Sep. 19, 2012 at 11:03 AM ET
HTC and Microsoft held a press event in New York City on Wednesday to unveil the Windows Phone 8X and Windows Phone 8S.
Yes, those are the devices' actual names.
When Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer joined HTC CEO Peter Chou on stage, he explained that the two companies saw an opportunity to simplify things. "You want a Windows phone," he says, "do you want an 8S or an 8X?"
It's hard to dislike such an elegant naming scheme.
Ballmer and Chou didn't stick around the stage for long after expressing their excitement for the new devices and their names though. Scott Croyle, HTC's vice president of design, took over the show instead and led us through the thought process behind the 8X and 8S. He emphasized that the new smartphones are an entirely new experience. "When you hold them and see them for the first time," he says, "you'll recognize that you've never seen something like this before."
The 8X has a 4.3-inch HD-resolution super LCD 2 screen made of extra light Gorilla Glass 2 while the 8S has a 4-inch super LCD screen made of Gorilla Glass. The 8X has a 2.1MP, f/2.0 aperture, 88-degree ultra-wide angle front-facing camera which supports 1080p video and an 8MP, f/2.0 aperture rear-facing camera with a dedicated imaging chip and backside-illumination. The 8S has a 5MP, f/2.8 aperture camera with a 35mm lens in the rear. Both devices use Beats Audio technology, so they've got some pretty solid sound.
While both the 8X and 8S run on some speedy 1.5GHz dual-core processors, it wasn't possible to see just how zippy they feel as HTC and Microsoft were strict about keeping demo units locked to the homescreen when they were held by members of the press. We were told that the devices were running some unfinished software which wasn't ready to be seen just yet.
What neither of the companies couldn't (and certainly wouldn't want to) prevent us from seeing though, is just how nicely designed the 8X and 8S are. The smartphones certainly do feel ridiculously thin and light. I don't know how they'll fare in everyday use, but they were fantastic to handle for a couple of mintes.
"This is what happens when beautiful software inspires beautiful hardware," Chou said at the beginning of the presentation. I won't speak for the mobile operating system, but I'll agree with Chou. The design work put into the 8X and 8S is certainly something.
The Windows Phone 8X and 8S will be available in November. They will be offered by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. No word on pricing just yet though.
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