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The new Windows Phones are exclusive and colorful, is Microsoft to blame?

Posted: , by Daniel P.

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The new Windows Phones are exclusive and colorful, is Microsoft to blame?
Oh, Microsoft, you old battle horse, are you behind those candy-colored, tapered and jolly Windows Phone 8 designs that HTC and Nokia just blurted out? You were coasting for a while on the power of your Windows and Office franchises, but the looming mobile threat must have shaken you to the core to come up with things like Windows (Phone) 8 and the Surface hardware. 

It's very typical for the established software giant to get taken by surprise by some new trend coming out of nowhere, and watch the field for a few seasons until they see where the market is going, then swoop in and use all the engineering and partnership prowess at their disposal to make a nice living for itself in the new market, too.

This seems to be what's happening with Microsoft's newest desktop and mobile operating system editions, and the designs of the new Windows Phone 8 handsets might be the best indicator that Steve Ballmer is leaving nothing to chance this time. After securing a company like Nokia as its de facto manufacturing arm, nudged by its former exec Elop, Microsoft is apparently now working closely with each and every Windows Phone maker to make sure the phones with its mobile OS stand out in the sea of competition, avoiding the fate of the hundreds of faceless black plastic rectangles Android is so demonized for. That's the advantage of coming late to the party, after observing for a long time what works and what doesn't.

We have been wondering how come each new Windows Phone 8 handset this season is so distinct and different from each other, yet Nokia's and HTC's handsets have some overarching similarities that are impossible to go unnoticed. They all come with the same Snapdragon silicon, and HD or WQVGA screens, which is fine, since these are the base requirements of Windows Phone 8, but the tapered chassis and the colorful designs run like a thread throughout the WP8 crop announced this month, hinting of a coordinated design effort on a grander scale, too.

Indeed, while detailing the design process behind the Windows Phone 8X and 8S in an official blog post, HTC says "Over the past year, HTC and Microsoft engineers and designers have worked closely together to deliver a phone that looks and feels like no other – creating a new ‘signature line’ of Windows 8 phones made only by HTC."


Bingo! Apart from the very close relationship with Nokia, where apparently Microsoft is calling the shots for many things, including which designs will make the cut and what will get included with its phones, HTC just divulged that it has been tightly supervised by Microsoft as well, and for a year now. We don't know about Samsung with its metallic ATIV S, but we wouldn't be surprised if its design and top-notch features also had to receive the nod from Redmond.

Moreover, it seems that each company is forced to throw the best it can offer into its Windows Phones now. We are certain that the PureView Phase 2 camera with Optical Image Stabilization was being developed in Nokia's labs for years, and dragged out in the sunlight for WP. We've also heard about Nokia's research on capacitive touchscreens that can be used with gloves and nails in the frosty Finnish winter, as well as its wireless charging effort. These, along with a new ClearBlack screen coating that helps sunlight visibility, were all thrown simultaneously into one flagship handset, the Lumia 920, addressing the weakest hardware points of every smartphone, but also making those features an exclusive Windows Phone endeavor now.

Ditto the "everything plus the kitchen sink" strategy for HTC - besides its signature Android differentiators, like the ImageChip proprietary ISP for some of the fastest cameras around, and the exclusive Beats Audio branding, HTC's 8X flagship added a little something not found anywhere, too. It features a dedicated 2.55v audio amplifier inside the handset, which showed impressive for a handset output strength and clarity through the speaker, and probably will through the audio jack as well. The HTC 8X also offered for the first time a 2MP front-facing camera that has 88-degree lens to fit up to four people in your video chats, and does 1080p video recording - important things, you know, for those Skype video chats, a company that happened to be bought by Microsoft and its service integrated into WP8.

We don't know yet what Samsung's design story is with the ATIV S, which was introduced on the hush-hush recently and has been MIA since. It is the apparent outlier in the theory for colorful designs, as it has a more understated elegance, but the other part of the theory still stands, as Samsung crammed the best it can offer now in it - the Galaxy S III specs with the unique 4.8" HD Super AMOLED display. We wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft was briefed on the plans about the ATIV S, too, and approved a more buttoned down, yet still high-end handset as an alternative to the candy-colored HTC and Lumia WP8 handsets.

