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.

Your options with Windows Phone 8 are getting a lot better these days, and it's already becoming cheaper than similarly specified Windows Phone 7 and Android phones, which is no mean feat.

However, it's worth mentioning the fact that you can pick up the significantly more powerful Google Nexus 4 for only £80 more (thanks for Google's subsidy model)... that is, if you can find a time when it's in stock on Google Play.

We liked

The HTC Windows Phone 8S is one of the more stylish handsets around; we'd almost go so far as to call it iconic.

It feels like a premium device too; yes, it's all plastic but it's not the cheap flimsy plastic you find on some phones - and we like the rubbery nature.

Like most Windows Phones it has superb social network integration, making it great for messaging. Other than the lack of smart dialling it's also pretty good for calls and the inclusion of a microSD card slot gives it a nice selling point over some of the more expensive Windows Phone 8 handsets.

We disliked

The battery is slightly disappointing, we've certainly come across worse, but this is a phone that you're going to be charging every day.

The browsing experience isn't brilliant either, thanks to being limited to Internet Explorer (complete with Bing as the default search engine), and it's not helped by how slow desktop pages are to load.

It has a fairly stingy 4GB of internal storage, and while the physical design of the handset is nice, nothing really stood out when using it - it's competent at most things, but rarely excels, and when it does, as with its social network integration, it still doesn't go beyond what other Windows Phone handsets are doing.

Verdict

The HTC 8S is a good all round handset. It doesn't do a terrible job of anything but stylish looks aside it also struggles to stand out.

Pretty much every Windows Phone is great for messaging and social networks and this is no exception, while being able to expand the storage with a microSD card is always appreciated.

Equally the performance is generally pretty slick, which combined with the stylish design gives the impression of a more premium, expensive handset than it actually is.

But it leaves us wanting more. There aren't any particularly compelling apps included and the Windows Phone app store is fairly lightweight compared to the competition - although it gets healthier every day.

Web browsing isn't great, media is fine but does nothing to stand out, the camera is pretty average and battery life could be a whole lot better.

There are other Windows Phone 8 handsets around at the moment, although few as particularly low priced as this, which means that it's in a bit of a race for your money (even if it isn't asking for much).

Looking outside of Windows Phone 8 it doesn't seem such great value for money, but if you're set on Windows Phone 8 and don't want to drop a huge amount on a handset then for the time being this a good buy.