[Tech] Review HTC 8X – A switch from Iphone to Windows Phone 8!
After 4 years and half of good old Iphone (my first Iphone was a 3G and then 2 years ago I’ve got the Iphone 4) I finally decide to make a BIG change and switch totally from the whole Apple ecosystem: I still think iOS is the best overall but somehow the last firmware upgrade aren’t really bringing anything new to the table. I didn’t event consider Android (I had previously experience with Samsung Galaxy S as a working phone) and despite its a good system to me its just a slightly better copy of iOS just for geeks (seriously, who needs all those settings!?).
I decided to opt for Windows Phone 8, the live tiles system always intrigued me and somehow its really the only system right now that bring something new and fresh in the Smartphone ecosystem.
Well, It wont be a full review, you can read a lot of good ones here:
Somehow I find that they weren’t still complete and actually overlooked some elements that are fundamental for somebody switching from Iphone, so I decided to focus a lil more on the minor details that can help other to switch to Windows Phone 8.. because yes, after 3 weeks using this phone I can say that Apple is no more unbeatable at all, and there is still opening for a new OS and ecosystem.
The design and the materials for the back just feels nice its not too big (like a Samsung Galaxy 2-3) and the weight (compared to the Lumia 920) its just great, will fit perfectly in your pocket.
- The unlock button its seriously hard to press and I feel like it wont least that long.
- The capacitive buttons are amazing (I already broke once my old Iphone home’s button).
- The whole rectangular shape makes hard to press some areas of the screen.
- The camera button is a bit too low and not really easy to press.
- The screen is gorgeous only thing needed is a lower brightness setting (only 3 are available) to save even more battery.
The real revolution of Windows Phone 8, the homescreen looks really sleek and dynamic with the Live Tiles.. but there still so much we can do even more! I like that I can easily change the color tone and somehow feel with a new phone in just a matters of seconds!
- The status bar automatically hides himself, to see it you have to tap on it (which is annoying).
- There is no % battery indicator (you have to download external apps and pin them to your home screen).
- Depending on the App you can pin a lot of cool things on your homescreen: maps address, notes, searches, webpages, contacts, time zones, WIFI, 3G toggle.. its really innovative and useful! (for example, on Iphone if you want to access any info, you need to enter the App.. do it for all your +100 apps and you can understand the pain).
I think Im missing something like 80% of my notifications? yeah, basically I have my Ipad next to me that still receives all the notification, while on WP8 most of my Twitter, Facebook, Email notifications arrive really late or not at all.. the only good thing? somehow I way less distracted!
- There is no notification center (the “Me” area, store your notifications but only for connected apps like Facebook, Twitter..).
- Live Tiles for notification are really limited, they can only display the last message or notification.
- The notification icons on the lock screen display just the number of the notifications (tapping on them won’t actually open the app).
- No customizable tones and sounds, only for ringtones.
- The custom tones for notifications (email and messages) sound all the same or really low, so it took me quite some time to find decent sound the let me distinguish between them!
CALENDAR & CONTACTS
Calendar are integrated with Google (don’t know for how long tough) and it also able to connect to you Facebook and add the events where you have confirmed too. Contacts are probably the best iteration among all the different platform I ever used: your Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, Linkedin its all nicely integrated (something that only on Palm Pre was getting close) no more empty picture in your contacts (on Iphone I was forced to sync with an App the contacts pics and sometimes it was ending up deleting them..).
The Mail app is somehow “bad” as on iOS.. in a future where everybody use Gmail, why is not possible to have “labels”!? (if you still don’t know how to use them.. shame on you!).
- The default Mail app don’t load images, you have to manually click and accept (Privacy concerns?).
- When receiving an attachment is possible to open but not possible to save it (example, videos..).
- Cannot customize sounds for the different type of inbox (work, personal..)
- No visual notification of preview when you hear a notification (so totally no clue about who’s writing me!)
The GPS don’t feel really precise, so sometimes you don’t know if you can really reali on it.
- Bing Maps looks somehow really empty but it does the job in the end.
- You can download a 3rf party GMAPS app, that has the good old Google Maps full of details! (yes, event better than the new Google Maps app on Iphone that if you look closely, has lost a LOT of detail)
Keyboard is somehow slightly worst than Apple, I don’t have the same precision and most of the times I end up pressing the wrong letter, but overall is enough.
- The internal dictionary works way better than Iphone and can be set for specific languages.
- If you copy some text than you lock your phone, once unlocked it wont have your copied text (Iphone does).