And this unorthodox design paradigm trickles down to the new WP8 midrangers too, a significantly different trend than Android's slapping of midrange or low-end components in a black plastic chassis, that has been so prevalent until recently. The Lumia 820 offers wireless charging, too, for example, and other functionality like ruggedness can be added by different back covers. The HTC Windows Phone 8S is with the least impressive specs from those announced, but that didn't preclude HTC (and apparently Microsoft) from giving it a dual-core processor, Beats Audio branding, and wrapping it in a colorful, life-asserting design that seems to be the new WP8 mantra, all in a handset that costs less than $400 SIM-free

Redmond apparently only rubberstamps flagships now that add a little (or a lot in the Lumia 920 case) extra something exclusive, too, to make people consider switching to its mobile OS, which still has a lot of catching up to do in the apps number category. What do you think, is Microsoft now peeping over the shoulder of Windows Phone 8 handset makers to make sure every product is coherent with an overarching vision to only make phones that stand out? Are you game with this approach considering the results so far?

Phonearena polls
sort by
Do you like where Windows Phone 8 is heading this season?
73.12%
1393 votes
(1393 votes) Yes, I like how Microsoft is nudging phone makers to come up with exclusive WP8 handsets
11.5%
219 votes
(219 votes) Android phones seem better
2.36%
45 votes
(45 votes) The iPhones seem better
13.02%
248 votes
(248 votes) I'll wait for the reviews before making up my mind

1905 votes


30 Comments
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posted on 20 Sep 2012, 09:14 1

1. jimjam (Posts: 238; Member since: 28 Jun 2011)


No it is apple's fault as usual - the ipods are glaringly colorful

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 09:20 6

2. Aeires (unregistered)


Colorful phones are like purple cars, they look great until the fad passes.

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 10:55 4

14. troutsy (Posts: 257; Member since: 17 Feb 2012)


The colorful cars fad has lasted a lot longer than the "all cars are black" fad.

Granted, a mint green car can outlive the time when the color is considered attractive. A phone is a pretty safe bet that you won't be using it 10 years from now.

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 09:27 10

3. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3009; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


Yes, i blame Microsoft, but i am putting a good positive blame. At least i won't be hiding a Windows phone when someone holds the same piece... Thank God for colours!!

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 09:27 2

4. Seymur (unregistered)


8 Pro/RT, 920/820, 8X/8S..

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 09:31 7

5. Daniel.95 (Posts: 82; Member since: 20 Sep 2012)


This is Good but i choose Black or White Again

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 09:34 5

6. wendygarett (unregistered)


And I thought it was Michael article but nice one Daniel...
Yup, ms just wanna revived the colourfulness of the phone from the black and white trend made by Apple... Ms just wanna differentiate themselves tho....

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 09:43 6

7. techspace (Posts: 625; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)


nokia and htc phones were always known for the build quality.....the good thing here is that samsung was forced to leave plastic and make a metallic phone, which is really good......

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 09:53 1

8. Nookie4u (Posts: 127; Member since: 13 Aug 2012)


I prefer the neutral classic black or white please, bright colors tend to get boring pretty soon. but perhaps theres a younger crowd who prefer colorful phones???

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 09:56

9. Daniel.95 (Posts: 82; Member since: 20 Sep 2012)


I like htc+MS
but 8X isn't that which i want.. and Again i should wait to new htc phone come with a 4.7 inch display and a Quad-Core Qualcomm SoC

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 09:56 3

10. tigermcm (Posts: 712; Member since: 02 Sep 2009)


yes please bring colors!!!!! When flip phones where the fad they came in different colors at least I remember sanyo and LG with colors but the stupid iPhone made everyone turn to black or white only

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 10:06 2

11. Bluesky02 (Posts: 1439; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)


Differentiation in progress

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 10:35 4

12. cGmC11 (Posts: 109; Member since: 02 Apr 2012)


I fall in love with the Nokia Lumia 920 hardware & the HTC 8X impresive design and quality! And both coming to my carrier AT&T! ...BYE BYE ANDROID...SEE YOU ;-)

NOKIA LUMIA 920 + HTC 8X = PERFECT PHONE

posted on 21 Sep 2012, 07:14

28. pookiewood (Posts: 582; Member since: 05 Mar 2012)


I'm coming from Sprint for over 10 years to switch to AT&T so I don't know the SIM card game. I suppose I could get the 8x in November and then the 920 next year and swap back and forth depending on how i want to accessorize! :D Hmmm. SIM cards for the win!

