Windows Phone 8 may not be the most popular OS of choice at the moment but that hasn’t stopped OEMs from delivering truly great hardware. HTC’s flagship Windows Phone 8 device, the 8X, hit online stores well before Nokia launched the Lumia series. The 8X exudes style and elegance and is targeted at fashionable youngsters. However, does the 8X have something more to offer for the power users or is it merely a fashion accessory? Let’s find out.

Design and Build
The HTC 8X features one of the best smartphone designs we’ve come across in a long time. The blend of rubberized polycarbonate and glass gives the phone a premium look and feel and the bright, vivid colour options beg a second look. Sadly, we only get the blue and black trims here in India. The 4.3-inch, Super LCD 2 display takes center stage in the front with a row of capacitive buttons along the bottom. The volume rocker and power button sit flush with the side panel and while this gives the phone a very clean look, it’s not the easiest to use. Like all WP8 handsets, the 8X also features a dedicated camera shutter button.

A handsome looker

A handsome looker

Around the back, we have the 8MP shooter along with an LED flash and the speaker grill, placed at the bottom. The 8X also features Beats Audio enhancement for music and video playback over headphones. In terms of ergonomics, the 8X is miles ahead of its nearest WP8 competitor. With a thickness of about 10.1mm and weight of 130g, the phone feels very comfortable in your hand as well as pocket. Due to the moderately large screen size, the entire screen is within your thumbs' reach.

Features
Interface
This display is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 2 so it can take a fair bit of abuse before scratches start to appear. The HD resolution on a display of this size means you get a whopping 341ppi, which is great for web browsing or catching up on HD flicks. Sunlight legibility is also good allowing you to easily read the display outdoors. HTC has bundled some of their own apps like Flashlight, HTC Hub, etc. that we’ve seen on their Android offerings. Apart from this, it’s pretty much all stock Windows Phone 8 and unlike Nokia, HTC doesn’t seem to have bothered much with any exclusive apps for the platform.

Easy to use UI

Easy to use UI

Apart from a slight stutter that creeps in every now and then, the UI is quick and fluid. The display is bright and sharp and manages to produce vivid colours. The handset is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC with a dual-core Krait CPU and Adreno 225 for graphics. This, coupled with 1GB RAM, makes quite a potent combination for any type of app you throw at it.

Media
Audio quality is surprisingly good with Beats Audio. The stock music player does a good job of sorting out your music library and you have the option to browse through music and videos in the store as well. Beats Audio is only activated with headphones plugged in.

Good media playback options

Good media playback options

There’s 1080p video playback support for MP4 files. There’s only 16GB of onboard storage, which is quite low considering this a flagship device. It wouldn’t have been this bad if we could expand the storage but sadly, HTC has left out that option.


Connectivity
The 8X is a quad-band GSM and 3G handset so it will work on most carrier networks around the globe. Other connectivity options include Wi-Fi ‘n’ with dual-band support, Bluetooth v3.1, NFC and microUSB for charging. There’s no video-out option here. The stock browser does a very good job of rendering web pages and zooming in and out shows little to no sign of lag. The keyboard is also very comfortable to type on and the word prediction works well.

Good set of productivity apps

Good set of productivity apps

For navigation, we have GPS along with GLONASS as well. The active noise cancellation does a good job of cutting out ambient noise when on a call.

Camera
The 8MP BSI sensor comes with some pretty impressive specifications. For starters, it boasts of a large aperture of f/2.0 which means it should be able to do well in low light photography. Apart from the standard tweaking options, HTC hasn’t added too many custom options the way Nokia has with the 920. Still, you do have the option to tweak the Hue, Contrast, Sharpness, etc. In outdoor daytime shots, the 8X manages to capture good colours and but when you zoom in, the level of detail is still only average. Macro shots are a lot better as the camera is able to focus well on a large area. Our shootout test with the Lumia 920 highlighted the performance of the camera in greater detail, so do take a look.

Good for outdoor shots

Good for outdoor shots

Indoor with ambient light

Indoor with ambient light

Indoor shots, without flash aren’t too bad either. There is some amount of noise that creeps in but it’s pretty good otherwise. Video recording maxes out at 1080p. The best part about this 8X however, is the front camera. Even at just 2.1MP, it has a f/2.0 aperture with Full HD recording capabilities.

Battery Life
The HTC 8X packs in a 1800mAh battery, which delivered a very good 7-hours and 40-minutes of video playback time. However, we noticed that with regular real world usage, which included calls, music playback, EDGE and Wi-Fi usage, the battery tends to drain a lot quicker.

Verdict and Price in India
The HTC 8X is available in the market for Rs.35, 800, which makes it terribly overpriced for what’s on offer. It’s a superbly built handset with a very good form factor, has an excellent front facing camera and a high density screen. Apart from this, there just isn’t a singular strong selling point that would make us shell out this kind of money for it. The handset will do extremely well if priced around Rs.25,000 as it would give some stiff competition to the Nokia Lumia 820. Right now, we wouldn’t recommend the 8X at its current selling price as you’d be better off with the Lumia 920 or any of the more powerful and feature-rich Android handsets.

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