My next Windows Phone - Jay Bennett

So the question that has been put to me by our Chief Editor is; which Windows Phone 8 will be my next? It's a very tough one to answer right now, even being privileged as I am to have seen a glimpse at the full offering I can expect at launch. However I don't want to just focus on the potential of devices in the future, Windows Phone offerings have been around for 2 years now, and we can learn a lot by assessing the previous generations.

Almost every person I know has owned an HTC device at one time or another, and it saddens me to say I can't share that. I very nearly bought the HD7 as my launch device until the Omnia 7 reviewed so well that it became the clear choice (personal opinion, sorry HD7 owners). Every HTC windows phone offering has also seemed very reliable, my father's HD7 serves him perfectly to this day, whilst my Omnia 7 had an annoying audio stutter bug for the first year of it's life. 

Not to mention I love the attentive phone features on HTC devices, that coupled with a few interesting OEM only apps mean that for some time they were the only manufacturer differing themselves in the Windows Phone race. Should I trust that their next offering will be just as robust? Will HTC serve up some awesome hardware with a little style and gadgetry like the intriguing One X?

Well I can tell you I've seen the HTC devices that will be coming with Windows Phone 8, and they are stunning. Get excited about them, because HTC are rising to Nokia's challenge and have produced some seriously beautiful designs. My concern is that there does not appear to be a top end, no compromise device from HTC this generation, something which the competition has produced.

Now turn to Samsung, the Omnia 7 was and still is an excellent device, yet I can't shake the feeling that Samsung's ATIV S offering will have the same symptoms the Omnia presented early on, crashes requiring a battery pull, stuttering audio when listening to MP3s to name a few. Samsung will fix these issues with firmware updates, they've proved this before, but it took them more than a year to fix the audio stuttering issue and it was a really frustrating bug. Which is exactly the problem, it took a year, and it gave me the impression that Samsung weren't putting heart into their Windows Phone devices, they weren't treating me as a valued customer no matter how many times I tried to report the issue.

I should say though that I am very glad Samsung is going with a unified branding across their Windows devices, that’s a huge and very important move that shows they may start looking at Windows/Windows Phone 8 as a serious entrant in the mobile race. I'm not against Samsung's decision to re-use the Galaxy 3's design here, it's a very popular device for a reason, but the form factor doesn't work for me. The screen is just too big and I can't get my thumb all the way across it. Combine a design which doesn't excite me with my concern over the device's stability on it's v1 firmware, and I'm out.

Finally, Nokia. The Lumia 800 has proved to be an eventual winner. It's beautiful design is unquestionable, but it too has suffered bugs that I cannot dismiss, and a battery life that is borderline unacceptable under 3G usage. Further the exclusive apps honestly haven't delivered on the promise so far (with the exception of Mirror's Edge) for me, I don't use Nokia Drive, and Nokia maps whilst good, isn't markedly better than Bing.

Despite all the above, I'm still incredibly tempted by the Lumia 920. For no more extravagant a reason than wireless charging. I love the concept, I love the gimmick, and I was incredibly jealous of the Palm pre/touchstone combination.  The 920's design is also beautiful (yay curved glass!) and hopefully won't be ruined by the massive screens Nokia are insisting on giving us. Honestly I'd much prefer a 4" screen but I'll learn to lug around that 4.5" monster, which is right on the limit of what I view as acceptable screen size. I'm also not as bothered about Pureview as I could be, the images taken in low light are impressive but still slightly blurry, and I strongly suspect Nokia will need to do some firmware tuning after the initial release akin to that performed for the 800 & 900.

Perhaps most importantly, Nokia has produced a device that  feels like a flagship, a device you can buy making no compromises (you might call no micro SD support a compromise but 32GB internal storage will do me nicely). I don't think any manufacturers are producing such high end hardware without making a concession somewhere in the specs, and particularly I can't say the same for HTC.

It's worth mentioning that here in the UK, for the first time ever, the carriers may really play a role. EE's announcement that they will be the first (by a very long way) UK carrier to provide 4G service will definitely sway me to their network should their exclusivity on the Lumia 920 turn out to be the only 4G Windows Phone device here in Great Britain.

