Gadgetslab: Windows Phone 8X by HTC

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Years ago, when Windows had nearly complete dominance of the computing market, they tried to break into mobile devices. These devices, unfortunately, were little more than scaled-down desktop devices, whose Uls were not the best for styli and mobile use. The devices had a small but loyal following which, as the market usually proves, isn’t enough to keep companies producing them. Fast forward to today, and we see Windows 8 Phone devices slowly picking up steam, leading many to say that the OS is one of the sleeping giants of the mobile scene.

The Windows Phone 8X by HTC is one of those devices. It brings together a simple and stunning operating system, and beautiful product design. It’s impossible not to find this combination appealing. One word that immediately comes to mind when handling the phone is “smooth:’The 8X has completely done away with sharp edges. Everything about the phone, from the Gorilla Glass 2 screen to the matte black back is very gently curved. This, coupled with a nice heft, makes for a device that just feels so rich and well-put together. I swear, before you even switch the phone on, you’ll spend a good few minutes just holding it. It feels great. It measures in at a very svelte 5.21 x 2.61 x 0.40 inches and a hefty, but not heavy, 130 grams. It also has a curved back panel, which gives it the appearance of being thinner than it actually is.

Switching the phone on reveals a gorgeous 4.3-inch S-LCD2 screen with a resolution of 1280×720 pixels. This gives the phone a very crisp 342 pixels per inch. To compare, Apple’s Retina displays give a density of about 326 pixels per inch. It produces vibrant images, even under the sun. The phone’s complete name is pretty long: Windows Phone 8X by HTC because it is the only Windows 8 phone that has “Windows Phone 8” branding. This phone was built from the ground up for the OS; that’s no mean feat, and speaks a lot about the device and its pedigree. The simplicity of the look and exec
ution of the Windows Phone 8 is something that I had been trying to achieve with all the launchers I have ever installed in my other devices. It’s clean, sharp and simple, but doesn’t lose any of the functionality of its more complicated brethren. The Live tiles in the default screen constantly keep you updated on your different news feeds, and works to fill the same void widgets do in competing mobile operating systems.

One of the features I loved most about it was the “Attentive Phone” setting. These features made the device smarter than the average smartphone. When switched on, the phone rings louder when in a bag or pocket, rings quieter when you pick it up to answer or look at who is calling, and shuts up altogether if you flip it over. This is not an entirely new feature in HTC’s lineup, but it has always been appreciated, and I did miss it in the other phones I have handled in the past. It also gives you an amazing 8MP main camera that takes superb shots, even in low light, and reproduces color beautifully. The front camera also saw some extra TLC, giving users an extra-wide 88- degree field of view to make sure everyone can join in on the video calling action.

Under the hood, the 8X runs a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.5GHz Krait processor with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. While the processor and RAM are more than plenty with which to run almost any app, as well as play movies in glorious HD, some people might find the internal storage a little lacking. HTC knows this and has made SkyDrive available, so if you need space, the cloud will have you covered. The 8X will happily handle any compatible file you hand it. I tried HD video files while running a few background apps, and things worked flawlessly. Music, documents and web pages all flow smooth as butter, and just as slick. The home screen responds instantly, something previously unknown to everyone but iOS users. Google service users should beware, however. Due to the ongoing war between Google and Microsoft, by the time you read this, Google will have dropped support for a lot of Google’s services. One of the most pressing is that Gmail will no longer sync with the Email client installed on Windows Phone 8 devices, and with no WP8 Gmail app coming any time ever, this could be a problem.

Another concern is the comparatively small number of apps available for the Windows Phone 8 OS. HTC and Windows have addressed this by reiterating that Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 have the same code Kernel, and many apps for the desktop version are being ported as we speak. Battery life on 3G and 2G networks came up at just under two days with moderate use ofWi-Fi and data, as well as about an hour of calls and under a hundred texts a day.

Users who are curious about the Windows Phone 8 environment, or those who want a good, solid phone that feels great and performs even better would do well to take a look at this device. It offers a very nice change from the majority of the phones out there, and performs like nothing you have ever tried before. Just make sure you have your wallet ready. It’s going to be hard to put the thing down.

SPECIFICATIONS:
Network: 2G: GSM 850 I 900 I 1800
I 1900, 3G: HSDPA 850 I 900 I 1900
12100
SIM:Micro
Dimensions: 5.21 x 2.61 x0.40 inches
Weight: 130 g
Screen: 720 x 1280 pixels, 4.3 inches
(-342 ppi pixel density)
Memory: 16GB storage, 1 GB RAM
Processor: Dual-core 1.5 GHz Krait
Camera: 8 MP primary, 2.1 MP
secondary
WHAT’S HOT:
• Absolutely amazing feel
• Beautiful OS
• Smart, even by smartphone
standards
WHAT’S NOT:
• Limited apps, for now
• Limited on-board storage
• Limited Google services functionality

BOTTOMLINE:
I think I’ll get one for myself. That tells
you enough.

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