The HTC Windows Phone 8X

Brian already gave the HTC Windows Phone 8X a good once over here; today I'm fortunate to offer a slightly more detailed analysis beyond the existing performance metrics. The WP8X is essentially competing with the Nokia Lumia 920 as the flagship phone for Windows Phone 8, and while the Lumia 920 has benefited from a combination of Nokia's close relationship with Microsoft and Nokia's own remarkably useful app suite, it's tempting to give the slight edge to the HTC.

On paper the Lumia 920 is the more robust device, offering greater storage capacity (32GB instead of the WP8X's 16GB), better camera quality, and a slightly higher resolution IPS display. I've copied Brian's chart from his preview below to give you a better idea of specifications, adding information about the Lumia 920 in place of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

Physical Comparison
  Apple iPhone 5 Samsung Galaxy S 3 (USA) Nokia Lumia 920 HTC 8X (International)
Height 123.8 mm (4.87") 136.6 mm (5.38" ) 130.3 mm (5.13") 132.35 mm (5.21")
Width 58.6 mm (2.31") 70.6 mm (2.78") 70.8 mm (2.79") 66.2 mm (2.61")
Depth 7.6 mm (0.30") 8.6 mm (0.34") 10.7 mm (0.42") 10.12 mm (0.4")
Weight 112 g (3.95 oz) 133 g (4.7 oz) 185 g (6.53 oz) 130 g (4.59 oz)
CPU 1.3 GHz Apple A6 (Dual Core Apple Swift) 1.5 GHz MSM8960 (Dual Core Krait) 1.5 GHz Qualcomm MSM8960 (Dual Core Krait) 1.5 GHz Qualcomm MSM8260A (Dual Core Krait)
GPU PowerVR SGX 543MP3 Adreno 225 Adreno 225 Adreno 225
NAND 16, 32, or 64 GB integrated 16/32 GB NAND with up to 64 GB microSDXC 32 GB NAND 16 GB NAND
Camera 8 MP with LED Flash + 1.2MP front facing 8 MP with LED Flash + 1.9 MP front facing 8.7 MP with dual LED Flash + 1.3 MP front facing 8 MP with ImageChip, LED Flash + 2.1 MP front facing
Screen 4" 1136 x 960 LED backlit LCD 4.8" 1280x720 HD SAMOLED 4.5" 1280 x 768 IPS 4.3" 1280 x 720 SLCD2
Battery Internal 5.45 Whr Removable 7.98 Whr Removable 7.4 Whr Internal 6.8 Whr

The Lumia 920 has a lot going for it, but it's also a bigger, heavier phone with a slightly reduced pixel density compared to the 8X's. Internally these employ basically the same silicon; the MSM8960 and MSM8260A are the same chip with different basebands available. I will say I would have appreciated the additional storage space of the Lumia 920; 16GB is rough to live on when twenty bucks and a pair of tweezers could turn the Dell Venue Pro into a 32GB smartphone. It does bear mentioning that the 8X hasn't had the rocky launch that the Lumia 920 had.

As for the HTC Windows Phone 8X itself? The blue polycarbonate shell is beautiful without being ostentatious, and though the black levels of the display make me long for AMOLED again, the high pixel density results in incredibly sharp images. I feel like button placement could be slightly better, as I often accidentally squeeze the volume rocker while trying to press the power/lock button. I've also found the automatic brightness setting to often be a shade too dim, though ironically the phone's rear-facing camera is remarkably adept at handling low light.

Interestingly, though the 8X has a slightly lower resolution display than the Lumia 920, the change in aspect from 15:9 to 16:9 has ameliorated one of my minor complaints about the Dell Venue Pro and Windows Phone: the extra space at the top of the display stemming from the slightly taller aspect means you can still access the notification pane in applications designed for the 15:9 ratio.

Introduction The Windows Phone Interface
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  • Sabresiberian - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    What I want is a more or less pocket-sized computer that is also a great phone and camera. I want Win 8 on the phone to interface with my Windows desktops seamlessly. I want to run all the software I can run on my desktop on my phone, hardware being the only limit.

