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Quick First Look at the HTC 8X and Windows Phone 8

As a community that focuses 99.9% of its time on Android, even I can admit that it’s never a bad time to look across the table and see what the competition is up to. And that’s exactly why we’re taking a look at the HTC 8X, the new Windows Phone 8 device that is available on Verizon. Don’t worry, we aren’t changing the name of the site any time soon, we’re just spying on our neighbors who have new toys to play with. 

In the future, we may do a full review of Windows Phone 8, but for now, we just wanted to give everyone a taste of what Microsoft and HTC have been up to. Windows Phone 8 has come a long way, and improved greatly over Windows Phone 7. We now have support for HD displays and NFC, better and more customizable live tiles, a revamped home screen, notifications on the lock screen, support for multi-core processors, a better keyboard, an upgraded camera app, and a more robust Windows Phone store.

I spent some time with the previous versions of Windows Phone 7 on occasions, but none of them impressed me enough to write up a post on it. Windows Phone 8 has managed to impress me enough to get me to talk about it with all of you. Ready to go all metro?

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  • Spoken Word™

    *Looks Around* I thought this was an Android site….

  • KOBALT

    Why would I want 15% of my screen the icon for a camera app. And another 15% for the browser button? And so on…

  • mule0331

    The more I look at this, the more it reminds me of the original Moto Blur. Sure it’s more refined, but still bears a great resemblance. It’s funny how it was so hated back in the day (for good reason), but now its viewed as ok. I guess Blur came out at the wrong time.

  • Sobr0801

    As a recent convert to WP8 from a Rezound, I have to say I am quiet satisfied with the new product. Although it is not perfect, it is still amazing. I wasn’t heavily invested in Android $ wise, and was excited to try something new. I even switched from Verizon to ATT, and am satisfied to say the network speed is just fine. Although I had legit LTE everywhere I went with Verizon, ATT 3G+ has been surprisingly fast. LTE in MPLS blew my mind on how fast it is. Overall I am happy, an am looking forward to WP8’s growth.

  • http://www.gizmoninja.com/ Tabe

    So I take it that you guys have given up on an.droid-life.com? Seems like that is where this should be.

  • cornflahkes

    I have an HTC Trophy on Verizon, and right now I’m holding out for a Lumia 920 equivalent on VZW. The camera is really the only thing I really have a complaint about regarding my current phone–otherwise, it is a pretty slick and comparable OS to either Android (though I haven’t used anything past Gingerbread for any real length of time) and iOS. I just hope WP8 gets enough traction to offer a legit 3rd alternative so we can continue to see innovation on all fronts.

  • Wise_Spinner

    Why the very primitive looking, 4-color, blocky, user interface? Why not have something like my phone ALREADY has had for years: Cool, full color, graphic widgets????

    • Immolate

      This. The elephant in the room. I know the cool kids say its minimalist, but the fact is that its ugly… as if an engineer was put in charge of designing it. Back in the old days, we had interfaces that looked similarly awkward because we were either constrained by an ASCII character set or sixteen colors, but nobody was silly enough to call it elegant. Icons evolved because we figured out that pictures conveyed information much more quickly than words. And now we revert back to words in clunky monochrome boxes.

      Windows 9 will hit the market fast like 7 did, because no corporation in their right mind will put 8 on their upgrade path. Loose functionality and productivity in one move? No thanks Microsoft.

      • rstat1

        What functionality are you losing? I’d say nothing important.

        Also I see more than words in my “clunky monocrome boxes”

  • Russ LaFever

    I don’t think we have to worry about android getting knocked off the throne any time soon; windows has a long way to go to become competitive even with apple, in my opinion, anyway.

  • DanKemple

    Am I the only one that thought this was actually lacking? I was considering a windows 8 switch sometime in the future so everything aligned but after seeing how this just looks so limited to me idk. Unless they seriously step up their game I’m sticking with Android for the foreseeable future.

  • Nathan Corachea

    I have to admit though, I love how everything looks unified with the same modern UI. I wish android had that.

