Sept. 19, 2012 -- It could officially be declared "National Smartphone Launch" month. On the heels of Apple's iPhone 5 announcement last week and Motorola and Nokia's unveilings the week prior to that, HTC is now taking center stage today with the launch of its two new Windows Phone 8 devices -- the Windows Phone 8X and the 8S.
According to HTC, these will be the first signature Windows Phone devices. What does that mean exactly?
"Signature Windows Phones are born out of a close collaboration with Microsoft and HTC," HTC's Director of Public Relations Tom Harlin told ABC News. "The design of the devices are inspired by live tiles and Windows 8 software. We are really bringing that to life. We hope these are the best Windows Phones out there."
A Microsoft spokesperson clarified to ABC News that it worked with HTC to feature the Windows Phone brand in the name.
HTC has designed the 8X and 8S to stand out from the rest with some key hardware features, including a very striking hardware design. Similar to Nokia's Lumia 820 and 920, the phone is made out of polycarbonate and comes in a number of colors, including a purple, red, neon green, black, etc. Harlin explained that the design with its vibrant colors and the tapered edges was supposed to match the Windows Phone 8's square and colorful tiles. The phones are extremely attractive and the material makes them very comfortable to hold.
But you won't be spending much time though looking at the back of the phone. Both phones have Super LCD 2 displays, making colors extremely vivid. At first sight, we actually thought the screen was painted on. The 8X has a larger 4.3-inch screen, while the 8S has a 4-inch screen. Both displays are covered in Gorillia Glass to protect against cracks and scratches.
There is more than just beautiful exterior hardware, though. The phone has Beats Audio, which provides high-quality sound if you were to attach a speaker or set of headphones to the 3.5mm jack. The 8-megapixel camera on the back has also been improved for low-light situations and the front-facing 1.2-megapixel camera has an 88-degree wide angle lens, which should allow up to four people to be captured in a shot, HTC claims.
HTC is looking to those main hardware features to differentiate the phone from the other Windows 8 Phone devices arriving at the same time from Samsung and Nokia.
"What is going to set it apart is the iconic design, the amazing sound experience, and the world class camera and the very sleek form factor," Harlin added. Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop similarly stressed hardware differentiation, including the Lumia's wireless charging, when he announced the Lumia 920.
Windows Phone 8 is expected to be released at the end of October. It continues to be centered around a homescreen of live tiles or apps, but Microsoft has also added Skype integration, turn-by-turn navigation, and NFC (near field communication) functionality, which will allow for tapping phones together to transfer information or to make payments. Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system for computers and tablets will launch around the same time.
HTC wouldn't confirm pricing of the 8X and 8S, but did confirm that the phones will launch in November at 140 mobile carriers around the world. In the U.S. the phones will be available at T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon.
Nokia and Samsung similarly haven't announced pricing, but there's one thing we know for sure: the pricing will be competitive. With a new iPhone and new Android phones hitting, smartphone launch month will make for a very competitive holiday buying season.