HTC Windows Phone 8X review

£365
Price when reviewed

The HTC Windows Phone 8X breaks into a Windows Phone 8 market that has been dominated by Nokia since the OS was released last October. In fact, HTC is the only other major manufacturer to have sent us a Microsoft-based handset in that time.

It was well worth the wait, though, because the 8X makes a fantastic first impression. It’s built using the same manufacturing process as HTC’s One X range of handsets, and the polycarbonate shell used for the 8X looks superb: the gently contoured rear curves around the phone’s edges to create a border for the screen, and it’s finished in a comfortable soft-touch plastic, which is available in four colours (blue, black, yellow and red).

Build quality is on a par with the Nokia Lumia 820, which until now was our favourite Windows Phone 8 handset. Significantly, though, the HTC is 30g lighter, at 130g.

HTC Windows Phone 8X

It’s a strong start, but it’s not all good news: the sealed polycarbonate shell prevents access to any of the internals, so there’s no way to replace the battery. There’s no microSD card for expanding the storage, either.

The 8X has the same size screen as the Lumia, but it packs in more pixels: a resolution of 720 x 1,280 is squeezed into its 4.3in diagonal. It impresses elsewhere, too: the 8X’s 366cd/m[sup]2[/sup] maximum brightness is higher than the Nokia’s 301cd/m[sup]2[/sup], and, although the Nokia’s AMOLED screen means it has better contrast and highly saturated colours, we prefer the more natural tones of the HTC’s IPS panel.

Another similarity between the 8X and the Nokia is the CPU. Both are powered by a dual-core, 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Plus, which means an impressive SunSpider score of 913ms and excellent real-world performance. The HTC coped well with top-end games – Asphalt 7 and Mirror’s Edge ran without a hitch – and the Windows Phone 8 UI was responsive and smooth. There was a slight judder when switching from the homescreen to the app list, but we noticed this on the Lumia also.

HTC Windows Phone 8X

The Windows Phone 8 app situation is slowly improving, too. Spotify has now been released for the platform, and the BBC has confirmed it’s working on a version of iPlayer that’s optimised for the Windows Phone 8 browser. There’s still no sign of Instagram or Dropbox, however.

As for the rest of the specification, there’s dual-band 802.11n wireless and NFC, 1GB of RAM and 16GB internal storage, twice the capacity of the Nokia. The 8-megapixel camera is excellent, too, producing far sharper snaps than the Lumia 820, with better contrast and colour reproduction.

The HTC 8X’s one weakness is battery life. Its 1,800mAh power pack had 50% of its capacity left after our 24-hour run-down test, which is below average for a modern smartphone. That said, the Lumia 820 is no better.

Of the two phones, then, the HTC is the clear winner. Its screen has a higher resolution, the camera is superior, its exterior is sturdy and appealing and it’s lighter. If you want a Windows Phone 8 device, HTC’s Windows Phone 8 flagship is our new favourite.

Details

Cheapest price on contract Free
Contract monthly charge £22.00
Contract period 24 months

Physical

Dimensions 132 x 66 x 10.1mm (WDH)
Weight 130g
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard On-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 1.00GB
Camera megapixel rating 8.0mp
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 4.3in
Resolution 720 x 1280
Landscape mode? yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Other

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