Windows Phone 8 smartphone buying guide

Microsoft has finally unveiled all of their plans for Windows Phone 8, including when and where you'll be able to pick up one of the latest devices running the OS. To get in on the WP8 goodness you'll need to upgrade the entire phone, as you may recall Microsoft is only allowing a smaller upgrade to Windows Phone 7.8 on "legacy" devices such as the Lumia 900.

If you're in the market for a new Windows Phone, there are five launch models to choose from, and the following guide will help you see which ones are available on your favorite wireless carrier and for how much. Plus, at the end of the article, there is a comparison table where you can see the differences in specifications between all of them.

Nokia Lumia 920

The Lumia 920 is Nokia's flagship Windows Phone device, packing a bunch of awesome features thanks to increased hardware support in Windows Phone 8. There's a 4.5-inch 1280 x 768 PureMotion HD+ display, 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 chipset inside, 4G LTE depending on your region, and an 8-megapixel PureView camera with fancy optical image stabilization in the lens.

Not only that, but the Lumia 920 comes with built-in wireless charging for the 2000 mAh battery, so if you purchase a wireless charging mat you're good to go. The Lumia 920 also comes in a range of colors: traditional black, and white; plus yellow, red and cyan.

The Lumia 920 official website

​Availability and Pricing

United States:
AT&T in November for $149 on a two-year contract

UK:
EE on November 9 for £49 upfront on a £41 per month plan
Orange and T-Mobile from £49 upfront on £36pm plans
Red and yellow versions exclusively available at Phones4U

Australia:
Telstra in late November for AU$829 outright

Nokia Lumia 820

The Lumia 820 is the smaller cousin of the Lumia 920, and direct successor to the Lumia 800. The same 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor from the Lumia 920 is used, although the screen is reduced to a 4.3-inch WVGA ClearBlack OLED panel, and the 8-megapixel rear camera does not feature the PureView optical image stabilization tech.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't buy it though, as the phone is smaller, cheaper and comes with interchangeable covers. Don't like the color that you originally bought for your Lumia 820? Simply swap it out for a different color such as yellow, red or cyan; and you may even like to pick up said shell with wireless charging to expand the capabilities of your device.

In the United States, AT&T has the Lumia 820, but Verizon has the equivalent Lumia 822 and T-Mobile has the Lumia 810. Internationally you'll only find the standard Lumia 820.

The Lumia 820 official website

Availability and Pricing

United States: 
AT&T in November
T-Mobile on November 14th for $99 on a two-year contract (as the Lumia 810)
Verizon before November 22 for $99 on a two-year contract (as the Lumia 822)

UK: 
EE on November 9 for free on a £36 per month plan
O2 in November for free on a £36 per month plan
Vodafone at some point

Australia: 
Optus and Vodafone in early December for AU$649 outright

HTC Windows Phone 8X

This is HTC's flagship Windows Phone 8 device, and its size is comparable to that of the Nokia Lumia 820 as it comes with a 4.3-inch Super LCD 2 display, although this time it's 1280 x 720 instead of WVGA. Internally there is the same 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 chipset that is being used for a variety of Windows Phones, and you also get 16 GB of storage.

Camera wise there is HTC's ultra-wide angle 2.1 MP front-facing camera, plus an 8-megapixel rear camera with BSI sensor. The phone comes in a variety of colors for its slim design - purple, black, red and yellow - and there's also Beats audio enhancement which is a first for Windows Phones.

Windows Phone 8X by HTC official website

Availability and Pricing

United States: 
AT&T in November
T-Mobile on November 14th for $149 on a two-year contract
Verizon before November 22 for $199 on a two-year contract

UK: 
EE on November 9 for £29 on a £36 per month plan
O2 in November for for £29 on a £36 per month plan
Three in November for for £30 on a £29 per month plan
Vodafone at some point

Australia: 
"Coming Soon"
November 5 via MobiCity for AU$649 outright (link)

HTC Windows Phone 8S

Looking for the smallest and cheapest of the freshly announced Windows Phone 8 devices? Look no further than the Windows Phone 8S by HTC, which comes with a 4.0-inch WVGA Super LCD encased in a body that has highlight colors such as blue, black/white, yellow/grey and red. A 1.0 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor features inside the HTC 8S, accompanied by 512 MB of RAM and a microSD card slot to expand the 4 GB of internal storage.

