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First Samsung unveiled the ATIV S. Then Nokia lifted the curtain on the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820. Today, HTC is introducing their flagship Windows Phone, the 4.3-inch, brightly colored unibody Windows Phone 8X and the 4-inch, uniquely two-toned Windows Phone 8S, both of which come with Beats Audio. I’ve been working with these devices since the early prototype days and they’re flat-out awesome. HTC did an incredible job of building devices that are beautiful, packed with killer specs, and feel great to use.
From the second you lay eyes on the 8X and 8S you know that these are no ordinary smartphones. Both phones are really, really thin (around 10mm), and look and feel even thinner due to the sweeping curve of the edge and caseback. That curve isn’t just cosmetic, though; it’s also a key reason both the 8S and 8X feel so good in your hand. Pick one up and it perfectly conforms to your hand. I’ve found this to be true not just for me (I’m about 6’1” and have pretty big hands), but also for people of all shapes and sizes on our team. Ask any industrial designer and they’ll tell you that it’s a pretty rare feat to make something that feels tailor-made for a wide range of people. Big props to HTC for pulling it off on both models.
Both phones go big on color, albeit in different ways. Every Windows Phone 8S is two-tone polycarbonate. The one I tested was called Fiesta Red, and you can also get it in Atlantic Blue, a really slick Domino Black and white color combo, and something HTC is calling High-Rise Gray & Yellow, which has a pavement-gray body and a bright tennis ball-colored chin. It’s totally different from anything else you’ll find on the market today.
All Windows Phone 8X’s are monochrome, unibody polycarbonate. They’re coming in California Blue, and Flame Red, a super-deep Graphite Black, and “Limelight Yellow”, which is the same color as the chin on the Highline Gray 8S. These colors are bright, bold, totally unique. I’m a lifelong tennis player, and the Limelight Yellow version looks like the color of a brand-new tennis ball. That’s the one that's going to be in my pocket!
The display on the 8S is a 4-inch SuperLCD Gorilla Glass display, which means it’s easy to read in almost every lighting condition and resistant to scratches and drops. The 8X goes even further with a SuperLCD 2 720p 4.3-inch display that’s readable everywhere, even in direct bright sunlight. It’s made from Gorilla Glass 2, which makes it even stronger and lighter than the almost-bulletproof 8S display. Both displays are laminated to reduce glare.
Specs & Performance
We all know that specs are important but they’re certainly not everything, so let’s get them out of the way first. The Windows Phone 8S sports a dual-core 1 GHz processor – plenty fast for all but the most intense of power users – a 5MP rear camera, and 4GB of internal storage. There’s also a microSD slot so you can add as much storage space as you need.
The Windows Phone 8X bumps the processor up to dual core 1.5 GHz, 16GB of storage, and two amazing cameras. On the back, you get a backside-illuminated 8MP camera that shoots full 1080p video, and on the front you get a 2.1MP, 1080p capable camera that has an 88 degree viewing angle. Why is that important? Because it’s tremendously wide compared to the competition. You can comfortably fit about 4 people into the shot on one Skype call, which is a huge improvement over most other front-facing cameras. Check out the difference in viewing angle between my HTC Titan II (top photo) and the new Windows Phone 8X (bottom photo):
Both cameras have an F2.0 aperture, which translated into English means you get clean, noise-free images in low-light situations like dimly lit restaurants. No more orangey/streaky/I’m-not-sure-what-the-heck-I’m-looking-at photos! Last, but not least, the Windows Phone 8X has a dedicated image chip, which means you can fire up the camera almost instantly and take back-to-back pictures in rapid succession with basically zero lag. Check out the video of the phones – and the camera – in action:
Both the Windows Phone 8X and 8S have Beats Audio, too, so your music is clear and crisp, with high trebles, clear vocals, and deep bass. The 8X also has two dedicated amplifiers (one for the headphone jack and one for the speaker) to make playback even more awesome. Audio is kind of hard to explain in words, so here’s what I’d recommend--when the Windows Phone 8X hits the shelves, try listening to the same track on your current phone and headphones, then listen to the same track on the 8X with Beats headphones. The difference is staggering.