    If I just wanted a "phone OS", why would I choose the current Win 8 over Android? Well, there are a few reasons, but Win 8 is still mostly in the "catching-up" phase, and that's not good enough for me. I have every hope this rocket-ship is barely off the proverbial launch pad, and the end result will be more like a proverbial space station compared to the satellites of other phones, but it isn't there yet, for me.
  • mutatio - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    Can you turn off the white on black awfulness that is the email and other portions of the UI? I really want to like this OS though some of the design cues are just poorly considered. I've said it before, run some white borders around those tiles and they'll look even more like traffic signs. Seriously? "eople" for contacts? There are just so many ways the design is trying way too hard to be hip. The odd thing is, I actually like the user interface in and of itself. If they could fix the awful design elements of it this would be a much more viable phone, IMO. Then again, they'd (MS) still have to get there apps up to snuff.
  • maximumGPU - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    1) yes you can have black on white.
    2) it's "people", but the word is spread accross more than one page.
  • steven75 - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    Why would you want a main title to be spread across more than one page?
  • CaedenV - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    It is a design cue to tell you that there are multiple pages without the need for a separate scroll bar or something. You will see the same behavior with backgrounds as well.
  • secretmanofagent - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    As someone who was stuck with 7.5 for a while, here's my questions:
    1. 7.5 supported multiple calendars under the settings for it. You're saying this is gone now?
    2. Does messaging receive properly now messages from Facebook contacts that are NOT currently using chat? 7.5 gives no notification whatsoever about that, and neither does the pinned Facebook app.
    3. Is there a way to disable the infernal search button? I've hit it accidentally so many times, and never use it.
    4. Does Nokia Drive still initially provide an incorrect distance before starting navigation? It's usually about double the distance it says it is initially.
    5. Does Skype function properly in the background? This killed 7.5 for me completely.
    6. How well does tombstoning for it work now? The experience for me has always been unpleasant, with its "resuming" and not being exactly where I left it.
    7. Back button confusion. Did they address how the back button you usually have no idea where it will take you?
    8. I haven't used Nokia Drive in a little bit, but do they give you multiple route options yet?
    9. Toast notifications. If its gone, is there any way to see what it actually was?
    10. Will tapping on the Live Tile launch a new instance of the program still, or can it be customized so that if it's in the recent, it'll go to where you left it? This is an easy source of frustration for me, since it has to reload everything.
  • banvetor - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    Ha, as an WP7 user myself, you got some good questions there...

    I was also confused with what the author said regarding #1, but to be honest I'm betting the author got confused instead of MS removing this. Note to the author: to synch multiple Google calendars, you need to enable this in Google Mobile Setup (or something like this, don't remember the exact name).

    Regarding #4, I need to defend Nokia here a little bit: my TomTom GPS does the same thing; it is just because, before calculating the route, it shows you the direct line distance to the destination... the alternative would be simply to not show anything.

    #5 is also what bothers me the most with WP7... You'd have imagined that after MS bought Skype, they could give them special access to OS APIs and let Skype do a proper app... which leads to my final and most important point:

    Since MS completely changed the APIs with WP8, neither will Skype nor anybody else develop anything substantial for WP7 anymore... we're stuck with what we have! Given the compatibility track record between Android and WP, I think you all can guess what my next smartphone will be...
  • CaedenV - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    1) you can toggle different calendars on and off, but they all show up on a single unified calendar. Personally I like it this way, but many want to have separate calendars which display different things simultaneously.
    2) FB chat works where if nobody is there to receive the message then it simply shows up the next time they log in. My wife got frustrated because I don't use FB chat on my phone, but FB chat is always on on my PC, which means she would send me a FB message thinking I recieved it, but unless I am next to my PC then I would not get it. I changed it so she just sends me SMS messages now, and we have not had a problem.
    3) nope. "Your not holding it right" lol. Seriously, this is not a WP problem. I have had the same issue with Android.
    4) Never seen that problem. Only complaints about Nokia drive is that there is no traffic info (though I understand the infastructure is there to add it in the future), and it kills battery very quickly (which is just a GPS thing).
    5) Skype seems to work just fine for me, but video chat is another thing which will destroy your battery life very quickly.
    6) It depends on the app, and if the program is set in standby, or if it is closed. If you still have ram available, and the program is written correctly, then it works very well. If you run out of ram, then the OS will close the program and the next time you open it is just like opening it fresh.
    7) Maybe? I have never been terribly confused by it personally. If you open a program, navagate about in it, and then back out then it will back through the app's menus first, and then close out to the start screen. Lets say you are multitasking between apps like contacts, to nokia maps, to nokia drive. Then back will take you go back to nokia maps at the point where you jumped to it (which may or may not be the root menu of the app), and then back to contacts at whatever point took you to nokia maps to begin with (which again, may or may not be the root menu of the app). Think of it more like the back button on a browser where it is a history of what you have seen, it is not like a back button on a file browser where it is specific to whatever program you happen to be in at the moment.
    8) Not that I know of, but if you have an idea of the route you want to take it is a lot faster at recalculating than my Garmin ever was.
    9) Nope, it is just gone. I would love to see a notification history for both the WP8 as well as win8.
    10) It depends on ram usage. If the program is already open and in ram then it will pick up where you last were and the tile acts as a program switcher. If the program has been closed (by the system to free up resources, or by the user by backing out of the program) then the tile acts as an app launcher and will open a fresh instance.
  • augustofretes - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    It seems like you're being overly positive regarding WP. While its indeed a beautiful operating system it lacks features all around, and you severely underestimate the importance of the ecosystem, for example, I live in Mexico and there're thousands of apps designed specifically for this area, I can find every single one of them on iOS or Android, but none on WP, I couldn't recommend anyone WP8 until it has a decent ecosystem.

    Multitasking is weak, the ecosystem is weak, the email experience is weak, the calendar experience is weak. the gaming experience is pathetic, it's not a flexible platform at all, etc.

    Maybe in the future WP8 will be more than just a pretty face, but for the time being looking good won't be enough, Android post-4.0 looks very good (arguably better in most places), iOS looks sometimes great sometimes awful, but both are much stronger offerings.
  • SilthDraeth - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    I am not sure if it is just Android, or if it is a Samsung skin that allows me to organize my Apps. However, I organize them via an Alphabetical list, instead of tiles that are sorted randomly, or alphabetically.

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