HTC Windows Phone 8X review: HTC Windows Phone 8X

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Beautiful LCD screen. Smooth user experience. Good battery life.

The Bad No expandable memory. Camera not on par with other HTCs. HTC apps are a bland assortment.

The Bottom Line HTC's Windows Phone 8X needs that "one more thing" to justify its place among the premium phones, but fails to deliver. It's a good phone, just not a great one.

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Design

If you can't beat them, join them. HTC has opted for the same coloured polycarbonate chassis design that Nokia has made popular with its Lumia line, and in true HTC style, it makes it its own. The Windows Phone 8X may have a smaller screen compared to the Nokia Lumia 920 — 4.3-inch compared with 4.5-inch — but many tossing up between the two phones will appreciate how much lighter the HTC is. At 130-grams, the Windows Phone 8X is nearly 50 per cent lighter than Nokia's flagship, and it's a noticeable difference.

Even though it has the smaller screen, the 8X shares the same footprint that we've seen on other phones this year. Laying it on the Motorola Razr HD, the handsets are the same width and height, though the 8X has a much larger bezel surrounding its Super LCD display. This makes the screen look long, but not in an awkward way. Visually, the screen is stunning, with rich, bright colours popping off the screen's deep blacks. Nokia may have spent more time and words describing its PureMotion HD display, but there is almost no discernible difference in the quality of these screens as far as we can tell.

We do think the 8X feels uncomfortable, though. The handset's design is a single, tapered dome, and this gives the phone rather sharp corners all the way around. Not skin-piercing, blood-gushing sharp, but enough so that it sits awkwardly against the curves of your hand. Nokia's phone may be heavier, but we'd argue that it has better ergonomics.

It's unibody design also means that the phone's battery is sealed within the chassis, which may or may not bother you. There is no expandable memory slot either, which we find more troublesome.

User experience

If you read our review of the Lumia 920, you should have a pretty good idea of what we have to say about the user experience on the Windows Phone 8X. If you covered both phones so that only the screens were visible, there would be very little to let you know which phone was which. The 8X offers the same slick, buttery-smooth user experience that we enjoyed when we reviewed the Lumia 920, thanks to it having the same dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm processor as the Nokia and the same 1GB RAM.

The inclusion of HTC designed applications — and the absence of Nokia-made apps — is what sets these phones apart. But in a battle of apps, HTC loses out — big time. While Nokia includes internally developed maps, music and camera lenses, not to mention several exclusive third-party titles like Angry Birds Roost, HTC offers the same boring suite of tools that we saw when we last reviewed an HTC Windows Phone. It's Weather and Time app is pre-installed with a Live Tile centrally located on the start screen, and there are a few other tools ready to download in the Store, like a Flashlight and a unit converter. This is a lazy collection of apps, and it pales in comparison to Nokia's range.

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Where to Buy

HTC Windows Phone 8X

Part Number: CNETHTC Windows Phone 8X

Typical Price: $699.00

See manufacturer website for availability.