Hot on the heels of the sexiest phone on the market; the HTC Windows Phone 8X is itís smaller sibling, the 8S.
Like the 8X, the 8S is quite a looker. Itís easily one of the best looking phones on the market. Iím sure HTC will sell a lot of these just based on how it looks. Itís minimalist, expensive looking and original. All at the same time.
Physically, it looks and feels just like a smaller version 8x. The only difference is the 8s has the bottom snaps off to reveal the MicroSD and MicroSIM slots, just like on the HTC Titan and Titan II. Also, the Ďedgesí of the 8s are a little more rounded than the 8x. It makes the 8s shape more organic and comfortable to hold.
While it shares the same software as the 8X, the 8S is a more affordable device and thus itís specifications differ slightly.
The 8S displays measure 4Ē with a resolution of 800x480 compared with a 4.3Ē and 1280x720 on the 8X.
Under the hood they both have dual-core Qualcomm chips with Krait cores. The 8Xís are clocked at 1.5Ghz while the 8S run at 1Ghz. The 8X has 1GB of RAM while the 8S has 512MB RAM.
You can get the 8X with either 8GB or 16GB of non-expandable storage while the 8S has 4GB which can be expanded via microSD cards. This is a big difference; if you want an HTC Windows Phone 8 and need a lot of space, then the 8S is your only choice since it takes microSD cards while the 8X doesnít.
Located on the back is a 5MP camera which shoots 720p video while the 8Xís snaps 8MP images and shoots 1080p video. The 8S camera has a viewing angle of 35mm (on a 35mm film camera) with an aperture of f/2.8 compared to the 8X is around 28mm with an aperture of f/2.0.
Finally, the 8S has a 1700mAh battery while the 8Xís is 1800mAh.
Like the 8x, the 8s has an insanely loud headphone amp. Youíll need headphones that can handle a lot of power to listen to it at maximum (and a hearing aid if you do this too often).
The 8s display is a Super LCD while the 8x is a Super LCD 2. Looking at them side-by-side, both look pretty nice. Both exhibit colour shift though their shifting characteristic are different. Itís hard to say which one is better, it depends on what angle and what colour youíre comparing them at. At extreme angles, white is more true on the 8s.
Straight on, the 8sí black levels arenít as good as the 8x plus they have a slight purple tinge (like the Blackberry Playbook). Thatís not to say that 8x blacks are outstanding (theyíre not). I also noticed that the 8s display gets slightly Ďshimmeryí when you go off-angle. The 8x does this too which makes me wonder if Super LCD is a nice way to say STN.
I find that the 8s display is more saturated, while Iím not sure which one has better colour, I prefer how things look on the 8s.
It hasnít been very sunny around here lately so I wasnít able to compare the 8s and 8x outside in direct sunlight.
Overall, I wrote a lot about the 2 displays but really Iím splitting hairs here. Both are fantastic displays.
As far as the resolution goes, 800x480 on a 4Ē is adequate. When I use the 8s, the only time I occasionally notice the lower resolution is when Iím browsing the web and zoom out. Internet Explorer has a terrible habit of sometimes rendering text too small so that itís illegible. I should point out that itís not much better on the 8x which has a much higher resolution screen.
One benefit that a smaller display brings is that the 8s is much easier to use with one hand than the 8x and itís 4.3Ē display or the 920/4.5Ē or ATIV-S/4.8Ē.
Hereís how I look at it: I normally I have an iPhone 5 and an Android phone (usually a Galaxy S III) with me. When Iím walking around, I prefer to use my iPhone. When Iím standing still I like my Galaxy S III.
left to right: HTC 8x, 8s
Anyways, the only real time I notice the lower resolution is when Iím zoomed out viewing a webpage. When I'm zoomed out, sometimes text can look a little ragged.
I noticed that the display would show waves when I pressed the home button. Itís not a big deal but it doesnít exactly fill me with confidence either. Look at the 2 boxes in the middle to see what I mean.
micro USB (microSD and SIM are located behind the light blue cover)
volume buttons, power
headphone jack, power button
camera, flash, speakers
As I mentioned earlier, the 8s camera is much more Ďzoomed iní than the 8x. This isnít necessarily a good or bad thing. A lot of the time I find the 8x camera is too wide. With the 8x, you have to move in really close to take portraits plus it captures a lot of background which can make photos confusing. At the same time, a wide angle is great if you want to capture a lot and canít move further away. Itís a personal preference.
