HTC was part of the Windows Phnce race when the “new” Windows Phone 8 was launched almost 2 years ago with it’s economy model 8s and top model 8x. After that, we haven’t seen any more Windows Phone models from HTC.
We took a look at the old, but still the last Windows Phone by HTC, the 8x. The first look is that it’s not a big phone. The screen is 4.3 inches, and is a bit less than the average of today’s top models. The weight is only 130 grams, so it feels easy to carry around. But it feels a bit weak… It’s slim and the design in black makes it quiet neutral… But it was delivered in blue as well… But I have the black version in front of me… And the first is to plug into the wall charger as Windows nofifies that the battery level is critically low!
Soon it asks for updates, and since the previous owner has not used it for a while, there are many updates to go… In fact, more than 10 updates and many restarts… It takes some hours!
At last, it gets the newest firmware version, Windows Phone 8.1. It gives me new ways to customize the start screen with the Windows tiles and the backgrounds… It looks quiet nice.
I have to admit, this is not the first phone with Windows Phone 8 that I’m testing! I had the Samsung Ativ S, when it was launched, and it was launched approximately at the same date as this one… The Ativ S had a bigger screen and felt like it had better construction! But one thing is the same, no matter if the Ativ S ran 8.0 and the 8x runs 8.1: The tiles are updated very late! For example I installed Whatsapp… It gave me warnings that Whatsapp was not compatible with the latest Windows Phone 8.1 version, but it seemed to work quiet good. But it doesn’t always notify me when new messages arrive! I have to enter Whatsapp myself manually and control that I have new messages or not! It’s also a problem for SMS, mail and so on! What’s the reason for Live Tiles if they are not reliable and work stable all the time?
Another annoying thing is when I open an app, even apps I just have used and dont close… They are spending time to reload every time I watch them… Then I see some coloured dots in the top of the screen animated, loading the content… This is common for almost all apps, and it feels like the phone is slow and laggy. A bit like the app feeling in Windows 8 for PC, but even worse! And the integrated Internet Explorer on 8x is not very impressing! It reloads pages I just watched. And that is a different behavior than we are used to from Android and iOS…
The Apps are getting better than when I had the Ativ S. Today most of the essential apps exist… But the problem is just that the developers don’t give this OS any priority, and the apps have limited funcionality. Some of the functions are not very stable. And it seems to take long time getting fixes… Many functions also require more clicks to be able to do the same things as on my Android phone… The look and design is different, but why must everything be so much more complicated?
The keyboard is also a bit annoying! It’s a small screen and the keys feel not very comfortable… and if you have 2 or 3 languages installed you have to switch all the time between them, as the correction is very annoying.. it acts differently from similar functions in Android. In fact, the Android keyboards feel much more intelligent and remember more of the typical mistakes…
As this is a second hand phone, it’s maybe not fair to complain about the sound quality in phone calls. But almost everytime I call somebody, they can’t hear me very well, especially for the 10 first seconds of the call! They ask me to speak clearer and louder! It’s very annoying!
The camera on the 8x is quiet average, but there are some severe issues with the flash… It doesn’t work well, seems to be an error here… I even tried to install some camera filters, but it didn’t correct the problem…
And the battery is not working for many hours, actually I have to charge it twice a day! It only has got a non-removable Li-Ion 1800 mAh battery. Probably it was a bit better when it was completely new! But I remember the same battery issue with my Ativ S that was brand new! I think one of the reasons is that it reloads all the apps and websites all the time, and that takes lots of resources! The Ativ S had a 2300maH battery and it was replacable, so it’s clear that 8x is terrible for my heavy use. I surf a lot on the web, and check my chat apps all day long… If you spend more time on phone calls than Internet surfing and apps, then probably Windows Phones are for you. I have even tried the battery saver functions, and it doesn’t help too much. I have also tried to close open apps to save some battery capacity, but it is not very effective.
The notification centre is quiet good, but it’s incredible that they haven’t got this before 8.1. Something all other phones have had for a decade! We also like the new lock screen with more functions and the bing search looks good, but still it can’t replace Google. It lacks some apps, like an original Google search app and Hangouts. IM+ is the only working program for chatting with your google contacts, and as the other apps, the notification is not always reliable. When that is said, the notifications are much better than one year ago, when I had the Ativ S. I belive that Microsoft is working on the track, and it will become more stable in the future… But for the moment, I’m tired of open apps just to doublecheck the status all the time!
My personal conclution is that Windows Phone still sucks, and that they still have a long way to go to be as good as Android and iOS. It’s sad because they really need good competition. But until now, Windows is not very convincable. I think the windows tiles are brilliant, but I prefer to install “Launcher 8” for Android, and I get the best from 2 worlds: The windows look AND the android stability!
We will give Windows a new chance when they launch something completely new. I think maybe Nokia is better, as they have the newest generations of Windows phones available and the best cooperation with Microsoft. We think Nokia Lumia 930 is an interesting phone, especially the camera will be good to have a look at. We have sent a request to Nokia and asked to review it, so hopefully we can tell you more about the differences when we get it!
Here you can see HTC 8x be compared with Nokia’s old flagship Nokia Lumia 920:
Specs (sources: gsmarena.com)
GENERAL 2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
HSDPA 850 / 1900 / 2100 – for AT&T
4G Network LTE 700 MHz Class 17 / 850 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100
Announced 2012, September
Status Available. Released 2012, November
BODY Dimensions 132.4 x 66.2 x 10.1 mm (5.21 x 2.61 x 0.40 in)
Weight 130 g (4.59 oz)
DISPLAY Type S-LCD2 capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 720 x 1280 pixels, 4.3 inches (~342 ppi pixel density)
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 2
SOUND Alert types Vibration; MP3 ringtones
3.5mm jack Yes
– Beats Audio sound enhancement
MEMORY Card slot No
Internal 16 GB, 1 GB RAM
DATA GPRS Yes
Speed HSPA+; LTE, Cat3, 50 Mbps UL, 100 Mbps DL (LTE only for AT&T version)
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band
Bluetooth v3.1, A2DP, EDR/ v4.0, LE after Amber update
USB microUSB v2.0
CAMERA Primary 8 MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash, check quality
Features Geo-tagging, touch focus
Video [email protected], check quality
Secondary 2.1 MP, 1080p
FEATURES OS Microsoft Windows Phone 8, upgradeable to WP8 GDR3
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon
CPU Dual-core 1.5 GHz Krait
GPU Adreno 225
Sensors Accelerometer, proximity, compass
Messaging SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, IM, Push Email
Radio FM radio
GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS
Colors California Blue, Graphite Black, Flame Red, Limelight Yellow
– SNS integration
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
– MP3/WAV/eAAC+/WMA player
– MP4/H.264/H.263/WMV player
– Document viewer/editor
– Video/photo editor
– Voice memo/command/dial
– Predictive text input
BATTERY Non-removable Li-Ion 1800 mAh battery
MISC SAR US 0.59 W/kg (head) 0.32 W/kg (body)
Price group About 170 EUR
TESTS Display Contrast ratio: 1020:1 (nominal) / 1.873:1 (sunlight)
Loudspeaker Voice 66dB / Noise 66dB / Ring 75dB
Audio quality Noise -83.2dB / Crosstalk -74.8dB
Camera Photo / Video
Endurance rating 31h