Is the Windows Phone 8X by HTC really a hero device for the platform?Evan Selleck - Contributing Editor
With Microsoft's newest release for their mobile operating system inching closer, each new day brings the opportunity to see something exciting. Earlier this month we saw Nokia unveil their newest Lumia devices, which got plenty of people excited about Windows Phone 8 all over again. Then, just a few days ago, HTC took the stage at their own event and got reacquainted with Microsoft's mobile offering in a big way.
The Windows Phone 8X and Windows Phone 8S by HTC are the "her devices" for Windows Phone moving forward. This isn't just according to HTC, as some marketing ploy to make them stand out against the other Windows Phone 8-based offerings coming down the pipe. No, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer made note of this as well during HTC's event, apparently cementing HTC's place at the top of the Windows Phone ladder.
Which is admittedly odd. Nokia and Microsoft struck a partnership not too long ago, and the result of that deal was the Lumia 900 (and other Lumia devices as well). There's no other thing to do but admit that the Lumia 900 is still the best Windows Phone device on the market right now. It propelled Nokia into the spotlight again here in the States for a short time, and it gave Windows Phone an extra shove in the right direction.
I would venture to guess that a lot of people are excited about Windows Phone 8 because of the Lumia 900, and perhaps by the Lumia series in itself. Yes, there are going to be other options, but the Lumia series has represented the best of a platform since its debut.
That's hard to shake.
But HTC wants to do that. I will admit that they're coming out swinging, but at the same time I think we're just watching a company take a bat into a room full of mirrors. The Windows Phone 8X looks like a Lumia 920. It does. Square, colorful, and running Windows Phone, it would be difficult for someone to tell the two devices apart simply by looking at them.
And then there are the specifications. Let's just compare the top-tier models. The Windows Phone 8X is running a 4.3-inch Corning Gorilla Glass display, with a resolution of 1280x720. There's an 8MP camera on the back, with HTC's Image Chip tucked inside. On the front, a very wide-angle 2.1MP camera. Inside, Qualcomm's S4 dual-core processor, clocked at 1.5GHz, runs the show. And, there's 16GB of built-in storage, and 1GB of RAM. The storage is notable because you can't expand it with a microSD card, and while 16GB may be enough for most, we all know that people clamor for more. The battery is measured in at 1800mAh, also non removable.
The Lumia 920 has a 4.5-inch Pure Motion HD+ display, with a resolution of 1280x768. You'll find an 8MP camera with PureView technology on the back, and a 1.2MP front-facing shooter. There's the same 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm S4 processor tucked under the hood. There's also 1GB of RAM. But the Lumia 920 comes out of the box with 32GB of onboard memory, so the fact it's missing a microSD card slot is negligible.
I'm going to come right out and say it: the Windows Phone 8X is promoting old Windows Phone philosophies, yet it is being touted as the hero device for the next generation of the software. That just doesn't make any sense. I know that Microsoft needs to get people excited about these devices, about what Windows Phone is bringing to the table right around the corner, but they might have gone a bit too far with this device. I mean, the Windows Phone 8S has expandable memory! How on Earth does the "better" device *not*?
And the name? I think this is the single most important part of the phone, and no, not because the name of a phone matters. But because it means that when someone goes into a wireless store and asks for a Windows Phone, the rep will guide them to the HTC devices. Why? Because that's what they're called. I'm not going to sit here and say, "Oh, poor Nokia!" because I think a lot of people are still going to pick the Lumia series. But this move doesn't just leave Nokia out in the cold, but also every other manufacturer that isn't HTC that wants to build a Windows Phone.
I like the Windows Phone 8X. I think it's a ridiculously nice looking device, and it has a specifications list that I can get behind. But no, I do not think it's the hero device for Windows Phone. It's close, maybe. But it just isn't.
What do you think of the new steps that Microsoft and HTC are taking? Do you think that the Windows Phone 8X is indeed the hero device for Microsoft's new mobile platform? Or are you going with a Lumia device? Or, maybe even Samsung's effort? Let me know, Dear Reader.