Hands On with the Windows Phone 8X and 8Sby Anand Lal Shimpi on September 19, 2012 1:09 PM EST
Earlier this morning Microsoft and HTC announced the new Windows Phone 8X and Windows Phone 8S. The specs of the two phones is below, but basically you're looking at dual-core 1.5GHz MSM8960 and LTE for the 8X and dual-core 1GHz MSM8627 (not LTE) for the 8S. Screen size and resolution differ as well, with the 8X boasting a 720p display compared to 800 x 480 for the 8S. There are other features that separate the two as well, the 8X has the same camera assembly and image chip from the One X as well as a ultra wide angle front facing camera which the 8S lacks.
Internally the device construction is pretty unique. HTC refers to it as a pyramid design, with the battery sandwiched between display and PCB layers rather than the normal display, PCB then battery stack.
The 8X alone features an integrated 2.55V amplifier that drives both the headphone jack and the internal speaker. Listening to music and movies on a set of beats headphones sounded very good on the 8X.
In hand feel of both devices is just amazing. The phones have a soft touch feel to them and both feel quite light without feeling cheap. I was skeptical about the low profile buttons on the 8X at first, but in use they are well defined and have good actuation feel.
Microsoft is still limiting Windows Phone 8 demos to the lock screen and some predefined demo paths so we weren't able to get a good idea for performance or anything like that.
New for the 8X/8S line are a series of vibrant color options. You can get the 8X in california blue, graphite black, flame red and limelight yellow while the 8S come in domino, fiesta red, atlantic blue and high-rise gray. The colors look great in person, check out our galleries below to really get a feel for them. The 8S is distinguished by its lower color stripe which isn't present on the 8X.
Just like the One X, auto focus and shot to shot time is lightning quick on the 8X. The new ultra wide angle front facing camera is pretty impressive as well. It's tough to judge image quality given the dimly lit launch venue but I'm sure we'll have plenty of shots when we get review samples later this year.
Overall the devices look very impressive. For not being able to do much software-level differentiation, HTC seems to have a great job in differentiating at the design level.
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agent2099 - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - linkHow easy is it to make google the default search engine on Windows phones?
Spivonious - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - linkYou can't. Bing search is present throughout the entire OS, it's not just the search app.
Honestly, Bing results are just as good and in some cases better than Googles. Try it out: www.bingiton.com
agent2099 - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - linkThat's unfortunate. So I'm assuming there is no turn by turn Google navigation either? Does Bing have an equivalent, with voice?
armodons - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - linkNokia Drive will be available to all Windows Phone 8 devices. With full offline capability (as in the option to cache up to the entire world's mapping data and not just a few areas) and also the option to choose the voice for turn-by-turn navigation (I find Google Maps's lady voice really annoying), the navigation in Windows Phone 8 will be equivalent if not better than what Google has to offer (and already so current Windows Phone 7.5 Lumias).
B3an - Friday, September 21, 2012 - linkAgreed. Nokia Drive/Maps is superior to anything Google have.
Nokia Maps > Google Maps > Bing Maps > a turd in a box > Apple iOS 6 Maps.
Reikon - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - linkI've tried using Bing exclusively for search for about a month and was very disappointed with the search results compared to Google. It might work fine for very popular terms, but searching anything more complex or obscure and Bing fails.
kmmatney - Thursday, September 20, 2012 - linkI'm assuming you can still bookmark the Google home page and search from there? I've tried Bing many times, and it just doesn't give me the results I want - especially searching for scientific research, etc...
kyuu - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - linkThese phones look really nice, and should feel great in-hand with the soft-touch coating and shape. Everything would be good to present a viable alternative to the Lumia 920 for those who prefer a smaller, lighter phone... but then they went and put in 16GB of NAND with no microSD slot. For some people that might be fine, but many (myself included) don't want to upgrade to a new phone with such limited memory. At least Nokia put 32GB of NAND in the Lumia 920, making the lack of microSD storage less of an issue.
InTheBoilerRoom - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - linkI feel like HTC missed an opportunity. Nokia is really able to differentiate itself in the Windows Phone realm based on optics. HTC should leverage their Beats marketing and differentiate themselves with audio. They've started with the higher line-out voltage. They could have taken it a step further by putting in the best DAC ever in a portable music device and providing an HTC and Beats branded music app that is able to playback not only mp3, aac, and wma, but also lossless audio such as flac, wav, aiff, etc., as well as providing unique functionality not currently available in Windows Phone music apps, such as creating an on-the-fly music queue. I find the built in music app to be one of the weakest points of Windows Phone, both in functionality and navigation.
In conjunction with this, they should have included a micro-SD slot the high end device so that a user can bring their large music collections (or larger file sized lossless files) along. They really should leverage their Beats marketing into putting out the best audio experience ever on a mobile device. I don't even care that Beats headphones suck, it's about using a popular marketing name along with quality audio specs to carve out their niche in the Windows Phone (and even Android) world. Combine that with at least the current baseline for other specs (which they hit here), and that would have made me seriously consider an HTC Windows Phone.
Impulses - Saturday, September 22, 2012 - linkWhat's funny is you can do all that (software-wise) on Android already, even though it's rarely touted as an advantage over iOS/WP, and there's some pretty good DACs inside some Android phones too... Beats is one of the worst gimmicks out there though. Glorified EQ basically.
I'm mildly intrigued by the amp on the 8X, but truth be told, the vast majority of portable headphones have a low enough impedance that they don't really benefit much if at all from an amp. I'm really digging Nokia and HTC's new Windows Phone designs overall though, I don't even mind the color choices.
I'm still not sold on WP but if it isn't doing better next year it certainly won't be for lack of inspired phone designs anymore. They really oughta think about pressing on with the aggressive pricing though, even Android flagships like the One X are dropping to $50-100 mere months after release.
I'm sure SGS3 hype played a role in that, but there's always gonna be something applying that effect on the market (next Nexus in the fall, next SGS/iPhone hype a few months after that, etc.).