- Missing the keyboard shortcuts feature (useful when typing your email address to log in and so on..).
SYSTEM & BATTERY
The System works also in landscape (strange huh?) and have all your settings cramped all togheter: yes it can be a mess to find what you want to change since everything is together, from sound setting, wifi, backup and so on.
- The phone operating system is taking a wopping 2GB of your space..
- There is a CLOUD like function that sync to your SKYDRIVE your app setting an so on (but I heard that it wont save your homescreen configuration).
- The Battery is really so so: I really would love to be able to use this phone for a full day, but its not possible, at one point it will turn even off despite be just in standby.. still need huge improvements by WP8!
I like the camera because I can take really wide photos, so you can opt for a 16:9 rez which makes the photo really look professional. During the day photo looks really nice but in the night there is this glare effect that makes really hard to take decent picture when there are lights around you.
- File quality and size of photo looks smaller compared to Iphone 4.
- When saving a screenshot or a photo from the web, or photo from Apps like Whatsapp, the Photo app will automatically create a common folder to save it (really useful compared to Iphone).
- There is integrated Cloud sync with Skydrive which works quicker than Dropbox.
- There is no trigger button on screen (which make hard to keep the right exposure for some pictures).
- Lens function let you add custom photo filters from other apps (instead to have open the specific app like on Iphone).
- A cover is probably needed, the back lens can gets dirty and ruin your pics if not cleaned.
Apps, apps, apps… where are the freaking apps!? yes, this is the feeling when entering the Windows Marketplace, is that EMPTY! you can scroll to the end the single list… and yes, there’s no more apps. But its actually still search and optimization problems, because some goods app are there, you just need to search harder!
- To download free apps or review them there is no need to enter user or password.
- Giving a review to an app don’t force you to leave the app, is a way better experience (on Iphone you have to leave the app, enter again your user and password..)
- To change the Country of the store you have to change the Country settings and reset your phone, yes you can access any Country without creating an account (on Iphone you change it directly inside the Store but you need an account of the country you want to switch).
- If you access an already downloaded an app you can’t launch the app from the Marketplace, just share it.
- Most of the apps have a “trial version” (which correspond to LITE version of Iphone but somehow is more integrated).
- Update notifications for your Apps are not instantly.
- Accepts Paypal payments, not just credit cards.
Here a lil comparison between the most common Apps that are indispensable for every Smartphone. I can say that the Metro design, its used to his full potential, it can give the best design overall of any platform I ever used (for example, try Vimeo app, its way better than iOS, Ipad, Android versions).
- Facebook - Overall better than Iphone and Android, I can see more info about my friends. Still need to be improved, like: cannot see friends list from a contact, cannot access the interest list, cannot see in inbox the last person who read your message, cannot send photo via inbox, cannot display some photo via inbox, doesn’t take the filter from your Facebook Accounts (I see news of people that I blocked or limited too).
- Whatsapp - Overall a good app, that does the job and don’t have really nothing to envy from Iphone, Android and Bberry. But is could be so much improved! for now: cannot send a saved video (but I can shoot one and than send it), cant customize sounds notifications, cannot delete photo from the media area (only directly in the recent conversation).
- Other basic apps I can’t live without and I still need a proper replacement:
Awesome Note, is missing (couldn’t find a proper replacement for my Google Docs)
Pocket > Metro Paper (limited but does the basic)
iXpenseit, a really good app to keep track of your expenses.
Soundcloud > Audiocloud, has even more functions than the original app.
At first I was really disappointed of the Games selection. Where is the full Xbox integration and indie titles!? Well, the answer is that there are good games, you just have to search for them, here’s a quick list: Guns 4 Hire, Radiant Defense, Dress vs. Zombies, Skull of Shoguns.
- Most of the free games are really… simple games, way far from the quality of the Iphone games.
- Xbox Games are ports of the major Iphone hits (Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja..) and most of them are paid.
- There are good games, but you have to dig really a lot in the store.
- If you are into Retrogames, you can download a SNES emulator that work perfect.. ! (and its not blocked yet lol)
- There is no official Dropbox App (Boxshot is limited and not free)
- There is no official Instagram App (Metrogram is really limited)
- There is no official Youtube App (Metrotube will fill but is paid app)
Please feel free to comment and ask additional question about this amazing Phone, I focused more on the function that im using so probably I over looked other functionality like “Siri”, Internet Explorer, Kids Corner and so on!