HTC earlier this month unveiled four new phones in South Asia: the Windows Phone 8X, the Windows Phone 8S, the Android-based HTC One X+, and the HTC One SV. I attended a separate event held at Microsoft's regional headquarters in Singapore last week where HTC and Microsoft reps demonstrated some of the phones' features and let me get my hands on the Windows Phone 8X and the Windows Phone 8S. Here are my first impressions of the devices.
Windows Phone 8X, Windows Phone 8S
The Windows Phone 8X offers a 4.3-inch LCD screen that HTC fronted by a lightweight Gorilla Glass 2 and LTE mobile; according to the company, optical lamination helps to reduce reflections and glare. The Windows Phone 8S comes with a 4-inch LCD screen with Gorilla Glass.
Both smartphones come with Bluetooth 3.1, 802.11 b/g/n, and internal GPS with GLONASS and use a MicroSIM. The Windows Phone 8X is NFC capable and has a F2.0 aperture for better photos in low-light conditions and 1080p video recording. Overall, the Windows Phone 8S is a lower-end device; it has a smaller screen, a slower processor, and 720p video recording.
The smartphones utilize innovations found in the HTC One X such as water-resistant micro-holes in its polycarbonate body for its speaker, as well as Beats Audio under the hood. The Windows Phone 8X comes with a built-in amplifier for boosting the quality of its earphone output in what might be a first for a smartphone.
In Singapore, the Windows Phone 8X by HTC will be available in California Blue and Graphite Black, will ship the end of November, and will sell for SG$828. The Windows Phone 8S by HTC will be available in Fiesta Red and Atlantic Blue, will ship in December, and will sell for SG$418. (Prices given are retail prices without any contractual terms.)
The enterprise angle
Though both smartphones have features that will appeal to consumers, it is evident that HTC is keen to make its presence known to businesses. For example, HTC was eager to demonstrate how the wide-angle front-facing camera on the Windows Phone 8X offers a greater experience for video calls. HTC is excited about what Windows Phone 8 can deliver to enterprises, citing conversations with regional CIOs and IT executives who had problems with the BYOD trend.
The reference to BYOD was probably made to draw attention to the data syncing and remote wipe capability of Exchange ActiveSync. Based on my conversation with a Microsoft representative, it appears Microsoft has gone a step farther and integrated Windows Phone 8 with SkyDrive to sync preferences (such as the current theme) when switching to a new device.
HTC continues to push the envelope on the smartphone hardware front. HTC's appeal to consumers and business users remains to be seen, and its success is arguably tied to the overall adoption rate of the Windows Phone 8 platform.
Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.