  • David

    The feel of the 8x is incredible. I want another HTC Nexus so bad. Their devices feel so much better than the competition.

  • master94

    Hopefully WP can give Android some much needed competition since ios can,t do anything but ban and copy Android products.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CONCEITEDMOFO Freddy Oxford III

    its too bad verizon doesnt have the 920 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2RkiwnAtCg

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kasey-Hendrickson/1025065396 Kasey Hendrickson

    I’m really happy that you were willing to do this! I have played with some Windows Phones in the past very little but really enjoyed the UI. I wish I could have two phones, because I’m an Android guy, but would love to be able to play with it more. Any idea how much better the Xbox integration is over Android?

  • LegalAmerican

    It has some cool effects going from screen to screen. I just can’t get past the “Leapfrog” and ” Vtech” look. It looks like a childs toy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hoyce1212 Shannon Reed

    Am I the only one that thinks it just looks cluttered.

  • jonny c

    is windows phone 8 UI skinned like android is? if not, it would be upsetting that neither iOS nor Metro UI have to deal with OEM imposed changes to their software. if these companies can offer the world one uniform, stock software experience, what’s the reason android continues to be hampered by skins, again?

    • Dain Laguna

      nope. basically, like in the htc you see here, there are some unique tiles or unique apps (like nokia city lens) that are exclusive to certain devices/brands, but none of it is really bloatware, or carrier influenced.

      android is hampered by skins because if everyone had vanilla android, we would only really need 2-3 handsets, and oems need more than just hardware to differentiate themselves. if htc had no skin, but offered best in class cameras and stock jb, would you really pick a samsung? what chance would motorola stand with their near-stock skin if the sammy device with a better screen, just as good battery and much better camera offers the same stock experience?

      skins, as inferior as i find them to stock android, offer us a choice, and offer oems a reason to stick around rather than just let google keep one or two alive with their nexus devices. (and by ‘alive’ i mean successful as smartphone makers…with the exception of htc, sammy, lg and moto have products they make outside of the smartphone biz)

      • Mark Mann

        also, is windows phone open source, like android is?

        • gautam divekar

          open source… what does that even mean ???? even if you modify any part of OS you still need the app based certification and there are different policies in android as well. so just because an OS is closed source.. it doesn’t mean that it’s bad. WP 7,8 will not allow modding and skinning… but they do allow OEM exclusive appstore. or you can get certification from Microsoft and sideload apps on your device. but that policy is limited to enterprise, and you still need Microsoft’s permission.

          • Mark Mann

            when did i say closed source was bad? i just said that windows isnt open source, please don’t read more into my question than face value

      • Anon

        I would agree with you, if the skins came installed, but users had the choice to uninstall/reinstall them if so desired. Most people wouldn’t, but it would give enthusiasts the option to have it their way.

  • http://www.lovesicklives.com Curtis Fox

    I enjoy a healthy look at the “competition”. (After all, it isn’t my competition… some people take this Android thing so seriously!) I enjoy faithfully following a blog that can be open-minded enough to look at something completely different an appreciate it it for what it is – even if, in the end, Android still has the upper hand. Thanks Kellen!

    Still sticking with my GNex for now… although DNA sure is tempting. Hopefully the development community embraces it!

  • http://twitter.com/mrcamillo Pete

    I like the front-facing camera alot! At a work-related event, we got to play with the 8X and the Lumia 820(perhaps?).. The front camera was able to take a pic of me and 4 co-workers in one shot, no one cut off!

  • Neomastermind

    So when is the website’s name changing. In recent weeks we’ve covered Apple news and now Microsoft news. Tech-Life, yes?

    • Dain Laguna

      wow. cant stand to see whats going on outside of android? articles like this are for people like you, who give the impression they know nothing of any competing o.s.

      • Neomastermind

        No, I go to The Verge for tech variety. I come here for Android-focused news. Microsoft is not Android. The Verge, by the way, has already covered this phone back when it was announced. I read about it then.

