Not sure about you, but this is one phone that is probably not making the headlines at all, despite being a very good device. I imagine there are a couple of reasons for that. HTC are focusing mostly on their Android range instead of the Windows Phone range when it comes to all the marketing. Windows Phone seem to be getting all the love from the Nokia Lumia series as far as the OS is going, and hence this wonderful device is getting sadly ignored. So yeah, I thought I’d give it a go and see what it has to offer. Of course, I have to thank Vodafone for pointing me towards this device.
The phone actually looks and feels very similar to the Nokia Lumia 820 I test ran a couple of months back. However, once you are past that, you realize it is actually a very different phone.It is lighter and thinner to begin with, though that comes at the cost of this being a unibody device which no removable battery. A soft rubberized outer shell means it feels really good in your hand and has no tendency of slipping out. Apart from the power button and the volume buttons, this also features a camera button. What is even better is that you can access the camera without even having to unlock the screen. The back has the camera with an LED flash on it, while also showing off the HTC logo and the Beats Audio support. The front has a smaller camera, which is designed for video chats and such.
This is where the phone starts to impress. It packs in a resolution of 1280 x 720 in a 4.3” screen, giving you 342ppi. The colours and quality are very good, and the feel of the screen itself is very impressive. Images and colours are both bright and vivid, and the live tiles only enhance the effects. Gorilla glass, of course, gives you a peace of mind that you don’t have with many other WP8 devices out there.
This is one of the things I really like about Windows Phone. The OS just works, and it is actually very fast. The ‘just works’ words are normally associated with a rival company, but once you get used to the tiles and the way everything is structured, it actually works quite well. In fact, in a discussion down the pub yesterday, I may have been heard saying things like: ‘I may not use it myself, being an engineer and what not, but if I had to get my parents a smart phone, Windows Phone is the way to go!’. While some may think I’ll be inclined to deny all knowledge of saying this, I have to admit, it isn’t bad.
Obviously, the one thing that lets it down is the number of apps available on the system. Since the last two months though, a lot more apps have become available and it can only get better. One thing you do notice is that Nokia’s own suite of apps which you can obviously only download on their branded phones, has a lot to offer for WP8, and is obviously not available on any other phone.
The Start page almost works a bit like the Blackberry Hub, as in it updates you with what has ‘happened’ on your various emails and other accounts. The tiles can be varied in size to give you more or less information. Of course, there is some cool things you can do with those tiles, and implement quite a lot of customization.
Overall, it takes some time, but WP8 definitely has potential in the world of smart phones. I’d place it somewhere below Android for what it has to offer, but above iOS. Obviously lack of apps puts it below both iOS and Android.
What I really loved was how on first start up, it picked up all my information from my Windows id. This not only included the apps I had (which it automatically downloaded), but also things like my contacts as well as texts. Even my call history was present in this phone.
Having Beats Audio DSP to enhance your sound definitely helps. Of course, the phone itself comes with a very simple set of headphones and nothing special. Even then, and specially if you use some good headphones, this phone can be used as a good music player. The sound on the speakers themselves is okay, but not much to write home about.
A funny one this, to explain. Not because I was disappointed by what I saw on paper, but because I have an HTC ONE X and I was hoping the camera would be similar to what I get on that. The simple answer is no, but the good thing is that despite offering the exact same stats as the Nokia Lumia 820’s camera did, this works quite well, and a lot better than that. Indoor photos as well as night photos offer good clarity, and specially used with the flash, it works quite well. It will, however, not win you many photography prizes. It works, and it works well, but you won’t buy the phone on the camera alone.
Another one that is hard to explain. On using 3G to constantly monitor emails and live feeds, the battery realistically lasts between 1.5 days to 2 days. While better than some, it isn’t the best. You do, however, get a different operation mode where the phone uses power more efficiently once it is below a certain level. I’d rate it to be better than average.
I will not be lying if I said I have enjoyed this phone more than my last go at Windows Phone 8. This was of course because I already know the OS, and know how to navigate through it. But that is exactly why I have come to appreciate it. The phone simply works, and once you have it set up as you want, you get all the information you want on your Start screen. Lack of apps is a set back, but the OS definitely isn’t. As I said above, while it may not be something an engineer who likes to ‘tweak’ things would want, I’d definitely recommend it to someone who wants a smart phone but without the hassle. The fact that entering your Windows ID takes you back to where you left off another Windows Phone with minimum hassle is a big plus. All in all, a great phone with a great feel.
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