Windows Phone(s) 8 out in the wild!

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It’s been some time since Windows 8 officially debuted. Now while Microsoft’s latest desktop OS is good, September 29th saw something just as interesting: Windows Phone 8.

Historically, Windows phones have been pretty bad compared to other smartphones. Underpowered and often poorly supported, Windows mobiles have a tenacious 2% of the overall smartphone market. Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 has the much-hyped Metro/Modern UI and a whole lot going for it, such as superb social media integration, Data Sense (an interesting feature that keeps you under your monthly data limit – or tries to) and a decent store of around 120,000 apps. But more importantly, WP8 has three really big phones supporting it: the Nokia Lumia 920, the Samsung ATIV and the HTC 8X. Let’s have a look at the WP flagships.

 

The Lumia

Nokia’s smartphone side of things is a mess. A near-fatal reliance on the outdated Symbian platform and some seriously underpowered processors have left Nokia in the dust. But you have to admit: they know how to design.

Windows Phone(s) 8 out in the wild! 16The Nokia Lumia 920 is an unashamedly beautiful phone with a remarkable number of innovations behind it. It gives users a “better than HD” 4.5-inch display that rivals AMOLED, works even when you’re wearing gloves and has a resolution of 1280×768 – that’s more than the resolution of my own computer screen.

It looks like the Finns have learnt not to skimp out on features: the Lumia comes with a dual-core Snapdragon processor clocked at 1.5 Ghz, an Adreno 225 GPU and an 8.7 Megapixel Pureview camera (with Carl Zeiss lens). There’s 32 GB of internal storage, 1 gig of ram, HSPA+, LTE (that’s 4G to you, dear reader) and even – drumroll – wireless charging. It comes in vivid yellow, red (think Ferrari), white, gray, and blue – definitely a phone designed to catch and hold the eyes. Spec-wise, it can go toe-to-toe with the biggest smartphones and still come out unashamed. 

In my opinion, Nokia’s Lumia has given both WP 8 and Nokia itself an unrivaled shot at fame and fortune. Nokia has rarely performed up to the latest generation of smartphones (N8, anyone?). When it does, they do it well enough that people sit up and take notice. Here’s the Engadget review and the spec sheet from Gsmarena.

 

The 8X

HTC has it’s fans, mostly because they’ve done a superb job of building good-looking smartphones. This time around, however, their famous Sense UI is absent. To make up, they’re packing in Beats audio enhancement.

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Comparisons to the Nokia Lumia are inevitable, because the specs of both phones are quite similar: 1.5 Ghz Snapdragons, Adreno 225’s – it’s down to manufacturer preference here.

 

The HTC has a lower-res display but packs Corning Gorilla Glass 2. It’s a relatively narrow-body phone built around a 4.3-inch screen and is very slim and pocket-able,  something very important in an era where walking around with a smartphone in your pocket is almost impossible. There’s an 8 megapixel camera that can give the Lumia a run for it’s money. Lumia vs 8X? It’s down to price and preference, really.

 

The Samsung ATIV S

The good plastic. Samsung’s known for their Android devices (in fact, that’s an understatement). The ATIV, their Windows 8 offering, shares a lot of its design with the Galaxy S3.

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It’s got the largest screen of the lot (at 4/8 inches) The only Windows 8 phone which sports a removable battery and supports MicroSD cards. Make no mistake: it’s practically the Galaxy S3’s Windows version.

The AMOLED screen is superb. It’s got the 8 MP snapper and all the works. The feature set is pretty much uniform across all these devices, right down to the processor.

In my opinion, Samsung’s design is far too Spartan, but there’s no denying that their design philosophy works: pack as many features as you can and make it thinner. They’ve succeeded – again: the 2300 mAh battery in the ATIV S.

Unless Samsung radically changed their designs, there’s not much to say other than what we always say when a new high-end Samsung phone comes out. It’s thinner, it’s faster and it’s got a bigger screen.  

The back is a perfect plastic imitation of brushed metal. Knowing Samsung’s distribution, it’ll probably be the first to hit Sri Lankan shores – you were warned.

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