        • flosserelli

          If you are not interested in the article, then why are you reading it and commenting about it?

          • Neomastermind

            I’m commenting on the fact that it isn’t android-focused news.

          • Ibrick

            I’m sure everyone appreciates you pointing that out.
            In other news, the sky is still blue.

  • 1ofdakoolkidz

    Umm….. this is Droid Life right?

  • enob

    I love the color!

  • ddevito

    No apps, no centralized notification center. The fact that it’s touted as ‘personal’ is laughable. But I applaud it for being boldly different – and more options for the consumer is always a good thing. Cheers Microsoft.

    But they have quite the hill to climb this time around.

  • cooksta32676

    Android 64% iOS 29%. Blackberry/WM/other combined 7%. The people have spoken

    • Azn_Android

      Cool story bro.

  • CaptainHowdy13

    Also I want the full review! The form factor is beautiful!

  • CaptainHowdy13

    I have wanted to test one out for a while. The 8x or even Lumina 920 are some of the best looking phones on the market.

  • tyguy829

    Definitely looks much more useful than iOS. You get more information from 2 screens (tiles and apps) than iOS gives you with endless pages of icons. nicely done microsoft!

  • GreenMeansGo

    For the love of God, just turn the damn thing on!

  • EC8CH

    I’m blue da ba dee da ba die…

  • joejoe5709

    Hmmm. I respect the clean, polished look that Windows Phones have always had, but it’s just not the same experience as Android. Here’s the real question – Gun to your head, you must choose between WP8 or iOS6. Hmmmm… Probably WP8. ;-)

    • CaptainHowdy13

      The only thing Apple has that would sway me over WP8 is apps. Tons of them. I have an iPhone 4, its boring as a UI

      • MicroNix

        The number of apps is overrated. There are only so many types of apps that make a phone useful. The rest are extra. Granted, some of those basic apps are absent in WP8 today but with the way Microsoft is throwing money around, it won’t be long. The biggest turn off of WP8 for me is the tile that says Internet Explorer. If they really wanted a clean break from the past, they would have served themselves better by giving the browser a new name rather than the malware infested POS that is called Internet Explorer.

      • AE35

        ” iPhone 4, its boring as a UI”

        That’s why I can’t get into Apple products as beautiful as they are. The UI treats the user like he’s an idiot.

        • rstat1

          “That’s why I can’t get into Apple products as ugly as they are. The UI treats the user like he’s an idiot.”

          FTFY

  • Jd14

    Picked one up for work. Nice phone so far, but I hate the power button.

  • Kevin Olson

    Google was taking so long to ship my Nexus 4 to me I “almost” went and bought a Windows Phone device. A Lumia 920 to be exact. Luckily I didn’t have to because my Nexus 4 arrived yesterday, but man the camera on the 920 is amazing!

    It’s still tempting…

  • Anonymous

    The phone looks really nice! Though….i have to admit…that blue…looks like the blue screen of death :(

  • Brian Walker

    I looked at this over at T-Mobile a few days ago, and I’ve got to say I would gladly recommend it to anyone curious about Windows Phone at all. it was really well built, but also super light. Nice job, HTC. I’m an Android faithful, but you’ve managed to convince me that there are still excellent choices out there aside from my chosen platform.

  • WCDave

    Had training on this phone and was totally underwhelmed. What surprises Mr is that when it comes to Android devices, many of the users on this site have expectations that don’t seem to carry over to this OS.

  • rekem

    Tried the 8X and 920 in the store. Wasn’t impressed at all with WP8, but I would definitely go with the 8X over the 920 if android didn’t exist. The 920 felt like a brick. Couldn’t you put that thing on a diet, Nokia?