As of right now I am genuinely torn. I do not know which phone I'll be picking up other than that it won't be the ATIV S. HTC has the opportunity to really grab my attention now that I've seen the hardware designs. If they come up with some of the bonus features that Nokia have offered in accessory form, then I'm there. Because honestly, when it comes down to it I know that if I bought any phone other than a Nokia, every time I went to plug in a charger I would be silently cursing under my breath that this minor annoyance still existed in my life, when I could be living in the future. Damn that's petty...

Jay Bennett
  • "Well I can tell you I've seen the HTC devices that will be coming with Windows Phone 8, and they are stunning. Get excited about them, because HTC are rising to Nokia's challenge and have produced some seriously beautiful designs."
    Wait, you've actually seen the devices already?  Are you just talking about the leaked pictures or have you actually seen the real devices in person? 
    Really hyped about the HTC event now after what you said.
  • I'm not talking about the leaks, and that's all I will say
  • Ooh, now I'm really excited for tomorrow's event. You have no idea how envious of your job I've just become.
  • If HTC's offerings come in significantly cheaper than the Nokia 920 then I think I'll live without the wireless charging. Looking forward to tomorrow. Been more than happy with my audio bug free HD7.
  • Auto bug free you mean you have auto with the HD7? I can not play music on mine and hear it unless i put the cans on. Phone rings loud yes that is it. ok with that said. I'm on US T-MO and I don't like the L820 screen res at all. I'm really wide open on this right now. If nothing comes in yummy to T-MO then I'll buy a L920 unlocked..
  • Ok awesome!  Time to set my alarm for 8 AM.
  • Can you tell us if confusion about the "Zenith" phone will be cleared up tomorrow?
  • I would expect a product launch conference to clear up all details on the hardware which HTC will be releasing
  • I'll take that as a "yes" even though that is the worst yes in the history of noncommittal yeses. My concern was that the Zenith phone was a 2013 release and therefore wouldn't be discussed in tomorrows conference. We know there are a few other Lumia phones coming in 2013 and Nokia did not discuss them at their conference and we know that Samsung has more than one WP8 device coming and yet they only discussed the ATIV S.
  • Jay, I'm so glad im not the only one who isn't overly impressed with the Ativ S. My options right now are Nokia and HTC.
  • In regards to the apology... I'm typing this on an HD7. No apology is needed. I happen to love the design of the One X, but will NOT buy the rumored WP8 version because of the letters HTC emblazoned across its back. This is due to my less than glowing experience with the device in question.
  • That was my first thought as well. However I think that just references the leaked pictures we've seen, but I'd really like to be proven wrong. Either way, I'm excited to see what HTC announces tomorrow.
  • That's not what Jay was referring to.
  • So HTC finally realized they could make profits with windows? Too little too late. Written on HD7
  • I actually think WP8 can help HTC if they can offer compelling devices that are better than Samsung, at least.
  • HTC has made devices with Windows since the first Pocket PC "PDA phone" in 2002, and after that going from ODM to OEM with their first Windows Mobile devices sold under their own name in 2006. And, in more recent stats, I think about 40-45% of all WP7 devices in use are made by HTC. Going with Android was the natural thing to do if they wanted any chance at remaining in the market while Microsoft reconsidered their mobile efforts.
  • You got me really excited about the HTC event tomorrow. I have owned the radar and the 710 so I'm a little bit of a fence sitter between those two companies.
  • I opted for the HTC Titan I after the disappointing specs of the Nokia Lumia 800. However, I have lamented the decision mainly due to the exclusive content and apps that have been secured by Nokia for the Lumia range. 
    As much as I love the HTC hardware, I will be picking up Nokia Windows Phone 8 device.
  • Not only that, but HTC's refusal to add MVNO support for Straight Talk in their Connection Setup app -then pulling it- makes me doubt I can ever support a scummy company like that.  STILL no Tango for HTC devices on ATT....
  • I loved this article lol...I'm very tempted by HTC'S devices, and now hearing you say that they're giving Nokia a run for their money has me seriously intrigued. Honestly the only benefit from getting the 820 for me, is the Nokia Music application, because I'm a HUGE music fan. However, I've always admired HTC'S design as well as Nokia's, so I'm eager to see the results of their hard work tomorrow.
  • Oh, and you want to talk petty lol?? A serious deal-breaker for me leaving HTC for Nokia, is the lost of the Notification light THAT'S petty ha ha..
  • Hahaha!
