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HTC Windows Phone 8S vs Nokia Lumia 820 smartphone comparison review

Around £250 inc VAT (£26 a month on 24-month contract)

Manufacturer: HTC

The HTC Windows Phone 8S and the Nokia Lumia 820 are the cheapest Windows Phone 8 handsets around. We took them both for a spin. Here's our HTC Windows Phone 8S vs Nokia Lumia 820 smartphone comparison review.

HTC Windows Phone 8S vs Lumia 820

HTC Windows Phone 8S vs Nokia Lumia 820: build and design

The HTC Windows Phone 8S comes in an understated two-tone chassis with a rubberised polycarbonate finish. At 10.3mm thick it is far from the thinnest smartphone around, but we didn't feel it was particularly bulky. In part that is the smaller than average 4in display and tapered edges. The HTC Windows Phone 8S measures 63x120.5x10.3mm and weighs just 114g. From the front it is mostly screen, with a relatively thick bezel at the top, and the usual touch panel with three Windows Phone 8 icons at the bottom. See also: Group test: what's the best Windows phone?

The Nokia Lumia 820 is a bit smaller than the massive Nokia Lumia 920, but much bigger and heavier than the 8S. At 68x124mm it's about as tall as the iPhone 5 but a little bit wider than the 8S. Nokia claims it's a reasonable 9.9mm thick but we measured it as a not so slender 12.2mm and nor is it the lightest at 175g.

Still, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some people may prefer a bigger Windows phone.

The HTC Windows Phone 8S benefits from a 4in Super LCD Gorilla Glass display. It's resolution of 480x800 pixels means 233 pixels per inch pixel density. It's perfectly usable and Windows Phone 8 looks as bright and cheery as ever. For the Lumia 820 Nokia has opted for a slightly larger screen size of 4.3in. The resolution is similar, but at 480 x 800 on a slightly bigger screen the pixel density is around a third lower at 217ppi.

They're very similar screens - one slightly bigger but with a marginally less sharp resolution.

Above the 8S's screen is a single speaker - a long thin strip - and an HTC logo. Below the screen, the bottom strip of the Windows Phone 8S is a different colour to the rest. In our case most of the phone's body is black, with a white section at the bottom, but we've also seen it in black and blue. It's a nice touch, making the Windows Phone 8S a little different from the norm.

HTC Windows Phone 8SAround the back of the HTC Windows Phone 8S is a smooth- and rubbery-feeling black panel. At the top is the camera lens and LED flash. Further down is a black HTC logo and a small Beats icon. And then you get to the white strip.

Push down and away from the rest of the phone, and this panel comes away to reveal a SIM tray and microSD card slot. This mechanism feels robust but, unlike a SIM tray, it does also leave you open to losing the cover. Replace the flip off cover and you can use the microUSB connector.

Around the sides of the HTC Windows Phone 8S is arrayed a camera button, volume rocker, and on/off switch. These are all hardware buttons with sufficient travel to make finding them easy enough, although for some reason the on/off switch at the top is almost snug to the top of the phone. Also on the top is a 3.5mm jack audio output.

Lumia 820

Nokia has gone for a very rounded pebble-like design for the Lumia 820. The 820's matt finish and more shapely curves make it our favourite white phone ever. The Lumia 820 transports you back in time to Nokia's good old days with interchangeable rear covers, or 'shells', in various colours. Anyone who owned a Nokia 3210 or similar will know what we mean. The cover isn't the easiest thing to remove but snaps on easily.

Despite the removable cover, the 820's build quality is good. Once the shell is clipped into place the entire device feels solid and robust. It's not the kind of phone that makes you hold your breath if you drop it. The problem with the build quality is the weight of the phone. Nokia really should have spent more time making sure it was lighter.

The much lighter Windows Phone 8S has curved edges that give the impression of slimness. Factor in the solid plastic construction and that rubbery finish and you won't feel that you need a case, either. The screen does attract a lot of finger marks, however.

HTC Windows Phone 8S vs Nokia Lumia 820: price

Bought outright and SIM free, the HTC Windows Phone 8S will cost you around £200, the Lumia 820 about £300. Both are good deals for decent quality smartphones. When you look for a contract deal that gap narrows, however. A quick hunt on PC Advisor's own smartphone comparison site found 24-month contracts for both phones starting at around £15 a month. More realistically, shop around and you could expect to pay around £29 a month for unlimited calls and texts and 1GB of data. See: best deals on HTC Windows Phone 8S and best deals on Nokia Lumia 820.

