First impressions of the well-designed HTC Windows Phone 8X

First impressions of the well-designed HTC Windows Phone 8X

Summary: Microsoft's new Windows Phone 8 OS is launching on a couple of HTC devices and the first one I tested is the HTC Windows Phone 8X. The design is awesome, Beats Audio rocks, and it is a very pocketable and boldly attractive device.

First impressions of the well design HTC Windows Phone 8X

My first Windows Phone 7 device was the HTC HD7 and the HTC Windows Phone 8X is one of the two devices, the other is the Nokia Lumia 920, that I am planning to purchase when released. HTC was kind enough to send along an evaluation unit of their upcoming HTC Windows Phone 8X that I have been using for a few days so I wanted to offer some first impressions. It's too early for a full review and not everything in Windows Phone 8 is up and running quite yet.

Check out my image gallery of the HTC Windows Phone 8X.

Out of the box impressions

Since this is not a retail unit and is actually the international model, HTC sent it in a typical reviewer white box so I cannot comment on the retail experience that you will see when these are released. I had the chance to hold the 8X in New York back in September and still think it is one of the best designed devices I have ever held. It reminds me a lot of my Nokia N9, but with an even better soft touch back, more rounded back curvature, and amazing transition from curved glass to the bezel on the front. The device I was sent is the blue one with a deep purple look in some lighting conditions. If I was to buy a Windows Phone 8 device based purely on how it feels in my hand, this would be it. I handed it to my wife, a Windows Phone fan looking for a new phone, and she immediately said she wanted one now :)

Specifications and walk around the hardware

The HTC Windows Phone 8X is the top of the line model Windows Phone 8 device from HTC and unlike the latest Android phones it goes back to a smaller form factor and smaller display. The HTC 8X is not much larger than the small Apple iPhone 5, but is much smaller than the monster 5.5 inch display Galaxy Note II I am using on T-Mobile. Specifications of the HTC 8X include:

    • Windows Phone 8 OS
    • 4.3 inch Super LCD 2 display with 720p resolution (720x1280 pixels) and Gorilla Glass 2
    • Quad-band GSM and quad-band HSPA/WCDMA with support for HSPA+ in the US
    • Qualcomm S4 1.5 GHz dual-core processor
    • Total integrated storage of 16GB (14.56GB available)
    • 1GB RAM
    • 8 megapixel camera with LED flash and F2.0 aperture, HTC ImageChip and 1080p recording
    • 2.1 megapixel front facing camera with F2.0 aperture,HTC ImageChip and 1080p recording
    • NFC, GPS, digital compass, proximity sensor, light sensor
    • 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi
    • Bluetooth 3.1
    • 3.5mm headphone jack with Beats Audio and integrated amp
    • Non-removable 1,800 mAh Li-Ion polymer battery
    • Dimensions of 132.35 x 66.2 x 10.12 mm and weight of 130 grams

Keep in mind this evaluation unit is an international model. Devices in the US will likely launch on most carriers with LTE support so the radio frequencies will be different than what I have tested. I used an AT&T SIM and saw HSPA+ connectivity.

The front is dominated by the 4.3 inch Super LCD 2 display that I believe is the same as the one we see in the HTC One X, meaning it is fantastic and everything looks great. The headset speaker above the display is highlight in the same color as the back casing with the front facing camera to the left of the speaker. Below the display you will find the back, Start, and Bing search buttons. The front glass is curved along the edges and transitions right into the colored casing.

The 3.5mm audio jack and power button are on the top, the volume and camera buttons are on the right, nothing is on the left, and the microUSB port is on the bottom. The camera is centered on the upper back with the LED flash to the right of the camera lens. HTC branding is on the back with the Beats logo centered toward the bottom. Like the HTC One X there are small holes drilled in the back casing for the rear facing speaker.

Windows Phone 8 and HTC software

I covered all the details of Windows Phone 8 in my other article so I won't go into all of those details here. Needless to say, it is better than Windows Phone 7 and I appreciate the differences, but it remains to be seen what the consumer will think.

This is not an operator branded evaluation device so I cannot comment on what AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and others may add when it gets released on those carriers. In terms of HTC apps, we see the following currently available in the new Windows Phone Store:

      • HTC: This is essentially the old Sense app that gives weather, stock quotes and news in a custom format.
      • Connection Setup: This was preinstalled and popped up by itself to get me all setup with AT&T with no effort required on my part.
      • Flashlight: This is a handy utility and I use it to get to bed late at night after writing so I don't disturb others.
      • Photo Enhancer: This utility gives you the ability to enhance your photos through custom effects, similar to what you can do via Instagram.
      • Converter: The converter app can be used to convert currency, time zones, and various types of measurements.


I previously thought the HTC One X was the best piece of hardware HTC ever made and it still is a fantastic device. However, I do like the more pocketable form factor, cool bold colors, and display on the HTC 8X. I don't have another device that feels so good in your hand and think the design alone may help HTC stand out from other Windows Phone 8 products.

I used to think front facing cameras were just a nice to have for video calls, which never seem to get used much, but with my three teen daughters I have learned to appreciate the self-portrait with family and friends so having a 2.1 megapixel one on the HTC 8X is actually a great feature. The wide angle lens helps to capture people better than other front facing cameras and being able to see the viewfinder is a major bonus.

Beats Audio with the integrated amp really make the HTC 8X a serious audio device. Using the Logitech UE 900 I had to keep the volume level down below 15/30 because 20/30 or higher blew me away and would likely cause permanent hearing damage in short order. I have always found Windows Phone to have some of the best audio quality on a mobile device and with this Beats Audio support and amp HTC is really setting the bar for audiophiles.

