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Windows Phone 8: The Hardware

Created by Falcon on Oct. 29, 2012, 9:12 p.m.
  • The cast that makes up the Windows Phone 8 2012 hardware lineup has been a known quantity as early as September. But now that Microsoft launched Windows 8 on the 26th, finally revealed all of Windows Phone 8 on the 29th, and with their annual developer BUILD conference this week, everything is coming together and the release details are finally being announced.

    Windows Phone 8 represents you. Now what device will you pair it with?

    (Note - Because I can't embed pictures I have provided a link the each phone's manufacturer page so you can get a closer look. I will also be updating with more specific availability info as it gets released/as I find it.)

    Nokia Lumia 920

    (link)

    Despite what Microsoft might try to tell you, or what HTC advertising may indicate, this is the flagship Windows Phone 8 device. The Lumia 920 has the best screen and best camera on any smartphone, as well as built in wireless charging technology. With Nokia's amazing unibody design this is without a doubt the best hardware running Windows Phone 8.

    • Cyan (matte) (AT&T exclusive), Yellow (glossy), Red (glossy), White (glossy), Black (matte) (It seems that Grey no longer exists.)

    • 4.5" IPS LCD "PureMotion HD+" screen (1280x768, 332 ppi)

    • 1.5GHz dual core processor

    • 1GB RAM

    • 32GB storage (non-expandable)

    • 8.7 MP rear camera with PureView technology

    • 1.3 MP front camera

    • 2,000mAh battery

    • NFC

    • 185g

    • Wireless charging wizardry

    Availability

    • US - AT&T exclusive, November 9th $100

    • Canada - Rodgers exclusive $100 Oct 30th

    • UK - EE Nov 9th, Phones4u

    Nokia Lumia 820

    (link)

    With the same processor and amount of RAM as the high end phones, Nokia's mid-range launch device is no slouch. The Lumia 820 is visually customizable with its removable shell, and users can also gain access to wireless charging with a special shell. There are also the 810 and 822 variants for US carriers and the only difference with them is how they look.

    • 4.3" AMOLED screen (800x480)

    • 1.5GHz dual core processor

    • 1GB RAM

    • 8GB of storage (expandable, microSD 32GB max)

    • 8 MP rear camera

    • VGA (640x480) front camera

    • 1650mAh Battery

    • NFC

    • 160g

    • Body's shell can be removed for different colored ones, a la the 710

    • Supports wireless charging, not built in, will require a separate shell

    Availability

    • US - AT&T November 9th $50, Verizon (822) $100 by Thanksgiving, T-Mobile (810) $100 Nov 14th

    • Canada -

    • UK - EE Nov 9th, O2, Vodafone, Phones4u, Carphone Warehouse

    HTC Windows Phone 8X

    (link)

    The first WP8 "signature" device definitely has a leg up on the Lumia 920 in some areas. The 8X is smaller and lighter than the 920, and is still able to sport an HD screen. It also has a separate processor for the camera, so it's able to take pictures in rapid succession. However, given that the quality of the camera is similar to the One X's camera, it doesn't compete with the 920 in low light performance at all.

    • 4.3" HD super LCD 2 screen (1280x720, 341 ppi)

    • 1.5GHz dual core processor

    • 1GB RAM

    • 16GB storage (non-expandable)

    • 8 MP rear camera

    • 2.1 MP front camera (1080p video)

    • 1800 mAh battery

    • NFC

    • 130 grams

    • Beats Audio

    Availability

    • US - AT&T November 9th $200, Verizon $200 Thanksgiving, T-Mobile $150 Nov 14th

    • Canada - Rodgers November

    • UK - EE Nov 9th, O2, Three, Vodafone, Phones4u, Carphone Warehouse

    HTC Windows Phone 8S

    (link)

    HTC's other launch device is clearly a low-end phone. The only reason for a tech enthusiast to pick up the 8S is because small size is number one on their list of needs.

    • 4" super LCD screen (800x480)

    • 1.0GHz dual core processor

    • 512MB RAM

    • 4GB storage (expandable, microSD 32GB max)

    • 5 MP rear camera

    • no front camera

    • 1700 mAh battery

    • no NFC

    • 113 grams

    • Beats Audio

    Availability

    • US - none?

    • Canada -

    • UK - EE Nov 9th, O2, Three, Vodafone, Phones4u, Carphone Warehouse

    Samsung ATIV S

    (link)

    While the ATIV S certainly has great hardware features, it's quite boring when compared to the other Windows Phone 8 launch offerings. The only reason to give this phone the time of day is if you really need 64GB of local storage, or your paranoid with the thought of not having a removable battery (you're only able to remove the battery on this and the Lumia 820). Verizon will have a variant of the ATIV S, called the Odyssey, later this year.

