Let’s backtrack a bit. Windows Phone 7 was good. It was fast, smooth and efficient. And it managed to deliver adequately with only a few limitations; there were multi-tasking constraints, a limited app library and it had support for single-core processors only.
While other smartphones had a lot of power, screen space and app libraries, they don’t seem to have used it as well as Windows Phone 7 did.
Fast forward to Windows Phone 8, now supporting dual-core processing and much higher resolutions, all while maintaining efficiency. Some call it “a step back” because other devices in this price bracket are quad-core. Personally, I believe that the number of cores has very little effect on actual performance.
Please note that in this article I am not going to review the Windows Phone 8 OS, and therefore will not be addressing any platform-specific issues in these devices. This is a head-to-head comparison of two Windows Phone 8 devices released in November 2012, the HTC Windows Phone 8X and the Nokia Lumia 920. Both are pretty evenly matched.
HTC’s device is pegged as the best Windows Phone in the market; whereas the Nokia Lumia 920 has been designed to be the best smartphone in the market. So how do these devices fare? Let’s have a look.
Although there is a vast price difference between the two (Nokia Lumia 920 being around 85,000 rupees and HTC 8X around 56,000 rupees), it is often difficult to decide which one to buy when you have a good (read excellent) budget! This comparison will also help you if you are in this situation!
The highlighted areas in the table are where the devices vary. However, stats take you only so far. Here is what my experience says.
If you ask devout audiophiles, they will tell you that the Beats enhancement on the HTC 8X delivers a better listening experience than the Lumia 920, though the difference will not be apparent right off the bat. The sound on each device was tested using Beats Solo headphones as well as an Altec Lansing Surround Sound Audio System.
The 8X definitely delivered better sound-range output than the Lumia 920. The Lumia 920 supports Dolby Output, but it does not enhance the sound quality itself, which although isn’t terrible, yet it isn’t what we have become accustomed to from flagship devices. HTC has a clear advantage in sound output when it comes to headphones.
The external speakers on both the phones sound almost the same; they are loud enough so that you can talk while driving at an average speed with the windows rolled down.
The 8X features an amplifier for the loudspeaker which makes it louder than the average smartphone, but somehow the Lumia 920 still manages to deliver a louder and more amplified sound. Of course loud speakers are usually reserved for calls or sometimes for videos so they certainly are an advantage, but they by no means define the device.
The internal speaker on the Lumia 920 is quite clear, whereas the 8X sounds a touch muffled.
Both devices utilise the trendy and colourful shells that seem to have become the trademark of Windows Phone devices. Both the devices are gorgeous, and come in bold, attractive colours.
The HTC 8X has a soft-touch, almost velvet-like feel that gives you a better grip, not that the Lumia 920 falls out of your hands! The Lumia 920 has a smoother skin, very polished, almost like it is made of out of chrome. ‘Solid’ would be the operative word here.
The polycarbonate unibody is chunky, which is why it’s 50 grams heavier than the 8X, but that is also what gives it a more solid feel. Both feature Corning Gorilla Glass 2 screens, which is good in case you plan on putting them through the paces.
There are those who consider the 8X to be thinner, but upon close comparison, they aren’t that different. Other than a few design choices, there’s not much separating the two devices. The 8X is lighter, Lumia 920 is more solid. We can’t really present a verdict on which is better, weight or durability, but you know what to expect from each device.
The Nokia Lumia 920 features a 4.5-inch 768x1280 pixels LCD screen with Nokia’s ClearBlack filter, and the HTC 8X features a 4.3-inch 720x1280 display.
The Super LCD 2 Screen on the HTC 8X offers a higher pixel density of 342 pixels per inch (ppi), vs. the 332ppi on the Lumia 920 (both higher than the iPhone 5, the reigning ppi champion). These are the specs, however unless you bury your face in the screen with a magnifying glass, you can’t tell the difference between the two.
As far as the viewing angles are concerned, they are also pretty standard. Daylight visibility has always been an issue for HTC devices, but not anymore. It is just as bright and vivid under direct sunlight as it is in the dark; you can watch movies or view pictures or simply read text and you’d be hard pressed to find something to complain about.
The Lumia 920 is pretty much the same. External light hitting the screen does not reflect, which in turn lets you view the screen without any annoying glare. Either way, you are going to have a decent daytime viewing experience.
At 330+ ppi density, 720p screen resolution and a surprisingly impressive range as far as watching videos and browsing are concerned, the display of both devices deliver what they promise.
The colours look vivid and distinct, blacks are quite impressive and the contrast is just right. It does not exaggerate colours like Super AMOLED + while text continues to be easy on the eyes, quite similar to Apple’s retina display.
I cannot declare a clear winner in this category either. They’re both quite good.
Finally, some conflict! From the initial comparison it looked like both devices are equally good, but here comes the tie-breaker.
Both devices feature an 8MP camera and can record videos at 1080p@30fps, but that’s where the similarities end. As we mentioned, Nokia is relying on this device to attract users to Windows Phone. That’s where the camera comes in.
Nokia have created something of a legacy when it comes to camera phones – the N86, then N8, and PureView 808 – are all examples of good cameras from Nokia.
However, unfortunately they were hosted by an ancient operating system (Symbian variants) so they never had the chance to be noticed. With the Nokia Lumia 920, we are witness to an incredible photographic experience.
Sure the white balance isn’t perfect and you get a few overexposed whites, but that is not a deal breaker. There’s image stabilisation, which comes in very handy for shooting videos or taking images of faraway objects.
In low light scenarios, the Lumia 920 offers brighter and sharper shots, less noise, and less halo around light sources with the flash on. You get some impressive results that are comparable to those of some point-and-shoot cameras.
HTC, on the other hand, have a bad reputation when it comes to camera phones. Whether it was the HTC Sensation and its variants, or the One X, HTC has never had a truly impressive camera, whether for photography purposes or for making videos.
The mic’s input range was so limited that all loud sounds were recorded out of range, clouds came in purple, yellow light came in orange, and the resulting images looked overly processed. The 8X is victim to all these setbacks as well.
Despite noise cancellation, the mic transmits a distorted sound, which also affects call quality a little. The HTC 8X has no redeeming qualities as a camera, in fact, the ancient Samsung Focus i917 had better output with its 5MP camera.
You can compare any phone camera to the Nokia Lumia 920, and you’d be hard pressed to find better looking results!
Nokia’s Lumia 920 just barely edges out as the better phone, but then again it has to be, because it was aimed as a rescuer for Nokia’s sinking ship, in addition to promoting Windows Phone 8 OS.
The comparison may have started out on an equal footing, but then the Lumia 920’s camera really makes it a winner.
The HTC 8X is a good phone, but the Lumia 920 is a great phone. It’s the kind of phone you feel happy about just having in your pocket, even if it does feel a little heavy. All that’s left to see is if the Lumia 920 will help Windows Phone 8 usher in a new era of smartphones!