While almost all of the AnandTech editors are using Android or iOS smartphones as their daily driver due to the relative maturity of those platforms (and oftentimes bleeding edge hardware within), Brian learned I'd been using the Windows Phone 7.5-equipped Dell Venue Pro as my daily driver for almost a year. 2-year contract plans in the United States amount to highway robbery, but a no contract deal from T-Mobile is actually very reasonable. As someone attracted to Windows Phone's UI and someone who preferred the physical keyboard, the Venue Pro turned out to be a perfect fit.

Unfortunately, time has revealed Windows Phone 7 for what it was: a transitional offering that was practically end-of-life when it left the gate. Windows Phone 8 is Microsoft's real long haul darling, and when Brian discovered I was looking to replace my Venue Pro with something more robust, he asked HTC to send me their flagship Windows Phone 8 handset, the Windows Phone 8X. He's already run performance and battery tests, but we haven't really talked about what Windows Phone offers that Android and iOS don't, and how effective it can be as a daily driver. That changes today.

Android and iOS have both shown tremendous advancement and increased polish over their lives, but I had very good reasons for avoiding either. Whenever you buy an Apple product there's a very real concern about vendor lock-in, and since I don't run any Macs at home, that means having to suffer with the continually buggy Windows version of iTunes to manage an iPhone. The iPhone also isn't readily available on T-Mobile, currently one of the only vendors offering a reasonable no contract plan rate. Verizon's prepaid service starts at $80 for a smartphone, $20 more than T-Mobile and a paltry $20 less than their contract plan. AT&T is no better, asking $5 more than T-Mobile for a 1GB cap instead of 2GB.

What about Android? Android's main problem and uphill battle has been and continues to be fragmentation. With few exceptions, most of the vendors who add their own UI over the existing Android UI only wind up mucking up something that was mostly fine in the first place. Samsung, HTC, and LG aren't software companies, but they try to act like it. I'm also not personally fond of even the stock interface of Android, which is a bit too busy for my taste.

As a matter of personal preference, I went with Windows Phone 7.5 in the Dell Venue Pro, and then 8 with the HTC Windows Phone 8X. Metro Modern UI is mostly absurd in a basic desktop or notebook environment, but on a small touchscreen with limited real estate it makes a lot of sense. Microsoft's user experience is very clean and very snappy, but using WP7.5 as a daily driver did admittedly leave some things to be desired. The Venue Pro itself is a gorgeous smartphone, but the camera (and software) is awful, and the app ecosystem has been bare for some time. Room for improvement definitely existed.

This review is going to be a bit more editorial in nature than we usually do, detailing the experience of using Windows Phone 7.5 regularly, what Windows Phone 8 brings to the table that corrects WP7.5's flaws, and talking about what's still missing from the Windows Phone experience. But before that, a few words about the HTC Windows Phone 8X.

The HTC Windows Phone 8X
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  • rex251 - Thursday, January 31, 2013 - link

    I had HTC 8X for few days, couldn´t stand it any more, had some freezing screen issues, I don´t blame MS for that , but for things below I do blame MS.
    I just can´t stand simple little things get ignored from MS for three years (or more) in development of wp os.
    1) if you bundle MS Office, I would expect best possible support for native MS Office documents, not been able to open password protected word document created in PC MS Office is just not acceptable
    2) if there are three little buttons on the bottom of the phone, and one little button has symbol for search, why do you think Microsoft that I would like to use this button only for Bing search and not use it for searching my current application (like for instance contacts app, or mail app), why only Bing?????
    3) when I am in phone app, and I try search for a contact, why do you Microsoft think I am only interested in searching my recent contact list, and not all my contacts, is this so damn hard thing to understand
    4) when I see picture on tile (e.g. pictures app), I would really like to open that picture in that particular moment Microsoft, I really would, maybe live tile reminded me on my poor childhood and i didn´t saw this picture for years, why I am not able to open this particular picture Microsoft, why????
    This is enough for know MS, see you in 2 years maybe if you´ll still be around.
  • JoanSpark - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    just had the joy of setting up a mobile (Nokia Lumia 620) with Win phone 8.

    Coming from a Nokia N9 with Meego I got some findings..

    pro of Win 8 vs. Meego:
    - different sizes for live tiles/app buttons

    cons of Win 8 vs. Meego:
    - no clock when screen is shut off (very shitty, don't want to switch the phone on just to read the time)
    - double tapping the screen doesn't bring the lock screen up (only pressing the button does, how last century)
    - can't change the color of single live tiles nor their symbols (contact live tile is changing checker texture if sized bigger than 1x1 all the time which is disturbing)
    - phone status (reception, battery) vanish after 30 secs (I live in a fringe area, this is important)
    - closing apps and changing between them is not as convenient/intuitive as with Meego

    I also miss a setting that would allow to have 3 tiles spaced horizontally on the screen, instead of either 4 or 2. The small tiles are too close together for error free usage and the bigger tiles take up too much space.
  • Wolfpup - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    I used Windows Phone 7 briefly on a Nokia, and largely thought it was pretty great in a lot of ways. I'd love to give this a shot!

    Some random thoughts though:
    -These things need a way to manage installed programs from a PC. I think Windows Phone and Android you're just just redownloading (potentially huge) programs if you delete them or need to reinstall on a different device? I like Apple's CAN do that, but you can (and should) manage it from a PC.

    -The search's one of the three prominent buttons on the device, and as near as I can tell, it's next to useless. I do not understand it. When I click "search" I expect it's going to search THE DEVICE either globally or within the current program-preferably with an easy way to toggle one or the other. That's crazy obvious, only WP7.5 and 8 inexplicably just use that button to trigger Bing? I wouldn't mind optional web searches from a device search, but I'd want that listed AFTER the local content, with a way to disable it. It feels ridiculous to dedicate a prominent button to a web search...I want to do that from a web browser.

    -I'd like some easy way to control screen rotation, like in iOS...
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    - GoLive CS2
    - Illustrator CS2
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  • naynesh_shah - Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - link

    Does HTC 8 X Support Java ? I find without java support , mobile banking will , Train tkt etc will not work. Is there a way ?
  • naynesh_shah - Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - link

    is there a way to run java applications like mobile banking , train tkt resevation etc on HTC 8 X?
    I understand that it does not support java. in that case it will be Big Mistake to BUY HTC 8 X.
    pl help at
  • znender - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - link

    I had the HTC 8X for a few weeks but ultimately sold it for an Android device instead.
    The thing that I couldn't stand was the multitasking interaction for WP8.

    If you get out of an app and onto the Home screen then tap on the app, it'll reopen the app and reload any data with the annoying loading screen. If you use the back button to access multitasking screen and select the app, the app will load but freeze for a bit before the app is useable. Not seamless at all. And it'll start showing loading data from the web.

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