My Review Of The HTC 8x Handset

I’ve blogged it before (to some interesting out-of-band feedback) that work updated me from a HTC HD7 (Windows Phone 7.x) handset to a HTC 8x (Windows Phone 8).  I’ve talked about Windows Phone 8.  What about the hardware?

I actually like the hardware quite a bit.  When you take it out of the box the first things you notice are:

  • It is not huge – why do phones have to be huge and movies have to be 3 hours long?  Really!?!?!
  • It’s slim
  • The back is curved nicely to sit in your hand
  • The material on the back is really pleasing in the hand.  There’s a texture to it
  • While the HD7 felt cheap (and it wasn’t cheap by price), the 8x feels well made and solid

I power it up and:

  • The screen is nice and bright.  I think the Nokia Lumia wins (but I don’t have one to hand) but you’ll pay another €150-€300 to Nokia for that privilege, based on the pricing I’ve seen
  • The phone is responsive.  Something that greatly annoyed me on the HD7 was how using the buttons (such as the camera one) was a matter of repeated pushing and fudging to get what you wanted from it.
  • I like the capacitive button approach that is used.  The subtle vibrating feedback is satisfying.

The camera is pretty good, as phones go.  You’ll never see me raving too much about camera phones.  The sensor is tiny, the lens has to be pretty cheap, and they’ll never compare to a DSLR (my tool of choice for photography).  You get from the tools what you pay for, and once you reach DSLR levels, your skill becomes the difference maker (people who shoot in Auto with a DSLR should have saved their money and bought a compact or a smartphone). 

I took a few indoors images without the flash, using only indoor lighting, with the 8x.  On the computer screen, I could see some handshake in the first shot.  There is no image stabilisation that I could see.  The second shot was OK in terms of focus and sharpness.  The noise was acceptable considering that this is a phone camera.  I’d expect lots more from a DSLR with a full sized (35 mm) or crop sensor and a €1000 lens Smile

The phone “has” Beats Audio.  Hmm Smile  Let’s face it, the speaker is tiny so you’ll only ever get so much from it.  I can’t complain about the sound.

Like many new phones, it has a unibody.  This approach is what makes the phone feel solid and of a higher quality (like a monocoque convertible car) That means the back doesn’t come off.  The battery cannot be taken out (without voiding the guarantee).  Battery life is what you’d expect on a modern smartphone.  I’m a light phone user (using data more than anything) and I’m getting 2 days from it.

The wifi NIC beats what I’ve seen from the iPhone 4 and the HD7.  I can connect to and use wifi with the 8x that the others cannot even see.  That’s very good.

The only port is for the microSIM.  There is no expandable storage, so the onboard 16 GB is your limit.  It uses the same micro USB port as the HD7 (no cable replacing) and as the Kindle reader.  I like that because it keeps the cable count in my laptop bag down.

When I think HTC I think cheap build quality, especially after the HD7.  The 8x has changed that.  Purely as a piece of hardware, I really like the HTC 8x.

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