The Windows Phone 8X and 8S by HTC are the result of months of collaboration between Microsoft and HTC, and the result is really impressive. The design of these phones instantly stands out from the glass-and-aluminum crowd and the ergonomics are unparalleled. All in all, seriously good stuff that’s going to rock with Windows Phone 8.
Don’t forget to follow Windows Phone on Twitter and like us on Facebook. And remember to follow me on Twitter to ask questions or just say hi.
So Ben... What do you know about the REAL HTC Flagship Phone for WP8? The rumors are getting pretty strong out here. A 16GB, no SD card, poor rear camera, and no gyroscope phone is the best that HTC can cough up for WP8? Even the Titan II is bigger and better than the 8X. And we know the HTC One is better, too. Is HTC waiting for Nokia to crash and burn or are they waiting for CES next Spring? Of course, all may coincide! :)
I am of the same opinion as you do, if you consider that the man can say the same respect as you
Rumor from BGR that MS will be launching it's own smartphone in the next few months. Could be what KC Lemson is talking about. Makes good sense. Like I said, only way to compete against a one stop shop is to become one themselves.
Well, I think we're both on the same sheet, then. I DO like that both HTC and Nokia have STOPPED just re-branding their Android phones as Windows Phone (Samsung, are you listening?). They ALL need to be spending their marketing $$ on showing how they and Windows Phone are so much better than iPhone rather than how each is better than other.
@Scuba -- I hear you but I think the distinction I'm making is that it is about developing a Windows Phone brand. I've been asked numerous of times whether my Surround is Droid or iPhone (How it looks like an iPhone I just don't know). Everyone asks my wife "What phone is that?"
Having two major OEM build similiar phones to each other that both enhance the the look of Win Phone is building that brand. There isn't going to be another phone that looks as colorful and mesmerizing as a Windows Phone (whether it is HTC or Nokia). I think it sends a strong message to MSFT that we are in it with you and message to Samsung (who obviously chose not to go completely in) that we are competing against you. Nokai just about said this outright days after HTC's release when they supported the look and feel. It is now up to MSFT to make the case for the software a month from now. And according to @KC Lemon, their argument is profound.
I think the wagons are circling which I think is your overall point. I just think it happening very slowly and more around brand versus some iPhone is bad message. Building on your political example, I think MItt is flailing so much because you can only say "That sucks..." so much before people ask "Why don't you suck?" . MSFT is building the argument why "for MSFT" instead of just "not iFruit."
And before any political barbs back, I live in MA and think Mitt was a pretty good governor for the state. :)
@Bill94in98, there IS something worse than that. It's someone asking why you don't have an iPhone. I'm not saying HTC and Nokia, etc. should be competing. I'm saying that the emphasis should be, for the near term, a concerted front attacking the iPhone 5 and hammering home that the device is no longer cool, no longer all that special. They should be hammering into all the little iSheep's heads that the iPhone still misses the boat in definite ways compared to Windows Phone. Instead of HTC and Nokia spending effort showing why they each are a better Windows Phone, they should concentrate on showing why their Windows Phone eats iPhone's lunch. That's the difference.
@Scuba, I have to disagree with you a bit on your point that HTC/Nokia bickering is detrimental. I think it is a bit exciting to see both companies produce some quality hardware. I also like the fact that both came with similiar vibrant colors and form factors. It is creating a vibrant Windows Phone brand while still allowing OEMs to distinguish themselves on functionality and quality. There is nothing worse than having someone ask me if my HTC Surround is a Droid.
As for the timing of everything, I'm just as frustrated as you. I am so excited for new stuff that the secrecy has been come really annoying. However, I think that feeling has more to do with being a WP enthusiast rather than just an average consumer. For the average consumer, it might be more coherent to have the phones releasing in October with the culmination being the release of Windows 8 & WP 8. However, If you go that route than WP 8 will be drowned by the Win 8 launch. So, releasing all the models and giving the OEMs their specific week, allows you to start some buzz and tie the bow with the "reimangined" Windows.
