HTC 8S Review - Apps, Games and Performance Review

Sections

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.

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.