The 8X may be HTC's new flagship Windows Phone 8 device but the Taiwanese company has released a smaller, mid-range device, too. The Windows Phone 8S is just as vibrant and bright as its bigger brother but has a smaller, 4in screen and lacks a front-facing camera.

Like the flagship 8X, the Windows Phone 8S is classed as a "signature Windows Phone", so the Windows Phone branding is positioned before the model number. The name isn't catchy or easily marketable, which is a little disappointing, but the partnership suggests that this device will be heavily promoted by both Microsoft and HTC. That may be concerning to Nokia but the more exposure for Windows Phone the better, in our opinion.

[See HTC Windows Phone 8X preview]

The HTC Windows Phone 8S is just as vibrant and colourful as the flagship 8X, but the design is slightly different. HTC has used similar polycarbonate materials, but unlike the 8X the shell of the 8S isn't a single unibody block. It uses a two tone design that looks somewhat like Sony's Xperia U and Xperia P smartphones. The smaller size of the 8S means it weighs only 113g.

The Windows Phone 8S will be available in Domino, Fiesta Red, Atlantic Blue and High-Rise Gray colour variants. Like the 8X, each model will have a matching Windows Phone 8 interface theme to suit.

The Windows Phone 8S is a cheaper smartphone than the 8X so it doesn't include all of the same features. It has a smaller 4in screen with a resolution of 800x600 pixels. With a significantly lower pixel density of 233ppi, the Windows Phone 8S won't be able to display the same super sharp text as more expensive rivals.

HTC Windows Phone 8S

We expect the Windows Phone 8S to have a competitive price tag. Due to its market position there's no front-facing camera at all, the rear 5-megapixel camera can only record 720p HD video and there's only 4GB of internal memory, albeit with a microSD card slot for expansion. Even though this will undoubtedly be a very competitively priced smartphone, the lack of even a basic VGA front-camera is a downside. However, the Beats Audio sound profile is a nice inclusion and HTC says it will work in all applications.

The HTC Windows Phone 8S isn't a 4G smartphone and it doesn't appear to support the 850MHz 3G network band either. HTC's official specifications page lists 900 and 2100MHz 3G support only. The 8S is powered by a 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor and has 512MB of RAM.

Microsoft has already released some details of the new Windows Phone 8 operating system that will power the 8S, but we'll learn more closer to its release date. What we already know is that there's a completely new interface with support for small, medium and large tiles, more colour customisation options, built-in Skype integration, a data use monitor, and a revamped backup system that now includes the ability to backup SMS messages.

The HTC Windows Phone 8S is expected sometime in November, but no specific date or pricing has been announced.

OUR VERDICT

The Windows Phone 8S is just as vibrant and bright as its bigger brother but it has a smaller, 4in screen and lacks a front-facing camera. The low screen resolution and lack of support for the 850MHz 3G network are other downsides, but the price is expected to be very competitive.