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HTC announces new Windows Phones, the 8X and the 8S

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HTC announced two new phones running Microsoft’s Windows platform Wednesday, the 8X and the 8S, which are the Taiwanese company’s latest premium smartphones.

The colorful phones seem to share a lot of DNA with Nokia’s Lumia line, from their bright colors to their screen size. HTC has called the models “Signature Windows Phones” — a moniker meant to emphasize how closely HTC and Microsoft are working together on smartphone design.

Chief executives Peter Chou of HTC and Steve Ballmer of Microsoft were on hand to unveil the new phones in New York Wednesday, driving that point home.

Microsoft is making a big play for mobile market share in the fight against Apple and Google, and has put a lot of weight behind Windows Phone launches. HTC, particularly, could use a boost from Windows Phone 8 as the company looks to place less emphasis on its partnership with Android as it loses ground to Samsung.

To succeed in the Windows space, the name of the game is differentiation, and HTC has added a few hardware elements to help it stand out from the pack. Both phones have HTC’s Beats Audio built in, meant to give the phones particular appeal to the music and exercise crowd. Building on the innovations they’ve made in phone photography, the company has also included a wide-angle camera sensor that HTC says will let phone photographers include up to four people in a shot at once. (No specifications, though, on how big the people can be.)

The 8X has a 4.3-inch screen, while the 8S has a 4-inch screen that’s the same size — though not the same ratio — as the new iPhone 5.

Here’s the rundown, specs-wise: The 8X has a 1.5 Ghz Qualcomm dual-core S4 processor and 16 GB of storage, which is not expandable. It also has an 8 MP rear-facing and 2 MP front-facing camera, can shoot in 720p and comes with a near-field technology chip.

The 8S is built along similar lines, but is clearly aimed at a lower tier of the market. The phone packs a 1 Ghz S4 processor, a 5MP rear-facing camera, 4GB of storage, has a lower screen resolution and cannot run on LTE networks. It does, however, have a MicroSD slot.

Both come in a variety of colors, including red, yellow, blue and black.

T-Mobile,Verizon and AT&T have already announced that they will carry the 8X, though there have been no pricing or release date details yet.

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