Saturday, December 1, 2012

HTC's budget-friendly Windows Phone 8S not coming to U.S.

HTC won't be making its budget-minded Windows Phone handset, the 8S, available in the United States.
In a statement to Engadget yesterday, the company called its higher-end device, the 8X, its "signature Windows Phone" and said that with its focus on that handset, the 8S "is not currently planned for distribution in the U.S. market."
Sources told The Verge that the 8S was originally tagged as a lower-cost phone for T-Mobile but that Microsoft decided to prioritize testing of the Qualcomm 8960 chipset that's found in the 8X (as well as in Nokia's Lumia 820 and 920 Win Phone devices) over the chipset that's in the budget 8S. That may well mean the 8S has missed its window of opportunity for official carrier support.
HTC announced both the 8S and 8X on September 19, and the 8X went on sale in the U.S. in November with AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile The 8X has been positioned by Microsoft as the flagship launch phone for Windows Phone 8.
Engadget notes that the 8S may crop up unlocked and unsubsidized on various e-tail sites accessible to U.S. buyers.
First impressions and design
When I first locked eyes on the HTC Windows Phone 8S, I had the same tingling sensation of deja vu I experienced when I beheld HTC?s 8X WP8 flagship. The 8S flaunts a similar colorific chassis molded from premium polycarbonates. The phone is also rectangular with edges and corners that are smoothly rounded. HTC will offer the Windows Phone 8S in four color options called Highrise yellowish gray, Domino black-white, Atlantic blue, and Fiesta red. Just like the hues available on the 8X, I?m sure HTC?s marketing team had a field day choosing these titles.

That said, the device looks flatter and dare I say more toylike than the premium 8X. This is probably because of the Windows Phone 8S? smaller 4-inch screen and wide expanse of smooth plastic placed below it. The area below the display houses three Windows keys for Back, Start, and Search spelled out in Microsoft?s familiar pictograms.
While the HTC Windows Phone 8S comes running Microsoft?s hotly anticipated mobile operating system, it?s powered by a 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor. That?s slower than the 1.5GHz CPU driving the HTC?s 8X. Of course the Qualcomm S4 is a worthy performer and Windows Phone has traditionally proved to be an efficient OS requiring less muscle to push along. It?s likely that WP8 will similarly be light and frothy.

If you snap photos with your phone often, then chances are good the 8S won?t float your boat. Equipped with a 5-megapixel camera that lacks the BSI sensor found in the Windows Phone 8X, I doubt image quality under low-light conditions will bowl you over. Of course HTC says the 8S has the same fancy imaging chip used by the 8X and HTC One class devices, so snapping pictures should be quick. Unfortunately HTC didn?t allow me to open the camera app and test this for myself, or move away from the home screen at all, for that matter
Though my time with the HTC Windows Phone 8S was short and sweet, it felt like a compelling product. That said, I felt the same way about the Nokia Lumia 900, which despite being affordable, failed to move off store shelves in great numbers. Hopefully the 8S will also have a wallet-friendly sticker price. This paired with what Microsoft will prove to be its lust-worthy Windows Phone 8 software may translate into a hit for HTC. We?ll just have to wait until after the HTC Windows Phone 8S ships, beginning in November.

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