As far as WP 8 surprises, I'm too busy imagining all the things I'm going to be able to do with my HTPC w/Ceton Card and a Surface RT that I'm just wanting WP 8 on time and stable. However, if @KC Lemon is making promises, then I'm willing to hold her and MSFT to their word. :)
Hey, Eagerly waiting for the device, totally sick of the iphone and checked the iphone 5 yesterday. Its a total disssssssapppppppoointment , "high speed and processor " ya you got that right but what about features, same UI again and again. I decided to switch back to Windows Mobile after 4yrs. HTC 8x the Red one is my choice, hopefully it releases soon on Tmobile so I can preorder.
As I thought about it, WP is similar to focusing a lot of effort on the primary election instead of focusing on the general. The "candidates" should all be talking about how much Android and iPhone sucks compared to ANY Windows Phone for awhile. And Microsoft should be at the head of that line. In my opinion, anyway. I want WP to win, but I'd settle for an undisputed third. Being stuck in "also ran" territory angers me.
@KC, I get that WP8 hasn't officially launched yet and, if reports are accurate, it was still being refined until just a day or two ago. But, doggonit, your real competition is the iPhone 5 and Apple finally is shipping that puppy. Knowing that it's not that great of an improvement over the iPhone 4S, if it were me, I'd have immediately begun the "you ain't seen nuthin' yet" barrage, rolling out more news AND specific comparisons feature by feature. I mean, seriously, it's awesome to see sites like TechJournal and others posting spec comparison and, even better, actually hands-on comparisons that clearly show devices like the Lumia 920 trouncing the iPhone 5. But why is it that people like me and sites like those are doing what feels like the heavy lifting? I even include plugs on my podcast--which has nothing to do with tech, per se--in an attempt to get the word out. I post regularly on FB & Twitter the same things. But I feel like a salmon swimming upstream....and we know what happens to them after they make it upstream, right?
@Hawk, I think it's precisely because of Apple's monolithic approach that Microsoft's approach needs to be dramatically different. They can't compete with Apple on their level. Random cameos by Ballmer at other OEM events isn't enough. Playing to just tech press doesn't cut it. The best things to happen to WP has been Ben and Nokia. Those two avenues clearly hit a mark...as far as they go. Integrate these approaches. It's NOT helpful to now have HTC and Nokia bickering over who represents THE Windows Phone when even THAT only represents 2% of the market. Does anyone else see how incredibilty ridiculous that is? "We're number one at being the last!" Don't get me wrong, I love the newer devices coming out (althought I'm admittedly not dramatically excited about WP8 over WP7.5, generally----because nobody is sharing what it is about WP8 that I should get excited ABOUT). But when, in the aggregate, you're at the bottom, all hands should be on deck to try to eat away at the BIG competition, not the LITTLE competition. This should, at least for the near term, be a "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" sort of thing until we get up to about 20% market share. THEN let HTC fight it out with Nokia.
@Buckeye and Scuba both...hasn't it been the secrecy and mystery surrounding the iPhone that has helped Apple create such a buzz? Apple not only has ONE smartphone released once a year but it's also their own OS. Microsoft has the OS but no ONE single smartphone. Microsoft can announce all the bells and whistles that'll come with the next release but without the hardware, where's the fun in that? Windows 8 and WP8 were announced but way ahead of any news about new phones that'll run WP8. One week you hear about a new phone from Samsung. A week or two later, you hear about something from Nokia. Then HTC comes along a week or so later to annouce their own device(s). My point is, it's bits and pieces of information over a long period of time. I agree with you that a barrage of information would be nice but I don't see how MS can make such a big splash with that many moving parts. For Apple, because it's a one stop shop, when they speak, people listen. When they speak, they only have to do it ONCE. FYI...I'm not an Apple fanboy. Just calling it like it is.
@KC Lamson – No one, more than me, wants to be proven wrong, big time. And I will be the first to thank MS for finally shutting me up. I guess –at this time, time will tell. BTW, thank you for positively engage us on this forum.
