Maps

HTC 8X review

With the HTC 8X being a Microsoft handset, you won't get to within a sniff of Google Maps, unless you use the website. Not that you should worry – Bing Maps is actually a very good offering too. And it can't be worse than the current Apple Maps.

The only sad thing is you'll end up wanting to punch Nokia-owning friends when they start waving their Lumia 920's around and banging on about Nokia Drive. Shut up!

Compared to Google Maps, Bing Maps looks a bit dull. Cosmetically, it's all greys and blacks with the occasional bit of dirty yellow.

But at least it knows where things are. It also provides you with directions for driving, but alas, no turn by turn navigation free out of the box. It's like Google Maps used to be three or four years ago.

HTC 8X review

Transit directions are notable by their absence, but what you do get is traffic reports. We hasten to add though, they're not entirely accurate.

We sat gazing out of the window to be told by Bing Maps that traffic was heavy when there was actually barely a vehicle on the roads.

Bing Maps is also very good at being location aware. We're not talking about its speed to lock onto a signal (which the HTC Windows Phone 8X is very good at – even indoors, buried away from the sky) but actual details of what there is to do nearby.

It's similar to the service you'd get from a third party like Yelp and presented neatly in the WP8 style. We were very impressed with the results as these services can often be a bit hit and miss, yet this was great on our handset.

Apps

HTC 8X review

Aside from the standard Windows Phone apps, HTC also bundles a couple of extras. One in particular deserves special mention – simply because it is so damn pointless.

It's actually just called HTC and when you open it up, it just gives you weather, stocks and news. Three things you could get in better form from dedicated apps with live tiles.

You also get the flashlight app which we don't need to explain. And there's a fantastic addition called Kids Corner. This allows your child to have its own little space to play with the phone – complete with their own homescreen.

Any parent who has ever allowed their child to play Angry Birds and found they've done so much more than play a game will appreciate this.

HTC 8X review

HTC and Windows also provide you with mobile versions of Office and there is, of course, SkyDrive support. Whoop whoop etc.

We must also give a special mention to the Calendar app and shame it publicly by pointing out that it STILL doesn't support multiple Google calendars.

If you use an online calendar, odds are you will use several calendars within that service and we think it's inexcusable that Microsoft can't work this in.

We complained about it as long ago as the HTC Radar and HTC Titan and Microsoft still hasn't fixed this.

You can have a Hotmail calendar and a Google Calendar and a Facebook calendar all show up together. But only one of each. Which is neither use, nor ornament.