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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  • a5cent - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    Fact is that most apps simply do not require WP8 hardware. Consequentially, many new apps still target WP7 and can thus also run on WP8. No problem! I don't feel screwed at all. No developer will unnecessarily exclude potential WP7 customers without a good reason for doing so. It's economics.

    The story is no different from Windows. Almost nobody develops software explicitly for Windows 8 or even Windows 7. Even to this day, most commercial software targets the Windows XP API... in the interest of compatibility and the ability to sell to as many potential customers as possible.

    Obviously WP7 won't have a grip on the developer community for a comparable amount of time. The WP market is miniscule compared to XP and the lifespan of the majority of smartphones ends after two years. Developers targeting WP7 will disappear together with WP7's market share, or when it becomes irrelevant compared to newer versions of the OS.

    Nobody got screwed. People are just so used to thinking in terms of Android or iOS that they can't remember that other models exist that are just as viable.
  • dragonsqrrl - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    "Windows Phone 7 was a rough draft and a product with no real future the moment it left Microsoft, and they knew it."

    This is the problem, and for anyone who's followed Microsoft's mobile strategy since the days of the Zune, it's painfully obvious what that strategy has been all about. The point is that Microsoft has no plans to support or develop a platform beyond the requirement of having to upgrade to a new platform. The ability to transfer apps has nothing to do with this, it's the lack of apps and lack of support. But again like I said before, the situation with WP7 is far less severe than the Zune HD, the Kin (remember that?... probably not) or many of Microsoft's other short-lived beta tests in the mobile market. But the same basic attributes haven't changed for years.

    I just went back to some older articles regarding the longevity of these past devices, to check some of my comments, and I'm amazed, absolutely floored by how applicable they still are to this current situation. Nothings really changed.

    Let me just quote a segment from a comment I made in this article:

    "another example of Microsoft playing "beta tester" with its customers. I don't know who's in charge of their mobile programs, but they've been killing off support for new products pretty often lately, and this new business model doesn't reflect well on Microsoft... it's pretty shameful of Microsoft to 'use' their customers in this way. So what happens if WP7 doesn't pan out quite as well as they're anticipating? Will they simply kill support for it a few months later in anticipation of something newer and better? Will people then justify it by saying "who would buy such a bad phone to begin with..."? The problem isn't that consumers are buying these products, it's that Microsoft is using them to achieve a powerful, robust, and popular mobile platform, no matter how many short lived non-supported iterations it takes. Supporting 'older' products and having backwards compatibility is such a burden."

    "Wow, and so it finally happens... well, unofficially. Microsoft basically killed off the Zune HD five months after its release, so this is no surprise whatsoever... It probably doesn't help that software development for the device was locked from the get go, or that Microsoft basically killed off what little development existed for the device 5 months into its release."

    You see, Microsoft has been playing catch-up in this market for years, and I don't think their behavior is going to change until they do catch-up. There's no real future for many of their new devices, no plan to support or develop them after the next iteration hits the market. Each revision of their mobile platform really is nothing more then a brief, unsupported, unadvertised stepping stone to the next thing. And its no accident, that's their strategy to get to where they're going as quickly as possible. The only casualty of this practice are their customers.
  • krutou - Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - link

    Dustin's talking about how WP7.5 was sold as an 'unfinished' and 'unpolished' product. Kind of like the Windows 8's Metro UI for desktop, unfinished and unpolished for non-touchscreen users.

    "If you're a Blizzard fan you're probably used to being treated like a free beta tester, but for the rest of us, the relatively barren app ecosystem, entry level operating system, outdated hardware, and lack of support even from Microsoft undoubtedly felt disappointing."
  • ATimson - Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - link

    We get screwed by not getting the backup features added to WP8. That makes it rather hard to actually migrate to WP8 without losing everything from our WP7.5 phone.
  • ericore - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    Lmao. Microsoft never learns.

    The reason that Windows 8, and Windows 8 Phone are both failures
    -lack of Freedom and Openness

    This is why Microsoft XP was a success because it was Open and Stable.
    And this is why XP will continue to occupy much market share.
    And this is why some of the more savvy users use Linux.

    I.e., Forced metro interface on Windows 8. What right do you have to tell users how to use their computers; none.
    I.e., Lack of Flash Player support on Windows Phone 8; because they can't admit or respect Flash Players' success.

    The big two for me is the relatively poor app ecosystem and lack of flash player support.
    Flash player should be included, and Microsoft should give devs a platform life expectancy, say 4 years, with a tool to port apps to the new OS thereafter. Otherwise, I myself would not want to create a Windows 8 Phone app. They're probably already pissed off at the rapid transition between 7, 7.5 and 8, and Windows Phone 8 low market share etc.

    To me the most appealing Phone OS is Ubuntu Phone OS.
  • JKflipflop98 - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    Now, did you pull this out of your ass all by yourself, or did you have a friend help you? I mean, I've seen people make up some stupid crap in their blind rage over Win8 - but this by and large takes the prize.
  • BabelHuber - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    Do you have any arguments, or are you only capable of insulting other people?

    ericore exactly nailed the problem:

    iOS is a wallet garden, but has a huge App selection and is easy to use.

    Android is often more complex to use, but provides much more flexibility (e.g. File Browser, multiple Internet Browser engines, sideloading of Apps supported by default, rooting, Custom ROMS, App Launchers (even WP-like ones!) etcetc.).

    So where does WP fit in here? What are the advantages of WP?

    I have already recommended iPhones to people who are not tech-savy, even though I personally prefer Android for my needs.

    But why should I recommend WP to anybody? Because the UI has tiles instead of icons?

    Hence WP is too little, too late.

    And this is the reason why WP still resides in the low single digits market share-wise more than two years after launch. As simple as that.
  • JPDVM2014 - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    WP fits in between. I think it is a good combination of iOS and Android. It is stable(and closed) like iOS, however, it has a more interesting and usable interface like Android. It may not be better than either one in your opinion, but there is always room for choice. I like WP for the exact reason that it has tiles instead of icons. They are way more useful than any iOS app icon. iOS would be perfect, if it had a completely different interface. Android, on the other hand, is too much. I had all that ROM cooking and what not "fun" in my windows mobile days. Now, I just want something that works. WP is it, for me.

    As a side note, I also recommend non tech-savvy people to the iPhone. I have no illusions about WP. It just is easier than explaining that with WP, there may be times when you don't have the new "hot" app.
  • maximumGPU - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    "because they can't admit or respect Flash Players' success."

  • JPDVM2014 - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    "Lack of Flash Player support on Windows Phone 8; because they can't admit or respect Flash Players' success."

    Flash player on mobile is dead...learn your facts before you post a rant. Why would MS support something that isn't even going to be supported by its own company?

    And the forced Metro interface is easily fixed by an app that costs a few dollars. Granted, it should be an option within the OS itself, but it is hardly worth all the whining. Even without the app, it takes literally 1 second to switch out of the Metro interface, and there is little to no reason to go back into it until a restart.

    I do agree about Ubuntu OS being appealing, if it ever makes it to market.

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