As a general rule I don't take anything on the internet personal :-) My point though is that although I understand it's frustrating, it's very intentional on our part that we're not saying much right now as we're waiting until we have everything put together so we can make a bigger splash all at once. I hope you like it all once it's public.
@ KC Lemson – Of course I am entitled to my opinion and because of that, I am telling you that what you say means nothing unless MS is willing to back it up with actions – and so far, no actions can be seen on this dark horizon of secrecy and incompetency. Sorry, don’t take it personal, but this is how most of us, WP fans and users, feel about the fate of this platform.
You are of course welcome to your opinion but I think once you see things, you will realize it's not the same as before. =)
@ KC Lemson - Didn't I heard that before? Déjà vu!
Scuba: That's because WP8 hasn't actually "Launch"ed yet. :-) Trust me, we have a lot going on that we look forward to sharing with you all.
Is it just me, or does it seem that Microsoft is doing virtually nothing to generate any real hype or excitement over the WP8 launch? Little (and I mean little) events here and there, for the tech press, and nobody is allowed to really play with the devices, and that's about it. Yes, I understand that Apple didn't allow people to play with the iPhone 5, but the excitement leading up to its launch was dramatically different. Given the only 2% marketshare (and shrinking), it seems that Microsoft needs to be much less secretive and much more agressive. The same goes with Windows 8...particularly the Surface. Don't get me wrong, I'm doing literally everything I can think of to spread the news. I gave a friend of mine, who had an iPhone 3GS, my old Samsung Focus to try ahead of the Lumia 920 launch. And he's getting use to the Metro UI and actually likes it. Of course, the Focus was a tremendously better device in all respects, compared to the iPhone 3GS, so I resisted saying it's not a truly fair comparison. But he does like a number of the features that were, until the iPhone 5, unique capabilities of WP7.5 devices. But one convert does NOT translate to a glut of word-of-mouth excitement. His wife has had the Focus Flash since it came out, but all three of their children are staunch iPhone fans. We need MORE. Instead, we're seeing limited availability of the WP8 SDK, we're seeing little in the way of actually information on price, availability, etc. Seriously. The iPhone 5 is now out. There should be NOTHING holding Microsoft, the OEMs and the carriers back from an all-out barrage. SMOTHER Apple in the flow of positive information.
Well, the Lumia 920 hands down gets the win as far as I'm concerned. But the problem, the challenge is that iPhone is already out. Millions upon millions already sold and you can't even pre-order the the Nokia or the HTC devices. Even though there are more flaws showing up with the iPhone 5, people are completely ignoring that and falling all over themselves to get one. Meanwhile, back at the ranch.........<cue the crickets>
Compared to Apple iPhone, the Windows Phone 8X and 8S have more choices in colour, and it looks like Windows Phone 8X & 8S can compete with Apple iPhone.
Is there going to be a program to transfer contacts, etc from my iPhone to my new Windows 8 Phone? That would be nice and convenient.
For the 8S and generally all WP8 devices with SD, can we install application and games to the microSD and run from there ? There have been reports that states the SD is only used as a storage device for photos, videos and music. Installing applications from market place to SD are not allowed.
Is this true ?
I want to buy the 8S but if the reports are saying are true and seeing 8S only has < 4GB of internal storage, it becomes a no buy and since we are expecting a "boom" in WP applications with WP8 release, having < 16GB of internal storage pretty much makes any of WP8 devices useless.
MS spec for WP8 should mandate that internal storage flash should be 32GB minimum.
What Does nokia need to do to win the market? I would say price the lumia 920 at $100, maby even $50. All microsoft needs to do is get these devices in peoples hands, and then they can make money on the app store and zune. They would loose a chunk of money, but its worth it. Selling it for $200? I can tell you now that wont work. Keep the price low, people will buy. Believe me.
Ive had android and iphone in the past. Ive been with windows for over a year and love it. Im looking forward to these phones. I love bigger screens might go with lumina 920 or samsung ativ s. Windows phones are so much easier to use then andriod or apple.
