HTC has revealed two new Windows Phone 8 handsets, the 8X and 8S, which it said would go on sale in the UK at the beginning of November.
At an event this afternoon held in New York, CEO Peter Chou showed off the two new devices with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. HTC is ranging both devices in around 50 countries. Both handsets will be available in the UK through all four main operators, Virgin Media, Carphone Warehouse, Phones 4u, Brightpoint and Brightstar Tech Data.
Attendees were told the devices would be the flagship handsets for Windows Phone 8, in a move that could anger Nokia. The Finnish manufacturer has exclusively been working on Windows Phone devices for almost two years, unlike HTC, which also produces Android handsets. HTC and Microsoft will work on a joint advertising campaign.
Chou said: 'We've been inspired by Windows Phone 8 to create new smartphones that give the platform the iconic design and personality it deserves. Windows Phone has clearly emerged as one of the top mobile ecosystems and is competitive against any other smartphone platform in the world.'
Both devices have a 'pillow' form factor, based on the Windows Live Tiles and are available in a range of different colours. The 8X has a 4.3 inch screen and the 8S a four inch screen. The high-end 8X a 2.1MP, wide angle, front facing camera that allows up to four people to be captured at once. HTC said the 8MP rear camera has an improved low-light performance. The 8S only has a 5MP camera. Both devices have a dedicated camera button, allowing users to take pictures without unlocking the device.
The HTC 8S has a Qualcomm 1GHz dual-core processor, with 512MB or RAM and 4GB of total storage. The more powerful 8X has a 1.5GHz dual-core processor on 1GB of RAM and 16GB of memory.
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, said: 'Pairing these beautiful new HTC phones with our Windows Phone brand is a big milestone for both of our companies and our partnership. Together we are offering customers a simple choice and a truly unique experience.'
Research agency CCS Insight said: 'The devices confirme HTC's hardware strengths. They are sleek in design in sharp contrast to chunkier Nokia Lumia 920 and 820. Steve Ballmer's appearance at launch is a welcome boost for HTC [but the] company faces the same hurdles as other Windows Phone 8 licencsees: being beaten to the punch by Apple's iPhone 5, and lack of interest in the platform.'
It is the latest Windows Phone 8 devices to be announced. Samsung beat its rivals in announcing the first device carrying the new OS, the Ativ S, in late August. Earlier this month, Nokia announced two new Lumia devices, the 820 and 920. Release dates for these handsets have yet to be announced.
The announcement of the HTC Windows Phone 8 devices marks the manufacturer's third product launch this year as the business bids to turn around its fortunes. Earlier this year, it launched its new flagship One series and last month announced the Desire X. HTC's profits have been declining for some time and it has been affected by a weak performance in the European market, amid strong competition from Apple and Android rival Samsung, and a sales ban on some devices in the US market.
Editor: Graeme Neill