Sleek, sexy and colorful design; Bright, vivid display; Beats Audio; Fairly fast and sharp camera; Wide-angle front camera
Relatively short battery life; No microSD card slot
The HTC Windows Phone 8X is an exciting showcase for Microsoft's improved operating system, offering a high-quality camera and Beats Audio in a sleek and colorful design
What's in a name? For HTC, a moniker like Windows Phone 8X shows that the company very much wants the world to think of its device as the flagship product for Microsoft's new OS. Offering a very sleek and colorful design, Beats Audio and a camera that can capture more of your friends at once, the 8X ($99 for 8GB, $199 for 16GB) is gunning to be the Windows Phone of the season. Find out if this device has what it takes to not only tear you away from Android and the iPhone, but also beat the feature-packed Lumia 920.
Instead of tagging the front of the device with excessive labeling, HTC places all insignias (HTC, Beats and AT&T) on the rear panel, a nice touch. Here also is an 8-MP camera, flash and a speaker.
Along the top edge of the 8X are a power button and headphone jack. A volume rocker and dedicated camera button are located on the right, along with a pullout tray for the SIM card. The microUSB slot is tucked away at the bottom of the handset.Nokia Lumia 920 is on the chunky side, wider and thicker at 5.1 x 2.8 x 0.42-inches. To be fair, the Lumia 920 has a slightly bigger display and a PureView camera that takes up more internal real estate.
The 8X's 300 lux brightness was a hair shy of the 301 lux average. The Nokia 920 was only slightly brighter, at 310 lux. When we viewed the "Skyfall" trailer on the 8X and Lumia 920 side by side, the Lumia 920's screen offered better contrast and deeper black levels.
Pressing the physical volume controls displays a little drop-down window that lets you advance, rewind or pause tracks. At its largest, the Music + Video Live Tile shows a picture of the artist, as well as his or her name scrolling horizontally and vertically. It would be a better use of this tile if you could actually control tracks.
The rear-facing speaker on the 8X kicked out somewhat loud, but tinny sound. It was good for making phone calls via speakerphone, but you wouldn't want to use it to listen to music for extended periods.
Windows Phone 8
There are lots of tiles users can pin to their Start screen, including people, apps, websites, photo albums, music albums, notes, directions and more. Live Tiles can now be resized to one of three sizes. Just long-press to make a tile smaller or as large as rectangle that stretches across the screen.
As attractive as Windows Phone 8 is, it could be easier to use. For instance, you need to press the top of the screen to see your battery life and signal strength. And while it's easy to switch apps, it takes more steps than we'd like to close them.
People Hub: Groups and Rooms
Similar to the workgroups in Microsoft Office, Rooms lets you set up a virtual network with selected contacts to privately share photos, calendars and send messages. Inviting someone to a room was as easy as selecting them from our contacts list. From there, sharing photos, notes and sending messages was a simple matter. We can see this being a very helpful tool for both families and employees alike. We'd like to see Rooms migrate to Windows 8 as well.
As mentioned, if you link all of these social networks, your Contact List can quickly become epic in length. Fortunately, you can choose which contacts to display.
Although there are third-party apps for Android phone that go further than Kid's Corner, Windows Phone 8 does more for parents out of the box than Google or Apple.
AT&T also makes its presence felt with its usual cast of carrierware. The HTC Windows Phone 8X comes preinstalled with AT&T FamilyMap, Code Scanner, Navigator, Radio, U-verse Live TV and myAT&T. Thankfully, you can remove these apps.
Although the 8X has its own Maps app, we prefer Nokia Maps, which offered more details and has separate views for satellite, public transit and traffic routes. We also liked the clean presentation of Nokia's Drive app that provided easy to follow turn-by-turn navigation. (Nokia Drive is slated to become available to all Windows Phones, but there's no ETA.)
Third-party apps include YouTube and YPmobile.
Word Flow Keyboard
The HTC Windows Phone 8X has a NFC chip, which let us share photos, websites, contacts and other content by touching the phone to another NFC-enabled device. Tap & Share -- the name HTC gives to this feature -- can also be used to pair the phone to other devices.
The process has a few more steps than we would like. In order to share a photo, you have to open it, press the three dots on the screen to access settings and select Tap+Send from the Share menu options. With Android devices, it's much simpler; simply tap on the image while the two devices are touching.
We also ran the WPBench app, which measures CPU, data and GPU performance. The 8X scored 233.97, compared with 226.75 for the Lumia 920.
With the screens on the Lumia 920 and the HTC 8X turned off, we pressed the camera button on both simultaneously. Both sprung to life in the same amount of time, about 2 seconds. They were also equally responsive when opening the People app.
Web Browsing and 4G LTE
Over AT&T's LTE network, there was a noticeable amount of pixelation on both ends of our video chat. However, audio was crisp. In landscape mode, the 8X's wide-angle lens allowed us to fit an additional person in the shot. However, it did not rotate the image in our caller's feed.
Thanks to HTC's dedicated ImageChip, the 8X's camera snapped photos in less than a second after pressing the shutter. After you take a shot, we could share it with others via messaging, our various email accounts, Facebook, OneNote, SkyDrive or Twitter. Editing options on the phone let us perform a quick fix, crop or rotate. If you want to make heavier adjustments, an Apps link let us easily open the photo in the photo-editing programs installed on the phone.
You can activate the camera from the lock screen merely by holding the shutter button for two seconds. You can also take photos without unlocking the phone, but doing so only gives you the ability to view (and delete) the photos you just took.
The front-facing 2.1-MP camera also took fairly good shots. While images captured in a slightly dim room were on the grainy side, colors were generally accurate. We liked the 88-degree wide-angle lens on the front, which is optimized for taking self-portraits. We could more easily fit more people in the frame than on the iPhone 5.
Battery Life and Call Quality
Test calls made to relatives in New Jersey and North Carolina came through loud and clear on both ends. There was no static or echoing when we switched over to speakerphone.
If you don't mind its extra bulk, the $99 Nokia Lumia 920 for AT&T is our top Windows Phone pick. It offers a superior 4.5-inch screen and exclusive goodies like wireless charging and Nokia Music and Nokia Drive. You also get 32GB of storage for $99, versus 8GB for the $99 8X. You'll need to step up to $199 to get 16GB. But if you want to travel lighter, the slim and light HTC Windows Phone 8X is a very good choice.
|Form Factor||Candybar Touchscreen|
|Operating System||Windows Phone 8|
|CPU||1.5-GHz dual core Qualcomm S4|
|Memory Expansion Type|
|Display (main)||4.3 inches|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 2.1 EDR|
|Front Camera Resolution||2.1MP|
|Camera Resolution||8 MP|
|Audio formats supported||WAV|
|Audio formats supported||MP3|
|Audio formats supported||M4A|
|Audio formats supported||AMR|
|Audio formats supported||AAC|
|Audio formats supported||WMA|
|Talk / Standby Time|
|Ports||SIM card slot|
|Size||5.21 x 2.6 x 0.39 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|