Sleek, sexy design; Sharp, fairly fast rear camera; Wide angle front camera; Easy-to-manage data consumption; Wireless charging; Fast Verizon 4G LTE speeds
No microSD card; App selection still limited
Verizon's take on the Windows Phone 8X adds wireless charging to a sleek, sexy design and Microsoft's improved operating system.
Verizon is last to the party with the HTC Windows Phone 8X. But as the first version of this phone to feature wireless charging, Verizon definitely has a few tricks up its sleeve. Other additions include an exclusive color option and a helpful data tracking app. However, is that enough to divert attention from Android, iOS and other Windows Phones?
On the front, a 2.1-megapixel camera sits in the top right corner, next to a blue speaker bar, which stands out on the glossy obsidian surface. Capacitive buttons (Back, Start and Search) are located along the bottom. 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.
A power button and headphone jack sit along the top edge of the phone. A volume rocker and dedicated camera button sit on the right, along with a pullout tray for the SIM card. The microUSB slot is tucked away on the bottom of the handset.
The 8X cuts a slim profile at 4.6 ounces and 5.2 x 2.6 x 0.4-inches. The Nokia Lumia 822 is thicker and heavier at 5.0 x 2.7 x 0.44 inches and 5.1 ounces.
Watching a high-def trailer of "Oz The Great and Powerful" on the 8X offered wide viewing angles. Mila Kunis' red hat and coat popped as did the majestic Emerald City. However, we noticed pixelation during darker scenes.
In terms of brightness the Windows Phone 8X's display registered 312 lux on our light meter, barely beating the smartphone average and Lumia 920 (both 310 lux). The Lumia 822 easily outshined both results with 410 lux.
We heard strong, vibrant piano chords, crisp percussion and Anthony Davis' silky tenor over our Sol Republic Track headphones. Without the headphones, the track sounded loud and somewhat tinny.
Pressing the physical volume controls displays a little drop-down window that lets you advance, rewind or pause tracks. At its largest size, the Music + Video Live Tile displays a picture of the artist, as well as his or her name scrolling horizontally and vertically.
Windows Phone 8
Where Windows 8's Modern UI is designed for landscape navigation, Windows Phone 8 was designed with one-handed, portrait-mode use in mind. The main screens, as well as some Microsoft apps (People, Music + Videos, and Games, to name a few) only work in portrait mode. Fortunately, other apps that can involve a lot of typing (such as email and messaging) can rotate to landscape mode.
The new Rooms feature 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 attractive as Windows Phone 8 is, there's room for improvement. 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.
HTC supplements the Windows Phone apps store with its on branded apps store. There is also a HTC-branded hub with weather, stock and news updates from CNN and Yahoo. Photo Enhancer, a photo filter app reminiscent of Instagram is also included along with Converter, which can convert most common forms of measurement.
Verizon also makes its presence felt with a small cache of apps, including VZ Navigator. My Verizon Mobile enables users to check and pay their latest bill, view usage and change plans. There's also NFL Mobile for football fans that want to keep up with their favorite team's news and scores.
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 -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 AnTuTu Benchmark app, which measures CPU performance, 2D graphics, and read/write performance. The 8X scored 11,045, which was enough to beat Lumia 822's 10,143.
The HTC Windows Phone 8X comes with 16GB of storage. Unfortunately, there's no microSD slot for storage expansion.
4G LTE and Web Browsing
The new Skype app for Windows Phone 8 has all the video chatting and instant messaging you've come to expect, but now it's integrated with Microsoft's new OS. The app remains on in the background -- even when the phone is locked. Additionally, Skype contacts added all of our contacts to the People hub.
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.
We like the 88-degree wide-angle lens for the 8X's front camera, which is optimized for taking self-portraits. We could more easily fit more people in the frame than on the iPhone 5. The 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.
Battery Life and Call Quality
The HTC Windows Phone 8X lasted 5 hours and 4 minutes on the Peacekeeper Browser Battery Test. This is an hour longer than the Windows Phone 8X on AT&T's network (4:04). The Nokia Lumia 822 konked out after a measly 3:54.
The Verizon 8X has the unique distinction of being the only Windows 8X phone to feature wireless charging. The phone began charging approximately 1 second after being placed on a charging mat. Charging plates cost about $50.
Test calls over the Verizon network were clear on both ends in calls to New Jersey, New York and California. When we switched over to speakerphone on the California call, there was a small amount of echo.
Data Plans and Data Sense
The bundled Data Sense helps you set limits and use less data. Our favorite feature mapped out the nearest Wi-Fi locations. The feature also automatically compresses data-heavy information (such as pictures) as you approach your limit. The utility will also allow you to see how much data individual apps are using; for instance, when we set a 30MB limit for the day, NFL Mobile accounted for 17MB of usage. In our experience, the app did an excellent job ensuring that critical information, such as text, remains legible even as images became increasingly grainy. With only 2MB of data left in our daily limit, we could still clearly read articles on NYTimes.com.
Those not wedded to Verizon looking to spend less on a Windows Phone may want to take a look at the $99 8GB version of the 8X on AT&T. While heavier, the $99 Lumia 920 on AT&T delivers wireless charging, exclusive Nokia services and a better camera for $99. Overall, though, the 8X is easily the best Windows Phone on Verizon Wireless and the best 8X available for any carrier because of its wireless charging advantage and longer battery life.
|Form Factor||Candybar Touchscreen|
|Operating System||Windows Phone 8|
|Data||EV-DO Rev. A|
|CPU||1.5GHz dual-core processor|
|Memory Expansion Type||none|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 3.1|
|Front Camera Resolution||2.1MP|
|Talk / Standby Time||up to 15 hrs./up to 12.5 days|
|Size||5.2 x 2.6 x 0.4-inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|