On Tuesday night, HTC posted a sly tease on its Facebook and Twitter pages--a photo that showed only the corner edge of a device with a banner that read 19.9. All became clear Wednesday morning when that mystery device was revealed to be the HTC 8X. Along with the HTC 8S, the newly unveiled 8X will make up the company's Windows Phone 8 lineup.
Amid recent releases from Samsung and Nokia, HTC will be vying for the hearts of Windows Phone fans with handsets that feature exclusive Beats Audio and the proprietary HTC ImageChip, a f/2.0, 28mm wide-angle lens with HD recording.
Much like Nokia's Lumia 920, the 8X comes in a variety of bright candy-like colors (red, blue, yellow, gray, and black); the 8S comes in blue, red, gray, and black, but it features a bright strip of color along the bottom of the handset. The super-slim unibody is tapered, and the screens--at 4.3 and 4 inches, respectively--are both smaller than the competition. Samsung's ATIV S has a 4.5-inch screen while Nokia's Lumia 920 tops out at 4.8 inches.
The 8X features what is quickly becoming an industry standard of 1280 by 720 resolution as well as the super LCD 2 screen we previously saw in the One X, while the 8S's WVGA touchscreen has a lower resolution of 800 by 480. This puts it squarely in the same arena as the ATIV S and Lumia 920, which both have a 1280 by 720 resolution. (The Lumia 820 also has a 800 by 480 resolution).
The standout feature of the 8X, however, is its camera: The front-facing camera boasts the highest megapixel count of any Windows Phone at 2.1 megapixels and an f/2.0 aperture. It is also capable of 1080p video capture. The front camera features an ultra-wide angle (88 degrees) that can capture up to four people in one shot. The rear camera, meanwhile, offers up to 8 megapixels, a CMOS sensor, backside-illumination (BSI) for quality shots in low-light, and the aforementioned ImageChip technology. Sadly, the 8S does not have a front-facing camera at all.
While the 8X has some solid specs, so do most of its competitors, even with the Lumia 920's overblown video claims. Both the 920 and the ATIV S offer 8-megapixel cameras, 1080p HD video recording, and a fairly high megapixel count in their front-facing camera. The Lumia 920 also features Nokia's floating-lens technology for image stabilization.
The rest of the specs in HTC's latest phones also run along the company line: The 8X cashes in on HTC's deal with Beats Audio (and features built-in amplifiers that are missing on the 8S), but otherwise the handset doesn't differ radically from the rest of the Windows Phone 8 family. Its 5.21-by-2.61-by-0.4-inch dimensions and 4.64-ounce weight are in line with what rival phone makers offer, as are its near-field communication (NFC) and LTE capabilities. The 16GB capacity, 1GB of RAM, and 1.5GHz dual-core processor in HTC's phone are similar to other Windows Phone 8 offerings, though its 1,800mAh battery is slightly smaller than the competitors.
While the HTC 8X may stack up quite comparably to the likes of the ATIV S and Lumia 920, the elephant in the room is how it might be able to compete with the iPhone 5, which arrives in stores this Friday. While the 8X has an eye-catching design, and stellar audio and camera capabilities that make it a great addition to the Windows Phone 8 landscape, it seems unlikely to win over Apple fans. Still, if its camera can produce images to rival the Lumia 920, the 8X could pull in a slew of folks ready to try out Windows Phone 8 software.