Joseph Thomas

HTC launches new 8X and 8S flagship Windows Phone 8 handsets

Amidst the glory of the iPhone 5 launch frenzy last week, mobile phone manufacturer HTC unveiled their latest flagship Windows Phone 8 devices. Unlike previous Windows Phones, the HTC 8X is a genuinely desirable device, largely due to Microsoft’s spec leniency with Windows Phone 8.

Perhaps more surprising, HTC is hedging big bets on Microsoft’s mobile platform, placing the device up there with the HTC One X. It marks an important shift for HTC, diversifying their portfolio rather than investing all of their resources in Android.

HTC 8X: We’re After You, Lumia!

As mentioned, the HTC 8X Windows Phone is a full-featured Smartphone offering a 4.3-inch, 1,280 x 720 Super LCD 2 display. It is as beautiful – and dense – as Samsung’s flagship devices. On the inside, the HTC 8X sports a dual-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 processor, Gorilla Glass 2 coating, 1 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of internal storage. Not too shabby for a Windows Phone, huh?

The phone packs a Near-Field Communications (NFC) chip, 802.11n Wi-Fi, quad band radios, and LTE. Unfortunately, the phone has an integrated (read: non-removable) 1,800 mAh battery that should last all day with Windows Phone 8’s robust power saving technologies.

On the outside, you may mistake the HTC 8X with their Finnish relative – the Nokia 920. Taking design cues from the Nokia 920, the HTC 8X comes in California Blue, Graphite Black, Flame Red and Limelight Yellow. The design is similar, but uses tapering edges to make it feel “magically thin in your hands.” The design blends Windows 8 Tiles to create a unibody design that feels – and looks – solid.

The HTC 8X has a few important differentiating features, including Beats Audio with a built-in amplifier for superior audio. The camera also beats Nokia by offering HTC’s ImageChip sensor that allows for continuous shooting. The optics aren’t too shabby, sporting an 8-megapixel shooter with an f/2.0 aperture and LED Flash. The front-facing camera is a 2.1-megapixel sensor with an 88-degree ultra-wide angle lens.

HTC 8S Windows Phone: Midrange Never Looked So Good!

Complementing HTC’s high-end 8X device, the company unveiled their midrange HTC 8S Windows Phone. Adopting naming from their One series, the 8X combines value with performance. Unfortunately, HTC left a lot to be desired, which is why most users will likely fancy the 8X.

The screen is perhaps the most disappointing, at only WXGA status; it is a far cry from the “Retina” displays we’ve grown to love. The difference is noticeable compared to the 8X’s 1,280 x 720 screen. Nonetheless, the panel still features Gorilla Glass 2 and the Super LCD technology.

Under the hood, HTC made a few sacrifices, including a less-capable 1 GHz dual-core processor and only 512 MB of RAM. It should be enough to keep the OS running, but likely won’t perform well for graphic intensive games and applications.

While the HTC 8S Windows Phone only includes a measly 4 GB of internal storage, HTC was nice enough to throw in a microSD card slot. The 8S doesn’t include a front-facing camera, so no Skyping for you! The rear camera is only a 5-megapixel sensor and only shoots 720p video. With a 1,700 mAh battery, the cutbacks on the inside should at least provide decent battery life.

Windows Phone 8

Availability and pricing for both the HTC 8S and 8X is unknown at this time. Microsoft is expected to formally introduce Windows Phone 8 in October. Based on manufacturer support, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft impedes iOS and Android market share. While Samsung is heavily invested in Android, it appears HTC and Nokia are the early adopters.