HTC Windows Phone 8S review

Price when reviewed

The fight is on at the budget end of the Windows Phone 8 market, and the latest handset to stride onto the battlefield is the HTC Windows Phone 8S. It faces an uphill battle, though, against the Nokia Lumia 620 – our favourite budget phone.

The first thing that struck us about our review sample was its two-tone design: the rear is finished in a dull grey, and the base, speaker surround and camera border are coated in a lurid, luminous yellow. Frankly, it’s ugly; thankfully, HTC is also selling the 8S in black and blue, blue and white, and bright orange.

HTC Windows Phone 8S

It feels robust, though, and the 8S won’t take up much room in your pocket: its 10.3mm thickness and 113g weight compare well to the 11mm, 127g Nokia. And the matte finish and curved shape means the 8S is comfortable to hold. As for practicalities, the 8S is a mixed bag. There’s a microSD slot – found next to the SIM slot under a small, clip-off panel at the rear – but you can’t get at the battery to swap it out. There’s also no way to replace the rest of the rear panel and change colours, as you can with the Lumia 620.

The HTC has the upper hand when it comes to screen size, though, with its 480 x 800 display measuring 4in rather than 3.8in across the diagonal. The quality is up to scratch, too, with a measured maximum brightness of 434cd/m[sup]2[/sup], which is enough to remain legible in all but the brightest of direct sunlight. The Nokia narrowly beats it, with a top brightness of 543cd/m[sup]2[/sup], but for most purposes it isn’t a difference worth worrying about.

Under the hood, there’s also no reason for concern. The 8S has a dual-core Snapdragon S4 that runs at 1GHz, with 512MB of RAM for support. In tests, this helped the phone achieve a SunSpider score of 1,410ms, which isn’t up with the fastest phones we’ve tested, but far from sluggish. The more demanding Peacekeeper benchmark produced a weaker score of 199. However, the HTC 8S was around the same level as the Lumia 620 in both benchmarks, and in real-world use the Windows Phone 8 UI felt consistently smooth, and the 8S coped perfectly with 3D games.

HTC Windows Phone 8S

Battery life is acceptable, with 60% remaining on the gauge after our 24-hour rundown test. That’s 10% more than the Lumia’s 1,300mAh power pack managed, and on a par with the A-Listed Samsung Galaxy S III. And the HTC’s 5-megapixel camera took the honours in our camera tests, with more accurate, natural colours and sharper detail than the Lumia.

The HTC can’t carry this good form into the rest of its specification, though. It doesn’t have NFC, its 802.11n wireless is only single-band, and there’s only 4GB of onboard storage. When it comes to software, the HTC also lags behind. Although Lumia 620’s Here-branded maps and satnav tools are now available for free to all Windows Phone 8 owners, Nokia Music and City Lens remain exclusives.

With the HTC 8S available on similar contracts to the Lumia 620, and very close to it in other areas, it’s tough to pick a winner. Indeed, we’d be happy with either in our pocket; but if we had to make a choice, it would be the Nokia for its more generous storage capacity, superior screen and more flexible design.


Cheapest price on contractFree
Contract monthly charge£15.00
Contract period24 months


Dimensions120 x 63 x 10.3mm (WDH)
Primary keyboardOn-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity512MB
Camera megapixel rating5.0mp
Front-facing camera?yes
Video capture?yes


Screen size4.0in
Resolution480 x 800
Landscape mode?yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth supportyes
Integrated GPSyes


OS familyOther

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