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back to article Review: HTC 8X Windows Phone 8 handset

It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for HTC. Eighteen months ago it was the darling of smartphone manufacturers having reinvented itself from a maker of unbranded handsets for the likes of O2 to an outfit boasting some of the best Android smartphones around. HTC 8X Windows Phone 8 Platform alteration: HTC's 8X Windows Phone 8 …

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JDX
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Is it deliberately colourful to ape Nokia, or is this a Windows demand, or what?

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According to both HTC and Nokia - who do not see the 8X as infringing on their turf, so Elop says - the colours are in order to complement the OS.

That makes a certain amount of sense to me or rather it would if you couldn't change the tile colours. Which, obviously, you can. Also, you can get black handsets but no black tiles, which sucks.

Also @Al - Skydrive makes DropBox and iCloud look like half-assed university projects. 25GB of free space and free Office? No contest.

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Happy

What? A phone company not complaining because someone else has something a little bit similar?

Did I fall through a worm-hole and end up in a parallel universe filled with reasonable people?

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Alert

I take your point re SkyDrive but I access my DropBox account from a Linux machine as well as my Android and Windows devices - it's the platform agnostic side of DB that appeals to me. More to the point, I already have all my cloudy stuff in DB and 75GB of space. On the plus side a DB app for Windows 8 landed last week so maybe a WP8 app isn't too far away.

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@ Al Taylor re - DropBox

Well, you should have said.

Here's a dropbox client for WP8.

boxfiles

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JDX
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Re: @ Al Taylor re - DropBox

I thought SkyDrive was available for other OS too - not the case?

I have a SD account (I assume, I own a WP7.5 phone) but never used it... DB does exactly what I need in a no-hassle way so I am struggling to see how any product will improve on that.

I wonder if I can set SD and DB up to monitor the same folder without them interfering?

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Re: @ Al Taylor re - DropBox

@ JDX

It is, I have Skydrive clients on my HTC Desire Z and my Apple iPad.

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Mushroom

He clearly hasnt read the news either:

http://www.valuewalk.com/2013/01/nokia-corporation-adr-nysenok-soars-22-on-strong-pre-earnings/

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Windows

Android sales poor? Why not Windows?

Baffling!

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Alert

Now be fair...

...as attractive paperweights go this one is beautifully designed!

</troll>

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Unhappy

Photo's query for El Reg

I'd love to know...how do you get the photo's so sharp and clear?

Mine usually start like thins, but after 3-4 months, my camera pics end up "cloudy", regardless of how much oil-removal cleaning I do.

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Anonymous Coward

New phone, bright lights = good result (usually).

Low light usually means blurred due to the long exposure and (for those with mechanical aperture control) less depth of field, so some bits are in focus, others not.

Keep phone in pocket for some months and the lens gets scratched (even microscopically) and often dust gets into the system. Even things that appear to be pretty much sealed still get stuff in them. Result = poor images even in brighter light.

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Happy

Re: Photo's query for El Reg

It's all down to the hardware. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I'm no photographer. I just point-and-press.

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Market share drop not surprising

"If your battery degrades or you need more than 16GB of storage, hard cheese."

Couple that with poor battery life compared to it's competitors (true of all HTC's handsets over the last 18 months), premium handset price for low memory capacity and dropping firmware updates after a few months. The reason for massive drop in market share becomes painfully obvious.

Unfortunately HTC seem unwilling to change the situation even when the same flaws (especially battery life and storage) are highlighted review after review. This is the primary reason I jumped ship to Samsung after ownership of 3 HTC handsets.

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Re: Market share drop not surprising

I must say I still like my new Desire X (Android of course, not WinPho), a lot. I used to have an HTC Desire, but unfortunately put my foot on it at night during an observing session with the telescope in France, so maybe the UI appealed to me more than the Samsung offerings. I cannot comment on battery life, however. The Desire X is definitely a much better phone than the cruddy little replacement phone (cheapest non-sim-locked android phone available in that French town at that time) I got (though to its credit it did have a dual SIM capability). The same holds for the Samsungs I had a look at recently: touch screen much better to look at and in terms of responsiveness than the cheapo phone I got.

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Re: Market share drop not surprising

How come HTC are going so heavy on the Beats Audio marketing, and yet only offer such small amounts of memory? I'd love to dump my mp3 player and just have one device, but I've got 20GB of music, and listen to lots of podcasts.

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WTF?

Re: Market share drop not surprising

Poor battery life??? 49 hours on battery on my One X (O2's branded JellyBean update that was released last week) over the weekend and still had 30% when I put it on charge!!!! That's after 4 hours of actual usage (calls, emails, browsing, etc) in a low signal area! If thats poor then I would love to know what you class as "good"? My 8X also lasted similar amount of time but with slightly less battery remaining with a little less usage. Friends with me using their S3's had no battery life left at all after less than 30 hours with LESS actual usage and had to ask to borrow my handset to make a call!

