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HTC 8S - Apps, Games and Performance

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

HTC 8S – Apps and Games

The selection of in-built apps in Windows Phone 8 is certainly enough for your day to day with the full compliment of a good web browser, snazzy contacts and photos apps, maps, music and video downloads and much more. But, when it comes to adding to that roster - whether with games or more useful apps such as train timetables - Windows Phone 8’s app store currently comes up a bit short.

Several app staples including Spotify are missing, and while the porting process from Windows Phone 7 to this latest version probably isn’t that labour-intensive, not having these on the HTC 8S from launch is an annoyance.

Like any Windows phone, the HTC 8S gets its apps from the Windows Store and its games from a separate portal that hooks into an Xbox Live account, if you have one.

HTC 8S 1

Games are split into two categories. The Xbox-branded section offers titles guaranteed to be of fairly decent quality – there are around a hundred at the time of writing. Plenty of mobile classics are available here, including Contre Jour, Plants vs. Zombies and Angry Birds.

The other side is the non-Xbox branded gaming hub, the no-man’s land of the Windows Store. There are some decent titles here, but – as with Android’s Google Play store – you have to wade through a deep stream of doo doo to find the doozies.

Combine the two gaming areas and the selection of worthwhile games is tiny compared with what you get on iPhone iOS. Just to re-iterate – tiny. In spite of the neat Xbox branding and integration, keen mobile gamers are better off with an iPhone or Android phone for the time being. They’d also be better off with a different Windows Phone 8 handset, as the limited internal memory means you can only have a handful of games installed at once.

Xbox owners will want to check out the Xbox SmartGlass app, though. This lets you use the HTC 8S as a controller for the Xbox, and uses the phone as a second screen to give you additional info on what you’re looking at on the main console.

HTC 8S – Performance and Browsing

Windows Phone 8 loosened several hardware restrictions that were in place in Windows Phone 7. Screen resolutions can now go above 480 x 800 pixels (although that’s what you get here) and dual-core processors are allowed. The HTC 8S uses a dual-core 1GHz Qualcomm Krait processor.

Its sheer power won’t worry the muscular Samsung Galaxy S3 or iPhone 5, but it’s enough power to make Windows Phone 8 sing pretty sweetly. Aside from the occasional glitch, that will hopefully be resolved with a firmware tweak or two, general performance is great - menus fly by under your fingers.

HTC 8S 13

However, the HTC 8S doesn’t really have the game developer support to test the processor’s mettle. That the iPhone 5 has Asphalt 7 and the HTC 8S has to make do with Asphalt 5 pretty much sums up the issue. The 3D games we tried experienced only minor frame rate drops, and not frequent ones either.

The dual-core Snapdragon processor also makes light work of Javascript. The Sunspider benchmark indicates how fast a mobile will be able to deal with intensive web browsing, and with a score of 1423ms the HTC 8S isn’t that far off the class-leading iPhone 5, which scored 1001ms – the similarly-specced Huawei Ascend G330 scored 2260ms, significantly slower.

The HTC 8S uses Internet Explorer, Microsoft’s own browser. Although ridiculed in the past in desktop form, it’s a competent mobile browser. You can request desktop sites, rather than mobile ones, it’s snappy and lets you hone in on columns within articles. Unlike the Android browser, though, it won’t reformat text to fit the screen if you zoom in.

One of the most browser-enhancing parts of the HTC 8S is something not specific to its internet browser, though. The Windows Phone 8 keyboard is fantastic. Like Apple’s iPhone keyboard, it has aced its key layout, making typing fast, accurate and comfortable. We only wish there was an option to use Swype-like gesture typing, where you drag a path over the constituent letters in a word.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

beamerman

December 17, 2012, 7:22 pm

Have to say this is a really ugly looking phone. Much prefer the looks of the Lumia 620 as a budget competitor.

Nik

December 19, 2012, 5:31 pm

This was going to be an instant purchase for me but not allowing apps to be installed to the SD card has seriously crippled the device.

rasterized

March 31, 2013, 10:15 am

Oh, really? Lumia 620 looks like a toy, fat, so small and very curved.

Badal Mondal

May 17, 2013, 2:48 pm

I have purchased one HTC Windows phone 8S but unable to view my sd card's content. Contacted call centre and one Mr.Dhiraj said, unless you connect the phone to ur PC you can't find sd card's content. I want a symbol to first page of phone of SD card so that I can easily access/view the SD card's content. Any one can help me?

