Picasso said “good artists borrow, great artists steal.” A statement that even Steve Jobs believed in. With the reveal of the HTC Windows Phone 8X, we can sincerely declare HTC a great artist. When I first saw the HTC Windows Phone 8X, I couldn’t help but think it looked vaguely similar to the Nokia Lumia 900. After looking some more, the feeling of deja vu was inescapable. HTC’s new absurdly colorful handset, made of a polycarbonate uni-body no less, shamelessly cribs notes from Nokia. And who can blame them?
It seems a silly word to use, but honestly it all feels a bit scandalous. HTC left almost no Lumia design aspect untouched, including: polycarbonate uni-body, curved glass display, various color options, and even the 4.3-inch screen. Given the similarities, the reveal of HTC’s new device could’ve been a disaster, easily hailed as a knock-off or wannabe. But darn it, HTC did it. They pulled it off. They unabashedly stole Nokia’s great ideas, and it works.
It works because HTC took what made the Lumia 900 so special, and tweaked and played with it. They managed to not only create a stunning device that exceeds most doppelganger pitfalls, but infused it with enough innovation to more than justify its existence. Do both the Lumia 900 and 8X have a polycarbonate uni-body? Yes, but HTC did it so different. With the 900, Nokia used the polycarbonate to create a shell for the phone to sit in. While undoubtedly attractive, I think this method is the main root behind the 900′s unusual thickness and weight. I believe HTC saw this, too. In an inspired move, HTC organized their phones internal components to create a more svelte figure. Imagine your traditional phone: you pull off the back, and you see the battery. Smartphone batteries tend to be large, so a user accessible battery, while handy, can be a design handicap. With both the 900 and the 8X, the battery is inaccessible to the user. HTC used this to their advantage. They placed the battery directly beneath the screen and then layered the other components on top of it, creating a pyramid-like shape. Ultimately, this leads to the 8X’s polycarbonate shell having tapered edges that give the 8X a slimmer appearance and feel. Other exceptions HTC has brought to the table include an enhanced front facing camera and Beats by Dre audio. HTC’s nuanced use of color and the curved glass display, while cribbed from Nokia, are done with exceptional attention to detail.
It almost seems like HTC is mocking Nokia, as if they’re saying, “Oh, that’s what you made with those features? Well, we made something better.” Of course, that’s their imaginary words, not mine. Until I get my hands on one, I can’t tell you if I think it’s better than Nokia’s devices. What I can tell you is that I’m extremely impressed with what HTC has to offer. Their artistry, however unoriginal it may be, has thrown a big wrench into my previous plan of getting a Lumia device as my first Windows Phone 8.