Hands-on With the Windows Phone 8 Launch Hardware

On Monday, Microsoft officially launched Windows Phone 8, its next generation phone operating system that shares a foundation with Windows 8.

We got the chance to go hands-on with several of the handsets that will makeup the launch hardware for Windows Phone 8. As it did in the previous versions, Microsoft has created a set of design guidelines for its partners, perhaps in an effort to maintain a level of control without resorting to creating a phone of its own.

All the launch Windows phone feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, and all the phones we checked out feature the same chip running at 1.5 GHz. Each also pack 1GB of RAM.

Nokia Lumia 920

Given Nokia's gutsy commitment to Windows Phone, the Nokia Lumia 920 was the first shown off running Windows Phone 8. The final hardware in our hands felt quite similar to the Lumia 900 before it. That's good news for Lumia 800 and 900 fans – and we're among them – as the one-piece polycarbonate body is still one of our favorites.

Windows Phone 8 paves the way for HD displays, and the Lumia 920's 1280x768 IPS LCD finally rounds out what was sorely missing from the Lumia 900.

Setting the Lumia 920 apart is its camera. While it may not boast crazy megapixels (8.7MP), its ace card is optical image stabilization, which vaults it to the top of the list for those looking for the best camera in a phone.

Display: 4.5-inch 1280x768 IPS LCD
Processor: Qualcomm S4 1.5 GHz dual-core
Dimensions: 130.3 x 70.8 x 10.7 mm
Weight: 185 grams
Storage: 32 GB
Battery: 2000 mAh
Camera: 8.7 MP, Carl Zeiss optics, optical image stabilization, autofocus, dual-LED flash. 1.3 MP front camera.


HTC clearly took a page from Nokia's book when it designed the 8X; it features a one-piece plastic casing that obviously draws a lot of inspiration from the Lumia 800 and siblings. Also like Nokia's Lumia line, the 8X also comes in various playful colors, which is a welcome change from the very serious colors of almost all other smartphones today. The 8X was a little easier to handle with its slightly smaller screen size at 4.3-inches, but still packs a 1280x720 resolution for a 341 dpi.

It being an HTC property, the 8X features Beats Audio – so if you like your music amped up then this could be the handset for you.

It's also interesting to note that the HTC 8X is the "signature" phone of the Windows 8 launch that Microsoft is using in all its marketing material. That said, there doesn't seem to be any exclusive benefit to the HTC 8X over other competing models, so don't let that sway you if you have your eye on something else.

Display: 4.3-inch 1280x720 S-LCD2
Processor: Qualcomm S4 1.5 GHz dual-core
Dimensions: 132.35 x 66.2 x 10.12mm
Weight: 130 grams
Storage: 16 GB
Battery: 1800mAh
Camera: 8MP, f/2.0, BSI sensor, autofocus, LED flash. 2.1 MP front camera.

The Two Plastic Unibodies Compared


Samsung Ativ S

The last phone we got to handle was the Samsung Ativ S, which felt very much like a Samsung Galaxy S III in build materials and feel. Like all other phones from the South Korean company, the Ativ S is made out of a clear-coated plastic shell. This design give the Ativ S a less solid feel than the Nokia Lumia 920 or the HTC 8X, but at the same time it is thinner and relatively light for its size. It's clearly a design that's won the heart of consumers, given the commercial and critical success of the Galaxy S III and the new Galaxy Note II.

The 4.8-inch screen makes it the biggest screen we saw in the lineup. The Ativ S also has a removable 2300 mAh battery – the most capacious of the launch lineup – which will please those who like to carry spares. Perhaps even more pleasing is the microSD slot.

While it doesn't have the camera technology of the Lumia 920, and it doesn’t have the playful design and solid casing of the HTC 8X, the Samsung Ativ S has the sensibility to support expandable storage and swappable batteries. The Ativ S' business-like design will appeal to pragmatists looking for the best Windows 8 phone.

Display: 4.8-inch 1280x720 Super AMOLED
Processor: Qualcomm S4 1.5 GHz dual-core
Dimensions: 137.2 x 70.5 x 8.7 mm
Weight: 135 grams
Storage: 16 GB, microSD expandability
Battery: 2300 mAh
Camera: 8MP back, 1.9 MP front.

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Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • Cryio
    Damn it, I want a new phone. And I would surely like a Windows 8 Lumia one .

    "Dat camera".
  • obiown77
    Nice thing is, I doubt any of these manufacturers will be patent trolling each other. :)
  • nbelote
    This round of WP phones seems to be much better than the prior rounds. Better LCDs, better CPUs and most of all a more finished OS. WP7/7.5 felt too much like a beta test, and everything seemingly solved in WP8 seems to be making it the more robust OS it really should be.
  • theco0n
    Cain't wait to come up on that Lumia 920.
  • spookyman
    obiown77Nice thing is, I doubt any of these manufacturers will be patent trolling each other.
    And that you can chance the battery out and update the SD card.

    Try that on the i-Phone 5
  • ikyung
    spookymanAnd that you can chance the battery out and update the SD card.Try that on the i-Phone 5I don't think you can swap out batteries on the Nokia and HTC W8 phones. Also, the SD slot is only available for the Samsung phone I believe..
  • they did it for some of the lumia devices on verizon and on tmobile but to bad they werent included in their 'flagship" devices that wouldve been the icing on the cake for the wp8 launch
  • mcd023
    ikyungI don't think you can swap out batteries on the Nokia and HTC W8 phones. Also, the SD slot is only available for the Samsung phone I believe..The Lumia 820 has SD, but not the 920. I think there's a few other models
  • Odd that the only one of the three with an LED screen is the one they demo with a white background, when the most striking quality of Samsung's AMOLED screens, like most LEDs, is how black the blacks are.
  • xpeh
    The Samsung looks so sleek and stylish. I'd say it can rival the iPhone.