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Can Windows Phone 8 mobiles compete with iPhone?

HTC's Jason Mackenzie introduces the new 8S and 8X cell phones were unveiled at a news conference in New York.

Story highlights

  • HTC, Samsung, and Nokia have announced Windows Phone 8 devices for October or November
  • Apple confirmed that it sold 2 million iPhone 5s, and retailers detail best ever pre-order records
  • Windows phone offers a very viable offering for consumers and business users keen to be secure

The dice have been thrown; over the next couple of months consumers ready to upgrade their phone will be forced into making a decision. Do they go for a phone that is beautifully designed, will make them feel safe, and never for a moment make them feel out of their comfort zone? Or do they take a risk, a risk that sees them fundamentally change the way they use their phone, the way their phone looks, and even what their phone will be able to do? Decisions will have to be made.

In the one camp is Apple, in the other is HTC, Samsung, and Nokia. The latter three have all announced Windows Phone 8 devices that are expected at the end of October or the beginning of November. Apple's iPhone 5 went on sale around the world on Friday.

While Apple has already confirmed that it has sold 2 million iPhone 5s, and retailers around the globe detail best ever pre-order records, Microsoft is hoping people will wait.

It's a tough ask, do you go with the market leading smartphone now, and get what you expect, or wait for another couple of months and hope it has been worth it.

Those questions aside, Microsoft with the help of HTC, Nokia, and Samsung, hope you'll wait. If it can convince you to do that, it has a good chance of succeeding.

The operating system, not yet fully detailed, looks to have some really nice features above and beyond emailing or making calls. Take the People Hub that seamlessly manages your contacts and your social life, or the in-built Office Hub that makes writing Word documents or managing spreadsheets really easy. There's a kids corner feature too that locks out important features when you give your phone to your kids so they can't email your boss.

On the hardware front, Nokia and HTC have both gone for a colorful experience. Windows Phone 8 phones are Flame Red, Limelight Yellow and California Blue. They aren't just Black or White. That is likely to appeal to those that want to be noticed, the cool hipsters and fashionastas, that whether you like it or not, influence how you dress.

Nokia, to some outcry, has ditched a Cyan version of its new Lumia handsets. When asked why, it simply replied that Cyan wasn't this year's color. We haven't heard that from a phone company for a long time.

Likewise HTC's new 8X and 8S phones have an equally vibrant color scheme that will either appeal or appall. It's about thinking and being different, almost on purpose.

Get past the colors, the OS, and the spec sheet is just as cutting edge, untried and untested. Most of the new Windows Phone 8 devices will come with NFC, a new technology that will let you pay with your phone or connect instantly to other NFC devices. Apple has shunned the technology in the new iPhone 5. Microsoft is hoping that's going to be a mistake.

Nokia is hoping wireless charging will be a big draw, losing the need for cables all together even in charging and allowing you to just dump your phone on a pillow instead, while HTC has teamed up with Dr Dre's Beats Audio to try and win the battle for your ears. If it is good enough for Olympians, it is good enough for us. Both are pushing the camera at the forefront of the experience.

The elephant in the room is still apps. Nokia is doing its best to fill the gaps itself, but with momentum still to kick in, Apple has the upper hand.

Windows Phone offers a very viable offering for consumers looking for a change, and business users keen to be secure.

Against Apple, Microsoft and its new friends have to convince developers to get building, and convince consumers that there is a point to your phone beyond apps.

With such a competitive market that's no easy task. For Microsoft it has a great OS on its side, but the battle is only just starting and they have a long way to go before any of them can claim victory.

The question is though, are consumers willing to wait with them, or get their gratification before the race has even begun.