This has been my first experience with a Windows phone and I have to admit that I am very impressed.
The Windows 8 Phone OS tile layout is beautiful and intuitive at first. Notifications and updates on your Live Tiles are what Google is working towards with Google Now, but with more information at the ready. After spending about 2 weeks with it though, it’s still obvious the interface is the first version of what I hope will be a great mobile OS. The tiles are customizable in various ways, but I keep having to try to create my own simplified layout to where I can memorize exactly what is where. I’m not sure if it’s because the tiles are animated, or because the interface promotes asymmetry, but it still has taken a while to memorize it. Perhaps it’s just me, coming off of years of simple grid icons.
The obvious bummer with moving to the Windows platform is the current lack of apps from their market. I found myself scratching my head at the limited selection just as did in 2008 when I first opened the Android Market coming from an iPhone (no Instagram for Windows 8 Phone! Ahhh!). Luckily, the apps that come pre-installed are prime examples of the capabilities of a Windows 8 phone. The People app feels a lot more fluid and organic than the Android or iOS contacts: after signing in Facebook, Twitter, Xbox Live, and various accounts, the phone comes to life more than Android or iPhone ever has. Seeing all of the social networks with pictures and updates makes it feel like the phone is a true real-time connection to people, more than just an app with settings and sync’d accounts running on a phone.
The physical feeling of the phone is extremely solid. I did not do any drop tests or anything, but I think it could take a beating with its hard rubber corner and backing. It better because the phone also feels heavier, weighing in at 130g (the iPhone5 is 112 grams). I wish that weight was packed into it’s battery, as it comes with a standard 1800mAh (although you can’t compare the power demands of various OS/hardware, the Nexus 4 has 2100mAh, but the iPhone5 has 1440mAh and is said to be highly efficient with it). The HTC Windows Phone 8X comes in various colors, a nice step away from the typical black and white. The phone is pretty tall, more than the iPhone 5, giving it a beautiful elongated look. It’s perfect for widescreen movie watching in landscape paired with it’s big Beats audio speaker. In portrait view, it feels a teensy bit too thin when navigating/typing with the thumbs. The desirable ultra wide angle front and back lenses are leaps and bounds ahead of other smartphones. This is without a doubt the dream phone for the selfie obsessed. The wide image formats, physical or “touch anywhere” shutter button, and 3-2-1 countdown timer make taking self portraits a snap.. and they look great.