HTC 8X Windows PhoneHTC is sponsoring the Canadian Imagine Cup and is providing some beautiful phones for the winners. Check out the specs on the HTC 8X!

HTC is sponsoring the 2013 Canadian Imagine Cup and will provide sleek new Windows 8 Phones to the Canadian winners in Innovation, World Citizenship, and Games. Their phones were also used when judging the entries that included Windows Phone applications.

Let’s take a look at the HTC 8X which some of our Imagine Cup winners will get to take home!

HTC has always been a trusted OEM partner for Microsoft.  They have been building smartphones, running Microsoft software, as far back as Pocket PC 2002. The release of the HTC Windows Phone 8X showcases the latest collaboration to come out of this relationship and looks to be one of the best HTC Windows Phone smartphones yet.

Design

HTC’s hardware formula for the 8x encompasses a sleek rounded design allowing the smartphone to fit comfortably in your hand. The 8X also slips easily into your back pocket due to its slim 5.21 x 2.6 x 0.39-inch frame.  HTC has stated that they have taken design cues from Microsoft’s tile which provides a wondrous backdrop in blue for the front black 4.3 inch display.  Blue is currently the only colour available in Canada at the moment whereas the US also carries Limelight Yellow and Crimson Red.  Time and device success factor will dictate if additional colours will make it north of the border.  Capacitive touch buttons (Back, Start and Search) complete the clean-looking front finished with a 2.1 megapixel camera and blue speaker bar.  Aside from the HTC branding on the front, all other labeling is only visible on the backside of the device completing the clean front face of the HTC 8X. The back contains an 8.1 megapixel camera, loud-speaker and LED flash.  True to any Windows Phone device, the dedicated camera button has been placed on the lower right side with the volume controls located just above it.

Performance

The 8X is powered by a dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm S4 processor and utilizes 1GB of RAM to ensure smooth operation of the Windows Phone OS which can handle up to 64 cores natively.  Applications operate smoothly even with 3 or 4 applications running in the background.

Web browsing with the 8X was delightful as connectivity supported via LTE.  Average download speeds experienced were 14.1 Mbps and 7.1 Mbps upload speeds proved the connection to be faster than most residential internet services.

Battery life is that of standard smartphones in market today providing a slightly lower than average 7 hour usage cycle from a single charge.  Tests on a single charge included web browsing, posting to Facebook and Twitter, GPS tracking, phone calls and photo taking.

Voice quality proved to be loud and clear with no echoing or static present even in speakerphone mode.

Display

The HTC 8X contains a 4.3-inch Super LCD 2 and display’s a resolution of 1280 x 720 (341 ppi).  Coupled with Windows Phone’s high contrast imagery and the 8X’s display looks stunning.  Video’s played in HD fared very well and imagery was sharply displayed  at all offerings of angle placement.

Camera

As mentioned the HTC Windows Phone 8X has an 8.1MP rear facing camera and a 2.1MP front facing camera which is optimal for self-portraits, Skype and other video conferencing applications.  Photos taken with the 8X’s rear camera proved to be crisp and vibrant in daylight but was challenged in producing shots in low light.  What was impressive though was the use of HTC’s dedicated ImageChip which allowed the 8X to take pictures less than a second after pressing the shutter button.

The front facing 2.1MP camera also took good shots.  The front facing camera provided a larger frame than most smartphone cameras in market as the camera supports an 88-degree wide-angle lens.

Audio

When HTC partnered with Beats Audio, it ushered in the acceptance of your smartphone being the main media consumption device.  Beats Audio can be activated by simply connecting your headphones to the headphone jack on the 8X and provides better harmonic and less distortion when coupled with a quality headset.  Volume is controlled by two buttons located on the upper right side of the 8X. The same control also provides easy access to skipping through audio being listened to via a drop down submenu offered in Windows Phone.  The loud-speaker on the device is not included under the Beats Audio offering but fairs well as an alternative option to listen to media.

Apps

Currently the Windows Phone Store carries upwards of 120,000 apps and is growing rapidly.  HTC has added to the store by providing a handle full of applications which are exclusive to HTC’s Windows Phone offering.  One such application is HTC’s Photo Enhancer which provides photo filter capabilities similar to the Instagram offering.  Other HTC applications include, Converter, which allows you to quickly convert types of measurement, Stock, Weather, Flashlight and News Updates

Final Thoughts

It is clear HTC did their homework in designing the Windows Phone 8X and did not just reproduce one of HTC’s existing Android designs.  The smartphone feels of a quality design and with first impressions being of great importance, especially in the case of Windows Phone, HTC has a great handset on their hands.  The only limitation that stands out is the lack of support for expanded storage via MicroSD.  Understandably, HTC is following Microsoft’s lead to the cloud with the ability to sync media seamlessly thus not requiring traditional expanded storage. This means a far easier way to showcase the beautiful photos taken with the 8X and seamless wireless syncing of videos & documents with Microsoft’s SkyDrive. The HTC Windows Phone 8X is a recommended buy for any 1st time Smartphone buyer and/or person looking to increase their connectivity capability without the complexity of other smartphones.