    • 4.8” HD Super AMOLED screen (1280x720)

    • 1.5GHz dual core processor

    • 1GB RAM

    • 16GB or 32GB storage (expandable, microSD 32GB max)

    • 8 MP rear camera

    • 1.9 MP front camera

    • 2300 mAh battery

    • NFC

    • 135 grams

    Availability

    • US - Verizon (Odyssey) December

    • Canada - Rodgers November

    • UK - O2, Phones4u

  • So many rumors surrounding the announcement/release of the Lumia 922 makes purchasing a WP8 phone paralyzing. While I am completely sold on giving WP8 a shot, the battle between the future Lumia 922 and HTC 8x has no start date. By the reviews hitting today the 8x seems to be a plenty capable phone, and it looks quite nice, but I can't help but have a greater lust for the Lumia's design. Some rumors speak to a 6 month window that leads me to feel I might as well go 8x because 6 months from now the Lumia 922 will likely hold a short life span as the premiere WP8 device. Other rumor indicate some sort of announcement around black friday. Not sure when I will feel safe to make a decision.

  • I'm semi-interested in WP8 just because I am kinda sick of Android but don't necessarily want an iPhone, but of course the only phone out of all these that I want (the 920) is with stupid Rogers. Rogers is a vile company.

  • the rumor is that the 822 is actually $50. If the screen/camera isn't awful I'd be quite tempted to pick it up over the 8X. I really want wireless charging.

  • @Downside: If the 922 does exist, it probably won't be coming until early next year. Unless the 16GB of storage is a problem for you, I would say go get some hands on with the 8X once it's in store, and if you don't find any physical issues with it, get it. If you play the waiting game for unannounced phones, you're never going to get one.

    @BlatantNinja23: The slide Microsoft showed was a typo. The 810 and 822 are both $99 on contract, and the 820 will likely be the same.

  • The HTC and Nokia phones look really nice. I would consider switching, but the app ecosystem is what kills it for me.

  • @Falcon: ya that's kind of a bummer, but I don't know for some reason i still kinda like it more than the 8X. The screen is probably enough for me to go towards the 8x.

  • Looks like I'll be playing the waiting game. I want the 920 and I don't want anything else. The storage on the 8X is too small and Samsungs efforts on WP have been poor (I actually own an Omnia 7). The problem is that in the UK, the 920 is exclusive to EE who are currently price gauging all of their 4G phones. Their price plans are a little different from what the norm is as their lowest price plan is £36 no matter what the phone is. So for example on the £36 contract, you will get 500MB but whereas the Lumia 820 is free in this case, the Lumia 920 will cost £129.99 and is actually one of the cheaper phones. The iPhone 32GB will set you back £269.99.

  • I think you converted me @Falcon, but I seriously wish it wasn't AT&T exclusive. I'd really like to not resign with them, but I have noticed positive changes in their weaker coverage area. The only thing I don't like about the hardware itself is there's no expandable memory. Windows Phone 8 looks really good so I have no issues there. Do you know if headphones with volume buttons would be compatible with WP8 and/or the 920?

  • Oops, double post

  • @Falcon: so it looks like the 8x on verizon may be coming with wireless charging

  • @BlatantNinja23: Yeah, I saw that. I find it odd that it wasn't announced Monday if it's true, so I'm holding off for official word until I update the post.

  • @Falcon: it is odd but could easily be a last second edition. Verizon is kind of trying to push Qi, also could help explain the Thanksgiving date. It would have been weird to have the 822 with, yet the 8X (flagship) without.

  • I honestly think Nokia are screwed and its only a matter of time before they get bought for their patent portfolio. Their strategy with the 920 in the UK and Ireland is moronic beyond belief and if they are putting the same practices in play elsewhere I dont see how they expect to be successful. Making it hard for customers to buy your products is obviously bad for business.

    I'll be interested to see the 8x in the flesh as I reckon I could get by with just the 16GB of storage if I got an Xbox Music subscription.
  • @grbear: It's bad for business unless Nokia is getting paid by carriers equivalent to (or more than) what it expects it could earn by selling on other carriers, and I imagine Nokia's expectations aren't incredibly high.

