Review: Windows Phone 8S by HTC

The name may sound a little pompous, but this phone has a genuine reason for a superiority complex - for the price, it's great.

NameSmartphone: Windows Phone 8S by HTC
At a glance:4-inch, 480 x 800 pixel screen,Solid build quality,Camera a little lacking for 5MP rating
Summary:Cheap, well-built, and likely to convert people to Windows Phone 8
Rating:4.5/5
RRP:$449
Contact:htc.com/nz

None

For something with a pretentious-sounding name, the HTC 8S is very approachable. It didn’t once sneer at my sneakers as I picked it up, turned it on and set it up. Thank goodness.

The 8S is not only completely lacking in any superciliousness, but it’s also very affordable phone ($449) and really good-looking. It’s lightweight at 113 grams, fits comfortably into your hand thanks to its gentle curves and softly textured, highly-tactile chassis, and it comes in a range of colours.

Full disclaimer here: although I went to the Windows Phone 8 launch expecting to be dazzled by the Lumia 920, I fell in love-at-first-sight with the HTC 8S instead. But now that I’ve spent time with it, I find myself no less enamoured.

The design is quite stylish, and, as we’ve seen with other HTC phones we’ve tested over the past couple of years, it’s built solidly and feels very sturdy. I’ve got no qualms about throwing this in my messenger bag or carrying it around in-hand. It comes with a full-sized SIM slot, and space for a microSD card - unusual amongst Windows Phones. The screen is a well-sized 4-inch 480 x 800-pixel LCD display (233 ppi), and the screen is amply crisp and clear for the Windows Phone 8 interface, as well as for video playback, photo-viewing, email, web-browsing and other tasks. I liked how bright it seemed in daylight, too, while I was out and about over New Year’s.

The phones specs are pretty good for the price, too. A dual-core 1GHz SnapDragon S4-based processor and 512MB RAM is ample. Using the phone, in all, was a pleasure. Transitions between screens were fast, apps loaded rapidly, and I noticed no slowdowns at all. I used this phone right after having used the HTC One V, and it was noticeably faster and smoother.

Windows Phone 8 is not too dissimilar from Windows Phone 7.5, but HTC has included its own People Hub as part of the main lineup of apps. I liked the People hub as a way to quickly see my contacts and their most recent updates. In other ways, I found Windows Phone 8 very straightforward to use, with very little learning curve. I think it’s a great operating system for a new user, and $449 is a fabulously affordable price point for people to sample this OS.

The 8S comes with a rear camera capable of 5-megapixel shots that also has an LED flash and autofocus - neither of which always standard for this price. It takes video at 720p and 30 frames per second. But I honestly expected a little more from 5MP. It’s noticeably noisier and more prone to blockiness than, say, the Lumia 710’s 5MP camera. I’d liked what I saw of the camera during the launch, so this surprised me, but it’s also one of the phone’s few flaws. The camera also has a dedicated button on the side, which works even if the phone is locked. It’s very handy for those moments where you want to take a pic without having to go through the palaver of locating the app.

Also disappointing was the sound quality. HTC has pitched this phone as a multimedia companion. It comes with a microSD card slot, capable of taking cards up to 64GB - plenty of space for music or video - and Beats Audio logo, indicating the presence of the Beats Audio sound enhancements. Yet at high volumes, the sound gets a little distorted. The speaker is down the bottom end of the phone, and it seems to contribute to the crackling. I’d be reluctant to spend up big on a pair of Beats Audio Headphones for this, frankly. I’m hopeful that my experience was an isolated incident, but I’d definitely recommend trying out the sound in store yourself if you plan to use this as a music phone.

The rest of the specs are good. There’s the aforementioned microSD slot for an additional card to round out the phones base of 4GB onboard storage. It features a - sadly unremovable - Lithium-Polymer 1700mAh battery that provided enough charge for me to use the phone for up to two days of moderate use.