I've been an HTC fan since the T-mobile Wing. I am really disappointed with two deal-breakers that are now emerging.
First, I do not understand the non-removable batteries. One of the things I loved about my wing, HD2, Amaze 4g, and current HD7 is when I run out of juice, I swap batteries and keep going. I laughed at iPhone users scrambling with juice packs or trying to find an outlet. Now it seems all HTC devices have integrated batteries - deal break 1
Second, no expansion slots on the top devices? Sometimes I can't stream folks. I have enough of a data plan, but sometimes there's no signal. For some things, I don't want them shared on a cloud. Downtime in cloud environments is rare, and security is good, but I want to be the weak link for some things. Deal break 2
HTC, you came so close. Now I'm looking at Samsung, as the Ativ seems to be the only high-end device not handicapped or Nokia because of all the extras you get with a Lumia (maps, local stuff, cityview, music streaming)
quality apps....so far apps are mostly toys...need finance banks, brokerage, pandora, news, readers, overdrive, substance. good phones, no apps= no sales.
I would like to see how fast the 920 can take pics.. having a great pic is nice if you capture that special moment. If the 8X can take say 5 pics one after the other... faster than the 920 then i may go with the HTC, and not worry about pure view.. honestly the camera and Nokia support are whats going to keep me in the long run.
but, Nokia support and software is hard to give up... blahhhhhhhhhhh
This HTC Device can break any previous record. And It Will Be A Part Of Amusing Smart Phone All Time History.
Wow, the 8X seriously doesn't have external storage? That's a non-starter for me. 16GB on board is just silly, and cloud services universally suck. What a shame, I was really looking forward to either the 8X or Nokia 920. Now I'm not sure what to do...
Does the HTC 8S enabled external memory as well as internal. And the quality of still image while cliking in camera- http://www.bankinfoonline.com/
I agree with Yakko, I thought the 8X was supposed to be the premium model? It's like buying a Mercedes/BWM/Lexus with all the bells and whistles only to find out that it only has room for 1 with no trunk space. Or getting Windows 8 only to find out that it only works with 64k of RAM. ;) This has been an annoying trend with all windows phones and it NEEDS to stop. And NO i'm not interested in cloud storage. For some reason, whenever I go inside my signal is always absolute garbage and I don't want to pay for expensive cloud storage when I can pick up a nice 32GB card for a fraction of the price. Honestly I think you guys (MS) have a hand in why this keeps happening.
Ben, please make a similar video for the new Nokia Lumia 920.
One question though, does the HTC 8S have a front-camera?
Great high quality shots, info and video Ben! I can't wait to get my hands one of these sick devices. I came from iOS and Android OS/Google and now to stay with MS, never looking back :)
@Ben, so which do you prefer? Lumia 920, or the HTC phones?
Ok, looking at the official specs (8S: www.htc.com/.../htc-wp-8s 8X: www.htc.com/.../htc-wp-8x ), it seems like the "lower" model 8S has an SD slot, but the 8X doesn't.
What the frack is up with these phone manufacturers not putting SD cards on their higher-end models?! The Lumia 920 doesn't have one either! At least it has more onboard storage, but still, this is ridiculous. I'm constantly fighting for room on my HD7's 16GB. The more apps and music I get, and the more high-quality pictures and video I take, the more I have to juggle what I'm actually going to take with me. (The only reason I'm even able to carry as much music as I do, is because most of it was encoded from my collection many years ago, at a lower quality, when disk space wasn't nearly as plentiful.)
Great. I was looking forward to picking from the HD8 and Lumia 920, and now I'm just angry and bitter about the whole thing.
The 8X looks nice.... I wish it had 32gb or 64gb of storage, or micro sd card, but otherwise it looks perfect.
I would love to have one device to store everything (music, podcasts, etc). That's tough to do with 16gb. The Ativ sis too big, and the 920 is unlikely to come to my carrier.
@Scuba This isn't really an appropriate blog for political comments. People can live in different countries and support different candidates, but that has nothing to do with Windows Phone. Also, there's no reason to put down iPhone owners. I can prefer the design of a WP without denigrating people that choose other options.