  • I really want a 920 on another carrier besides AT&T, and even if Nokia are getting a big payday from carriers the customers who buy them are far more important. This strategy of keeping completely silent on availability is so massively dumb to their future as a phone maker, and a platform as an extension, it's really baffling. Keeping secrets on when I can purchase your product is a massive turnoff. I've asked multiple AT&T employees at multiple stores (despite wanting to get away from AT&T) when I can see one in store, much less buy the damn thing, and not a single one knows. How do they expect to be competitive if a very interested customer can't get a solid answer to the very simple question of buying one? Apple and Google are going to continue to make Nokia/WP8 look like fools and a dead platform if they continue that idiocy. I know Falcon likes WP, but they are a complete non-entity with the current strategy. I'm still going to be interested in them for the short term, but my feeling is that they are going to fail overall because they simply can't get it through their thick skulls that this strategy is a losing one. The hardware is interesting, and the software is a very refreshing change, but that doesn't mean squat if customers can't buy them. I was severely disappointed that NO journalist was allowed free reign to explore any device without being very restricted in seeing what WP8 could do. Apple and google don't do that, why do Microsoft and Nokia? It's stupid, plain and simple.
  • I finally got a chance to fiddle around with the Lumia 920 today, and overall I am really impressed. The pressing concern for a lot of people seems to be the weight and size of the thing. I'm used to carrying around a miniscule "dumb-phone" in my pocket, and for me the 920 doesn't seem heavy or unwieldy at all. The Nokia rep even let me put the thing in my pocket, and I was left with a lot of extra room for random pennies and lighters in there.

    The screen is the best I've seen on any smartphone and the build quality is fantastic. I didn't see any of the matte-colored models, but the white, red and yellow all look fantastic. Sadly the place where I got to try the phone out had horrible reception on both 4G and WiFi, so I can't comment on any of the internet features. Overall the OS seemed really responsive, but I didn't notice a big difference to WP7.

    The standout feature on the device was the camera. Even with all the bullshit marketing and hype, I was stunned to see how well the image stabilization worked in both still and video shooting. In a fairly well lit environment I was simply not able to take a blurry picture no matter how hard I shook my hand. The IS does create a slightly nauseating effect when walking around with the camera, but while panning or standing still the video does really look like it's been filmed using a tripod. I did not get a chance to test the camera in low-light conditions.

    The Lumia 920 really convinced me and I'm definitely getting a white one a couple weeks from now.

  • One thing I want to see more of that no one seems to be showing is Rich Recording on the 920. It is only in mono but I'd still like to hear if there is a difference. The 808 has stereo and audio from things like concerts is amazing and makes live youtube videos enjoyable to watch rather than having the mics completely blown. Although I'm wondering if I may just wait to see what their next high end phone will be as EE have the exclusive here in the UK just as AT&T do in the US and I don't know if that's going to change any time soon. Tested were at the Windows Phone 8 event as Will kept posting on Twitter but they've yet to make a single post about it but I'm hoping that will change once the Lumia 920 makes its release in America.

  • Has anyone heard an official release date yet? I kept seeing November 4th (today), yet nothing happened. Now everyone is saying November 11th. I'm serious, if AT&T had one for sale right now, I'd go buy it even though I really don't like them. The 920 has me completely sold, I just can't find out when/where to get one :(.

  • @HKZ: AT&T still has not given an official date but sites have rumors of Nov 9, 11, or 14th.

    I have the original Samsung Focus and will probably get the cyan 920 whenever I can get to touch one. The complaints of it being heavy and bulky don't really bother me but will have to see how it is once I can hold it.

  • @goodwood: I've seen those dates too. Why they can't just come out and tell people what the date is, is ridiculous. How do they expect to make a dent if they can't even tell everyone what the sole carrier release date is? It's maddening! I don't care about the weight, everything is getting far too thin and light for my tastes, I'm not a toddler. I wish the other colors were matte besides black, matte white would be badass.

  • @HKZ: Because they don't know the date themselves, obviously, Carrier testing takes time. There won't be a WP8 device on any other US carrier until the 14th at the earliest.

  • @Falcon: That's a lame excuse. iOS and Android don't have that problem, why does WP8 and the hardware vendors?

  • @HKZ: Apple gets special treatment, and there's a new Android phone out every other week so you don't notice.

  • @Falcon: Apple gets special treatment because they did what everyone else should have done, effectively take the power away from the carrier when no one else had the balls to do it. I'm really anxious to get a hold of one too. If I'm not careful I might buy it immediately, but that all depends on whether or not they have working phones on the shelf rather than the incredibly annoying fake hollow models.

  • @HKZ: Apple has that power because they sell millions of units of anything within days. No one else is capable of that.

  • @Falcon:  yes they do, but why? Because their devices are usually available for purchase no more than a week after unveiling it. Microsoft/Nokia could learn a lot from that. I just want one dammit! Lol.
  • http://www.wpcentral.com/att-lumia-820-and-920-coming-november-9th

    November 9th. $99 on contract. Free wireless charging plate. BOOM.

  • @Falcon:  You are awesome, sir. Thank you!

  • @Falcon: Ill be getting the cyan 920 probably by the end of the week. Time to say good bye to my 2 year old Samsung Focus that I had from the start.