A look at T-Mobile’s new Windows Phone 8 lineup

Nokia Lumia 810 Review

Amid a sea of Android smartphones and Apple’s (AAPL) ever-popular iPhone, Microsoft (MSFT) will make its third run at a rebound in the mobile market this holiday season. The flagship Nokia Lumia 920 is leading the charge this time around, and early sales seem strong. Nokia’s (NOK) new Lumia is an AT&T (T) exclusive though, leaving the majority of mobile subscribers in the U.S. in the dark this holiday season. Of course, there are other options for those looking to embrace Windows Phone 8T-Mobile has two new handsets available for the holiday season powered by the latest version of Microsoft’s mobile platform and here, we take a look at both.

First up is HTC’s (2498) flagship Windows Phone 8X.

I reviewed the international version of this smartphone last month and T-Mobile’s variant is the same in almost every way. Spec highlights include a dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor clocked at 1.5GHz, a 4.3-inch Super LCD 2 display with 720p HD resolution, an 8-megapixel camera with dedicated HTC ImageChip technology, Beats Audio, 16GB of storage and 1GB of RAM.

Long story short, the 8X is a beauty. The hardware is fantastic and unique — of course, HTC is no stranger to gorgeous hardware — and performance has improved dramatically compared to previous-generation Windows Phones. The soft-touch rubbery finish feels great, the tapered back fits in the hand perfectly, and the loud colors ensure that the 8X stands out in a sea of black and white slabs.

All in all, HTC’s Windows Phone 8X is probably one of my favorite smartphones of the year and at $150 or less from various stores on Black Friday, this should be a serious contender for anyone seeking out a Windows Phone ahead of the holidays.

T-Mobile’s other new Windows Phone 8 handset is the Nokia Lumia 810.

The 810 is an interesting low-cost smartphone that can be thought of as the Lumia 920′s polar opposite in terms of hardware. Whereas the 920 is sleek and features a very unique design, the Lumia 810 sports the most generic design imaginable. It’s a thick black rectangle. That’s it.

In other ways, the Lumia 810 is very similar to the 920. For one thing, it’s way too thick and bulky just like the 920. More importantly though, it follows the Lumia 920′s lead and offers users solid performance and a wide range of features.

Despite its mid-range specs and price tag, the Lumia 810 feels like a high-end phone while navigating the OS. Animations are fluid, apps open quickly and the device is very smooth and responsive. The 810 also has access to all of Nokia’s software and services, including Nokia City Lens, Nokia Maps and the vendor’s free voice-guided navigation app, Nokia Drive.

Key items among the Lumia 810′s specs include a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, a 4.3-inch 480 x 800-pixel AMOLED display, 8GB of storage plus up to 64GB of removable memory thanks to microSDXC support, 1GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel camera and support for T-Mobile’s HSPA+ data network.

At $99.99 on contract or even less during the holiday shopping season, the Nokia Lumia 810 is a solid option for first-time smartphone buyers or those looking to embrace Microsoft’s mobile platform without breaking the bank. There are unavoidable compromises that must be made — namely where apps are concerned — but those who can look past the tumbleweeds in Microsoft’s app store will find a great device in the Lumia 810 or HTC’s Windows Phone 8X.

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