Monday, March 4, 2013

HTC 8S Review

HTC has been a maker of Windows phones from the days of the Windows Mobile platform. Eventually, Microsoft had to halt production of the mobile platform to start brewing for the Windows Phone 7 and HTC had to focus on Android after that.
HTC 8S 01
It’s no surprise then that when the much awaited Windows Phone 8 (WP8) came to fruition, HTC already had their phones lined up for that WP8 flavor and one of them is the mid range HTC 8S which I’ll be walking you through the rest of the review.

Design and Feel

I’m a fan of HTC’s design and overall feel. I like the type of finish they apply on most of their phones, non-slippery and has that smooth, almost rubbery texture to it. Although they may not be keen on making ultra lightweight phones, I do like the heft which makes up for a premium feel in return. Fortunately, the HTC 8S has those qualities and it’s such a good phone to hold in your hand.
The HTC 8S comes in two-toned bright colors such as blue, white, orange and lime. I’m thinking this would best suit the younger generation but it just made it stand out from the usual black or white phones.
HTC 8S 02
At the front, you’ll find the 4” Super LCD Gorilla Glass screen that houses a 480 x 800 pixel resolution. Below the screen you’ll find the standard Windows button such as the back, home and search soft keys. As you might have noticed, there’s no front-facing camera on this one.
HTC 8S 03
At the top is where the power button which is nicely tucked and non-obtrusive with the 35mm audio jack.
HTC 8S 04
There’s not much to see on the left side of the phone. They put the volume rocker and the camera buttons on the right side instead. Looking at the sides, it’s not the thinnest out there but definitely not thick as well. The curved edges is to be desired as it fits the hand nicely.
HTC 8S 05
At the bottom you’ll find the micro-USB port and the mic.
HTC 8S 06
At the back you’ll find the 5 MP autofocus camera with LED flash. The speaker is positioned just below the Beats logo while at the very bottom is the removable hatch wherein you’ll have access to the micro-sim and microSD slot. You’ve heard right, it’s expandable which is a definite plus! I was a bit hesitant when I tried to open the hatch as there’s no space where you can dig your fingernail into so I had to struggle a bit. I suppose it will be okay since you’ll be doing this once unless you keep on changing sims or memory cards a lot.

What’s Inside

You’ve got to love what WP8 has to offer in terms of its UI. It’s such a treat to be seeing four columns instead of two so you can fit more live tiles on your home screen without scrolling too much. The live tiles are customizable in 3 sizes so you also have more control in personalizing your home screen.
HTC 8S 08
The HTC 8S’ screen is at 4” with 480×800 pixel resolution and the graphics looks superb enough which is a step-up from the older Windows phones. Still it doesn’t fare as compared to  SAMOLED screens or Retina but it’s nice to know that HTC has made an effort on the screen quality for this mid-range device.
The UI animation is smooth on the WP8 and is being backed up by a Dual Core 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Krait processor and 512 MB RAM Not to be compared from the likes of quad core phones out there but the WP8 makes use of the least possible processing power to make it run smoothly without lags. I’ve never encountered any lag when I tested the HTC 8S so it was a great experience all throughout.
Sound quality I have to say is good and really loud! Although since the speaker is positioned at the back of the phone, it may tend to get muffled when placed on a surface. With the Beats audio integrated with the phone, the sound will improve a lot when you plug-in your earphones. And speaking of earphones, the HTC 8S doesn’t come bundled with Beats earphones. Bummer. Oh, and what seems to be missing from the WP8 per se, is the FM Radio so for music lovers, you may need to stock up on MP3s for this.
HTC 8S 07
The internal memory for the 8S is a meager 4GB only but good thing you can stick a microSD of up to 32GB. Also, you’ll get 7GB of free storage in SkyDrive which is Window’s cloud storage where you can automatically store your pictures, documents, contacts, etc. from this phone.


Taking pictures with the 8S is a breeze with the dedicated shutter button or by touching your desired focus point on the screen which automatically takes a picture for you once focused. All Windows phones come equipped with these camera features by the way so you need not worry on missing out with these. Although for HTC it goes on the extra mile by adding a built in application called Photo Enhancer which lets you edit your photos and apply some filters.
Having tested the HTC 8S camera capabilities, I have to say I’m a bit impressed with the image quality particularly in low light. The images exhibit good sharpness as a result of the built-in processing and it doesn’t tend to go overboard with it. The image noise is always unavoidable when taking pictures at low light but the amount of noise produced by the 8S is quite acceptable. I like the color saturation on this one and there’s some good contrast all throughout.
Overall, I’m happy with the camera here but compared to the likes of iPhone? Unfortunately, the 8S has a long way to go.

Battery Life

I’m quite impressed with how the HTC 8S handle itself when it comes to battery life. It took me almost two days with occasional calls, texts and most of the time I was online through Wi-Fi. Most of the Windows Phones I’ve tested only lasted for a day with the same amount of usage I did for the 8S. For heavy usage of 3G, watching videos or playing games you’ll make it through the whole day before you need to plug in your charger. Also, you may opt to enable the Battery Saver feature for longer battery life as it disables “push” on the background when you lock the phone.


I’m quite impressed with how the hardware handles the WP8 smoothly, and the premium feel of the phone is a definite plus. I have to say that the exclusion of the FM radio on this one, actually on WP8 phones is a bit of a disappointment but that’s just me as I always listen to radio on the go. Camera quality is quite good for a mid-ranger although it can do much better so all in all this is a pretty good phone to have!
HTC 8S 09
Lastly, the HTC 8S now retails for about Php13,300 which is actually not bad for a mid-range WP8 device.
HTC Windows 8S Specs:
4-inch S-LCD multi-touch display (800 x 480), 233 ppi
Gorilla Glass
1GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 (Krait) processor
Adreno 305 GPU
512MB RAM, 4GB internal storage, microSD up to 32GB
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
5-megapixel autofocus with LED flash camera
720p @ 30 fps HD video recording
No front camera
Beats audio sound enhancement
No FM radio
Bluetooth 3.1 with A2DP
Li-Po 1700 mAh battery
120.5 x 63 x 10.3 mm
113 g
Colors: Domino, Fiesta Red, Atlantic Blue, High-Rise Gray
SRP: Php14,600 (at time of launch Sep ‘12)

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