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Review: Windows Phone HTC 8XT

High-quality audio and a solid engine make this phone a steal for the price.

Apple’s recent iPhone announcement may cause some iPhone owners' eyes to stray as they look for their next device. Some are probably flocking toward Android, but before you shell out your hard-earned cash, consider this: Windows Phone increased its sales by 77% in the past year, and it’s not because their phones suck. The company offers a slew of quality products, and with more and more people adopting the OS each day, you’d be remiss if you didn’t at least look into the Windows Phone. Or at least read a review (like this one). We got our hands on the HTC 8X, a durable, effective, and—most important—affordable option that’s impressed Android and iPhone diehards alike. 

Looks and Performance

The lightweight phone fits comfortably in your hand, thanks to the curved back. The back of the phone is plastic but is treated in a way that doesn’t feel cheap—an impressive feat. Resolution is a bit on the low side, with 400x800 pixels per square inch, but the average user probably won't take issue with the phone’s clarity. Tech heads might take umbrage with it, however. 

A snappy 1.4GHz dual core Qualcomm S4 processor with 1GB of RAM powers the phone, which easily handles the games and videos we’ve thrown at it. The screen clocks in at 4.3 inches and sports a tough-as-nails Gorilla Glass pane—our review unit has survived multiple drops on the unforgiving New York City sidewalk. Standard internal storage is only 8GB, but you can expand it by up to 64GB thanks to a micro-SD card slot.

As with any smartphone, the 8X responds well to every touch, tap, and swipe you’ll throw at it. Admittedly, there have been a few hiccups—a freeze here or there—that have required a restart, but the frequency is just as common as what you’d find on an iPhone. We were particularly pleased with the camera button (located on the lower righthand side of the phone). Even if it’s sleeping, the phone will wake up and go right to the camera function, allowing you to catch events as they happen.

As far as sound, the phone is loaded with Beats audio, which cranks up the bass when you’re listening with headphones. It also works surprisingly well as a boom box, thanks to front-facing speakers with “Boom Sound” technology.

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Apps and Functionality

The knock you’ll hear on Windows phones is that they don’t have the app selection that you’ll find on an iPhone or Android, and it’s true, to a point. There isn’t an official Instagram or Vine app, but there are loads of options in their store that work just as well as the real deal (check me out on Instagram: sdehority1 if you don’t believe me).

The phone also comes loaded with Microsoft office, which is a boon to anyone who works in that suite of programs (see: everyone) on a daily basis. Write an article, adjust an Excel doc, or tweak a PowerPoint from your phone and the changes will be waiting for you when you get to the office, which seriously cranks up your productivity in the mornings.

The Verdict

The HTC 8XT presents a formidable challenge to any phone out there. Key selling points for us were the Office integration, expandable storage, and quality of the audio when using it as a speaker. Certified apps can be a bit hard to come by, but with a bit of digging you'll find quality products that can tide you over until the developers inevitably bring the real deal to the platform. Bottom line: If you're in the market for a new phone, you'd be remiss if you didn't consider the HTC 8XT as seriously as any of its competitors.

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