Unless you use your device as a video player or have more MP3 tracks than you could possibly listen to in a week on your device, then 16GB is more than ample. My One X has plenty of storage space free on it even with over 200 apps installed (including offline maps for the whole of the UK on Maps Navigation). Takes me less time to hook up the handset to a USB cable than it would removing a back cover and then removing a Micro SD Card & placing that in a card reader! Also data speeds are faster from internal memory than a Micro SD Card.

For those saying that HTC have poor support, who are you comparing it to? The vibration motor failed on my One X just before Xmas. Phoned them on the Friday, phone collected at their expense by UPS on Monday, delivered back to me Wednesday morning first thing all sorted out!!! Samdung couldn't even replace a Galaxy S1 screen within 28 days when I made the mistake of owning one of those for a few months (got rid of it due to all the inherent issues that the handset had & screen failing twice in 6 months). Only company with better support than HTC are Apple with a store visit (15 minute rule).

The main reason that HTC are lagging behind Samdung & Apple is the marketing of their handsets. Samdung are pushing their products down everyones throats on tv adverts constantly, paying for product placement, etc. Apple are living off Jobs' legacy (although no new actual innovations since his death).

I have had my 8X for 6 weeks now and TBH like WP8 a lot. Granted that there are not as many apps on the WP store, but the apps I use on my One X are all available on it.

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Re: Market share drop not surprising

The only reason I didn't upgrade to a third HTC phone was because of the sealed batteries in the newer models.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Market share drop not surprising

49 hours with 30% left and you actually used it for 4 hours including calls? I'd swap your One X for mine in a flash!

Mine never lasts more than a day and I am a light user and this seems to be the general consensus on places like XDA. HTC did improve it with the JB update, but the main thing they did was to make the auto brightness more aggressive. It is the screen that burns the juice. Once you fire up the screen you can literally watch the battery drop.

Good would be an E72. You were looking at 5 days at least with usage, but unfortunately those days are now long gone.

Samdung. I see what you did there. Very funny! <wipes tear from eye>

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Market share drop not surprising

That'll be why they're not really doing very well in general compared to other OEMs. Even in WP8 land HTC and Samsung are only 30% of sales with Nokia being the other 70% (you can see why they went with WP).

HTC are one of the backers or are involved in the Beats audio product range. So obviously they will use it on their devices. Small memory size is all about cost and they somehow must feel they have to undercut Nokia to get sales.

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Re: Market share drop not surprising

Exactly. Automatic No-Sale for me.

I really like HTC phones and much prefer them to any of the competition but without a removable battery or minimum 2 days of average use (which would probably include about 2 hours of ebook use) then a phone is not even on my contemplation list.

These niggles, not essential but would definitely help HTC claw back market share...

Longer lasting batteries

Louder external speaker

Louder headphone volume

2GB RAM

32GB Storage

At least one high end 'Nexus' model (although I'd probably stick with Sense as I think most of integrated apps are far superior to most Google/third party versions). In fact perhaps if they just released a Nexus style version as an OTA sidegrade for all their models then both Sense and stock lover could both be happy.

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Mushroom

Re: Market share drop not surprising

Because WP is designed to use Xbox Music Pass, Deezer, Pandora, Nokia Music, TuneIn Radio, Skydrive Music Locker, etc and stream your music...

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AnTuTu

What's an "interger"?

"Float-point"?

-A.

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Anonymous Coward

Meh

Why would anyone buy one of these, when the Nexus4 is so good and so nicely priced, and has a proper app store, stocked full of the apps people want, and syncing to the cloud services and users want...

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FAIL

Re: Meh

Because the Nexus 4 is still out of stock?

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Re: Meh

The Nexus 4 is really tempting. That's an amazing price. However I do prefer the UI of Win Pho. Particularly the big writing and icons, so I can use the phone without my glasses - and the much nicer address book (People Hub). I don't use apps often, but if I do go back to Android it'll be very nice to have the Play store again, rather than WP's rubbish Marketplace.

Contract comes up in March, so it'll be interesting to see what the carriers offer - we're on a multi-user business plan and no-one seems to offer one of those SIM-only...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Meh

You know you aren't forced to have any particular UI on Android, it's all perfectly changeable...

http://tinyurl.com/ape8wqx

http://blogs.computerworld.com/sites/computerworld.com/files/u177/android-home-screen-9-b.png

Infact there is a website dedicated to tweaking how your Android works.. iOS and Windows Phone offer NOTHING in the way of customization.

Nexus4 is not that hard to get ahold of, you can walk into a store tommorrow and get one for less than this HTC phone, or you can keep an eye on Google Play, they will have loads up again soon....

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Re: Meh

I'm not sure they've ever had 'loads' available on Google Play. Stock availability has been limited from the beginning.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Meh

You have to wonder if it needs customization perhaps it was wrong in the first place. Guess some people like to tinker but in reality how many people really re-ROM their handsets - 1% perhaps?

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Re: Meh

I liked the ability to customise Android, and it was nice to have all the controls I wanted on the main home screen, with others grouped on different home screens as convenient. Something you can't do with Win Pho.

On the other hand, I needed the ability to customise Android, because the stock email, calendar, and particularly the contacts app were pretty rubbish. Back in Android 2.2 days anyway. I've not really played with anything more up-to-date than 2.3.