There's also a 5-megapixel camera on the back, and unlike the HTC 8X there is no front-facing camera to be seen. Don't worry too much though, because Beats Audio is still inside, and all these cuts will greatly reduce the price once it goes on sale. It's also still packing the full Windows Phone 8 operating system, so it should be a very capable device.

Windows Phone 8S by HTC official website

Availability and Pricing

United States: 
Not coming at this stage

UK: 
EE in November for free on a £29.50 per month plan
O2 in November for free on a £29.50 per month plan
Three at some point
Vodafone at some point

Australia: 
"Coming Soon"
November 19 via MobiCity for AU$399 outright (link)

Samsung ATIV S

The ATIV S is Samsung's Galaxy S III-inspired Windows Phone, and like you would expect it's a real flagship contender and also the largest WP8 device available. Like the GS3, a 720p, 4.8-inch Super AMOLED HD panel is present on the device, and is complemented by an 8-megapixel rear camera. There's also the usual 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor on the inside, plus 1 GB of RAM, up to 32 GB of storage and a microSD card slot.

Also, for once Samsung has opted to use a brushed aluminium exterior on the ATIV S as opposed to plastic like their Android range, which should greatly improve the feel of the device. The included battery is also reasonably large at 2300 mAh, although there is no wireless charging option available like the Lumia 920.

The Samsung ATIV S official website

Availability and Pricing

United States: 
Possibly coming to Verizon in December as the ATIV Odyssey

UK: 
O2 in November for free on a £36 per month plan

Australia: 
Optus in December

Spec Shootout

  Nokia Lumia 920 Samsung ATIV S HTC 8X Nokia Lumia 820 HTC 8S
 
3G/4G LTE 100 Mbps HSPA 42 Mbps LTE? LTE 100 Mbps HSPA 21 Mbps
Display 4.5-inch
IPS LCD
1280 x 768
332 ppi
4.8-inch
Super AMOLED
1280 x 720
306 ppi
4.3-inch
Super LCD 2
1280 x 720
342 ppi
4.3-inch
AMOLED
800 x 480
217 ppi
4.0-inch
Super LCD
800 x 480
223 ppi
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8960
1.5 GHz dual-core
Qualcomm MSM8960
1.5 GHz dual-core
Qualcomm MSM8960
1.5 GHz dual-core
Qualcomm MSM8960
1.5 GHz dual-core
Qualcomm MSM8227
1.0 GHz dual-core
Graphics Adreno 225 Adreno 225 Adreno 225 Adreno 225 Adreno 305
RAM 1 GB 1 GB 1 GB 1 GB 512 MB
Storage 32 GB internal 16/32 GB internal
microSD card slot
16 GB internal 8 GB internal
microSD card slot
4 GB internal
microSD card slot
Wi-Fi
Bluetooth
GPS
NFC
Wi-Fi a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 3.0
A-GPS
NFC
Wi-Fi a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 3.0
A-GPS
NFC
Wi-Fi a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 3.1
A-GPS
NFC
Wi-Fi a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 3.0
A-GPS
NFC
Wi-Fi b/g/n
Bluetooth 3.1
A-GPS
Camera 8.7 MP rear
1.2 MP front
1080p recording
8.0 MP rear
1.9 MP front
1080p recording
8.0 MP rear
2.1 MP front
1080p recording
8.0 MP rear
0.3 MP front
1080p recording
5.0 MP rear
720p recording
Battery 2000 mAh
Wireless Charging
2300 mAh 1800 mAh 1650 mAh
Wireless Charging
1700 mAh
Size
Weight
130 x 71 x 10.7 mm
185 g
137 x 71 x 8.7 mm
135 g
132 x 66 x 10.1 mm
130 g
124 x 69 x 9.9 mm
160 g
120 x 63 x 10.3 mm
113 g

 

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