    • http://www.facebook.com/CONCEITEDMOFO Freddy Oxford III

      pureview>>>>>>>>>>>>

  • Josh Fisher

    Pretty much what I expected. App store is lacking and MS is late to the game as far as Apple and Google both locking people into their ecosystem already. I will have to say that 95% of my apps on Android were free and I wouldn’t mind having one of these even if it was only WIFI enabled, as long as I didn’t have to pay for it (Like my S3 to much). Simplified phone for non techies. Only way I see their app store taking off is Windows 8 Pro user adoption which will drive development to Metro because of potential number of users. Only time will tell.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dominick-White/642535026 Dominick White

      Windows Phone have a good chance of getting a bigger piece of the smart phone market. Only if they can get a bit more apps in their app store, you have to recall, most people are still using dumb phones

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548497404 Hans Dirk Kwazneski

    I’d LOVE to try a windows phone out! Only mobile OS I haven’t tried :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1503310639 Kree Terry

    Just not for me, ill admit the UI has its merits but i just cant stomach the lack of apps or the blatant lack of notifications.

    • Brian Walker

      I don’t understand why everyone always mentions the lack of a notification center. If they had that, there would be a lot of notification redundancy due to the Live Tiles. Sure, it’s what you’re used to on Android, but WP8 is a different beast all together.

      • MicroNix

        Notification center can be viewed anywhere. Live Tiles are only on the “home” screen not while in an app. Its smooth and polished (WP8) but I just can’t get used to those tiles. The different size and layouts of them just look a “mess” and unorganized. I guess you could resize them all the same but it seems clunky and cumbersome….don’t know how to explain any better than that. Probably the same thing someone on iOS thinks of Android widgets I’m sure.

        • OreoMan

          I agree. The tiles give me a headache. It does look smooth, it’s just getting past those tiles on the home screen. If Android ever went away, I would probably switch to WP.

      • http://TransientTangent.com/ Blake Mitchell

        It is rare that you find someone arguing against a notification center and the fact that MS has admitted they wanted to work in it but didn’t have time seems to indicate that it is a needed feature.

        • Brian Walker

          I’m just trying to play devil’s advocate for why they left it out in the first place.

        • eharris560

          it’s really not rare. I’m one that argues against it. I believe it’s more non users and tech writers that argues for. MS is caving on the matter because they want to to appeal to as many people as possible. I just hope they stick it in the people hub. That bar just won’t work in WP8 design.

          • awsome

            No one knows what that means meg

      • http://www.facebook.com/DCasper Dustin Casper

        Do you work for S-T Imaging?

      • michael arazan

        Looks like you hear the notification sound then have to go looking through all your tiles to find which one is going off

        • Brian Walker

          That’s a fair point.

  • http://twitter.com/nunyazz nunyazz

    Long press search key for multitasking

    • http://TransientTangent.com/ Blake Mitchell

      Long press back brings up multitasking. Long press search just does the same thing as regular search. Long press home is voice.

  • ERIC REED

    I somehow got to get one of these. Had one in hand yesterday and it was awesome!!

  • droyd4life

    Do you think this beats the Razr M?

  • William_Morris

    I have to admit I think it’s an attractive looking phone.

  • James Jun

    I wonder if a developer could make a launcher for Android that forgoes the widget the drawer and instead lets you expand the app icons into their widget. I feel the beginning of a good idea…

    • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

      Stolen. Patent Pending.

    • Mike

      You mean the way the bookmark widget does for the browser in ICS/JB? (Not being a smartass, I’m seriously asking if thats what you mean)

  • Chris Malkiewicz

    Live Tiles… Just a fancy name for widgets! Bout time another OS realized how awesome they are!

    • http://twitter.com/redbullcat Phil Oakley

      The same way to achieve different things I think.

    • DrewNusser

      Not really – widgets are interactive.

      • http://www.facebook.com/DCasper Dustin Casper

        Exactly…”Live Tiles” are just glorified icons (kinda like how dreamscene is a live wallpaper, LMAO). Widgets are parts of applications you can access quickly.

    • gautam divekar

      widgets have their active memory space, and live tiles have passive “buffer” for all kinds of data. so in theory they are completely different.so you dont have to worry about memory leakage and independent syncing of data between apps and widgets like in android. widgets may have more interactive state and options.. but in an embedded device the battery life and active memory footprint of any device has the highest priority. so a live tile is the most well thought out solution for “fly-by” information.