  • See I can't call that petty because it's a really good point, a notifications LED would be really good!
  • notifications lights are must ... i just cant undersatnd why nokia is not implementing it on thier WPs as all other nokia symabina and meego devices have a notification LEDs also nokia C7 has a special LED which blinks white when a simple notification like call/message is there and it blinks RED when there's a whatsapp message...
  • Does anyone know if WP8 allows a notification LED? That is almost a must in my book and another reason I have always loved HTC phones.
  • WTF there's no notification light again! The was the best feature of my BlackBerry Pearl (my last phone before Samsung Focus). M$ needs to make notification lights a hardware requirement.
  • Couldn't agree more! Needed! I also am a huge fan of removeable batteries. I would look at the 820 but I want a screen with nice tech... Not necessarily huge though. Come on HTC! The Trophy has served me very well...
  • Im excited to even though im gettn Nokia 920
  • Nice tease there, Jay. Can you at least tell us how many WP8 HTC will be announcing?
    I'm with you on the fact that I'm sure I won't get the ATIV S. I have a Focus and it's time for Samsung to sit on the sidelines.
  • I can't say anything :) we like HTC and we want them to have their moment tomorrow. But I can tell you you'll have all the information you could desire if you stay glued to WPCentral in the next 24 hours :)
  • I understand, Jay. Can't blame me for trying to get something out of you. And I also understand WPCentral will be THE place to be for all the details.
    At what time does HTC's conference begin tomorrow?
  • 11 AM EST
  • Thanks.
  • What is that central standard time? (lazy and ignorant)
  • Central is one hour behind eastern, so 10am
  • Just to be fair this article mentions some bugs and firmware issues with Samsung phones, but the Nokia Lumia has suffered from similar problems after launch as well. I don't think any OEM is immune to these random driver/software issues. In the US the Samsung Focus was the best 1st gen Windows Phone.
  • I couldn't agree with you more. The difference is that even though I bought a launch day Lumia 800, Nokia had tied up the glitches almost entirely within months, not a year. It just demonstrates their commitment going forward
  • The Lumia 900 has had a lot of bug fixes in the past few months, it's true, but it is still suffering from a few bad firmware issues that other Windows Phones don't have. For example you can't set the talk volume above 6/10 or the person on the other end will get extremely bad echoing. The inline headset controls are still not functioning properly on the Lumia 900. Until last month the camera button and volume controls were not working when the phone was locked. None of these are showstopping bugs but it is taking Nokia a long time/if ever to fix them.  
  • "...still suffering from a few bad firmware issues that other Windows phone don't have." I have exactly the same audio echo issue you describe on my Focus S, regardless whether the echo cancellation option is set or not. Don't think Nokia is alone here, Nokia just have a history of caring more and responding quicker to such customer concerns. My problem us so bad that were it not for the lack of full device backup and the certainty of losing all my SMS, I'd have replaced the phone already. Thanks Microsoft, I either have to live with crappy echo infested audio or lose my messages and spend hours setting up my phone again.
  • "My concern is that there does not appear to be a top end, no compromise device from HTC this generation, something which the competition has produced." - This REALLY concerns me and makes me feel like there will be no Titan II follow up. I guess I'll be sticking with my T2 for longer than I thought. I refuse to go back from 4.7".
  • Thats the piece I'm concerned about too
  • Then you're prepared... Eyes on the design tomorrow guys
  • I really hope SOMEONE announces carriers tomorrow.. I cant wait to get the HTC Accord on T-Mobile!
  • I could be wrong, but I think the way it's going to play out is that the best phone in the US will depend on the carrier. Samsung could be the best phone on T-Mobile, Nokia on AT&T, and HTC on Verizon. I think all of these will be great phones though. I'm hoping that HTC will bring some impressive exclusive features and software to their Windows Phones. If Samsung wants to really compete they need to get their ATIV S phones on every carrier and until they do that I don't believe that they are really comitted to the platform like they are with Android.
  • I'm with you, Jay. I want a 4" high end phone, but for some odd reason no one will make one other than Apple.
  • Same here. Sucks that all high ends are getting huge.
  • This is nice! I'm starting to get really excited about the WP8 offerings. It's leaning towards a 920 for me but I'm very curious about what HTC might be bringing to the tables. IMO the hardware partners have done their job admirably so far, let's hope Microsoft manages to deliver above expectations as well.
