HTC Windows Phone 8S review: Icebreaker

GSMArena team, 18 December 2012.
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Introduction

No one's had any reason to question HTC's commitment to Windows Phone. The Taiwanese have been on board since the heyday of PocketPCs, helping Redmond quickly man a nascent WP7 army. Now they're back in the thick of it for the next generation of the platform; this time with a smaller, more focused squad.

In the couple of the so-called signature WP8 devices, the HTC Windows Phone 8S is playing second fiddle to the 8X. The current flagship however, didn't quite convince us it had what it takes to put real pressure on competing platforms or stand up to the other big fish in the small pond that the Windows Phone market still is.


HTC Windows Phone 8S official photos

Fortunately, the HTC Windows Phone 8S has little of that to worry about. Not only is it the most affordable of WP8 smartphones, but it keeps a safe distance too from the Android heavyweights. We don't think that much pressure will be felt either from the iOS end. So anyone keen to try Microsoft's latest on a tight budget is seemingly already in the loop and the 8S has a chance of winning over some converts too.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support
  • Dual-band 3G with 42 Mbps HSDPA and 5.7 Mbps HSUPA support
  • 4" 16M-color S-LCD capacitive touchscreen of 480 x 800 pixel resolution
  • Scratch resistant Gorilla Glass 2 display
  • 5 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash, 720p@30fps video recording
  • Windows Phone 8 OS
  • 1GHz dual-core Krait CPU, Adreno 305 GPU, Qualcomm S4 chipset, 512MB of RAM
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band
  • GPS receiver with A-GPS and GLONASS support
  • 4GB of inbuilt storage, microSD card slot
  • Active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic
  • Built-in accelerometer and proximity sensor
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • microUSB port
  • Bluetooth v3.0 with A2DP and EDR, file transfers
  • Impressively deep and coherent SNS integration throughout the interface
  • Xbox Live integration and Xbox management
  • Data Sense
  • HTC exclusive apps
  • Beats audio enhancements
  • FM Radio

Main disadvantages

  • Non user-replaceable battery
  • App catalog falls short of Android and iOS
  • No front-facing camera
  • No system-wide file manager
  • No voice-guided navigation

Granted, the Windows Phone 8S by HTC (as the smartphone's official name goes) has the least capable hardware of all WP8 smartphones, but a dual-core Krait CPU device with the new-generation Adreno 305 GPU is not what we'd call underpowered. In fact, while the top dogs of its platform have to face Android rivals with double the computing power, this one is actually playing against equals.

HTC Windows Phone 8s HTC Windows Phone 8s HTC Windows Phone 8s
HTC Windows Phone 8S studio shots

It's a package that makes sense, never mind the hardware limitations. The lower screen resolution should be less strain on the GPU, while the microSD card slot makes up for the limited inbuilt storage. In theory, the HTC 8S should give the same solid smartphone experience as the high-end WP8 devices at a fraction of the price. Intriguing indeed. Let's see how the HTC Windows Phone 8S goes about it.

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