Colors are vivid and blacks (which make up so much of Windows Phone’s UI color scheme) are suitably inky. A bright lockscreen image was the closest we could get to a decent test, which the 8X handled with aplomb. HTC will theme the UI colors according to the handset’s own hue, though that will be user-adjustable if you’d rather have contrast.
HTC’s specifications certainly don’t single the 8X out as the weak cousin of an Android device. Hardware we’re familiar with from the One X make an appearance in a new Windows Phone guise, with NFC, LTE (for North American models, at least; Europe will have to make do with HSPA+/DC-HSDPA for the moment), a 1.5GHz dualcore Snapdragon S4 chipset, and 1GB of RAM. The decision to bypass expandable storage and instead settle on 16GB of fixed internal memory is unpleasantly reminiscent of Microsoft’s initial limitations on Windows Phone, however, and while we understand HTC was loathe to mar the 8X’s sleek lines, it’s hardly a capacious phone for the sort of power user it’s targeted at.
Happily the camera promises to redeem the 8X somewhat, taking a step ahead of what the One X already offers. The main, 8-megapixel backside-illuminated shooter is paired with an f/2.0 lens and HTC’s own Image Chip processing, while the front camera is an impressively pixel-packing 2.1-megapixel BSI CMOS which can also shoot 1080p Full HD video. HTC is particularly proud of its front lens, too, an 88-degree wide-angle example that can fit four people into a vanity shot.
That, along with the Beats Audio tuning that throws not one but two amplifiers at the 8X – one for the boosted headphone jack, the other for the integrated speaker – will have to wait to prove its worth until review samples arrive. If anything, though, HTC has convincingly done its part: delivered an admirable house for Windows Phone 8 to live in. Whether the smartphone – and its 8S sibling – sinks or swims in the marketplace depends on just how good Microsoft’s platform proves to be, and how much heft the software giant puts behind its marketing. At least as the “signature handset” of Windows Phone, the 8X promises to reap the main rewards of the hype machine.
In the hand, the HTC Windows Phone 8X feels fantastic. High quality polycarbonate, smooth curves, and overall, pretty darn sleek. The screen and its surroundings, including the three capacitive Windows Phone buttons, are black, with the earpiece body-colored: a nice piece of detailing.There will be a thinner Windows Phone handset—Samsung is claiming its ATIV S will be slimmer than the 8X. However, I’m not sure this will matter to most; the 8X doesn’t feel at all bulky. The form factor of the 8X could be a big deal competitively: although the Nokia Lumia 920 is also attractive, it’s more than a little chunky