.0 lens and can record video at 1080p HD.
The front and back cameras both feature ultra wide angle 28mm lenses that capture nearly triple the area of most other front cameras, enabling you to take group pictures.
HTC's premium Android handsets all benefit from the company's collaboration with Beats Audio, and the 8X is the first Windows Phone to feature Beats Audio. The 8X has a dedicated amp so it can deliver more power to the headset. The result is a richer sound experience, with bass and treble optimised for music.
The 8X is a 3G phone with support for HSPA, but no 4G LTE support.
The phone also has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.1 wireless connectivity. NFC is now supported by Windows Phone, and the 8X is able to share data with other NFC-enabled devices.
The phone also has both a GPS antenna and GLONASS.
Battery performance is pretty good. The battery has a largish 1800mAh capacity, and Windows Phone 8 is frugal with its power management. The result is that the phone should easily make it through a full day of use, unless you have everything running all the time.
The battery is non-changeable though, because of the unibody casing.
Conclusion - highly recommended now that the price has fallen
When the 8X was first released, it was priced at around £30 per month on contract. At that super-high price it didn't really feel like it was pulling its weight, and we awarded it 4 stars. Now that the price has fallen substantially, we're very happy to endorse the phone.
We like WP8 very much, and we like many things about the 8X too. We like its look & feel and the way it handles. We like its pin sharp HD display, and its fast processor. We like all the things that you can do with Windows Phone 8 and the embedded apps. We like the Beats Audio and amplifier.
We're less impressed by the lack of expandable memory and the relatively small screen size. But if you're looking for a really nice phone that's not too huge in your pocket, then we rate the 8X very highly.
HTC Windows Phone 8X features include:
- Operating system: Windows Phone 8
- 8 megapixel camera with f2.0 aperture lens, BSI low-light sensor, autofocus and LED flash
- 1080p HD video recording
- 2.1 megapixel front camera with 1080p video
- Display: Touchscreen with pinch-to-zoom capability, 720 x 1280 pixels (4.3 inches) with scratch resistant Gorilla Glass 2
- Internal GPS antenna and GLONASS with digital compass and Bing Maps
- Music player formats: .aac, .amr, .m4a, .mp3, .wav, .asf, .wma (verison 9 and 10)
- Media player formats: .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, m4v, asf, .wmv (version 9 and 10)
- Beats Audio
- Messaging: SMS, EMS, MMS, Email, IM, social media
- Internet: Internet Explorer 10, Bing
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 3.1, microUSB, 3.5 mm audio jack
- Processor: Dual-core Qualcomm S4 1.5 GHz
- Memory: 16GB internal storage, 1GB RAM
- Quadband GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) plus HSPA/WCDMA (850/900/1900/2100 MHz)
- Size: 133 x 66 x 10.1 mm
- Weight: 130g
- Battery: 1800mAh
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HTC Windows Phone 8X user reviews
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Average rating from 5 reviews:
Reviewed by favour
on 16th Jul 2014
Is really a nce phone. Love to ave one
Reviewed by jack from uk on 22nd Nov 2012
I love my window phone being a windows phone first timer and there amazing i love the live tiles and people hub and i love the tile me where i can update my social networks in seconds and local scout where all i have to do to order a pizza is press 1 button and the pizza is at my door and i love the messaging tile where it gives me predictions on words at the bottom of the screen i love htc weather where im updated on the weather and the stock markets live and the light on the phones really bright and has 3 settings and i love maps where it shows me where there's ques and re directs me and the cameras really good to all i can say is android your missing out
Reviewed by Tim from UK on 11th Nov 2012
Just got this phone yesterday after using Android for 2 years. Lovely build quality, hardware is impressive. OS is fluid. The camera does a great job and i disagree with reviews saying it doesn't handle low light well. The flash is so bright it lit up a dark room and retained plenty of detail!
The speaker on it is impressive and music quality top notch..seriously you can never put this on loudest volume setting as its too loud yet there is no distortion in quality.
WP maps utilize Nokia maps which is amongst the best I've used. It found my location within seconds! No navigation software yet but the excellent Nokia drive will be coming to all Wp8 phones soon (as is Skype with video calling).
The battery did last me 12 hours the first charge with moderate use and everything syncing and switched on. 15 hours on 4th charge and nearly 2 days with the 'battery saver' option which switches off live syncing.
I did consider the Iphone 5 but it's too expensive and has rubbish maps. I also only use the main apps along with a few games. Having MS office on board is one of the best things in wp8 for me and something I find incredible useful and an essential tool. However, If you like alot of apps and want the latest games, WP8 is not for you at the moment.
I did consider the Nokia 920 but it is much more expensive and too big. Also this phone has a striking and well balanced design. The screen is one of the best I've used. Also its zippy with no lags and has excellent antenna (reception). Where my Samsung S2 had 2 bars this had FULL bars and excellent call quality!
So i do recommend this phone especially for mature people. You cant go wrong with this or ios to be honest. Although both are locked down they give you a standard high user experience which is what i want and I cant be bothered wasting time on Android tweaking the device (though many people love the freedom).
If you are an app junkie or need expandable storage then this phone is not for you. The 16gb suits me fine.
Hope this helps and thanks for reading.
Reply by Tim from UK on 12th Nov 2012
Just wanted to add that I have the phone for over a week now hence my battery performance comments which I added later to an initial review. I always find with any phone that the first couple of charges do not reflect accurately. The battery saver option on this phone stops it from going online to update your emails and Facebook. Some may not like that but I think it's a good compromise to greatly enhance battery life. The apps just get updated when you open them. Great phone and fluid performance!
Reviewed by John from Ireland on 9th Nov 2012
Got this phone today and all I can say is WOW! It's my first windows phone and for me it's the best phone I have had this year and I've had em all. You know how polished the iPhone feels, or should I say used to feel? Well this phone is even more polished its beautiful. I've gone from phone to phone this year looking for the right one and for the first time I feel satisfied . Display is amazing, camera amazing, ease of use is amazing and it really feels top quality. Im going out on a limb here but I predict this and other windows 8 devices are the mobile platform that start where apple have left off. Granted apps are limited but I believe when this device proves itself it more designers will come on board. Normally with the limited apps I would award 4 stars but the phone is so amazing I'm giving 5.
Reviewed by gtp from england on 9th Nov 2012
Only apple can get away with charging inflated prices for a phone with the same short comings, HTC don't have that brand loyalty to get away with it like apple do. This phone is every bit as good if not better than a 16 gb iPhone 5 in every department but unless this phone is head and shoulders above apples latest luke walm offering then people will simply not buy it, the Nokia lumia 920 on the other hand looks to be the real deal and blows the boring same old iPhone 5 out of its isheep infested field, not even apples genius marketing team will be able to shield the iPhone 5 against the next wave of super powerful android devices with 5" 1080p screens ect. A little more effort and forward thinking from HTC could have seen this phone as a genuine game changer, unfortunately this will be the one x all over again.
Reply by S21 from UK on 9th Nov 2012
gtp, you rated this 5 stars, but your comments don't seem to match that rating, so we've assumed you didn't mean 5 stars. Please reply and let us know if we've got this wrong, otherwise we'll assume you meant a 3 star rating.
Reply by gtp from england on 9th Nov
Sorry yes 3 stars please