HTC Windows Phone 8S vs Nokia Lumia 820: performance

The HTC Windows Phone 8S sports a 1GHz dual-core processor, and 512MB of RAM. It completed the SunSpider JavaScript web-browsing benchmark in an average time of 1408ms. This is a decidedly middle-of-the-pack result, placing the HTC well behind other Windows Phone 8 devices such as the Lumia 820. We didn't find that web browsing with the 8S was slow, however, just not noticably zippy.

General performance is similar: there's nothing wrong with the HTC Windows Phone 8S, it's just not super fast.

The Lumia 820 boasts a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. As you'd expect, it performs better than the 8S - in fact the 820 performs just as well as the more expensive 920. We found general performance to be smooth on the whole. In the SunSpider JavaScript test, the Lumia 820 was marginally slower than the speedy Lumia 920 with an average of 940ms, but that's still a lot faster than the 8S.

Overall, then, the Lumia 820 wins on performance.

HTC Windows Phone 8S vs Nokia Lumia 820: storage and battery

With the HTC Windows Phone 8S You get only 4GB of onboard storage with which to play. There is, however, support for microSD cards of up to 32GB, so all is not lost.

The Lumia 820 Lumia 820 doubles the internal storage at 8GB, of which around 2GB is taken up by the system. There's a microSD card slot which accepts cards up to 64GB.

The HTC's battery is a relatively tiny 6.3Wh (1,700mAh) cell. In our experience it just about gets through a day with moderate use.

By contrast we were pleased with the performance we got from the Lumia 820's 6.1Wh (1650mAh) battery. Over a period of 24+ hours (including overnight), we still had 40 percent of the battery remaining. A lot of users should get a couple of days' use out of the Lumia 820.

That's another victory for the 820.

HTC Windows Phone 8S vs Nokia Lumia 820: connectivity

Wireless connectivity options for the HTC Windows Phone 8S are 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, as well as Bluetooth 3.1, 3G and GPS. You can expand the storage with a microSD, and there is a microUSB port for charging and synching with a PC. There's also the standard 3.5mm jack for headphones and speakers.

The Lumia 820 is packed with connectivity including Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n with channel bonding), Bluetooth 3.0, NFC and Qi wireless charging with the correct shell. It also supports 4G LTE mobile services in the UK. Physical ports are simply a microUSB and headphone jack.

NEXT PAGE - HTC Windows Phone 8S vs Nokia Lumia 820: camera, software and verdict >>

HTC Windows Phone 8S Expert Verdict »

HTC Windows Phone 8S reviews verified by Reevoo

HTC Windows Phone 8SScores 7.4 out of 10 based on 215 reviews
CPU SPEED: Qualcomm® S4 1 GHz, Dual-core
PLATFORM: Windows Phone 8
MEMORY: Total storage: 4 GB, available capacity varies
Expansion SD card slot supports micro™ SD memory card for additional storage (card not included)
RAM 512 MB
SIZE (LXWXT): 120.5 x 63 x 10.28 mm
DISPLAY: 4 inch super LCD touch screen with WVGA resolution,Gorilla® Glass
NETWORK: GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, HSPA/WCDMA: Europe/Asia: 900/2100 MHz
GPS: Internal GPS antenna with GLONASS
SENSORS: G-Sensor,Proximity sensor,Ambient light sensor
CONNECTIVITY: 3.5 mm stereo audio jack, Bluetooth® 2.1+EDR,Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
SOUND ENHANCEMENT: Studio-quality sound with Beats Audio™ built in
CAMERA: 5 megapixel camera with auto focus LED flash
BATTERY: Embeded & rechargeable Li-ion Polymer battery, Capacity: 1700 mAh

The HTC Windows Phone 8S is the first Windows Phone 8 handset to fit into the mid-range price category. As such it's not quite the performer of the high-end Windows Phone 8 devices such as the bottom-of-the-high-end Lumia 820, but it's not so poor as to make it a bad deal. It offers solid performance and features for a reasonable price. Whether you prefer it to a similarly priced Android phone will depend on your own subjective preference of platform. The Lumia 820 is a smaller and cheaper version of the 920. It doesn't pack the same punch as that high-end Windows Phone, especially in key areas such as the screen and camera. But we like the interchangeable covers and decent battery life. It's a better phone than the HTC Windows Phone 8S, but it costs more - to buy outright, at least. In Windows Phones, you get what you pay for.

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