Preview: HTC Windows Phone 8X

Preview: HTC Windows Phone 8X

The HTC Windows Phone 8X is the company's new flagship Windows Phone handset

The HTC Windows Phone 8X is the company's new flagship Windows Phone handset.

HTC has partnered with Microsoft to promote the 8X as a "signature Windows Phone", so the Windows Phone branding is positioned before the model number. It doesn't exactly roll of the tongue, but this partnership suggests that the Windows Phone 8X will be a huge focal point for Microsoft. That may be concerning to Nokia, but the more exposure for Windows Phone the better, in our opinion.

HTC has clearly put a huge amount of focus on the design of Windows Phone 8X. The company claims its designers based the case of the 8X on the Windows Phone 8 live tiles, hence the vibrant colour options. The device will come in California Blue, Graphite Black, Flame Red and Limelight Yellow colour variants and each model will have a matching Windows Phone 8 interface theme to suit.

The HTC Windows Phone 8X is constructed from a single piece of polycarbonate, otherwise known as a unibody design. HTC says the edges of the phone have been sculpted to fit comfortably in a users hand and said it worked hard to produce a phone without bumps or protrusions. All the physical buttons on the 8X are completely flush with the body. At 10.1mm thick and weighing 130g, the 8X isn't the thinnest or lightest smartphone on the market, but its design is definitively distinctive.

Despite a big emphasis on design, HTC hasn't neglected specifications. The Windows Phone 8X comes with a large 4.3in super LCD2 display with a 720p resolution of 1280x720. This gives the screen a pixel density of 342ppi — that's higher than Apple's iPhone 5, the Lumia 920 and the Samsung Galaxy S III, so expect the Windows Phone 8X to display super crisp text.

The HTC Windows Phone 8X comes with an 8-megapixel rear camera, but it's the front camera that is the real interesting feature here. There's an ultra-wide angle 88 degree lens that HTC will capture almost triple the area of most other front-facing smartphone cameras. The 2.1-megapixel front camera will support full HD 1080p video capture, whereas most other smartphones offer a maximum of 720p.

The HTC Windows Phone 8X will support the 1800MHz 4G networks used in Australia by Telstra and Optus. Perhaps the biggest downside is storage — there's only 16GB of internal memory but HTC hasn't included a microSD card slot to expand the on-board memory.

Other features of the Windows Phone 8X include the Beats Audio sound profile that will work in all applications and built-in NFC connectivity, while the handset is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and has 1GB of RAM.

Microsoft has already released some details of the new Windows Phone 8 operating system that will power the 8X, but we'll learn more closer to its release date. What we already know is that there's a completely new interface with support for small, medium and large tiles, more colour customisation options, built-in Skype integration, a data use monitor, and a revamped backup system that now includes the ability to backup SMS messages.

The HTC Windows Phone 8X will be available from November through Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, but no specific date or pricing has been announced.

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