The time has come for a new phone. I’ve had an HTC 8x for almost two years now and I still like the phone and still love the Windows Phone 8.1 OS. Even though I like the 8x device there were some major areas for improvement. The size and audio were the two biggest issues I had. The screen was a touch bigger than the iPhone, but really isn’t large enough for comfortable screen keyboarding. The speaker on the phone was underpowered and aimed out the back making it necessary to cup my hands around it to direct the sound to my ears. If the environment was noisy you may as well just forget about hearing it. Oh, and there’s no Miracast support and no expandable storage, either. Other than that the phone was great. It was smooth, super fast, and when I first installed 8.1 on the device it actually got faster! The optics were about as high quality as you could hope for – I’m not a photographer but I can see tremendous HD details in the pictures from the 8x.
Photo snapped with the 8x:
I’m on Verizon so my options are limited. Of the Windows phones Verizon has available the Lumia Icon and HTC One M8 are definitely the best hardware. I looked at the Lumia Icon and it is an impressive phone with superb optics. The other specs are close to the HTC in every category. But when I picked up the phones the HTC was definitely the winner. Why? Compared to the HTC One the Lumia Icon felt like a brick. It was thick and heavy and aesthetically less appealing than the HTC One M8. I don’t have a need for the high end optics the Lumia offers. If I did I would have picked it instead.
So, aesthetics are great with the One M8. It feels and looks good in your hands and is only .05 lbs. heavier than the 8x which comes in at .29 lbs. The displays are both nice upon first glance, but the One M8 does a much better job at rendering HD in the gaming area. One game I play often is Subway Surfers. It’s decent on the 8x, but much better looking on the One M8. It definitely has more of a 3D look and feel to it.
Next is the sound. I didn’t know phones could sound this good! With the speakers facing the front and one at each end I get true stereo when watching videos and listening to music. It can also easily be heard above background noise. I found myself turning the volume down to around ten while I was in the Verizon store. Something about a white guy in business casual listening to Uptown Funk made me a bit uneasy. 😌 The quality of sound is another thing. I can hear midst and lows like never before and Cortana sounds even better through those speakers.
One pleasant surprise was the HTC Sense TV app. I had no idea this existed. What does it do? Well, I’m glad you asked! It is a very nice IR remote control for your TV, surround sound, and DVR. It even controls my Windows Media Center PC! That’s a big deal when you think about it. I use a Logitech Harmony One Advanced for my entertainment center and it’s awesome. Wouldn’t trade it for the world. But now I have another option; my phone. It intelligently asks you to select your hardware makers, looks up your service provider, grabs the TV listings, categorizes them, and displays them in nice little thumbnails on your phone. Tap on the icon you want to watch and it will tune to that channel using the IR signal from the top of the phone. Manually change the channel with the number pad and easily control your surround sound, all from your phone. A friend of mine admitted to using his for turning down TVs in doctors’ offices when the kids channel is turned up too loud. 😈
Optics seem to be as good as the old 8x. I don’t need superb photo taking abilities, but I do appreciate a nice looking photo when I take one. So far with my limited picture taking it is performing nicely. One thing I miss is the dedicated camera button. I could set the old 8x to take a photo without having to unlock the phone when I used that button. That proved to be a fantastic time saver when that fleeting moment arrives and you need to be quick on the draw.
Since this phone is the exact same hardware as the Android version there are no dedicated back, home, and search buttons. Instead you have to swipe up from the bottom to bring a bar up that has those buttons in it. This is similar behavior to Windows 8 on a tablet and works very well, it’s just different. Tap the down arrow and the bar disappears, yielding more screen real estate to view your content.
All in all I have to say I’m impressed. I bought the phone using Verizon’s Edge program and by upgrading my data to 10 GB a month I receive a $25/mo credit which cancels out the phone cost. The added line was $40/mo and the upgraded data plan cost me an extra $10/mo, so I got the new phone, added a line, and got 6 GB more data for an extra $50/mo. Not too bad. I still think mobile phone plans are ridiculously overpriced and the market could stand some competition to drive down the prices, but compared to what’s available to me the price is good.
Great job, HTC! Please keep making quality Windows Phone hardware.