I was already a fan of the Windows Phone platform and everything Microsoft did with Windows Phone 8 is an improvement over an already solid operating system. On great hardware like the HTC Windows Phone 8X, that experience will impress many people. If you have any questions about the 8X or want me to check out something specific as I continue to test it out please let me know in the Talkbacks or even via Twitter. I plan to test out the camera in more detail, experience the new Windows Phone elements like Rooms, Wallet, IE 10, and more.

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Topics: Mobility, HTC, Microsoft, Reviews, Smartphones, Windows

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  • Nokia apps

    Matthew- have you used the Nokia apps at all? CityLens? Nokia Drive? Nokia Music? I can't justify leaving Nokia for a phone without those. Sure, there are other GPS/driving apps and of course other music apps. The one that I can't replace is CityLens. Every single person I've shown it to is very impressed. My sister-in-law (teases me for having a Windows Phone) made a special call to find out what the name was so she could download it on Android after I showed it to her.

    So... as a T-Mobile prepaid user, does HTC offer anything that can justify leaving CityLens, as someone that loves the app and uses it plenty? Last I knew, it was one of a kind across any of the mobile platforms/OEMs.
    • HTC locations is not bad.

      Ram U
    • city lens is....

      Local Scout with Augmented Reality, which is cool, but not any more convenient.
  • First impressions of the well-designed HTC Windows Phone 8X

    This is one of the phones I will be looking at. It does have everything I want from a Microsoft Windows Phone 8 phone but with the Nokia Lumia having the wireless charging its going to be a tough decision.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • Re. I don't have another device that feels so good in the hand

    That's an interesting opinion to have. I never object to someone's personal subjective opinions but I found it a curious statement from an owner of an iPhone 5.

    Do you feel your iPhone 5's form factor is just too small a fit in your hands, Matt? Or too light?
    • I can't speak for him

      but when I went by Sprint earlier today, I found the iPhone 5 to be entirely too light.
      Michael Alan Goff
    • iPhone 5 is a bit light, the 8X curves just fill in well

      I think the iPhone 5 is great, but the curves on the 8X are what really make it and extremely comfortable device to hold in your hand. It is extremely pocketable, but you are right that the iPhone 5 is also a great device with amazing hardware construction techniques.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
  • Windows Phone Version Versus Android Version

    Interesting to compare the 8X with the Android equivalent One X model: Android gets a bigger screen and quad core, plus gyroscope and accelerometer, while the Windows version has to be content with a better front camera.

    I wonder how the prices will compare? Windows seems to have a habit of being priced uncompeti‌tively vis-a-vis Android.
    • They do?

      The Lumia 900 was incredibly cheap.
      Sam Wagner
      • Re: The Lumia 900 was incredibly cheap.

        Not to begin with. It was only heavily discounted after Windows Phone 8 was announced.
        • Wasn't it priced at 100$

          with contract at start?
          Michael Alan Goff
    • indows Phone Version Versus Android Version

      Keep in mind that Android tends to be very power hungry, while windows 7 was incredibly efficient running smooth on single cores. The hardware on paper won't necessarily represent how well each phone performs as they run on different OSes. It will be nice to see how benchmark testing on the devices in the future, although features, internet, and battery life always win over processing power for me as i don't game much on my phone.
      Erik Butler
      • RE: Windows Phone Version Versus Android Version

        Great point to remember Erik, it's also important to keep in mind how hardware effects battery life, and with a smaller processor the Win8 devices will likely have better battery life than their high powered Android counterparts.
  • choose Nokia Lumia 920 not another android also-ran Windows phone 8X

    Definitely I would choose Nokia Lumia 920 not another android also-ran Windows phone 8X (you can compare specs). Also if it wasn't for Nokia, 8X will not have Nokia Maps or Nokia Drive Windows 8 native apps. Then you would probably be stuck with browser based Google maps or worse Apple proprietary maps on Windows 8 (don't think you would want that or would you).
    Prasad Palacharla
    • Nokia Lumia 920 brings best in-car navigation that top auto brands use

      Nokia Lumia 920 brings some of the high-end top of the line Nokia maps including offline maps, Nokia City Lens, Nokia Transit and Nokia Drive(the same best in-car navigation that top auto brands use in their vehicles to the Windows phone 8 for free.
      Prasad Palacharla
      • Lumia 920 has 4.5" high-resolution LCD Super sensitve screen

        Besides that this 4G LTE WiFi Lumia 920 has 4.5" high-resolution LCD Super sensitve screen that lets you operate with gloves on, top of the line HD+ Camera/Camcorder with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) that lets you take pictures and videos even in low light conditions, Wireless charging that lets you charge phone without connecting charger, Wireless music (NFC) that lets you play music in nearest speakers , Nokia Music offline music streaming that lets you download entire radio stations and play offline, and has 32GB storage all built on Windows Phone 8 with Live Tiles, Kids corner, XBox games, complete Microsoft Office bundle, Skydrive and fully integrated Skype video chatting etc
        Prasad Palacharla
  • Nokia mobile site lists the AT&T Lumia 920 for $149.99

    Nokia mobile site lists the AT&T Lumia 920 for $149.99 (literally half the price of a 32GB iPhone 5 and compared to the price of HTC 8X with 16GB for $199.99) and is expected to come to the US carrier late this week (November 9th).
    Prasad Palacharla
    • AT&T just announced the price tag of 32GB Nokia Lumia 920 is $100

      AT&T just announced the price tag of 32GB Nokia Lumia 920 is $100 compared to the price of a 32GB iPhone 5 is $300 and the price of 16GB HTC 8X is $200
      Prasad Palacharla

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    Sabrina Shova