Windows Phone 8 comes to Australia in November, hands-on with the new phones

Announced back in September, we’ve now had a brief play with the HTC Windows Phones and like what we see.

Taking similar design cues from what HTC learned with its unibody One X and One XL handsets, the Windows 8X is a one-piece design with polycarbonate used in the construction and then covered with an anti-slip finish, so you’re less likely to drop it.

Just in case you do, HTC’s handsets are covered in Gorilla Glass 2, which should help with some of the drop, even if it’s not what the strengthened glass was designed to protect against.

In the hands, we found the HTC Windows 8X to be very comfortable, with a firm yet soft exterior, and a weight that just feels so light. From our short time with it, you can see that HTC has definitely done a good job with balancing the weight here, and this is one seriously light phone.

We’re also intrigued by the 2.1 megapixel front-facing camera, which an HTC representative said was developed with an 88 degree field of view because “people are using the front facing camera to capture ‘here I am’ shots.”

HTC’s 8X is heading to Telstra and Vodafone later this year, with 4G LTE connectivity for this handset, while the less expensive version without the headphone amp, smaller screen, and only 3G – the 8S – will head to Telstra and Optus.

Finally, we checked out Nokia, which seems to be one of the main companies behind Windows Phone devices of late.

Coming up, Nokia plans to release the Lumia 920 and 820, new handsets that evolve the polycarbonate unibody design of the Lumia 900 and 800 which were released this year, and bundle in technologies such as wireless charging, 4G LTE, Near-Field Communication, and optical image stabilisation in the 8 megapixel rear cameras.

“The devices are Nokia at its best and we’re confident consumers will agree,” said Nokia Australia’s Steve Lewis about the products launched this week.

We played with them briefly and he’s not wrong: this is Nokia at its best. A short play with the Lumia 920 found it to be much like the Lumia 900, a very well designed piece of kit that, while it carries some heft, feels very solid, and manages to include a very clear 4.5 inch HD screen.

While the bodies feel good, they do feel a tad chunky, even compared to the Lumia 900.

The new Lumia handsets will be reaching retail at the end of November, with the Lumia 920 arriving on Telstra 4G on plans and a $829 RRP, while the Lumia 820 will hit Optus and Vodafone while featuring a recommended retail price of $649.

As for updates to Windows Phone products already out there, there’s no confirmed release date as of yet.

Current owners of Windows Phone 7 devices got the bad news when Microsoft initially announced Windows Phone 8 this year, citing that not only could the older phones could not be updated, but that a small half-step update would be coming that would let WP7 devices imitate the start screen of WP8.

If you have one of these devices, know that an update is coming, aiming to bring you up to Windows Phone 7.8, but that there is no confirmed release date at this time.

HTC's Windows 8X and 8S look reasonably slim when viewed on the side.