2 Compelling Reasons to Consider Windows Phone 8: HTC Windows Phone 8x and Nokia Lumia 920
Like a sleeping giant awakened from slumber, the Windows Phone OS is finally starting to gain momentum. First released in late 2012, the HTC 8x and Nokia Lumia 920 represent competent, capable if not compelling alternatives to competing high end smartphones from Samsung and Apple. Having spent extensive time with both of these handsets, I found there was much more than meets the eye.
Before we go any further though, let’s get out of the way what many find the Achilles’ heel of Windows Phone –the app store. It’s funny how subjective this can be. How many apps should an app store have? If it has all the apps you need, is that enough? For me, I not only located all the apps I use quickly, I actually found the selection of apps extensive. Granted, not all will feel this way. And if someone argued there weren’t enough apps this could be a valid point if frequently used apps were missing. Rather than get into a numbers debate, here is a link to the app store itself. You should be able to tell pretty quickly by looking through it if there are enough apps for you.
Now, onto the phones themselves and first up is HTC’s prized beauty.
HTC Windows Phone 8x
Labeled as a Microsoft Signature product, the HTC Windows Phone 8x lives up to the billing. The feel is smooth and solid, the construction tight and well made. Power it on and the phone comes buzzing to life with live tiles spilling over with info. Camera quality is very good and several available apps extend the versatility of the camera further. Call quality is loud and clear as you would expect. The interface is fast, fluid and simple to navigate. Having never used the Windows Phone interface before, I was concerned with the potential learning curve. The 8x (and the Lumia 920) are so easy to use that I never felt lost or that there was something missing. And stood up next to the iPhone, the HTC seems a little more grown up.
Verdict: Distinctive and well built. Easy to learn and a pleasure to hold, the HTC 8x is an all-star among Windows 8 phones.
Nokia Lumia 920
Is bigger really better? Some like to think that. In the case of the Lumia 920, the cliché does ring true. Pick this phone up and you will notice its heft right away, especially if you have an iPhone on hand to compare. Now if you go on and actually use the phone for any given time, the perception of it being too hefty disappears and soon it feels right at home in the palm of your hand. Nokia’s legendary build quality is on full display in the 920 and the Gorilla Glass 2 face helps creates a solid hardware device.
The OS runs just as fast as the HTC 8x and the included Nokia apps help differentiate the Nokia Windows Phones from other handsets. The best of these so far are the Nokia City Lens which provides an augmented reality view much like a heads up display of your surroundings, Nokia Drive+ Beta which offers turn by turn directions in a super mapping app and Nokia Music which lets you stream free music. Two other camera apps worth mentioning are Panorama and Smart Shoot –both take the on-board camera to another level. And speaking of the camera, the Lumia 920 does take fantastic low light pictures.
I was equally impressed with the efficiency of the QI wireless charging plate. Much has been made in recent times of how charging plugs can change as phones evolve leaving the user behind with antiquated charging technology. The Lumia 920 leapfrogs that by including wireless charging standard. Simply put the phone down on a wireless charging plate and you are done. I found it fast to charge and I actually now resent having to plug in other phones. Hopefully this is the future of charging devices.
At the end of the day, the 920’s apps, camera and wireless charging were reason enough for me to add one to my collection. You can probably guess how the verdict will read.
Verdict: A strong chassis and fast OS complement an amazing camera and innovate charger. The top of the smartphone hill just got a little more crowded.