- Reception and call quality Solid if unremarkable. Though they make a big deal about the speaker phone being Beats enabled it doesn't seem to be markedly better than others.
- Display Like with the One X HTC really delivers the goods here. The black levels could be deeper but one doesn't notice this unless one looks for it.
- Battery life Like most of the current batch of powerful phones that power comes at the price of battery life. Curiously power-hungry when idle.
- Camera Very good. Bested only by the Lumia 920.
- Ease of use I'm very familiar with Windows Phone so there was no learning curve. Though I recognize that there will be one for those new to the platform.
- Design and form factor One of the most (if not the most) beautiful phones ever made. Sadly afflicted by a few ergonomic oddities.
- Portability (size / weight) Though tall it is narrow and incredibly light.
- Media support Plays pretty much anything you can throw at it. Xbox Music & Video (nee Zune) media management remains excellent. Podcasts in particular are easy to manage.
- Durability Unibody construction wirh color baked in, a nonslip soft touch back and gorilla glass front all bode well for the longterm.
- Ecosystem (apps, accessories, etc.) Given what Nokia has brought to the WP8 party with wireless charging and custom apps HTC's (lack of an) offer feels somewhat second class.
However, HTC and Microsoft have a relationship that extends all the way back to the first consumer Windows Mobile device, the Orange SPV which HTC built and it's great to see that rather than simply repurposing hardware from their One line they but their designers and engineers to work to come up with one of the most beautiful phones ever designed for any platform with the 8X.
Clearly Microsoft thinks so too as the 8X has featured prominently in both keynotes and various above the line ads from Microsoft, sharing the limelight with Nokia's flagship Lumia 920.
I've used the HTC 8X as my primary device for about a month, including on an international business trip and have mostly found it to be a very worthy companion. I'd been using an iPhone 4S prior to it and had extended runs with both the Nokia Lumia 800 and HTC One X earlier in the year.
The beautiful hardware, light, solid with a soft-touch non-slip back and gorilla glass front is unfortunately bedeviled by some ergonomic quirks around button placement. The choice to make the 4.3" screen tall and narrow rather than short and wide is fundamentally a sound one (similar to what Apple did with the iPhone 5) but putting the on/off switch at the top of the device is not. It is simply to high up to toggle one handed unless one significantly adjusts one's grip. Just putting it on the side of the device, as Nokia does, would have solved this issue. Other people have complained that about the material choice (metal, rest of the device is polycarbonate) of the buttons and that they are flushed too closely with the body - I didn't really have a problem with this after a few days of use.
As amazing as the screen is (and it is amazing) I personally find 4.3" to be too large for me to handle comfortably - 4" (ie the Motorala Atrix) remains the sweet spot for me.
I like Windows Phone a lot and 8 is a significant upgrade from 7.5 (I will leave a more detailed review of the software itself) that brings some very nice new functionality into the core experience: notably rooms and resizable tiles on the start screen. It continues to feel fresh, fun and engaging while offering an outstanding mobile Office experience. One Note in particular is excellently implemented.
Much has been made elsewhere about the limited app selection and while I think that this may be less of an issue that critics make it out to be there is a corollary problem with the apps that are available: a lot of them aren't very good. Twitter in particular is terrible. Not HTC or Microsoft's fault but it is a problem. Yes, there is a lot more functionality built into the core applications of the OS itself but 3rd party apps are supposed to extend and complement this functionality and right now they don't do a good enough job - Nokia is addressing this with their own suite of apps and HTC has a few custom apps, the best of which is Attentive Phone that enables functions like flipping over the phone to mute and incoming calls, etc.
While certain features of the Nokia 920 (notably the camera, but also battery life and apps selection) overshadow the 8X the 920 is a tank of a phone, too big, heavy and chunky (for my taste) - it is also 20% to 25% more expensive (unlocked) than the 8X which is very competitively priced.
So, if one is looking for a Windows Phone 8 device that is powerful and feature packed but not heavy or too expensive I'd put the 8X at the top of the list.
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