The HTC Windows Phone 8S is the second budget Windows Phone 8 handset we've seen, and goes up against the Nokia Lumia 620. They're both around £215 SIM-free and free on a £15-£18 contract, but the 8S is more expensive on prepay, at £210 on O2 rather than £150.
The phone looks and feels very much like the more expensive HTC Windows Phone 8X. Its rubber rear extends round to the sides of the phone, so it's easy to grip and should survive the odd tumble. It doesn’t feel as beautifully engineered as Nokia's Windows 8 handsets, but it's a far cry from the creaky plastic you get on some cheaper Android phones.
We had few complaints about the 8S's screen. Its 800x480 resolution is perfectly acceptable for a 4in model, and while blacks weren't as deep as on AMOLED screens we’d seen, icons, web pages and pictures were all pleasing to the eye. However, when we put it next to the Lumia 620 we could see that Nokia's screen was superior, with more saturated colours and higher maximum brightness.
We've covered the main features of Windows Phone 8 before, but in short it offers everything you'd expect from a modern smartphone operating system. It's fast, good-looking, has a competent browser and excellent email client, and makes it simple to create and edit Office documents. Your documents and photos will sync automatically with SkyDrive, too; while this still isn't as simple to use as sync services such as Dropbox, it works well with Windows 8's Skydrive app and is particularly useful for editing Office documents in your web browser.
There's one key thing missing from Windows Phone 8, even now, and that's app support. While the number of apps is increasing all the time, we're still missing some important ones. There's no official Dropbox client, for example, no Sky+, no Sonos, no Rightmove, no Spotify and no iPlayer. While apps aren’t everything, and the operating system's core features work well, if you rely on any of these services the lack of support will be a dealbreaker.