Personally, I think wide angles are more versatile but overall they take less interesting pictures (Iím generalizing a lot here).
You get a 5MP camera compared with 8MP on the 8x. Besides the resolution, I also noticed that the 8x sensor is a little cleaner looking.
If you plan on using a front-facing camera, skip the 8s. It lacks this feature.
The 8s runs Microsoftís camera software which is a big weakness. While the MS software can take decent pictures, it focuses too slowly and has very slow shot-to-shot times. Overall, while there are a few bright spots, Iím not a fan of the interface either.
I like how when you make changes to settings, you can choose to have them reset when you leave the camera or set them as default. Other then that, I find the interface slow and inefficient.
Since the 8s runs Windows Phone 8, it looks and runs just like the HTC 8x, Nokia Lumia 920, etc. I already covered Windows Phone 8 in those reviews so check them out.
One thing Iíll say is that Windows Phone 8 has one of the best keyboards out there. It works really well on the 8sí 4Ē display.
Since all Windows Phone 8 run the same software and Microsoft doesnít allow them much latitude when it comes to customizing, the only way OEMS can differentiate their product is by making exclusive software available for their phones in the windows Phone marketplace. Like the 8x, there is hardly any HTC exclusive software in the marketplace which makes me question how seriously they value the platform. Out of the box, the 8s lacks voice-guided navigation (so does the 8x).
Looking at the Marketplace, the only new HTC software I see is ĎMake More Spaceí.
While they share the same processor cores, the 7s isclocked at 1Ghz and paired with 512MB of RAM vs 1.5Ghz and 1GB on the 8x. I was very curious if lower resolution display would offset the slower processor.
SunSpider (lower is better).
HTC Windows Phone 8x: 904.7
HTC Windows Phone 8s: 1412.4
The 8x is clocked 50% higher than the 8s but its Sunspider score is more than 50% higher so the 8xís extra memory may be coming into play here.
Peacekeeper (higher is better):
HTC Windows Phone 8x: 345
HTC Windows Phone 8s: 192
Peacekeeper is a HTML 5 test that runs in any compatible browser. While it can be used to compare different platforms, Iím just interested in comparing the 8s and 8x.
Surprisingly, the 8s and itís lower resolution display trail the 8x by nearly 80%. Whatís even more surprising is that Peacekeeper includes a graphics component which should benefit the 8s. Perhaps the extra RAM is playing a role here?
WP Bench GPU (frames):
HTC Windows Phone 8x: 1109
HTC Windows Phone 8s: 1504
WP Bench GPU (frames second):
HTC Windows Phone 8x: 33
HTC Windows Phone 8s: 50
I couldnít really find any intensive 3D gaming benchmarks in the Windows Phone marketplace so I used WP Bench. Specifically, it contains a sub test that draws rectangles on the screen.
Apparently, the 8s has an Adreno 305 GPU while the 8x sports an Adreno 225. Iím not sure what the differences are between the test but here the 8s beats the 8x. The difference is actually greater than the stated scores because Windows Phone has a 60fps cap. The 8x is able to hit the cap for only about 20% of the test at which point performance falls steadily. The 8s is able to max out the cap for around 50% of the test so the difference in their scores would be even greater if there was no cap.
So while the 8s has less processing power than the 8x, the difference in performance for their GPUs is a different story.
As a Phone:
Maximum earpiece volume is about the same as my iPhone 5 so itís quite good.
The 8s lacks LTE. I tested the 8x and 8s simultaneously on HSPA and found that the 8s was slightly more sensitive.
Incoming sound quality was slightly rough but otherwise good.
I still have to run my battery life tests on the 8s. Iíll update this section once Iíve done so.
I love the design of the 8s. Now you can have the style and feel of the 8x for a lot less money. Besides that, I struggled a bit with the 8s. Yes, itís a less expensive device but I wondered if HTC had removed too much from it to get hit its price point. In a way, besides the design I didnít really find the 8s had any surprises.
Right now, the 8s is a $279.99 CAN phone on Virgin Mobile which is $79.99 on a SuperTab. Looking around at their lineup, the 8s doesnít really have any competitors. Most phones are either priced higher or lower.
In the end, buying a phone can be a very emotional purchase and thatís the 8s really shines. I just love the design, shape and feel.
- loud headphone amp
- beautiful design
- loud earpiece
- microSD slot
- no front-facing camera
- very little HTC software
- waves visible on screen when home button is pressed