• Slim, polycarbonate design
• Windows 8 interface
• High quality display
• Fast performance
• Beats Audio
• Pathetic app ecosystem
• Poor battery life
The HTC 8X is a very impressive smartphone and ticks all the boxes in terms of design and performance, Windows 8 phone is a very good operating system too, but it lacks those key apps that really make your experience on a smartphone much better.
HTC have been looking to push Nokia off the “flagship Windows phone” spot and with the HTC 8X they may have done that. We’ve checked out the new Windows 8 phone to see if it can keep up with the Android and iPhone competition.
We actually really like what HTC have done with their phones, the colourful polycarbonate design makes the phone feel premium and it has a rubber-like back that gives the user a lot of grip.
On the front is a 4.3-inch 720x1280 HD display that looks just as good as the top displays on the market nowadays. The size of the 8X is something that is up for opinions, although 4.3 seems an adequate size.
Due to Windows 8 only needing a dual-core processor at best to run the operating system, we have no quad-core, overpowering and expensive technology. Instead, HTC have added a dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro, which is clocked at 1.5GHz and comes with 1GB of RAM.
When testing the device, we found this was evidently enough to power the Windows phone and we suspect a single core processor could power this without performance shortages – of course, dual-core is a big step up, however.
Windows 8 phone is still a controversial choice for a number of different reasons, one, it isn’t as supported by developers as Android and iOS and two it doesn’t come with the usual homescreens, just an endless stream of live tiles and apps.
We found that Windows provides a really incredible mix of Android and iOS but Microsoft adds a lot of its own design to the operating system too. It is quite the middle figure in many ways, not as restrictive as iOS but more restrictive then open source giant Android.
The live tiles really are incredible, comparing them to Apple’s dull buttons, they look fluid and exciting. You can change the sizes of the widgets to your own personalised ideals.
Speeds on the interface are very snappy and we found the 8X to be rather good at having multiple apps and pages loaded and still having a snappy and quick response.
This is the biggest problem the Windows 8 phone has to offer, the app selection, compared to the Android and Apple Apps Store, is more than poor.
We found that not only was there not a good enough selection for the average user, but the selection you have is constrained to apps you wouldn’t even be using on the Android or iOS devices. Simply, the apps aren’t that good either.
What Microsoft need to get out there and clear is their Windows phone is a powerful competitor and developers should either invest in the Windows store and interface, or they are losing out.
We need to see big improvements in the ecosystem before we can recommend this device to the savvy app user – to someone interested in calling and texting, yes, but to anyone who wants to tweet, take photos on Instagram and Hipstamatic, add them to Dropbox and watch movies on Netflix and YouTube, no.
HTC aren’t the best at delivering good cameras and we would ask them to look to other manufacturers, like Sony and Canon, for infrastructure and design.
Still, the 8-megapixel camera isn’t atrociously bad, but the interface and camera setup is rather poor and gives us images that are normally washed out or grainy.
We would like to see HTC really focus on camera software more than the hardware, eight megapixels is fine, but making sure the photos is both impressive and not grainy or dry is something they need to improve on.
1800mAh isn’t very good for a flagship phone running Windows 8 with high display res and since it is sealed in, there is no way of just getting a larger one.
We got a good six hours from this phone and comparing it to others on the market, it is rather poor. Ten hours is the norm nowadays, and six hours is bringing us into laptop territory.
The 8X comes with 16GB’s of flash storage, which seems an adequate amount for most users. We do see that some people may want 32GB’s or 64GB’s, but with the ecosystem right now, we doubt you’ll fill even 8GB’s.
There is one feature really holding the HTC 8X back, and that is the Windows Store ecosystem. Everything else, even the problems with the battery life, is fine, all we need is developers working on apps for Windows 8 phone and we need them fast.
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