Nokia Lumia 920, HTC 8X 'hero' Windows Phone 8 devices go on sale today

The first Windows Phone 8 devices are now available to buy in the UK, from free on qualifying contracts or from £380 SIM-free

Two flagship Windows Phone 8 devices, the Nokia Lumia 920 and HTC Windows Phone 8X, both hit retailers' shelves for the first time on Friday.

Nokia Lumia 920
The Lumia 920. Image: Ben Woods

The two 'hero' devices, whose debut follows the formal launch of the Windows Phone 8 platform earlier this week , both enjoy a top-end spec list.

The Lumia 920 is available exclusively on the EE network in the UK - formed from the merger of the operators T-Mobile and Orange - and will work with EE's recently launched 4G network . The handset will also be available on non-4G contracts on the Orange or T-Mobile networks, through EE stores or Phones4U, Nokia said.

A Nokia spokesman confirmed to ZDNet on Wednesday that the device would remain an EE exclusive until "at least" the start of 2013, and possibly beyond.

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On EE, the lowest up-front cost option to get your hands on the device is £19.99, on a two-year, £46 per month contract. The £46 EE contract comes with unlimited calls and texts, and 3GB of data usage.

The 920 is also available on a £36 per month option, which comes with just 500MB of data and increases the upfront cost of the device to £129.

The Windows Phone 8X by HTC — which also comes in a 4G LTE variant, but not in the UK — also went on sale on Friday.

Ahead of the introduction of the device, HTC said it would be available for pre-order from Carphone Warehouse, Phones4U and Three , but at the time of the writing none of the retailers websites were yet offering the device.

However, O2 does have it available to buy, from free on a 24-month contract of £32 per month or more, or for £16.50 per month with a £150 upfront cost. SIM-free the device costs £380.

The introduction of the two 'hero' devices marks the arrival of the first Windows Phone 8 devices into the market, at a critical time for both Microsoft and Nokia : both need to make up time and market share against smartphone rivals.