I wanted to spend some quality time with Windows Phone 8 and also needed a phone running the platform for some projects, so I phoned Clove and ordered an HTC 8S. It looked like a decent entry into the world of Windows Phone and I would not be blowing my bank account to test it out.
The 8S is available for £224.99 which is low for any smartphone and you would be forgiven for ignoring it on that fact alone. With high-end smartphones passing £400 regularly it is easy to presume that to get a decent mobile experience, you need to spend roughly twice the cost of the 8S. The 8S has proved to me that this is not always the case- you can experience a practical and engaging smartphone experience without spending a fortune and there are many reasons why the 8S shines-
Form factor and design: I am being serious when I say that the 8S is probably the best looking smartphone on the market today. The subtle use of colours, at least in the blue model, adds a touch of style without making it feel like something only your 13 year old niece would use and the shape works perfectly in the hand. The curve backing just fits when gripped and the size has proved to be ideal for everyone I have shown it to. The grippy back covering ensures its feels safe there is a real sense that it is built to last. In short, it doesn’t feel or look like a mid-range handset.
Performance: Windows Phone 8 must be fairly frugal in terms of the amount of power it requires because at no point did the system stutter or slow down, no matter what I did to it, and I was surprised at how smooth the software experience felt. This isn’t just trickery on the part of Microsoft where you may consider that they have just loaded on some smooth overlays, it is an experience that feels smooth every single step of the way. The processor in the 8S is not a slouch either and for most tasks, you should be happy with how it performs.
Battery: not too bad after 4 days of testing. It has easily managed to get me through a day per charge, but don’t expect much more than that if you are a power user. This seems to be the acceptable norm these days even if people like me still have a hankering for batteries that can manage 3 days at a time.
Camera: not a strong point in my tests- too much time required to capture a decent shot and even then, the results were patchy at best. Video capture is not great either and I have to say that I wasn’t particularly impressed. This is strange given that Nokia is the big competition in the Windows Phone arena and I would have expected more effort here.
Despite the camera, almost every other aspect of the 8S is positive and in some areas very positive indeed. It represents excellent value and the Windows Phone software would require a whole new review, which I will write shortly, to cover everything.
If you want a mid-range handset that looks great, works great and is excellent value this is the one. If photography is not important to you, them it will be even more compelling.