HTC 8X Australian Hands-On: Duelling Supermodels

Nokia’s not the only smartphone manufacturer getting a bite at the Windows Phone 8 pie. No, sir. HTC also wants in on the action, and it’s going to get it with the HTC 8X — a curvy new addition to HTC’s Windows Phone fraternity.

AU Editor's Note: this is an Australian hands-on of the HTC 8X. Our feed writers have already posted a review, which you can read here.


The 8X is a 4.3-inch, Windows Phone 8 smartphone that packs a 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and an 8-megapixel camera. Sound familiar? It should. Under the hood it’s almost identical to the Nokia Lumia 920. The only thing missing is the great camera and all its stabilisation tech.

HTC squashed all that hardware underneath a 1280x720 screen that features 342 pixels per inch. It’s 4G-powered, Beats Audio-loaded and it’s protected by tough Corning Gorilla Glass 2. It weighs only 130 grams and it’s the curviest phone I have ever held. This thing feels like it just moulds itself into your hands perfectly as soon as you pick it up. It really is incredible. It also manages to pack in almost the same amount of screen real estate while matching the screen resolution of its main Windows Phone 8-rival, the Lumia 920.

We loved the Lumia 920 because of its sharp design and incredible camera. The HTC One X almost has it beat on design, but from early camera tests, this thing doesn’t hold a candle to Nokia’s latest outing. Nokia’s images are wider, brighter, more stable and so much more beautiful.


As far as the 8X’s screen is concerned, the device is only missing .2-inches compared to the Lumia 920, but it manages to look far more svelte when you put the two side-by-side. I honestly thought the 8X was only a 4-inch device until I lay the two on top of each other. While the style-obsessed will love the Lumia 920, weight will certainly play against it once they feel how well the 8X fits into the hand, the pocket or the handbag.

When you actually slide-up the lock-screen on the 8X, the rubber really hits the road. HTC has squeezed everything it can out of the specs on offer here not only to deliver a smooth experience, but also a fast one. You won’t wait for menus to load and scrolling around the handset produces zero lag. More sweet animations for you to enjoy.

The 8X will ship exclusively from Telstra in December, powered by the telco’s impressive 4G network. It’ll be offered for $696 outright, or for an additional $5 per month on the $60 plan for 24-months. That’s exactly the same price as a Lumia 920, and I think this decision – especially on contract – is going to leave a lot of Windows Phone 8-lovers torn. It’s like choosing between Miranda Kerr and Scarlett Johansson, or between Ryan Gosling and Channing Tatum: impossible.


Closer to the release date, we’ll be taking a more in-depth look at the product for an Australian review. In the meantime, count yourself lucky that you have so many beautiful pieces of Windows Phone 8 hardware to fill your head with.


Comments

    That's an easy choice, Scarlett Johansson.

    Last edited 13/11/12 10:56 am

      Sorry, Miranda Kerr.

        I would prefer both at the same time :-p

          Ryan Gosling for me.

          You'd have a Scarr-bang followed by a kerr-splosion!!!!

        But Scarlett Johansson isn't such a locked ecosystem.

    STOP CALLING IT THE ONE X!!!!

      Unless I read the 4th paragraph wrong... in which case I appologise...

        You read it right, the article needs fixing. However the handset is the HTC 8X

    Same price but it doesn't have the great camera or the Nokia apps. seems like the Nokia is the better choice.

      The Nokia is thicker and heavier. In the photos it almost looks twice as thick. I've had the Nokia apps on my Lumia800 all year and never used any of them, beyond having a look at them to see what they're like, so they wouldn't sway me. Ditto for the camera - it's not any sort of priority for me. Wireless charging would be the one advantage I can see in the Lumia920 but I don't think it would be enough to make me choose it over an 8X. (Not that I am really interested in either, they are both far too large.)

        I agree, but comparing features to dollars it is more value for the Nokia. I just think that the 8X should be cheaper especially cause they didn't need to spend money designing the camera.

        But the htc also doesn't have turn by turn, which to me is a huge difference.

          It does, it's pay per month subscription though, and was awful when it was released.