  • mcdonsco

    I got the HTC 8x on release day (one of the few that was able to) and it was NICE, but ultimately I had to take it back due to a problem with PDF’s (overlapping/unreadable pages) and found that the nokia lumia 822 didn’t have the same problem, so I got that.

    Had the phone(s) for about 3-4 days and ended up taking them back. Windows Phone 8 is FAST, REALLY FAST. Just zero lag to anything on it. Problem is, everything is locked down tight, if MS (like Apple) doesn’t think you should or need to change something, they certainly don’t give you a way to do so…Just really lacked customizations. Also, was surprisingly unable to play some media, web page viewing was quite the chore outside of setting it to view only the mobile versions of pages (on android, you can view the desktop view and if when you resize the page to read a column of text it always seems to know where the column borders are and kind of snaps to it, WP8 doesn’t do that AT ALL).

    Also, of course, the app store was lacking. But in the end, as fast and nice as it was to use, it just wasn’t as functional as Android…hence they both went back.
    Oh well…

  • http://www.facebook.com/johnrupps John Ruppel

    I got mine in Black, and I absolutely love it. Great battery, amazingly fast, and what an amazing device to hold. Development for it in visual studio is also a joy. Can’t complain about anything, surprisingly…. Yet.

    • http://twitter.com/gotteric Eric Gottlieb

      How is the app store? Not in terms of size but finding quality apps that you find useful

      • http://www.facebook.com/johnrupps John Ruppel

        I found all the apps I wanted actually, and the consistent modern UI makes everything flow. Comparing it to android, where many apps don’t follow the guidelines for ICS/JB theming, every app seems to be as if it were integrated more and more.

        • AE35

          I like it but there are a few other things that concern me: lack of a true notification system, lack of true widgets (live tiles just don’t offer enough information), and the lack of tight integration with Google’s services to which I have become accustomed. It’s awesome to activate a new Android device by just signing into a Google account.

          The UI, however, is impressive. I’ve tried it and it’s smooth and polished. I like Android’s open culture but I wish they would enforce some standards for app appearance like MS and Apple do.

          I’m also not sure about Microsoft’s strategy of using the Modern UI on all platforms. It’s great on a phone, so-so on a tablet, and makes no sense on a desktop.

          • http://www.facebook.com/johnrupps John Ruppel

            The thing is, when using it on the desktop, it’s only the start menu. I’ve been using windows 8 for a while now (for WP8 development) and I completely forgot it was anything different from windows 7. I just barely used the startmenu. And when I did it was usually to type the name of a program to run it rather than clicking around.

            When it comes to the notification system along with the widgets, I totally see what you mean, and I thought the same exact way until I got used to it. Granted, I’d still like a notification hub, but the icons on the lockscreen get the job done as well, along with customizing the lockscreen from 3rd party apps. Then the live tiles give you all the information you’d need from a notification system anyway, kinda defeating the purpose.

            Tight integration is not really there, so true. But only with Google. There’s some nice integration with live accounts as well as xbox especially, as most people are heavy gamers nowadays (turns out I haven’t touched the xbox in over a year). I actually have found apps that let me access my google drive, as well as stream my google music right through the music hub.

          • AE35

            I tried the Modern UI on a Windows RT tablet and found the fastest way to navigate was to swipe up, select “Apps”, then pick from a list. This pretty much renders the tiles pointless. The data they scroll is much too slow and constrained to be useful. One news story at a time? One appointment at a time? That’s not really how people consume information. They scan then select what is relevant, whether it’s news, their calendar, or email etc.

            Also, MS has a tendency to bail on projects that don’t immediately prove to be successful (Kin, Urge, Zune, Danger, Plays-for-Sure, BOB…). Their only really big consumer successes have been Windows and the Xbox (and they threw a ton of money into the Xbox while Sony simultaneously stumbled with the Playstation). As a former Zune owner and Urge subscriber, I am always wary of the next big new thing from MS.

