HTC’s Windows Phones Knock the Wind Out of Nokia

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Nokia is in trouble. That was my first thought when HTC announced the Windows Phone 8X and Windows Phone 8S on Wednesday.

The phones, which launch in November, look good, particularly the flagship 8X. It has an outer casing made from a single slab of polycarbonite, offered in four colors to match the hue of the Live Tiles in Windows Phone 8. It’s light–about 30 percent lighter than Nokia’s upcoming Lumia 920–and has a tapered rear side that should fit nicely in cupped palms.

(MORE: 6 Things Windows Phone 8 Still Needs to Succeed)

The Windows Phone 8X also has all the specs that a high-end Windows Phone should, including a 4.3-inch 720p display, a dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. It has an 8-megapixel camera with an ImageSense chip, so you can expect the same snappy image capture as HTC’s high-end Android phones. The 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera supports 1080p video, and has a wide angle lens so it can see up to four faces during video chat.

But HTC’s specs and design alone don’t imperil Nokia. Just as dangerous is how HTC has swooped in to curry favor from Microsoft, and how the phone maker has already lined up agreements with more than 150 carriers in 50 countries, including AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and U.S. Cellular in the United States. I’m wondering if the latter has something to do with the former.

Before this week, Nokia and Microsoft had a special relationship. Nokia essentially bet its future on Windows Phone, and Microsoft in turn treated Nokia like it was the only Windows Phone maker that mattered. Suddenly, in comes HTC, and everything’s changed.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the 8X is “truly a Windows Phone hero product.” HTC and Microsoft spent months collaborating on the devices, and HTC’s Graham Wheeler told The Verge that its phones will be “the signature devices, almost the face of Windows Phone 8 in the marketing collateral with Microsoft.”

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For Nokia, that’s got to sting, but it’s not a huge surprise that Microsoft is putting some weight behind another phone maker. Microsoft already helped set up one major marketing campaign for Nokia’s Lumia phones, which only translated into so-so sales. Another company deserves a shot, and it might as well be the one that’s putting “Windows Phone” in its product names.

Despite my gut reaction, I’m not counting Nokia out. The company’s next flagship, the Lumia 920, has some interesting features that’ll help it stand out, such as built-in wireless charging, a touch screen that works with gloved fingers and a camera that touts image stabilization and low-light performance. Nokia will need to convince shoppers that its hardware is better, despite any design similarities.

But that’ll be tricky to pull off while HTC is selling a lighter, thinner phone, with broad carrier availability, backed by Microsoft’s marketing muscle. HTC could be the ally that Windows Phone has needed all along.

MORE: Lumia 920: Nokia Shows Off New Flagship Windows Phone

17 comments
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Chris Georgeson
Chris Georgeson

If you want a phone that is light and has lots of colors to choose and a good camera then go with HTC.

If you want the best camera phone, more space, colorful phones, great Nokia apps, a higher resolution screen, and unrivaled track record for dependable phones then the Lumia 920 is the one to get.  It is however a heavier device. But not heavier (from my understanding) then the Lumia 900.

Christopher Stebbins
Christopher Stebbins

What idiot has 12 gigs of music anymore...idk its called stream your music there buddy

rosco_t
rosco_t

From all the other responses I've read, it seems like almost everybody agrees with me.  The Lumia 920 is a superior phone.  Case closed.

rosco_t
rosco_t

You gotta be smoking something illegal if you think the 8X outshines the Nokia Lumia 920. It's the other way around and Lumia is going to be released first as the first WP8 and will already be selling like hotcakes before the HTC is even released.

fuyao
fuyao

The only turn off for me is the glossy finish in Nokia. If I can afford two phones, i'll get both Nokia and HTC wp8.

ThaRebeliouZ
ThaRebeliouZ

The black and gray Lumia 920 are matte. I want to see how the glossy ones look in person. The red one looks kinda cool

Ivan Mahon
Ivan Mahon

 My friend's HTC fell of a couch onto a carpet and the screen smashed, he will now have to keep it that way for 18 months or scrap it.

Besides, the Optical Image Stabiliser alone does it for me; phone pics are ok at best when the light is low; the images I saw from the 920 look amazing.

Wireless charging while it is in my pocket driving sound nice and this screen-works-with-gloved hands will please many Finnish folks I know; perhaps folks in Minnesota too.

havasu46
havasu46

The Nokia Lumia 920 still set the standards for all Windows Phone 8 devices. The HTC 8X and 8S as well as Samsung's are good looking phones too.  Microsoft needs more than one smart phone vendor just like  they need more than one tablet vendor. Microsoft's business model of proving the best featured and competitive software has worked well in the other PC markets and should do the same in mobile devices. 

Todd_the_Hunn
Todd_the_Hunn

Im just glad my carrier is offering this . I didn't want to have to change providers just to get the 920 . Though I bet the camera on the 920 would have the quality to replace a point amp; shoot .

Micheal Hodges
Micheal Hodges

If the quality of the handsets is getting better, then I MIGHT consider one of these phones. My HTC Trophy, while having a fine user experience with Win7 OS, has not been an exceptional piece of hardware. I know the quality that is put into Nokias engineering, and they may have won me over, no matter what the difference is regarding specs.

FUS3360
FUS3360

HTC 8X looks good but I'm going with the 920   Nokia supports its products a lot more than any other manufacturer..   with the exception of "Apple" of course..

scottt732
scottt732

I own an HTC Thunderbolt.  Translation: I'm going with the Lumia 920.

Eddie Yasi
Eddie Yasi

scottt732, having owned a Thunderbolt I totally know what you mean! I did get an HTC One X, which put them back on the map for me as a possibility.  However I still switched to a Lumia 900 in the meantime and really love it, so I'll be going with the Lumia 920 too.

MCTronix
MCTronix

No really.  The Nokia phone specs are slightly higher and you get more.  Memory will be a big plus with the Nokia.  Since you can not upgrade the HTC 8X's 16 gigs of RAM, there are many people that will opt for the 32 gigs of RAM offered by the Nokia.  And, you get Nokia Drive and Nokia Music for free with the Lumia.  After you load your 12+ gig music collection into the HTC phone, there won't be much room left for those 1080p front facing camera pics.