The downside of how many apps there are in the Play store, is there's no way you can find and try all the stuff that you might like - in order to get the look you like. I don't think I saw anything with particularly large text sizes, for example, which I'd really like to avoid having to dig my glasses out when out and about. That may all have changed now of course.

I think if I could have android with Nokia Drive the People Hub, and slightly bigger buttons then I'd call it perfect.

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Re: Meh

It doesn't have a removable battery either.

It's made by LG. (Who's TV's I like but have found the build quality and support of their phones so shockingly bad I've vowed never to buy a phone made by them)

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Mushroom

Re: Meh

Because this has a nicer, faster, more stable OS.

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I have an 8x primarily because Nokia faffed about with their Lumia 920 release. I really like the phone. I bought the Navigon Satnav software for it, which is good, but expensive.

I much prefer it over the Mrs' iPhone 4, although she is resisting upgrading her 4 to anything newer at the moment, even though it's out of contract.

App store is a little sparse, but I have what I need, and for games I still have my TF101. Coupled with an Xbox Music subscription who needs iTunes? or additional storage for music.

What I really want is a decent dock for it. non iphone accessories are still very hard to come buy despit ethe fact that micro usb is probably as populous as the iphone port.

Stu

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What exactly is good about it?

HTC recent performance = unpopular

WP8 = unpopular

No SD Slot = unpopular

Non-removable battery = stupid

Crap camera compared to Lumia = Why?

Crap support compared to Samsung = bad

Hardly a winning combination, is it?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What exactly is good about it?

Mmmmm

HTC recent performance = unpopular

WP8 = unpopular

No SD Slot = unpopular

So you base your decisions on how popular something is...

Baaaaa!

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Stop

Re: What exactly is good about it?

The Austin Allegro was deeply unpopular for a very good reason, it was shit. When something is unpopular it is usually with good cause.

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WTF?

Re: What exactly is good about it?

This is why McDonalds have 3 Michelin stars, right?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What exactly is good about it?

"Crap support compared to Samsung = bad"

I never found Samsung support (3 weeks to repair a smartphone is pretty unforgivable) to be any good so HTC must be awful.

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Re: What exactly is good about it?

In my experience HTC's support come out the best of all the Android manufacturers, update more of their older models and other than Nexus devices are generally the fastest to upgrade.

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Chz

Re: What exactly is good about it?

No, Samsung support is noticeably WORSE than HTC's.

I know very few people who aren't techies who give a damn about SD card support. None of the recent Nexus devices have it and The Goog is deprecating support for them in future releases anyhow.

But then I've had good luck with these things. My Desire is still going (albeit with CM7.2 on it now) and I'm quite liking my One S.

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Happy

Re: What exactly is good about it?

Yet the Metro & Maestro was very popular and they were shit as well.

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Angel

Re: What exactly is good about it?

"This is why McDonalds have 3 Michelin stars, right?"

McDonalds is convenient, good value, consistent and ubiquitous. And it's actually reasonably good quality. If you don't like it, don't eat at it.

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navigation

Something that HTC kept very quiet about on my mozart is that the locations app was upgraded from something used to "check in" at locations to a satnav app with turn-by-turn. Only found this out after I bought my Ativ S.

I would have bought an 8X but got the ativ S instead purely for the SD card slot. I didn't want the 8S or the 820 because of 800x480 screens.

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lol beatz audio

if there's one reason i wouldn't buy an HTC it's fucking Beatz Audio.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: lol beatz audio

What the purveyors of very reasonably priced headphones (tongue firmly in cheek)

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Re: lol beatz audio

yeah these guys...the people who sell you a pair of headphones for twice the price of a pair that sounds twice as good for half the cash.

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Anonymous Coward

Email / messaging question

I have a lumia running 7.5. Corporate email via Outlook, just fine. And google mail, too. And if I used it, Hotmail as well (I don't). The messaging bit deals with txt / facebook / other messaging services. There seems to be an implication in this article that google mail isn't supported now, or am I just reading this wrong?

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Re: Email / messaging question

Google just killed (or will this month) Exchange Active Sync. Or at least they have for new connections, and say they'll stop allowing existing connections sometime later (can't remember if they said when).

So email will still synch, via either pop3 or IMAP (both of which WP7 can do), but you'd lose calendar synching and contacts, because Google use CalDAV and CardDAV. My recollection of setting someone's upis that iOS only does one of those 2, but I could be wrong. I guess MS will either have to put those protocols in via an update, or you'll have to synch calendars using one of Microsoft's services - or something else using Active Sync.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Email / messaging question

Ah, thanks for that !Spartacus. You're right about iOS, have done the same on my pad, and it's a pain in the butt. Contacts is a great shame, but events I can cope with, since i already use outlook and ms cal (plus facebook) I can cope without. Cheers.

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Re: Email / messaging question

I forgot, if you've got paid for Google Docs (or whatever they call the service this week), then you still get Active Sync. I guess they've decided they don't fancy paying for the license for the free users.

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