Arnab Banerji

June 5, 2013, 11:25 am

HTC 8s is perhaps the worst combination of software and hardware put together in an attractive but poorly designed package ever.

Software:
What can I say…windows has a history of making boring, unimaginative and the least user friendly operating systems since the dawn of desktop computing. For its mobile version, again I must say it is one of the prettiest OS on a hand held but also equally the least functional, the size of the OS is a massive 2GB?!!! On a phone that has 4GB (3.81 user space) of onboard space. To top it all it creates 1GB of files that you can’t remove and labels it, in true microsoft style, OTHERS. This leaves barely any space for any apps(I use Facebook, linked in, couple of games, Skype,)lyrics, dropshot apart from the bundled software that it came with)…with a strategy like that, no wonder they have the shittiest app store. Now with the new update out today, you have to reformat your phone to make 435mb of space to install it. I remember the days of android 1.6 where the ROM was a hardware limitation and one could only install softwares on the phone memory. A very frustrating experience that was thankfully rectified by an app by the name APP2SD freeing up precious space on you phone and liberating you from the tyranny of low memory space warnings. Microsoft, exercising better judgement has created its mobile software in the image (and size) of its desktop avatar….lazy buggers…incompetence and laziness, a winning combination when you target a product for the masses…after all that’s what we all are…

Hardware:
Gorilla glass prone to scratches and marks but this let down is nothing to the soft touch plastic finish…beware, this is not a finish as much as it is a coating, which has the following drawbacks:
It stains
It peels off…exposing shiny plastic underneath (blue, in my case)
It is the technological equivalent of Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy)…I hope they find a cure to that soon…
All in all, its the worst smartphone experience ever…it has the technology of the now but designed to perform a decade older…Usually one learns from others mistakes, things evolve and new technology should better if not match the current paradigm. Microsoft has decided that it will make the same journey of evolution that other OS’s did to reach some semblance of usable which, judging by its efforts so far, can be a while.
Currently the OS is still a monkey.

Ben Ta

August 15, 2013, 9:53 am

Wow, exactly the same review, word for word, in Techradar by the name “iamarnab”. Who are you “Arnab Banerji” or “iamarnab”. Just questioning your review Authenticity.

Mike Goodman

August 15, 2013, 11:15 am

I would imagine that they are the same person.
iamarnab = I am Arnab (Banerji)

RIck D

October 21, 2013, 12:08 am

If you are expecting to have a HTC experience in a W8 phone think again and look for your options somewhere else.
Just wondering if the people from the very ubiquitous Iphone were able to design, develop and launch a phone by themselves, why a software giant like MS didnt venture

to develop, design and launch a Wphone on their own brand and had to leech-attach to well established brands to cover their needs.
The genius that had the idea to have a project with HTC and NOKIA and accept a very sub-developed software (yes, taking more than 2gigs of of the 4gigs available, my phone has currently only 68mbs available and I have nothing stored in the phone only in the memory card, the rest is full with updates and stuff from MS).

CONS

The cam 5MP doesn't keep up with most of today's cameras capabilities in the market.
No frontal cam means no Skype or any other Cam chat app.
Beats Audio feature won't work with bluetooth?
For quicker reference, Settings System should have been in abc order, randomly arranged doesn't help in efficiency or quick access.
There's no a quick save new number, FIVE to SIX steps to save a contact.
You CAN NOT block a unwanted caller, no options.
Browser is total failure, designed by a person with little or negligible internet browsing experience, (it's like they say to someone in the street "hey you bro, do you want to get $50 for one day with us pretending to work in software developing?") NO BACK<-- or FORWARD--> buttons, that is purely genius (if that would be day one of the company in the computer business).
There are more things to list that need to be improved but I have more valuable things to do that pay too much attention to this thing.
You CAN NOT edit the dictionary, just adding new words every time but you CAN NOT delete them.

PROS
The Multi-language input and the Japanese full keyboard is a nice feature.
The white little packing box where it came in is quite pretty.

Claudia

January 15, 2014, 10:50 pm

My son bought me one of these, from day one, I had trouble turning it off, it would just turn itself back on. Of course, the inevitable happened, it turned it off or so I thought next morning the battery was completely dead and it cannot be recharged at all. Is there a battery which can be replaced? if so, where can I get one. Anyone have any ideas?

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