            Pay per month subscriptions for GPS? Come on now that's just ridiculous when Android's got 2 (if not more) very reliable and completely free turn by turn nav apps.

          Bing Maps has turn by turn built in, you don't need a 3rd party app for it. We used it to find our way around the US last year.

            If only bing maps was good in Aus. Which it's not. Nokia maps are far better, have more businesses in there also.

              Bing Maps is powered by Nokia, has been for a few months now, so they are the same. That said, I've used Bing to plan plenty of journeys and to locate myself on the bike, when bike paths dump you on unfamiliar backstreets, and I have found them to be extremely accurate, since I bought my Focus in 2010. I've never had the slightest problem with Bing Maps.

            Nokia maps does not offer turn by turn voice for non nokia devices.

            Nokia maps now powers bing maps. So no free voice turn by turn on HTC WP8.

              Unless bing maps then puts their own turn by turn in. Just guessing, but is possible.

              Just guessing, but I can't imagine MS would let such a big omission get through. Then again, google maps is free.

              Who cares? Bing Maps does. I just tried it and whilst I couldn't get the voice to work, which could just be because I am 80m from the nearest road, the turn-by-turn directions came up as normal. The directions were stupid, as directions usually are, but they came up.

                You have a Windows Phone 7 don't you? WP8 is a new map backend.

                  Really? First I've heard of it. All I've read is that Maps will be powered by Nokia Maps, which is true of Bing Maps everywhere. There is nothing to indicate that it will be an entire new mapping system.

        Really? The Nokia and Microsoft apps are pretty much the only apps I use on my Lumia. Otherwise other apps are crappy ports a year behind the iOS version, or crappy copies.

        I find Nokia Drive better than the pay version of TomTom for iOS, and I tried the "free trial" of the HTC GPS on a Mozart which was absolutely awful, definitely not worth a subscription fee.

        I think the Lumia barely looks bigger in these pictures.

          I don't need nav in Sydney, I've been driving here for 37 years, so the most use it gets is for route planning or on the bike (see comment above). But I agree, I mostly only use MS apps. The only real exception is Weather & Surf Australia, which is significantly better than any other weather app I've seen (on any platform). I've looked at all the Nokia apps but not seen a reason to use any of them. I've also installed plenty of 3rd party apps but found them mostly useless. e.g. Why would anyone with a Windows Phone use Evernote? Or Shazam?

        Far too large? What phone do you use?

          Not sure who you are asking but I have a Lumia800 and my no. 1 complaint about it would be that it is too big. The 3.3" screen on my ZuneHD would be plenty big enough for me and I'd be willing to compromise on a lot of other specs to get a phone that was the same size as it is.

        In the photos yes, the nokia looks thicker, although it is not. It just because of the edges of the htc 8x are thinner that it looks thinner.

          The maximum thickness might be similar but the 920 is that thick through 90% of its height and width, whereas the 8X is only that thick over about 10% of its width and maybe 50% of it's height. In terms of volume, how much space it will take up in your pocket, the 8X is significantly smaller.

    I reckon I might have taken this one if the camera had been almost as good as the Nokia's. But dem Nokia apps.

    I read recently that Nokia had confirmed it would make its Drive app (with turn by turn navigation) available to all Windows Phone 8 manufacturers. Considering Bing maps is already Nokia maps, that could be enough to swing me back to the HTC 8X from the Nokia Lumia 920.

      Bing Maps has turn by turn built in already, you don't need to wait on Nokia. It's not the fancy 3D view that you get from a dedicated sat-nav (Nokia Drive has that) but it gives you turn by turn voice commands, and you can set it so the map auto-orients with your direction of travel, right out of the box.

        Don't forget all the other Nokia stuff, like new games being released on Nokia phones before others!

          Don't care. I have no games installed and absolutely no intention ever of installing any. I installed City Lens but after 3 months or so I still haven't remembered to try it out on a busy shopping street, so I think it is safe to assume I can live without it. Nokia Music is completely redundant as we have Zune built into the OS. Bing Maps is more than good enough for my needs so, whilst Nokia Drive is definitely better, it is redundant, too.

        Incorrect. Read some WP8 reviews.

        The new Nokia powered bing maps does not offer turn by turn voice currently.

