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HTC 8S review

One of the first Windows Phone 8 devices, but does this mid-range handset impress?

Our Verdict

The HTC 8S is a good all round handset. It doesn't do a terrible job of anything but it also struggles to stand out. If you're set on Windows Phone 8 and don't want to drop a huge amount on a handset then for the time being this a good buy.

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 4 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 5 Megapixel
  • Screen Resolution : 480 x 800
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Stylish design
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Great social network integration
  • Good for messaging

Against

  • Lacklustre battery
  • Slow browser
  • Only 4 GB of internal storage
  • No smart dialling

The HTC 8S is a solid handset. It's got an attractive and distinctive style, which both fits with the colourful Windows Phone aesthetic and stands out from the pack.

It's also surprisingly slick and fast for a mid range phone. It's even got the edge over the top-end Windows Phone 8 handsets in at least one area - specifically the inclusion of a microSD card slot, which is absent on both the Nokia Lumia 920 and the HTC 8X.

On the other hand the battery is average at best, web browsing can be a little slow and it doesn't do much to stand out in the apps or media department. It's also arguably a little over priced for what you get.

Your options with Windows Phone 8 are getting a lot better these days, and it's already becoming cheaper than similarly specified Windows Phone 7 and Android phones, which is no mean feat.

However, it's worth mentioning the fact that you can pick up the significantly more powerful Google Nexus 4 for only £80 more (thanks for Google's subsidy model)... that is, if you can find a time when it's in stock on Google Play.

We liked

The HTC Windows Phone 8S is one of the more stylish handsets around; we'd almost go so far as to call it iconic.

It feels like a premium device too; yes, it's all plastic but it's not the cheap flimsy plastic you find on some phones - and we like the rubbery nature.

Like most Windows Phones it has superb social network integration, making it great for messaging. Other than the lack of smart dialling it's also pretty good for calls and the inclusion of a microSD card slot gives it a nice selling point over some of the more expensive Windows Phone 8 handsets.

We disliked

The battery is slightly disappointing, we've certainly come across worse, but this is a phone that you're going to be charging every day.

The browsing experience isn't brilliant either, thanks to being limited to Internet Explorer (complete with Bing as the default search engine), and it's not helped by how slow desktop pages are to load.

It has a fairly stingy 4GB of internal storage, and while the physical design of the handset is nice, nothing really stood out when using it - it's competent at most things, but rarely excels, and when it does, as with its social network integration, it still doesn't go beyond what other Windows Phone handsets are doing.

Verdict

The HTC 8S is a good all round handset. It doesn't do a terrible job of anything but stylish looks aside it also struggles to stand out.

Pretty much every Windows Phone is great for messaging and social networks and this is no exception, while being able to expand the storage with a microSD card is always appreciated.

Equally the performance is generally pretty slick, which combined with the stylish design gives the impression of a more premium, expensive handset than it actually is.

But it leaves us wanting more. There aren't any particularly compelling apps included and the Windows Phone app store is fairly lightweight compared to the competition - although it gets healthier every day.

Web browsing isn't great, media is fine but does nothing to stand out, the camera is pretty average and battery life could be a whole lot better.

There are other Windows Phone 8 handsets around at the moment, although few as particularly low priced as this, which means that it's in a bit of a race for your money (even if it isn't asking for much).

Looking outside of Windows Phone 8 it doesn't seem such great value for money, but if you're set on Windows Phone 8 and don't want to drop a huge amount on a handset then for the time being this a good buy.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported32 GB
Built-in Memory4 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyEDGE, GPRS, HSDPA, HSUPA, UMTS
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationNo
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyWindows Phone 8S
Cellular Generation3G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 2100
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraNo
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
ColourAtlantic Blue
Operating SystemWindows Mobile
Brand NameHTC
Screen Size10.2 cm (4")
Screen Resolution480 x 800
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)113 g
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Maximum Video Resolution1280 x 720
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11b/g/n
Operating System VersionWindows Phone 8
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
RealtoneYes
Radio Tuner TypeFM
Call FeaturesCall Log, Call Timer, Conference Call
Pixel Density233 ppi
Height120.5 mm
Width63 mm
Depth10.3 mm
Radio TunerYes
ManufacturerHigh Tech Computer Corp
Product NameWindows Phone 8S Smartphone
Processor Speed1 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon
Product LineWindows Phone 8S
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Proximity Sensor, G-sensor, Ambient Light Sensor
Manufacturer Part Number99HSS008-00
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.europe.htc.com
Marketing InformationThe smartphone to match your life at work and play. Our unique design immediately sets you apart in a sea of smartphones with playful, brightly coloured devices that look as if they've been dipped in a bucket of paint. Even better...enjoy a strong, long-lasting battery via the powerful dual-core performance.

Exclusive Beats Audio™ built-in serves up immersive, studio-quality sound for all your entertainment. Plus, a physical camera button lets you instantly point, shoot and share while a free SkyDrive account means that wherever you go, so does your content. And don't forget about the cool, clean look of Live Tiles that put personalization readily at your fingertips.

Boldly coloured design.
This smartphone stands apart with its eye-catching, bright, playful original look and its bold colour accent that looks as if it's been dipped in a paint pot. Pair that with the cool, clean coordinated design of Live Tiles and you have a device that rivals (dare we say leads?) the other guys.

High-performing battery.
Stay connected while charging your phone less than other phones-thanks to the 1GHz dual-core processor for powerful performance and an optimized battery. Plus, never be without your content again-photos, documents and more are easily accessible on your free 7GB SkyDrive account.

Studio-quality sound and entertainment.
Don't just listen to your music, feel it with Beats Audio™ built-in. You get deeper base, crisper vocals and detailed high notes for music, games, movies and videos. Then, lose yourself in the music and games you love with Xbox Gaming and Xbox Music, where you have access to more than 17 million tracks.

For the photographer in you.
A physical camera button, accessible even from the lock screen, lets you instantly point, shoot and share images from the 5mp, 720p autoflash camera. Create inspiring, original photos with the built-in lenses and show those images on the big, vibrant display. And never again be without your photos and videos. They're now quickly accessible, easy-to-manage, secure and automatically backed up on your free 7GB SkyDrive account.
Limited Warranty1 Year