My infatuation with social media comes at a price. That price is the upkeep of newly released technology whether that be Sony VAIO, Apple, the hunt for the perfect digicam and, of course, the foray into the newest and best tablets and mobile phones, the absolute lynch-pin of the fast and furious blogger.
HTC are a brand who I’m fond of. The ergonomics of their product lines and well as the delivery is usually terrific so I was Ms Eager-Beaver at the chance to review the new HTC Windows Phone 8X.
Firstly, constant marketing spin around Windows phones as well as the constantly changing and winking tile pics on the ‘home’ page with the promise of fingertip easy action was the draw. This baby was going to be used in blogging situe so it needed to perform as well as look easy on the eye. So what are my thoughts?
The Good and the Great parts
Yes, the phone is as smooth as silk (my version was in Californian Blue). It oozes quality from the outset with its polycarbonate finish and drew lots of attention each time I used it at launch parties, events and press open days. “Oh, is that one of those new Windows phones? What’s it like? Is it good?” was the frequent response. So, people have bought the hype, they just now need to get to grips with the goods.
The phone sits well in the hand with a good feel and weight. It feels impressive from first use and slips easily into back pockets without bulkiness. The on/off button and the camera button to the side sit flush with the phone so this is one slinky, well designed piece of tech.
Its flick through, easy instinctive use allows the user to glide through the manual and even has tips and help sections. However, much as I was impressed at how instinctive the phone is, it still needs some pointers for new users which was lacking in terms of instruction re certain factors which often led to me mentally ‘aaaghhh’ing’ quite a bit in frustration and trying to find web manuals and PDFs.
The display is pin-sharp and I loved the fact you can alter colour, font type and size (a boon for someone with bad eyesight in often dimmed light party environments), while the maps and settings function are truly easy to master and are incredibly informative.
The wide angle camera lens and video are in a class of their own. The 8X has a f/2.0 and 28mm lens on the back coupled with a dedicated imaging chip so this is as professional as it gets on a smartphone.
Social media links are simple to use. The prompt to share by email, message, twitter, facebook etc are as easy as Apple’s iphone – a very good thing indeed. Particularly good was the integrated feedlines offering the latest posts (all in one) from all the social media facets and emails. Great.
As it is with most things, it the small things that cheered me about this phone rather than it’s big and sellable ‘can-dos’. The ringtones, the easy flick to left or right, the smooth flat clear screen, the razor sharp pic quality, it’s general speed and zippiness and the attentive phone factor (very clever ring level according to where the phone is located) were all big wins.
The Bad and the Ugly parts
Surprised? Well there are downsides (much as I’d love one of these strokeable lovelies), the main one being that I had nary 2 weeks to trial the phone and only £10 added to the SIM card which pretty much gave up the ghost after about 6 days. So, no, I didn’t get to quite use the phone as much or as often as I wanted for fear of eating up my allocated tenner. This meant constant juggling with my other phone and having ‘the fear’ each time I misplaced either on a busy night trip-hopping from one event to another. Also, I’d have loved longer to utilise my latest plaything. With only 2 weeks, I have to confess I didn’t download music or even input many of my contacts (what was the point?). The effort of setting up a fully set-to-your-own-standards mobile of downloaded aps, changed passwords for each social media manifestation and inputting contact information, matching photos and emails to each, took the best part of a long afternoon as it was – and that was only a minute fraction of what I normally use.
The camera was one of my most loved yet frustrating functions. The pics are astoundingly sharp and the link to automatic upload to Skydrive is a winner as well as the brightness of flash and clarity. What wasn’t so great was the way the camera seemed to stall occasionally (as Sod’s Law would dictate) when photographing celebrities (The Saturdays and Jamie Winstone in my case). So sensitive (you simply press anywhere onscreen) that I oft ended up with pics of shoes, thumbs, part faces and the inside of my bag and yet temperamental to the nth while I jabbed at the screen in various place to no avail. ie. nada, camera does compute. I still haven’t worked out why this occurs. Nor, why it insists in automatically heading to the Bing internet page when all I want to do is bleeping use the camera. As I say, 2 weeks. Not long enough to become Miss HTC Windows literate in the land of the normal people.
Music downloads I’d have loved to have tried but this would have meant switching much of my from Apple iTunes and of course, the time factor was an issue. However, I have since learned that the 8X comes with only 16Gb of memory storage and no microSD slot. So, even with 7GB of Skydrive storage available, it ignores the fact that most users stream music outside of 3G or WiFi areas – a problem for some.
All in all, this phone is an excellent as well as stylish choice and, like all new product releases, it takes a little while to get to know it’s character before delivering up the goods. Still, I’m charmed by this baby and shall miss it greatly. I was *so* going to win over the camera function with my frequent use. Pity.
The HTC Windows Phone 8X is available from £400 (without contract)