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The wide world of Windows Phone 8 handsets (roundup)

Windows Phone 8 handsets (roundup)

Say “Windows Phone” and two handsets pop into my mind: Nokia’s Lumia 920 and HTC’s Windows Phone 8X, both released this past autumn.

But that’s not it for Windows Phone. Nokia is especially fierce, announcing the inexpensive Lumia 520, which will land at T-Mobile, and the Lumia 720, which is destined for other shores.

Pair these budget handsets with Nokia’s Lumia 620 and you’ll start to see how Nokia, for one, is planning to take all echelons of its global marketplace by storm.

Yet even though Nokia is committed whole-hog to the Windows Phone platform, it isn’t the only phone-maker to play in Microsoft’s sandbox. HTC, Samsung, Huawei, and ZTE are all continuing to create for Windows Phone, though Samsung’s efforts have severely dropped off, where Huawei’s are perhaps just beginning.

Here’s a collection of some of the Windows Phone handsets you can get today.

Nokia’s Lumia 920 is big, bold Windows phone.

Nokia Lumia 920 (AT&T), November 9, 2012
Nokia’s Lumia 920 is my top Windows Phone pick when it comes to all-around features, including a fancier camera with strong low-light performance, Nokia-specific apps, a hypersensitive touch screen, and wireless charging. Read the full Nokia Lumia 920 review.

HTC Windows Phone 8XHTC has crafted a beautiful device.

HTC Windows Phone 8X (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon), November 20, 2012
Although it is not as feature-rich or camera-steady as Nokia’s Lumia 920, HTC’s premium Windows Phone effort is the more attractive, comfortable device that I’d reach for more often based on design alone. Read the full Windows Phone 8X review.

Samsung Ativ OdysseySamsung’s Ativ Odyssey is simple and inexpensive, but won’t wow you.

Samsung Ativ Odyssey (Verizon), January 24, 2013
Samsung’s lackluster Windows Phone 8 effort may have filled a gap in Verizon’s budget lineup, but the just-adequate phone didn’t do much to inspire, or to advance the Windows Phone cause. Read the full Samsung Ativ Odyssey review.

Nokia Lumia 820Nokia’s Lumia 820, 810, and 822 are variations on the midrange theme.

Nokia Lumia 820 series (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon), November 2012
Along with the Lumia 810 for T-Mobile and the Lumia 822 for Verizon, AT&T’s Nokia Lumia 820 downshifts from the chockablock 920 in price and hardware design but offers the same essential features, including a great screen and wireless charging capabilities. Read the full Nokia Lumia 820 review.

HTC Windows Phone 8SThe colorful HTC Windows Phone 8S comes in an array of eye-catching colors.

HTC Windows Phone 8S (Unlocked), November 2012
Although it never landed in the U.S., HTC’s bright Windows Phone 8S grabbed our attention for its attractive and colorful designs, especially the bright yellow varietal. Features-wise, it’s more middle-of-the-road than its 8X cousin. Read all about the HTC Windows Phone 8S.

Huawei's Ascend W1 takes colors from Nokia's Pantone playbook.Huawei’s Ascend W1 takes colors from Nokia’s Pantone playbook.

Huawei Ascend W1 (Unlocked), January 2012
I saw Huawei’s first-ever Windows Phone handset this past January at CES, but despite word that the U.S. would see it, it’s so far been MIA. The device follows Nokia and then HTC’s lead in a squared-off industrial design set off with bright colors. Without testing, it’s hard to say how its dual-core processor and 5-megapixel camera fare for this midtier Windows phone. Read all about the Huawei Ascend W1.

ZTE RenderU.S. Cellular’s ZTE Render is the carrier’s only current Windows Phone option.

ZTE Render (U.S. Cellular), September 29, 2012
Kudos to U.S. Cellular for seeing the need to add a Windows Phone device to its lineup. Unfortunately, the Render, which runs on Windows Phone 7.8 instead of Windows Phone 8 OS, doesn’t cut it. Although it’s still simple to use, the hardware and software are already outdated. Read the full ZTE Render review.