My review of the HTC 8S.

Design Htc-8s_1_medium

The HTC 8S is lighter than my previous Lumia 800 - it's 113 grams vs 142 grams is very noticeable. But here too, does the thinness of the design also compliment this handset when set against other devices, in my example the Lumia 800. The 2mm difference in thickness doesn't seem much, but the profile of the device, and weight - really does make this handset feel more of a pleasure to use.

Another point which I've noticed when using the Lumia 800 along side the 8S, is that the flat glass on the 8S means that the screen feels a lot better to use. Whilst subjectively it may detract from the aesthetics of the device, on the whole, the flat glass does improve the user experience on the 8S.

Thirdly, the Nokia Lumia 800 is a hard device, whilst the 8S is soft (much like the rear on the Lumia 710). However, on the 8S the entirety of the handset is wrapped in a soft polycarbonate shell. Again, it's my assumption that this means the 8S feels lighter. But, it also means, due to the small profile of the handset, it's a lot more comfortable to hold than any handset I've used previously.

I like colourful devices - but when at work, I don't really want to be carrying the brightestof the bunch. Whilst the cyan L800 was very eye catching, the blue 8S looks slightly more serious, a bit more professional, whilst still looking different. Here obviously, this is down to personal preference. But in my case, the 8S looks vastly more professional than the cyan Lumia 800.

A notification light is a fantastic addition to a handset, and I'm glad it has been included on the 8S. However, it only gives battery level indication, and cannot be disabled. The flashing red light when the device is running low on battery level is slightly annoying - but having the light switch to green when the device is fully charged does add to the experience overall. I do however wish that the light could be used to display app notifications - missed calls or new emails/texts. Perhaps this may come in a future update, but it never did on the HTC Mozart.

The usb connector is located at the bottom of the handset, and it's not behind any flimsy door, and feels quite study. The headphone port also feels very solid and I don't have any worries about the build quality of the ports.

The volume rocker, camera button and power buttons are all located reasonably well. I do prefer having the power button at the top of the device, rather than the side - as with the Lumia 800, being on the side made turning the screen off, only very slightly, awkward. Actually, you'd typically adjust your usage without really noticing, but the location of the power button on this device does feel more natural.


Screen

~233 ppi pixel density, 480 x 800 pixels, 4 inches on the HTC 8S is pretty standard, especially when you'd expect for a device in this price range. I do not think one would expect any more than this, especially given how cheap the device is off contract. The screen is responsive, bright and a pleasure to use. Obviously, the lack of AMOLED, is something I do miss, because blacks can look slightly washed out - grey even, and not really "clear". But on the whole, the screen is standard for a device that is


Audio, call quality and speaker

I have never experienced such great audio quality on a mobile phone before, I never really was attracted to "Beats", but the inclusion here really makes this device a lot more attractive than it otherwise might have been. Indeed, as part of my deal, I got some "urbeats" (worth £79.95) and audio is loud enough even on 15/30. I've used the handset with my Monster Purity headphones too, and my cheaper Urban Ears headphones, and again, audio quality is fantastic. I do however wish there were equalizer settings, but as mobile phone music listening goes, the device does exceptionally well.

Something I've also noticed is the loudness of the included speaker, notifications sounds, music and alarms are louder than any device I've used previously. The speaker itself isn't graced by the Beats enhancement, unlike the 8X, but the speaker is pretty solid regardless.
Call quality is pretty good too - not standard by any means. In five days of use I have not struggled to hear anyone, and everything sounds as a mobile phone should. This is important firstly these devices are phones, and the HTC 8S excels in this area.


Ram, CPU and storage

One reservation for me was the device's internal muscle, or the perception I had of the lack of it. However, not once has my device stumbled, crashed or stalled. It seems as these specifications are more than sufficient for Windows Phone 8, and it seems as though my device has never peaked higher than 70mb, in terms of ram usage.

In terms of the processor, again, it's more than sufficient for Windows Phone 8 - and hasn't caused any performance issues thus far.
Indeed, on the whole, the screen on the 8S isn't demanding on the SoC, and Windows Phone 8 doesn't seem (at the moment, anyway) to be taxing on the internals.

With 4GB of internal storage, there's enough space for a lot of applications. However, you will inevitably run low on that at some stage. Supporting up to 32GB of expandable storage means that you'll have enough room for music, video and photo, and MicroSD cards are very cheap anyhow. As a budget handset, I would have probably preferred 8GB of internal storage, as out-of-the-box you're only left with around 1.4GB for applications, which cannot be installed on external storage. However, there is enough room for a substantial number of applications left over - and I wouldn't expect many, or myself indeed, to be in a situation where one would have to delete an app to download another.


Camera

There's no front camera, and if you want a WP8 device with one, you'll need to be spending more money. I wouldn't use such a function, so clearly I wouldn't call this a disadvantage.

The rear camera has a standard flash, and doesn't really do anything amazing. Images are "ok", but nothing to write home about. However, comparing them to previous 800 snaps, I'm not really seeing any major differences in image quality and colour. It's a budget/mid-range device, but it's camera won't please everyone.


On the whole, the 8S is a very solid device, in fact, it exceeds far beyond my expectations for a budget handset - especially in terms of design and audio playback quality. It's small profile, expandable storage and decent enough specifications all help to maker the device worthy of attention. Battery life is just as one would expect - you'll easily get a days worth of heavy usage, which is inline with pretty much any smartphone at the moment. The 8S is a cheap handset, which doesn't feel, perform or look like anything in its price range, it's a device best brought off-contract given its price, but it doesn't seem like you have to make many compromises in order to save money - really it's just Nokia's applications and screen resolution that you'll save well over £200 for. In my case, I'm satisfied.