Okay per CNET, the price for the 8X will be $199.99 and shipped in November. I'm assuming the 8S will be in the $99.99 price range. Enough talk...MS needs to stop "talking" and actually deliver something!
@ Rakesh Patwari
I fully agree with what you're saying. That totally makes sense, especially the part about how they take pre-orders while the phones are still fresh on peoples minds..... Good point, and I do hope that they really do something special with marketing this time. Remember, WP is supposed to be marketed as a "companion device" to Windows 8. This might help to boost awareness and sales later this year.
What really excites me is that in the video Ben says that there is more exciting things to come this year.....
I hope the great phones just keep'a comin' but when will WP8 be released and when are these phones gonna be available? Getting tired of all the talk. Apple again beat MS to the goal line! Come on guys! Geez
Zartan - are you *sure* these are coming to Verizon? According to this page: www.windowsphone.com/.../windowsphone-8-phones, the HTC phones do not have LTE capability and Verizon now requires that of all new smartphones.
I see all of the touch screens are there any of the new Windows 8 phones that will have the full keyboard similar to what HTC has on the HTC 7?
@ Rajesh Nair -- Agree and disagree;
Agree that MS has some extraordinary phones and really cool WP8 up their sleeve but capturing the market in the next two years is something that I disagree unless..
The stage is set, MS need to really beef up the marketing efforts, tie up with the device manufacturers - this is where the iFolks win, they have both in their kitty and go full throttle with their marketing. They have full control on when the OS will be out, when the phones will be out.
WP8 released with some hype (very less compared to Iphone 5) and then the devices will be available only after 2-3 months.. where as iphone released and while people are still thinking about it -- you can order -- boom you got them.
I am not an iFan and still would wait for one of these; but neutral folks who were looking for an upgrade have got the most talked-hyped option readily available for pre-booking and will get them in their hands this month.
hope for the best and good luck MS!!
Will the HTC get the new maps & directions features (especially background navigation and offline maps) (and will it be called "Nokia Maps")?
I believe, Microsoft is going to capture Mobile market in next 2yrs. Really Nokia and HTC phones are going to change Mobile market with futuristic design/color and win8 is going to make it more interesting with great win8 PC launch.
looks there something which we people are not able to see but Microsoft has started seeing that. Great going!!!
Great Design!!! - HTC one of my fav brands, eagerly waiting for this.
flagship? one year with nokia, now with htc and the next year maybe with samsung? no kinda sense!
Its really exciting to see some differentiating phones coming out! I think WP is going to really stand out and get people's attention!
Agree with Scuba,,, Also I want to see some serious marketing put behind these devices. I think WP has a better chance than ever this time around with these new devices.. It would have been even better if Samsung would have introduced something eye catching.
Can you image what its going to be like with Nokia, HTC, MS, Verizon, att, and T mobile marketing WP8 devices here in the US?? This may finally be the break!
Wow, talking about stepping up to the plate! Although I STILL think the Lumia 820 & 920 are a bit better, I think WP8 devices will start turning heads. Unfortunately, like people who will vote for Obama no matter what, that same mentality drives rabid iSheep. But these devices need to ship sooner rather than later, and Microsoft needs to get off that stupid restrictions on the WP8 SDK and PUSH PUSH PUSH for developers!
@prashantp Coming to Verizon, T-mobile, and AT&T.
Looks amazing, in fact a direct competition to Lumia, do we know which carrier its going to launch in November?
"California Blue" - I like it ...
@ Deno... Yes, its exclusive to HTC devices. Its called the HTC "Sense Tiile" for HTC WP8, and maybe 7.8, devices.
In the video (0:13 sec) is an app/tile that has the time/date what is that? Also at the event there was the same app/tile with the temperature, is it exclusive to HTC?
So Windows Phone 8 will support external storage!? Snap! The two new HTC devices look amazing, when these along side the Lumia's release, Windows Phone is gonna make its mark for sho!