The HTC 8X comes in a range of colours - from muted black, to respectable red, to an elegant purple and a, quite frankly, hideous lollipop-lady yellow hue. First thing we noticed is how thin the HTC 8X is. Not so much an amazing feat of engineering, but a clever trick.
With dimensions of 132.4 x 66.2 x 10.1mm, the HTC 8X is fairly average in size. But it's thinner round the edges to give the impression it's more svelte than it actually is. Not that this matters because it looks and feels thin most of the time and the slight curve around the back means it sits well, both on a surface and in the hand.
In fact, in the hand, it looks the same size as the HTC One X, despite the appearance given in our picture above. Add to that the material the HTC 8X is made of – polycarbonate, like the One X – and you instantly have in your mitts a handset that feels like a real premium device. It's a unibody design so it's all nice and neat (win) but at the expense of a memory slot and replaceable battery (fail).
The front of the HTC 8X is taken up by the display. If you like what Nokia did with the Lumia 800, or indeed what HTC did with the One X, you'll be a fan of this too. The screen just looks like it's been stuck on top of the phone and adds to that premium feel. There's also a splash of colour around the earpiece to remind you that the two are linked.
Next to this, you'll find the front-facing wide-angled camera, and the three Windows Phone softkeys at the bottom – back, search and menu. That screen is an HD display at 720x1280. Spread over 4.3 inches, it's easily as sharp as Apple's retina display, which no longer appears to be anything special by modern standards.
The top of the HTC 8X is fairly minimalist with nothing other than the 3.5mm headphone jack and the lock button. Although we're not necessarily fans of lock buttons on top of larger phones due to the awkwardness they present, here, we weren't too fussed.
Due to the shape of the handset and the way it sits, it's easy enough to press with the index finger whether you're a left or right hander. Our only complaint is it is quite subtle and a few times, we had to feel around to find it if we were looking elsewhere. It doesn't stick out much. The left hand side of the HTC 8X is completely bare, whilst all you'll find down at the bottom is the micro USB charging and syncing port.
The volume rocker is on the right and below it is a camera shutter key. We are always pleased to see these because it makes the art of launching the camera and taking a photo so much easier than messing about with software, no matter how good said software is. There's also a tray for getting that micro SIM in – but you'll need to use a special tool to open it so make sure you keep it in a safe place.
The rear of the HTC 8X is a thing of beauty. That polycarbonate body really sets it off – as does the colour which sits beneath a silver HTC logo and another displaying the Beats Audio heritage. And of course, there's that main snapper with LED light which HTC promises will deliver amazing results. There's one word that springs to mind when using Windows Phone 8 and that's "elegance."
Yep, if you've not used a Windows mobile product since the clunky, ugly old era, you'll think we're winding you up. But we can't stress it enough. Microsoft has rewritten its phone OS from the ground up and as of two years ago, we've been blessed with a third major player in the OS market that really is a pleasure to use.
In fact, at the risk of upsetting our iOS-loving friends, we'd go out on a limb here and say that we think Windows Phone is even more elegant than the Apple operating system. Just the look of it, the transitions and the sheer amount of gloss Microsoft has thrown at it makes all the difference.
If you've never used Windows Phone before, we'll not lie – it is a bit of a learning curve. But it's not a steep one.
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