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 10:49 3

13. KingShango (Posts: 89; Member since: 16 May 2012)


Who can blame them? The hardware for the WP7 launch was lackluster at best. Remember the weird HTC phone with the slide out speaker?

In addition I would think that the OEMs would want to differentiate themselves as much as possible and if they have a certain in-house tech (Pureview, Beats Audio) why wouldn't they put it in their flagship offerings.

At least there are choices and options, audiophiles might like the 8X while shutterbugs might like the 920. Anything is better than the one-size-fits-all option from a certain other frutiy manufacturer.

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 12:23

15. No_Nonsense (Posts: 826; Member since: 17 Aug 2012)


Nokia has Dolby for audio enhancements, doesn't it? Just asking.

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 13:06 1

16. kanagadeepan (Posts: 667; Member since: 24 Jan 2012)


Good.. They can't differentiate in software and NOT much also in hardware.. So they are let with no choice other than differentiating with colours...

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 13:48

17. Commentator (Posts: 2391; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)


So, why hasn't anyone made a green-colored phone yet? I'd certainly take that over banana-yellow.

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 14:08

18. Mobile-X-Pert (Posts: 565; Member since: 20 Dec 2010)


Yeah, the weed smokers would be happy with a green-colored phone lol

posted on 23 Sep 2012, 02:25

29. RichieRich379 (Posts: 21; Member since: 23 Mar 2012)


ROFL!!!

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 18:18

22. -box- (Posts: 3784; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


There's been a few green ones here and there, but I agree, green would be nice.

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 14:18

19. speckledapple (Posts: 879; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)


This is what Microsoft and Windows Phone will keep some serious butts in the coming years.

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 15:27

20. Pdubb (Posts: 239; Member since: 08 Aug 2011)


What i find interesting about the new phones is the lack of need for a case. I cannot say when the last time I have seen an iPhone without one. Amazingly people say how beautiful they are and then put some gaudy case or bumper over it leaving only the front screen and the Apple logo visible.

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 17:23

21. Allen3697 (Posts: 86; Member since: 26 Mar 2012)


I love the bright colors.

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 19:20

23. Hunt3rj2 (Posts: 396; Member since: 11 Nov 2011)


HTC does best when they don't have to market themselves.

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 21:14

24. 7thspaceman (Posts: 1080; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)


I think Microsoft is really serious about staying in the smart phone business. The windows smart phones may never outsell the Android or Iphone but there will always be enough of them sold to cause an OEM like Samsung , HTC. and Nokia to make a model or two each year. if you have noticed this is true except for Nokia most OEM's are now making new model after new model of Android smart phones but only make 2 Windows smart phones for the whole year. Microsoft will continue to make their smart phones software better and better and as years continue. the net result will be that Microsoft smart phones will not take a back seat to the Iphones or Android smart phones. right now the Microsoft smart phone OS can run Dual core or quad core CPU's and HD screens and and have all the High tech electronics and camera's the Other smart phones used to boast they have that the Windows 7 series smart phones do note have. in the End People will see that Microsoft smart phones are sound and work well causing more People to buy them and microsoft smart phones will stay around to the surprise of Android and Iphone fans

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 21:35

25. 7thspaceman (Posts: 1080; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)


I forgot to mention above that the New Windows Phone 8 smart phones can now run dual , Quad core Cpu's and use HD screens and all the smart Phone electronics and cameras the windows 7 series smart phone OS could not use. the new windows smart p0hens use the well renown NT operating system core which is better OS thanwindows 7 series smart phones used. Microsoft will push their OEM's to make better smart phone because now they are using an OS that handle anything they want a smart phone to do.

posted on 20 Sep 2012, 22:49

26. Amiya (Posts: 11; Member since: 08 Sep 2012)


But, I like white one........

posted on 21 Sep 2012, 01:04

27. thelegend6657 (unregistered)


Blah HTC and Nokia are too similar I wished HTC kept the design language of the one series for their wp8

posted on 23 Sep 2012, 21:20

30. Fuego84 (Posts: 267; Member since: 13 May 2012)


Nice work with the colors and all but in the end isn't the phone going to be encased by a protector making only the front visible.

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