Head-To-Head: HTC 8X Vs. Apple iPhone 510:00 AM EST Tue. Jan. 29, 2013
HTC, despite declining revenues and profits, has had a banner year in terms of design. Its Android flagship, the One X, is gorgeous, and its 8X Windows Phone flagship that followed is even more attractive. Good industrial design counts for plenty, but HTC hasn't thrown as much weight at Windows Phone as Nokia. HTC has one big advantage though: They have deep carrier relationships that have helped the 8X penetrate many markets in the U.S.
Today, HTC is lining up against the Cupertino giant, Apple. Despite recent setbacks, the iPhone 5 helped Apple report a record first quarter and has proven the enduring popularity of the brand. But, waning iPhone demand has created a possible opening. Does the 8X stand a chance? Read on to see which device wins in the head-to-head battle: HTC 8X vs. Apple iPhone 5.
With the 8X, HTC has launched a beautifully designed, polycarbonate-shelled smartphone. At face value, it's extremely reminiscent of Nokia's lauded Lumia line, but the 8X is more subtly designed and, more importantly, extremely thin and light. It clocks in with dimensions at 5.21 x 2.61 x 0.4 inches, smoking most of the competition and comparing extremely well to the iPhone 5's 4.9 x 2.3 x 0.3-inch frame.
Leaving the numbers aside, we're looking at some of the most attractive phones on the market today. The HTC's curves make it a joy to hold, and the soft coating on the polycarbonate keeps it from slipping from the hand. The colors are gorgeous as well. The 8X pops in matte purple, red, black and yellow. The iPhone 5 has its own handsome looks though. The aluminum build is classy and refined in black or white.
Apple finally embiggened the iPhone's screen. The taller screen, now 4-inches, retains the incredible sharpness of its predecessor. The new 1,136-x-640 resolution keeps the Retina moniker and has a pixel-per-inch (ppi) ratio of 326. The IPS LCD on the device remains a leader in color reproduction and viewing angles.
Now here's a surprise. The 8X's screen is better. The slightly larger 4.3-inch screen is also an IPS LCD panel. The resolution is 1,280 x 720, giving the 8X a ppi of 342. The sharpness and color reproduction match or exceed that of the iPhone 5. Really.
The 8X is powered by 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4. The venerable and powerful processor was plugged into many of last year's heavyweights. The 8X comes with 16 GB of storage and 1 GB of system RAM. Like all Windows Phones we've tested, the 8X's performance is buttery smooth. The only downside of the 8X's polycarbonate unibody is that it cannot accommodate expanded storage via SD card. The iPhone sports similar specs. Apple's homegrown A6 processor spins at 1.3GHz and keeps iOS 6 humming at warp speed. It's also backed by 1 GB of RAM. It comes in 16-, 32- and 64-GB storage flavors, but it's not expandable beyond that. There's no clear winner here; both phones power their respective operating systems without complaint.
The 8X's camera is a respectable 8MP shooter that is serviceable in every respect. It lacks the special features of the Lumia 920 and the stellar quality of the iPhone 5, but it's a strong shooter. The tone of mediocrity in this text is more a testament to how spoiled we are rather than any true fault in the 8X. The only neat photography feature on the 8X is actually on the front-facing camera. The 8X's 2.1MP front shooter module has a wide-angle lens that makes Skype or quick group photos a much better experience than on most.
It's a pyrrhic victory for HTC to have the better of the two front-facing cameras though. The 8MP shooter on the rear of the iPhone 5 outclasses that of the 8X. The fact of the matter is the rear camera is the more important one. Point to Cupertino.
Windows Phone 8 is slick. It's fast moving and information-dense, and it does a fine job of escorting users through their day. Minor annoyances remain, like the lack of a notification center, or the relative weakness of Microsoft's App Store. Many apps you know and love are on Windows Phone, but the selection does not compare well to Apple's juggernaut App Store. The other appeal of Windows Phone is a bit more esoteric. After five years of iPhone and Android dominance, Redmond's OS offers something profoundly different and genuinely compelling.
The other side of that appeal is the continuing reliability and familiarity of iOS. The App Store is massive, the functionality is familiar, and, for many users, it just feels like home. There's nothing wrong with that. iOS 6 is an iterative update to the most intuitive OS on the market. There's a very long and compelling list of reasons that the iPhone is as popular as it is.
When comparing the availability of these devices, it's a split decision. The 8X and iPhone 5 go head-to-head on AT&T and Verizon. The 8X is also available at T-Mobile, while the iPhone skips Team Magenta in favor of Sprint.
The pricing battle is starker, and frankly, the 8X wins. The HTC device is available for $99 at all of its carriers. The iPhone 5, with identical fixed storage, doubles that at $199. That's quite a bit more money and some customers, or IT departments, will be taking a close look at the bottom line.
If you're taking a serious look at the HTC 8X, it's just as likely anything that it's out of curiosity for the Windows Phone 8 platform. We're here to tell you that it's one worth considering. It's pretty, fast and useful. It is also somewhat immature. If you absolutely need a certain app that isn't yet available for the platform, it remains difficult to recommend. For those looking for something new and a bit more personal than the iPhone, the 8X could be a great fit.
If it's a question of hardware, then good luck. The 8X and iPhone 5 are both beautiful and the only clear advantage goes to the iPhone's camera. Maybe, when things are so even, the phone coming in your favorite color is enough to tip the scales. Again, we're spoiled for choice.