We got a chance to review the new HTC 8X with Windows Phone 8. I got the navy blue phone which was really nice. No doubt you’re asking the question: How is it different than any other phones, and any other Windows Phone 8 devices. Well keep reading to find out. As usual, I’ve divided the review into two main portions. The stuff I liked and the stuff I didn’t.
What I liked:
The screen is 4.3 inches which isn’t the largest display out there, but it definitely gives you plenty of room to see what’s going on. The dimensions end up making it long (132.35 x 66.2 x 10.12 mm) but it really fits the Windows Phone motif where you have to scroll forever to get to what you want. It’s also really slender so it’s comfortable to hold on to.
It has an HD 720p screen and it certainly looks like it. The screen is beautiful to look at and all the colors are really vibrant. The black background wasn’t as nice as Nokia’s “true black” which apparently kills all light around anything being displayed for a richer black background, but the 8X screen really isn’t too bad.
Everything was snappy and I really think this was due to both the processor and the nature of the OS. Windows Phone 8 doesn’t have a lot going on so it’s gestures are really simple and the results are a really simple and smooth experience. I never get any stutter of any kind when scrolling around. CPU is a Qualcomm® S4 1.5 GHz, Dual-core processor which doesn’t slouch around. Add that to Verizon’s LTE speed online and I didn’t have to wait for anything. Downloading was zippy, watching video was fast. This was really a pleasant experience. Whenever I wanted to do something – I didn’t really have to wait any real length of time to get going.
The camera took really nice pictures as you can see below. Many of which weren’t in the best of lighting conditions. I’m not photographer, but I was impressed and think it will get the job done for those of us who just need to snap a quickie on the go with a significant other, or with family and friends. Skype worked really well with the front facing camera except that movement seemed a little blurred when I moved around too much. The front facing camera is 2.1 MP which is really competitive in the phone market these days.
Microsoft wasn’t lying. This OS really was tailored to the user. It’s all about displaying my personal and relevant information without really having to delve too deeply to find it. All of my emails (and we’ll talk about this later) are a tap away and I can see how many I’ve missed while my phone was in my pocket. I can see messages, and items ready for download. It’s like I’ve got an assistant with all of the information for my day ready for me which is really cool. I do however miss widgets though, but the live tiles try to fill that gap. If your coming from Android, you will probably miss them. Yet there is definitely something to be gained from the simplistic approach.
What I didn’t like:
Power Button Position:
On some Samsung devices – the power button is on the side so you can wake/sleep your phone the the tap of your thumb. That would be nice with this phone because it’s so tall. I found myself having to adjust my grip just to get my pointer finger in a position to hit the power button which was a little annoying. Also, the button is not really raised so I couldn’t tell if I had hit the button or not. On several occasions I had not hit the button, but had been pressing on the space between the button and the right edge of the phone.
Google Sync Not Active:
So apparently Google and Microsoft are not playing nice and the user is beginning to feel it. Google has disabled it’s exchange active sync. What that means is you won’t automatically get your Google Calendar appointments or contacts transferred over to your shiny new Windows Phone. I did notice this when I was testing the HTC 8X. None of my Google Calendar events were in my Windows Calendar. None of my contacts either. To add fuel to the fire, I wasn’t able to use Google maps either, however, I hear that’s being fixed. That issue wasn’t too bad since I actually like Windows Maps. It has cool features like available wifi hotspots which can be handy, and places to eat and check out based on your location.
The Phone build wasn’t bad. I really liked the soft material on the back, but I didn’t like that there was no option to remove or replace the battery. I also didn’t feel like the phone was a really expensive device. I’m getting spoiled by Nokia and Apple and their superb build quality. Now, even when a phone has no real defects – if it doesn’t feel like a work of art, I’m not too impressed.
All in all – I do recommend this phone, especially to those who would like to upgrade from their present Windows device. It’s a solid phone that really performs well. I have no complaints in terms of negative experiences besides the Active Sync issue with Google which is not to be overlooked. If you feel like you are immersed in the Google ecosystem and can’t do without your Google contacts and calendar then you may have a problem. This will definitely effect a large amount of people who will switch back to Android or for fear of losing data will stick with Android and not get the chance to check Windows Phone 8 out. It’s a shame really because I love testing new devices and seeing what else other companies are coming up with. Google’s move reeks of “sheep herding” and I don’t know about you, but I’m no sheep.