Nothing more than a Nokia lookalike or something special?


As its imaginative name suggests, the HTC Windows Phone 8X is one of the company's first smartphones to use Microsoft's latest mobile operating system. You'd be forgiven for thinking it was another Lumia phone - the colourful and seamless design with its curved edges bears a striking resemblance to Nokia's smartphone range.

However, the brightly coloured shell has a soft, slightly rubberised texture in comparison to the glossy hardness of the Lumias. More importantly the 8X is significantly lighter and thinner, making it much easier to hold and use.

Those with small hands may find the 4.3in touchscreen a little uncomfortable to use, but it's still less awkward than the unwieldy 4.5in screen on the Nokia Lumia 920. The screen itself has a resolution of 1,280x720 pixels and is bright and vivid with crisp text and sharp photos.

Call quality on the Vodafone 3G network was a touch fuzzy, but still more than clear enough to be audible. Impressively, the microphone's noise cancellation was effective enough to block out the sound of traffic and roadworks on our end so that they were inaudible to the person on the other end. The 8X will also work on 4G LTE mobile networks.

The eight megapixel camera isn't as good as the one found in the Lumia 920, but it's not too far off. Shots in bright daylight are reasonably crisp and detailed, but photos taken in low light are noisy with smeared details.

The 1.5GHz dual core processor may not sound very impressive compared to the quad core processors now common place in Android phones. Even so the Windows Phone 8 interface and apps felt smooth and very responsive.

The catch is battery life. The 8X lasted just 14 hours when used for a mix of making calls, browsing the web using 3G and Wifi and occasionally navigating via GPS. This is the shortest battery life of any smartphone we've seen recently - we'd expect around 24 hours. Battery life will be even shorter if you use 4G services.

Another catch is apps. The selection of Windows Phone apps isn't as good as it is on either the iPhone or Android, but it is steadily improving. One particular area in need of improvement is apps for services such as Dropbox. Some unofficial apps for these services are available from third party developers - many have Trial versions so you can try them out before purchasing.

We also missed the numerous extras on the Lumia phones from hardware features such as the ability to use the touchscreen while wearing gloves to the useful Nokia Drive and Music apps. HTC has added a barebones photo editing app and a basic all-in-one app for checking the weather, stock prices and news headlines which aren't as useful.

The HTC Windows Phone 8X is a good smartphone, but its let down by its battery life and we found ourselves missing many of the unique features on Nokia's Windows Phone 8 handsets. If you're taken with Windows Phone 8 and then the Lumia 920 is better if bigger and more expensive.