  • First, I have to say I love this site for Windows Phone news... you guys do a great job!
    I have an HTC Trophy, and it's a great phone... if it had a larger screen, my wife would have to move into another room.  The quality HTC has put into their product has just impressed the hell out of me.  While I'm intrigued by Nokia and Samsung's WP8 offerings, and the wait to see them reveal their products was like being a frog in a blender, I've always intended to wait for HTC to show me what they've got before considering other manufacturers.
    Thanks for making my anticipation rise to knew hights... can't wait to see what they've got tomorrow!  It will be a great day... new HTC and the mother in law is moving out, so I've got a room to put the wife in! 
  • Any link to a webcast for the event?
  • Bring back htc diamond look. Also the image shows already how it looks wow very thin
  • Maybe it might be headed to sprint since they don't have htc arrive anymore
  • I have set my mind on Nokia - and pretty much on 920(unless, at the last minute I find it too heavy to carry arround - then 820). But I'm still keeping an eye out for what HTC has to offer and need get clear picture of all features coming in WP8 and how they are utilized by these handsets effectively to complete the ecosystem. Especially, usablity of NFC. For once I would like to rub it in my friends face that my phone not only do thing better but also do things that their phones can't.
     I am hoping WPCentral will give us different breakdowns on all these handsets - what they can and what they can't.
    Being a MS fan(yes, self-admitted and there is nothing wrong with that), I have never been so excited for MS like this year. This guy Ballmer isn't getting enough credit for what he has been doing. Somebody throw him a bone(bonus).
  • i still love my HTC Arrive....
    all HTC has to do is make a phone with a physical keyboard and I'm sold
  • owner of Samsung Omnia 7 and Nokia Lumia 800.   Omnia 7: fantastic screen, perfect black BUT due to amoled technology consumes lot of energy when surfing the web. Lumia 800: small screen, non-removable battery BUT love the curved-glass feeling.  I'm going for the Lumia 920 but the ATIV S has some advantages (larger screen, removable battery). I'll avoid HTC because i don't trust their quality control.  The design of the Lumia 920 and the commitment of Nokia are the main two reasons for buying it
  • Wow, your thought are VERY similar to mine. I also lived with a Omnia 7 for a year (2 actully) and wow, what a fuzz. But the only difference is im not dismissing the Ativ S. Im leaning at Lumia 920, but I still haven't made up my be hounest, im not even sure my next handset will be a kind of observing what's happening.
  • Are there any hands-ons with the Ativ-s? All I can find are specs only... 
  • Great article J :)
  • I sooo would love a Red phone. :)
  • Jay, your article hints at an under-4.5-inch screen option from HTC... Please tell me its true.
    At  this point, Apple is the only company that understands Big Screen does not a High End phone make. 
  • My primary phone, a WP7, will definitely be replaced with Lumia 920, unlocked if need be. But my secondary phone, an Android, is still looking for a WP8 replacement. I'm 90% sure it'd be replaced by an HTC, 10% Huawei, 0% Samsung.
  • I too want a 4inch high end Nokia W8P.
  • If there's anything I hope, it's actually that HTC will offer something that replaces the Lumia 800 in the upper mid-range. That was the one I wanted last year, but I bailed due to the audio and battery issues. And while the 820 looks nice, I think the screen size/resolution makes it feel bit too much like a compromise rather than the "just right" specs of the 800.
  • Jay, your spot on with your assessment of what's what, or rather what's still to come. Everyone gets soo excited with the first thing out of the shoot. I too was soo intrigued with the 920, I claimed it, and through my hat in. My Titan I has served me very well, (except for my disappearing key board) and im no longer making rash decisions. To victor goes my spoils, my loyalty remains to WP OS, but no money goes to the company that wows me with true innovation. Bring it on!!!!!
  • Very well written Jay. As an HTC fan (8125, 8525, HD2 running Mango) I will say their hardware has always been good for me. Sadly I am on TMobile USA and my upgrade left me unable to get the HD7 since it was EOL and highly disappointed all I could get was the smaller screened Radar while ATT got the two Titans. I just don't see TMo USA getting the Nokia 920 or high line HTC phone and would like to feel good about my purchase for 18-24 months. That has me leaning to the ATIV S. Do you really feel it will be a sub par offering from Samsung (I don't mind a large screen)?
  • Jay what the hell are you doing? You're not supposed to be talking about HTC devices in any capacity until the announcement, let alone details that there's no top end, there's more than one or what you think of the design!