Windows Phone 8 is just on the horizon and manufacturers are starting to tell us what plans they have in store for the new Microsoft mobile operating system.
We already have a fairly meaty breakdown of the Windows Phone 8 software itself here but what about the handsets upon which it will come? Given that upgrades from current Windows Phone devices aren't going to be possible, just what sort of hardware do we have to look forward to?
Naturally, there's Windows Phone 8 phones that we know are actually coming and there are Windows Phone 8 phones that we've got blurry pictures and leaked specs of. This section are the birds in the hand.
Windows Phone 8X by HTC
No, your eyes are not deceiving you, HTC has done something intensely annoying with the naming of its Windows Phone 8 smartphones. It's, of course, entirely up to you if you choose to call them the HTC 8X and HTC 8S. What you're getting from the HTC 8X is a device that Microsoft has chosen as the one used to promote Windows Phone 8.
The 8X is a 4.3-inch, 720p HD-resolution (1280 x 720), 341ppi super LCD 2 big screen device with Beats Audio inside. Around the back an 8-megapixel camera with f/2.0 aperture and a 28mm lens and the whole thing is powered by a familiar sounding Qualcomm S4 1.5 GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage for storing stuff. It comes in exciting forms of blue, black, red and yellow and can be yours from November. Read more | HTC 8X pictures
Windows Phone 8S by HTC
The HTC 8S us a more mid-range but colourful two-tone new Windows Phone 8 smartphone which comes in black-white, red, blue and grey-yellow. The 8S, unlike the 8X, features a removable micro SD card slot, and, camera wise, you'll get a 5-megapixel camera on the back, complete with flash, but no front facing camera - no Skype calls for you then.
Inside and the phone comes with a Qualcomm S4 1 GHz dual-core processor, 512MB of RAM, and just 4GB of storage, but don't forget that is expandable. There is a 1,700mAh battery that powers the above as well as the Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi, and radios - 4G in the US, 3G in the UK. There's no NFC. Read more | Hands-on
Nokia Lumia 920
Nokia kept its WP8 cards close to its chest for a while but the Nokia Lumia 920 was the first new-software Windows Phone to get an official launch when it was announced across the Pond on 5 September at Nokia World. This flagship smartphone features wireless charging, PureView camera technology and a dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor.
On the screen front, there's a new 4.5-inch curved glass screen with fast refresh rate called Pure Motion HD+ with Nokia claiming that it's super bright and super sensitive. With a 2000mAh battery, NFC, 4G connection, 1GB of RAM and a choice of bright colours, it's geared to take on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S III, HTC One X and the iPhone 5. Read more | Nokia Lumia 920 pictures
Nokia Lumia 820
Brought forth into the world just moments after it's bigger brother, like Jacob to Esau, was the Nokia Lumia 820. Sporting a 4.3-inch 800 x 480 ClearBlack OLED display, the screen is flat as opposed to curved as seen on previous Nokia Lumia devices and it's positions as a more mid-tier option.
The rear 8-megapixel camera lens sits in the centre of the phone, but unlike the Nokia Lumia 920 this has no PureView technology to enhance your photography. That said, the camera offers auto-focus, Carl Zeiss optics, dual LED flash and wide aperture, so should still deliver in the photography stakes. Again, there's NFC and the same 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor as the Lumia 920, with 1GB of RAM. Read more | Nokia Lumia 820 pictures
Samsung Ativ S
Samsung unveiled a Windows Phone 8 device in the shape of the Samsung Ativ S. Sporting a huge 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display with 1.5GHz dual-core processor, the Samsung Ativ S also has HSPA+42 connectivity.
Samsung has also kitted the phone with an 8-megapixel camera and a 1.9-megapixel front-facer for video calls. With such top-end specs, the Samsung Ativ S provides a Windows Phone 8 alternative to the Android-powered Samsung Galaxy S III that has served the Korean manufacturer so well. Similar specs on paper to the Lumia 920 but will it be as classy in the hand? Read more | Samsung Ativ S pictures
This is the part where Windows Phone 8 starts to get fuzzy. Sure, we've had some good leads, as you'll see below, but anything in this section ranges from being subject to change to not even existing at all. Pinch of salt at the ready, you have been warned.
ZTE looks like it's going to be a long way off unfortunately. So, those after a budget Windows Phone 8 handset might have to wait. ZTE is apparently not planning anything until 2013.
Samsung's support of Windows phone looks to have been waning but the Korean giant is back with plans to do something with Windows Phone 8.
Known as the Samsung Odyssey and Samsung Marco, the Odyssey seems very much to have become the Samsung Ativ S.
The Marco, if it ever arrives, apparently takes a bit of a step down, losing the huge screen and with Samsung plumping for a 4-inch Super AMOLED WVGA display. There is still the dual-core processor and choices of internal storage. It also loses the high-res camera, dropping to a 5-megapixel unit on the rear and 1.9 on the front. What it will really be called when it turns up is another story.
Like Samsung, HTC has supported Windows Phone from the start and will continue to do so with Windows Phone 8. We initially thought we'd be seeing three handset from HTC but so far there's just been the two. The only one missing is the handset codenamed the HTC Rio with its budget ways and 4-inch screen. Vapourware? Quite possibly.
Details of Huawei's plans for Windows Phone 8 are very thin on the ground at present. We know that the Ascend model line is going to be pursued on the Microsoft mobile platform but that's about it.
The key to Huawei really, given its partnership with Microsoft over this, is that it can help make a big impact on Android's rulership of the budget phone market. That said, it might be the Ascend Windows Phone 8 phone that is the much more high-end device.
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