Best Windows Phone - which should you buy?

13th May 2013 | 16:36

Best Windows Phone - which should you buy?

Choose the Windows Phone 8 handset that's right for you

TechRadar rating:

4.5 stars

Like:

Super cheap; Large, expansive screen; Loads of innovation

Dislike:

No front-facing camera; Average battery; No NFC or compass;

Best Windows phone - which should you buy?

When it comes to Windows Phone there's a new player in the starting line up in the form of Windows Phone 8 – Microsoft's latest attempt to make a significant dent in the mobile market.

While Android and iOS lead the way when it comes to mobile operating systems, you can draw many similarities between the two which may leave you feeling like you want some new. A fresh start, a new perspective.

That's exactly what Windows Phone 8 offers with a completely new way of providing you with your smartphone fill.

We've taken the time to go through all the Windows Phone devices available to pick out the best ones around and while there's some serious Nokia dominance in this list a handful of other manufacturers are also getting in on the action.

1. Nokia Lumia 520

Nokia Lumia 520

Usually the number one place in our top lists is claimed by a powerful, flagship smartphone but as you can see here that's not always the case will the incredibly affordable Lumia 520 grabbing the "Best Windows phone" title.

While it may not have a ridiculous amount of power, super sized screen or market leading camera, what the Lumia 520 does offer is the perfect smartphone experience on a budget.

It's got a decent spec sheet for such a keenly priced device with a 1GHz dual-core processor, 4-inch display, 5MP camera and micro SD card slot to make up for a small internal storage.

In may not have a front facing snapper or fancy NFC technology, plus the battery life could better, but for the money you'll be hard pressed to get something better than the Lumia 520.

All in all it's cheap and extremely cheerful and if you want to try Windows Phone 8 but don't want a handset which will break the bank, or your pocket then the Nokia Lumia 520 is the one you should plump for.

2. Nokia Lumia 920

Nokia Lumia 920

What's better than a top Windows Phone 7 handset? A Windows Phone 8 one, and we've got no qualms about telling you the Lumia 920 is one of the best Windows Phone out there.

Simplicity is the key here, the Lumia 920 does the basics well, from contact integration and calling, to web browsing and messaging – oh and it's 4G enabled.

The 8MP camera on the back of the Lumia 920 is one of the best we've used and for anyone looking to get a top end cameraphone you need to seriously consider this Nokia.

The 4.5-inch display is also a good'un, crisp and clear it makes watching movies, surfing the web or Facebook stalking an enjoyable experience, thanks to the PureMotion HD technology on offer.

It's major flaw though is its size, so if you've got delicate hands you may want to side step the weighty Lumia 920 for something a little more manageable - perhaps take a look at the HTC 8X.

Oh and you can even use it with gloves on... what more could you want? You're right: holograms. But they don't exist yet.

3. Nokia Lumia 820

Nokia Lumia 820

If you're pockets aren't so deep, or your hands are a little smaller, you may want to take a look at the Nokia Lumia 820, which still provides you with the full Windows Phone 8 experience, albeit on a slightly smaller screen.

The 4.3-inch AMOLED display is still a strong performer, while the camera comes with the Nokia class that we've come to expect.

It still has the fancy tricks of Lumia 920, including wireless charging, 4G, NFC connectivity, but it also brings changeable covers so your phone can reflect your mood – exciting times.

There aren't any giant flaws with the Nokia Lumia 820, and while there may be a couple of minor niggles they certainly don't get in the way.

4. Samsung Ativ S

Samsung Ativ S

The Samsung Ativ S is one of the unsung heroes of the Windows Phone 8 brigade, a handset which hasn't been thrust into the limelight and while it may be a little tricky to get hold of you won't be disappointed.

Sporting a similar design to its Android toting brother the Samsung Galaxy S3 the Korean firm works on its winning design formula and breaks away from the styles employed by the likes of Nokia, HTC and Huawei.

It's also so light and slim. Given the size of the handset, the weight and dimensions genuinely surprised us when we picked one up.

With a 4.8-inch display it's already the sort of phone that may poke out of your pocket, so the skinny design is much appreciated.

A removable battery and miroSD card slot are welcome bonuses and helps set the Ativ S apart from the rest of the Windows Phone 8 crowd.

Best Windows phone - which should you buy?

5. Nokia Lumia 720

Nokia Lumia 720

The Nokia Lumia 720 lands slap bang in the middle of the Finnish firm's Windows Phone 8 line up and thus also packs a mediocre price tag to boot.

There's not a huge amount to pick between the 720 and Lumia 620 - with the former sporting a squarer designer and slightly larger screen.

Windows Phone 8 works seamlessly, and smoothly on the Lumia 720 and the camera round the back is capable of taking some solid shots.

A microSD slot is always a bonus, although there's not a lot of grip from the polycarbonate body so make sure you hold onto this one tightly.

6. Nokia Lumia 620

Nokia Lumia 620

Once upon a time the Nokia Lumia 620 was the baby of the Lumia family, but with the 520 now on the scene it has been bumped up a notch.

The Nokia Lumia 620 is a great little handset. While it can't compete with most other Windows Phone 8 handsets, such as its bigger brother the Lumia 820 or the HTC 8X, with a price tag of just £150 it doesn't have to.

Its performance is generally smooth and responsive, the screen isn't bad at all for such a budget phone, and like all Windows Phone handsets it handles contacts and messaging impressively well.

The battery is the single biggest problem with the Nokia Lumia 620. Most users will probably get through a day on a single charge, but if you plan to watch a lot of videos then you might want to carry a charger with you just in case.

7. HTC 8X

HTC 8X

Microsoft decided to shun Nokia when it came to championing Windows Phone 8, instead choose the HTC 8X to be the signature device for its new operating system.

While the 8X is by far the best looking of the Windows Phone 8 bunch it unfortunately doesn't have the prowess under the hood to match the powerhouse which is the Lumia 920.

You do get Beats Audio technology and a couple of amplifiers to enhance your tunes through the internal speaker as well as the headphone jack, plus the slender frame fits comfortably in the hand.

It's by no means a bad phone, it's just not the best Windows Phone 8 handset out there.

8. HTC 8S

HTC 8S

The HTC 8S is a solid handset. It's got an attractive and distinctive style, which both fits with the colourful Windows Phone aesthetic and stands out from the pack.

It's also surprisingly slick and fast for a mid range phone. It's even got the edge over the top end Windows Phone 8 handsets in at least one area- specifically the inclusion of a microSD card slot, which is absent on both the Nokia Lumia 920 and the HTC 8X.

On the other hand the battery is average at best, web browsing can be a little slow and it doesn't do much to stand out in the apps or media department. It's also arguably a little over priced for what you get.

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