          But you still get the directions and they scroll through as you drive. I could never hear the stupid voice anyway.

            And that would not meet the new NSW phone laws would it?

              Yes, as you don't need to touch it, you just need to have it where you can see it, like any other sat-nav device.

              I find all the negativity around the "new" phone laws hilarious, as they are actually more relaxed now than they were. Previously it was a blanket law - you could not touch your mobile phone whilst driving, full stop. The new law allows you to interact with it if it is mounted in a cradle, so it is an improvement on the old law. The thing that's worse is the penalty, which is about triple what it was, I think. But it is giving us more freedom to use our phones in the car, so it should be seen as a good thing.

              Last edited 14/11/12 9:08 am

                So motormouth, who has historically posted about how people should watch the road anyway, is now saying he doesn't watch the road because he is reading directions from his non voice navigation?

          Incorrect! "Nokia Drive, the GPS voice-guided navigation part of Nokia Maps, has been one feature that has distinguished the Lumia line from other Windows Phone devices. Nokia just updated Nokia Drive with new commute features that we will eventually see on all Windows Phones." Here's the link: http://www.zdnet.com/nokia-drive-being-offered-to-all-windows-phone-8-partners-new-commute-feature-revealed-7000001500/

    You may prefer the Nokia if you use GPS a lot but you would prefer the HTC if you listen to music a lot - at least that's how it appears.

    I'll be keen to read the full Australian review to see how the sound compares in the HTC 8X.

    Neither is quite right for me, so i'll stick with android for the time being - I really want a 4.7" phone on WP8 so I guess i'll have to wait to see how the Ativ S is. When you've been using 4.7" all day going back to the 4.3" SGS2 makes a huge difference.

    Hopefully Samsung do actually release a 32Gb Ativ S model.

    Looks like neither phone justifies me spending hundreds of dollars on a new device.

    PS - I hear on the interwebs the 16Gb HTC 8X has 14.58Gb of useable storage which is pretty good, if it's true. Only 1.44Gb for the OS + formatting - that's a lot less than the SGS2 16Gb has at 11Gb.

      That seems to be the big problem with all the Windows phones - there just aren't enough of them to cater to everyone's needs. I think I have pretty simple requirements but I can't find anything that matches them.

      Right now I think the HTC 8S will come closest, as LTE is probably a lower priority than other things. It is thinner and lighter than my Lumia, although 4mm taller, and it has Gorilla Glass so I won't need to fatten it up with a case. But I think I am going to wait and see what Blackberry has to offer on Jan 30, because I am quite impressed with the OS on my Playbook and if that leaked photo of the "London" turns out to be a real device, I will definitely want a phone that looks like that.

    Does the WP8X really have Telstra LTE? If it does, I'll get it; otherwise it's the Lumia. I noticed on the "Windows Phones Are Finally Getting Good" review it didn't note LTE under the network specs, only HSPA+.

    Is the 8X Telstra LTE compatible or not?

    Why do all these old posts keep showing up at the top of your feed? Drives me nuts when I am half way through an article and i read it weeks ago.. This is from the 13th of November and does not have any new information

    It also manages to pack in almost the same amount of screen real estate while matching the screen resolution of its main Windows Phone 8-rival, the Lumia 920.
    Since when did 1280x720 = 1280x768 ????

    Kinda looks like a touch screen universal remote control

    Seems strange that the 2 biggest Windows 8 Phones are exclusives on the same carrier.

    Still doesn't help when Telstra's stock levels of the 920 are shockingly low. HTC 8X would be awesome right about now. Can't wait till December.

    Just a heads up - the official Windows Phone site tells us the 8X is being sold by Vodafone. http://www.windowsphone.com/en-au/phones - I honestly have no idea what is going on with the WP8 release in AU at the moment.

      That site also implies that it doesn't have LTE (which according to HTC it does), so I wouldn't assume anything.

    There are reports of the colour rubbing off the edges of the 8X... have you had any experience with this Luke?

    Launches on Vodafone Dec 5th. So who ever said is was exclusive to Telstra gave you the wrong info. Optus has 8s and Telstra and Voda have 8x.

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