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The smartphone sweepstakes are at a fever pitch after the recent announcement of the iPhone 5, with gadget junkies tapping their veins ahead of its September 21 release. Competition has been thick for Apple’s mobile juggernaut since its 2007 inception but to date, none of the Android big boy phones (like the Samsung Galaxy III) have been able to dig into the market share Apple dominates.

Windows-based smartphones have been on the come up, with manufacturers such as HTC upping the ante in hardware. Earlier today, the Taiwanese tech company unveiled its latest device, Windows Phone 8, in New York, and the business-minded folks of Forbes were present for the festivities. The question pondered by many: Can the “Beats Audio-enabled Windows Phone 8 throw down with the iPhone 5? 

The Windows Phone 8 is the first Windows-enabled phone to come equipped with the “Beats Audio” sound system. The familiar lowercase “b” logo appears on the back of the device’s case, giving it a distinction of cool. The phone comes in two versions: the 8X and the slightly pared down 8S. Instead of the usual colors, the company plans to give customers a dizzying array of bright palettes. Taking a look under the hood, the device improves on earlier Windows phones and adds a few necessary touches as well.

The 8X’s case uses the same high-end polycarbonate plastic used for its flagship Android device, the HTC One X. Scratch resistant, the plastic keeps things light and durable for those who are a bit rougher with their phones. It also boasts a 4.3-inch 720dp HD display, a zippy 1.5-GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processer (Qualcomm’s fastest chip to date), tough-as-nails Gorilla Glass for the display, and a 8-megapixel camera.

In the Windows Phone market, the Windows Phone 8’s stiffest competitor would likely be the Nokia Lumia 900– with the beefed up 920 coming soon. So is this the rumored “Beats Phone” of lore and is it ready to be an iPhone killer?

ForbesZack O’Malley Greenburg doesn’t believe so. O’Malley Greenburg gave the phone some mild props and noted this is strictly a Microsoft-HTC partnership; he also reported that the audio for the phone has some powerful kick.

The “Beats Phone,” which would be the first device from Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine’s Beats Electronics company, is reportedly going to be an Android-based phone and will not be produced by HTC. It appears, for now, the Apple iPhone 5 still holds the crown but companies are steadily watching the throne.

Check out photos of the HTC Windows Phone 8 in the gallery below.


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Photos: Engadget