PROS / The phone's physical design is beautiful, comfortable and compact, and you can get it for free with a two-year contract.
CONS / Its processor is very slow by modern standards, and its battery may struggle to get through a full day on a single charge.
VERDICT / The HTC Windows Phone 8X is gorgeous, but in terms of raw capability, it's the weakest smartphone we reviewed. Unless you're a bargain hunter who loves the Windows Phone operating system, you're better off looking elsewhere.
Editor's Note: Top Ten Reviews is no longer maintaining this review, as the product is no longer available from any of the major U.S. carriers.
HTC's Windows Phone 8X hasn't aged gracefully. When it was first released in late 2012, the flagship smartphone was remarkable for its sleek, compact design, beautiful screen and speedy processor. By today's standards, however, the device struggles in almost every category. Its screen is still decent, but you can find much better. Its camera shoots lovely photos but lacks simple features we've come to expect from our phones. And with abysmal battery life and a processor that's slower than any other smartphone we've reviewed, it's best suited to bargain hunters.
Also known as the HTC 8X, the phone gets good marks for its design. Its machined polycarbonate shell is almost soft-touch in quality, with rounded edges that make it very comfortable in your hand. Unlike many of the larger smartphones that are available, the 8X doesn't have a 1080p display, but its 720p resolution pairs perfectly with its compact, 4.3-inch screen. So long as you don't mind the overall size of the display, you shouldn't have any aesthetic complaints.
As nice as the screen is, it consumes a great deal of battery life. The 8X offers 11 hours of talk time and just over 12 days of standby. This might seem like enough to get you through the day with ease, but it doesn't factor in the battery draw of such tasks as data fetching and 4G LTE connectivity. In practice, you'll be able to get through a day of light use without a problem, but may run into trouble if you check social media on a regular basis. Regardless, expect to plug your phone in and recharge it every night.
Once impressive for its great benchmark scores, the HTC 8X's dual-core, 1.5Ghz CPU is now the slowest processor of any smartphone in our lineup. It's paired with only 16GB of built-in storage, and without any support for microSD cards, you won't be able to expand beyond that limit. While 16GB is enough for a decent music selection and a bevy of helpful applications, if you enjoy taking lots of 1080p video, you'll soon find yourself stretched for space.
The 8X's camera can take lovely pictures, but it's somewhat limited in terms of features. Both panorama photos and a burst-shooting mode are absent, as is automatic image stabilization – a feature all but required in top smartphones, since it helps minimize blur in photos. Thankfully, if you take a steady shot in good light, you'd enjoy vibrant colors and well-balanced exposure.
The HTC Windows Phone 8X used to be a flagship device – one of the best smartphones HTC put out, and an excellent example of quality engineering. Today, its aging processor and weak battery place it squarely at the back of the pack. It still sports a beautiful design, though, and is free with certain carriers if you sign up for a two-year contract. If you're budget-conscious and want a phone that fits nicely in your hand, the HTC 8X is worth considering, but expect performance that's about a year behind the competition.