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printed October 1, 2014
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Review: HTC Windows Phone 8X for AT&T

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The HTC 8X is one of the first phones to run Windows Phone 8. WP8 is a significant rewrite of Microsoft's smartphone platform. We've gone over the major changes in our full review of Windows Phone 8 here, but let's briefly recap some of the biggest points.

As far as the menus are concerned, the biggest changes are reflected on the lock screen and the Start screen. The lock screen now provides customizable alerts that pop-up when the screen is locked. It's a dramatic improvement over the earlier versions of Windows Phone 8. You can choose which alerts reach the lock screen and which don't, as well as pick which type of alerts are given priority.

 

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The Start screen is much more customizable than before. The Live Tiles can now be resized in small, medium, and large variations, and of course the Tiles can be arranged however you wish them to. Even cooler, the Live Tiles are more active with dynamic content.

The rest of the menus behave more or less the same as earlier versions of Windows Phone.

 

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Performance of Windows Phone 8 on the HTC 8X is second only to iOS. The 8X has a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon Pro processor at 1.5GHz per core. Earlier versions of Windows Phone didn't support two core chips, but were still very fast. WP8 and the dual-core beast powering the 8X make for a speedy mobile machine. Every task happens immediately, and the user interface is fast and fluid.

Calls and Contacts

The phone application itself has been carried over from earlier versions of Windows Phone. It offers the same basic look and tools. It's quite simple to make calls, put them on hold, mute them, or add a line.

 

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The People Hub remains as powerful as ever when it comes to managing your contacts in a social networking-rich environment. The biggest addition to the contacts app is the ability to create micro social networks called Rooms. They are a great way to set up small collections of your most intimate contacts for sharing and communicating.

 

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Messaging

As with iOS and Android, WP8 has a solid email client, SMS/MMS, IM, and social networking ingrained throughout the platform. I find the email program to be quick and useful and the social networking to be particularly good. I like the People Hub and Photo Hub, each of which draw in your Facebook friends' doings and photos.

The SMS app also works as a Windows Live IM app and a Facebook Messenger app. They are all three one and the same. The user interface is spartan, but offers just as many tools as competing platforms. It's a cinch to add photos, videos, or other content to outgoing messages. I particularly like that the Messaging app handles Facebook, too. It's quite convenient to have them all in the same place. It doesn't support AIM, GTalk, or Yahoo IM.

Separate Twitter and Facebook applications are available, and they are much more robust than before. The improvements I appreciate the most have to do with speed. I always felt the WP7 Twitter and Facebook apps were sluggish. They no longer are. They update just as quickly as the iOS and Android versions, if not faster.

 

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