Phone calls made using the 8S were of excellent call quality, despite the issues I had with the speaker for music playback, and it has internet fast enough that I didn’t notice slowdowns.

All up, the HTC 8S is a great little Windows Phone. It has a couple of flaws, but for the price, this is just brilliant. If it doesn’t convert a few people to Windows Phone 8, I’ll be very surprised.

Tags reviewsmartphonewindows phone 8s by htchtcwindows phone 8windows phone 8sWindows Phone

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Zara Baxter

Unknown Publication

8 Comments

Anonymous

1

Our company has started buying these. Nice phone.

Oeo

2

I think I put the micro-SIM in this phone.

Anonymous

3

which telco(s) NZ stock this? Didn't seem to be mentioned in the article.

S. Guimba

4

This htc 8s must be the most useless htc phone that I ever had. You know I am an htc windows phone lover. I bought this unit 3 days ago. This is my 4th htc and it's disgusting. The phone is really great to give it due justice and I thought that since it's windows 8 the office application must also be superb. But to my dismay I found that it has no FILE EXPLORER or FILE MANAGER or whatever sort to open a file. I am a professional radio broadcaster in 3 radio stations in Manila and I need a windows mobile with excellent office application to read the script in the broadcasting. I also use the script reading in my out-door daily lectures. With my Touch Pro 2 it's really a wonderful help and I bought 8s thinking that it will be faster to open and shift from files to files while lecturing. To my disgust I couldn't open the word files. I brought the unit back to the store and they tried to download a file manager but still the files could not be opened. They tried another software but still the same difficulty. The experts could do nothing?

I was wondering how did it happen that this is phone windows 8 and we the professionals are expecting that the office application is also level 8 but NO FILE EXPLORER to open my word file? I considered also the idea of making a swap with 8x but still the same problem: NO FILE EXPLORER to open files. I tried also to save files to the document but still you cannot open it in the device. I preferred 8s than 8x because it has 32 GB capacity but it's useless if you cannot open it. Last night I text the manager to allow me to swap with HD7.

The manufacturer should not only be focusing on developing camera, audio, video, battery and other similar important concern but as a window mobile the office application should also be given much emphasis. If you compare windows 6, 7 and 8 in terms of ease and usefulness with office application, windows 6 is much better.

You are concentrating so much on developing other areas while leaving and becoming impractical on some applications.

Anonymous

5

The People app is actually part of Windows Phone 8 and is not an HTC app. HTC does include a few apps with the HTC 8S such as a unit converter, flashlight, basic photo enhancer and a app that combines the time, weather information, stocks and news as a live tile (notably the stocks and news available are US focused). The HTC app offering is not as good as what Nokia offers with its Windows Phone 8 devices which includes, amongst other things, Nokia Drive. This gives Nokia Windows Phone 8 devices turn by turn navigation, a feature missing from standard Windows Phone 8.

Potential buyers should be aware that the HTC 8S only comes with 1GB of user accessible internal memory. This is fine for photos, music and video as they can be stored on the SD card. The problem is with apps because Windows Phone 8 only allows them to be stored in the phones internal memory.

Allan

6

I am looking at replacing some old Win phones (LG),but, with having a 20% failure rate on the HTC One V, I am relucatant to go buy 20 or so Win 8 phones.
I have had one Nokia Lumia 920 fail (its in for repair).
I have had a Huawei G600 on trial for 6 weeks, so far all is OK
The Galaxy S's are starting to fail.

Vinayagamoorthy K

7

It is difficult to open SD card.The shopkeeper says that file explorer shoud be downloaded.There is no file explorer in HTC store.I tried to download file explorer for windows mobile,but htc8s didn't allow to download.Please give guidence to open SD card.
Another side all features are very excellent for me.

Koprivetina

8

This phone is having some serious issues. I got replacement 3 times, and problem wasn#t resolve. With poor HTC support I was forced to change this phone for Nokia Lumia 610. To se my details visit http://myhtcproblems.com .

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