What do you get if you distil the essence of Windows Phone 8 and the Nokia Lumia design/concept right down to the bone? If you drive it as far as possible towards the budget end of the market yet without compromising core functionality? You get this, the Nokia Lumia 520, now available at a bargain price somewhere near you (£99 on pay-as-you-go in the UK). There do have to be, naturally, quite a few compromises away from the core - and that's where this review should get most interesting... Is there a single show stopper? Or do the niggles add up to one? And will the target market even care?
Recent Reviews - Hardware
Writing up the Lumia 620 is a strange feeling. Unlike the regular review process here at All About Windows Phone, where we pick up the review handset and write up our thoughts before presenting them to you fully formed, many of you will have been following my adventures (parts 1, 2, 3, and 4) with the Nokia Lumia 620 at SXSW. All that's left is the final reckoning.
It seems to be the norm, at least for me, that the flagship Windows Phone 8 device from a manufacturer is just a little bit too big for me, a little unwieldy, and while it has the best specifications, that's not what I'm looking for in my smartphone. Just as everyone else on the All About team went for the Lumia 920 while I had my eye on the Lumia 820, the same is true of the HTC Windows Phone 8S. The smaller brother of the 'signature' Windows Phone 8 device from HTC (the popular in the office 8X), the HTC 8S was the one I wanted to get my hands on.
And so to our third Windows Phone 8 'flagship' - except that in Samsung's case it's the only Windows Phone 8 device it currently makes (though see also here), so the point is moot. The ATIV S is an impressive device in several ways though, not least because it's got by far the largest screen in the WP8 pantheon, yet remains (just about) manageable and also offers full flexibility in terms of battery changing and memory expansion. A win all round? Perhaps - though the bundled extra software fails to get close to the package in the Nokia Lumias...
Continuing our fine tradition of 'no stone left unturned' reviews, Rafe Blandford here looks at the Nokia Lumia 820, the little sister of the attention-grabbing, optically-stabilised, larger-screened Lumia 920. The attention difference is somewhat unfair though, as you'll see in the review part below - the 820 still has a lot to recommend it.
Sharp eyed readers will have spotted that last week I was away from the All About offices, out and about in Amsterdam (covering the Junior Eurovision Song Contest). Spending a week in a foreign city, working in a situation where communication and access was vital, and the new HTC Windows Phone 8X in my pocket? All those factors added up to make for a real world test of this signature Windows Phone 8 device.
As part of our continuing review coverage of the new Nokia Lumia 920 (part 1 here), and following review part 2a, covering the stills camera functions, here's part 2b, covering video capture, another 920 speciality, thanks to the optical image stabilisation again, plus the unique Rich Recording system. It's fair to say that, again, while not being perfect, the Lumia 920's camera system is top of the heap among its Windows Phone, iOS and Android peers.
In part 1 of our Nokia Lumia 920 review, Rafe presented a definitive look at the device's hardware, including an introduction to one of its unique selling points, the optically stabilised 'PureView'-branded camera. In this, review part 2a, I test the Lumia 920 stills camera over a wider range of conditions and critically assess its performance. Review part 2b will cover video capture to the same degree.
The majority of the software that comes bundled with the HTC Windows Phone 8X is, of course, Windows Phone 8, and the built in software that comes as part of the OS. What I want to talk about here is the extra software that HTC have included in this "signature" device. After the physical design of a smartphone, the second area that allows a manufacturer to stand out is in software. Can HTC make a play for the uniqueness of their phones through software?
While much of the media attention might be focussed on the Nokia Lumia 920, the other flagship smartphone is quietly gathering fans and network support. HTC are no stranger to Windows Phone, and have promised to put some significant corporate spending behind their Windows Phone 8 devices. Microsoft have anointed the HTC Windows Phone 8X as a signature Windows Phone device, to be used by themselves while promoting the platform. That's the handset we're going to look at now. Over the next few weeks we'll look at the HTC 8X in some depth alongside our coverage of the Windows Phone 8 platform.