The stylish HTC 8X Windows 8 smartphone has some competition from the less expensive Nokia Lumia 822 on Verizon Wireless. While the Lumia lacks the HTC's keen styling and vibrant color options, it's now free with contract and offers Nokia's value added apps that verge on must-haves. Nokia's mapping solutions, Nokia Drive and Transit, offer solid spoken turn-by-turn directions and downloadable maps for free. Nokia Music has an excellent free streaming music service that stand in nicely for the missing Pandora and Spotify.
The Lumia 822 isn't a looker, though we find it more visually appealing and hand-friendly than the pure plastic rectangle that is the T-Mobile variant, the Lumia 810. The Nokia on Verizon has rounded corners that improve look and feel, though we will it were available in something more lively than black, gray and white (Verizon just added red for Valentine's Day). Color aside, the 8X will draw eyes like a magnet while the Lumia looks like a generic phone.
Inside it's all good with the same 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual core CPU that you'll find in the flagship Nokia Lumia 920, HTC 8X and high end Android phones. It has a gig of RAM and 16 gigs of internal storage. And we're thrilled that it has a microSD card slot that's compatible with cards up to 64 gigs. An SD card slot is still a rarity on Windows Phone, so this is a particularly good bonus. Also, the thicker body allows for a removable battery, so you can swap in a spare when needed.
The Nokia Lumia 822 has a front video chat camera and a capable rear 8MP camera with LED flash and Carl Zeiss lens. It doesn't have all the high end features of the Lumia 920 camera, but it nonetheless takes some really lovely photos and sharp 1080p video at 30 fps. A budget camera this is not. The smartphone has Dolby audio for headphone enhancement, and as with the Lumia 920, it particularly boosts bass and volume, not unlike Beats of old. The phone has an 1800 mAh battery, dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n with channel bonding, Bluetooth 3.0 and NFC.
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Nokia Lumia 822 Video Review
Though we always recommend getting the best phone you can since your contract payments will far exceed the price of the phone, the Nokia Lumia 822 is a heck of a lot of phone for free with contract. It has a vibrant ClearBlack AMOLED display that's visible outdoors, the same CPU and RAM as more expensive Windows phones, a very good camera and Nokia's excellent app bundle. If you're OK with the looks and the lower resolution display compared to the more expensive HTC 8X, go for it. And the Lumia 822 surpasses the Samsung ATIV Odyssey that mystifyingly costs more.
Price: Free with 2 year contract, $449 without contract extension