            I’m glad to see new competition and ideas but I’m not sure I’m ready to sign on to Microsoft’s services and that’s really what any of these devices is really about anyway. Live, Skydrive, Xbox, Hotmail, MS App and Media Store etc. They want you to commit to their ecosystem where the real money is to be made. So far Google is pretty far ahead.

          • eharris560

            Replace hotmail with outlook.

      • athom07

        John may have found all the apps he wanted, but let me tell you – the App store on WP SUCKS. If you plan on switching, just practice saying “No, my phone doesn’t have that yet” because that is what you will say every time someone with an iPhone or Android phone tells you about a new app. Think I’m lying? Go check out a forum for WP users.

        • AE35

          I’m pretty sure no one thinks you’re lying. However, to be fair, I remember people saying the Android Market was weak compared to Apple’s. It takes time to develop a critical mass of useful apps.

          • kwubba

            That maybe true, but it’s going to take them a long time to catch-up. They are so far behind and users have invested financially into their eco-systems with real $$$. As personal app libraries get bigger the cost of conversion for a user will be too much. It has a nice interface, slick UI but it’s just too late to the game.

        • James

          I heard this before except it was from iFanboys talking about Android. I guess it doesn’t matter what you use. There are always fanboys.

          • athom07

            So answering a question (honestly, and based on my own personal experiences) about the WP appstore makes me a fanboy? Which one am I a fanboy for since I pointed out two competitors that were far superior?

          • jaymonster

            The big difference is with Android is was almost always about a specific game or a specific app that wasn’t available yet on Android but was on the iPhone. In the case of WP, there are BASICS that just don’t exist… not from a familiar company… OR anybody else.

        • Rambir

          Give it a few months and then it will be nicely stocked. Trust me, android all over again. And I’m an android fanboy. Competition is good, but each is has its best features and wore. Eg, chrome is s***, good job I have dolphin on my jelly bean phone. Before jelly bean everything lagged. IOS is quick but is the same thing every year and is boring, as well as no multitasking, and wp is just Marmite, you love the ui or hate it and I hate it. Also, although it has multitasking, it is terrible. Stay open, this is an android forum, not an I sheep apple is the best and only good thing so I will rather have sex with my phone than my wife forum. I have I sheep for friends and that is how they behave.

    • michael arazan

      how great is the battery? 12 hrs great 24 hrs, heavy usage?

      • http://www.facebook.com/johnrupps John Ruppel

        24 hour great. Been 11 hours moderate-heavy use today (Constant texting and even some browsing/netflix) and still 54% and isn’t decreasing quickly.

  • brando56894

    That phone looks fugly, way too much blue.

    • ERIC REED

      Look at one in the store, it really is an amazing looking device.

      • Chris B.

        I agree, I wasn’t sold on how good it looked until I saw one in person.

    • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

      In person its really nice. Try one.

    • http://TransientTangent.com/ Blake Mitchell

      I thought it looked ugly too so I got a black. I really wished VZW would offer the Limelight Yellow. I would have snagged that for sure.

  • Greg Morgan

    I’ll admit I have been keeping an eye on craigslist seeing if i can pick one off cheap. I have multiple devices and think it would be fun to try out and play with.

    • Geoff

      I’m with you. I played with a fellow grad student’s Nokia 920 and was kind of entranced. I don’t think I would use a WP8 as my daily driver, but i’m really curious and want to know more about how it ticks. Happy CL’ing :D

      • cgalyon

        Yeah the 920 is a really appealing device. I’ve been looking at picking up a replacement for my Galaxy Nexus (just sold back to Best Buy for about $300) and the 920 felt and looked fantastic. And the camera is amazing. However, available apps is holding me back. Likely to get an OptimusG instead.

  • http://twitter.com/davidbavin David Bavin

    YESS!!!!! THANKS KELLEN! MY NEXT PHONE! ARRIVING ON FRIDAY :D