HTC just announced their Windows Phone 8 entries for the fall, and you may have already seen our hands-on video of the two devices, but how do these compare with Nokia’s Lumia 920 and 820 that were announced a earlier this month? Well, both HTC’s Windows Phone 8X and 8S come in a variety of bright colors. They feel great in the hand with the soft-touch unibody finish. The styling of both the 8X and 8S is quite impressive and they really stand out when you look at other black slabs on the market. But Nokia’s got the bright colors and gorgeous design too, so really you have to look at the other hardware innovations.
The 8X has an extra amplifier for better-quality and louder sound which is more than we can say for Nokia’s devices, but Nokia has a few things that I feel are much more impressive and innovative: optical image stabilization and wireless charging. HTC said their phones have an amazing camera, but I didn’t get a sense for what was so amazing about them. We were told it’s the same as the HTC One X camera, but that’s not saying much compared to some of the things Nokia can do with camera hardware. Even Nokia’s lower-end 820 model has an innovative shell design that lets you change colors whenever, add wireless charging, or make the phone more rugged while both the 8X and 8S are stuck with the color you pick when you buy it plus their non-removable internal batteries.
Then there’s the software side. While Microsoft isn’t allowing anybody to see certain parts of the new Windows Phone 8 operating system, Nokia was able to show off their special apps that include offline GPS navigation, augmented reality, and free music playlists. HTC had one thing to show us in the custom software department; a special live tile with a big clock and weather information. The new tile only links to the usual HTC Hub that all HTC Windows Phones already have. So that seems like a very minor software improvement to me.
Overall, it seems like HTC’s Windows Phone 8 offerings didn’t really do much to “one up” Nokia. However, there’s one thing we’re forgetting; none of these new Windows Phones are available to purchase yet. What if Nokia’s new Lumia 920 and 820 devices aren’t ready to be released before the big shopping season push towards the end of November? HTC is confident that these will be available in November. Nokia is much more vague with their release dates. If Microsoft finally announces the full feature set of Windows Phone 8… and there are some crazy awesome software features getting built into all Windows Phones… and HTC’s phones are available for sale while Nokia’s aren’t… and the price is just right… Then that could give HTC’s Windows Phones a nice boost. If that were the case, would you buy an HTC 8X or 8S right away, or would you still wait for the Nokia Lumias should they be late to the party?