Review: HTC One X

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While HTC did well enough at the start of 2011, the Taiwanese company took a bit of a pounding at the tail end of the same year. Some analysts attributed the loss to the company releasing too many phones aimed at too many markets. This year, HTC has bounced back to the fore with a new device strategy culminating in the One line which focuses on only three main devices: the top of the line One X, the mid-market One S, and the entry level One V. The subject of today’s review is their flagship smartphone, the One X.

The HTC One X is a departure of sorts for the company design-wise, as it’s the first time I’ve ever seen HTC use a unibody polycarbonate body on a flagship device.

Not that that’s a bad thing – the overall design and build quality on the One X is very, very good – the phone is solid as a brick without weighing like one (130 g).

Comparison shot with the HTC Sensation XE

There’s no skirting around the issue – the One X is huge. At 134.4 x 69.9 x 8.9mm, it’s one of the biggest phones available right now, save for Samsung’s Galaxy Note. The One X packs a 4.7-inch Super IPS LCD2 capacitive touchscreen, with a display resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels. While I’ve been spoiled by Samsung’s Super AMOLED displays, I’ve got to say that the screen of the One X is one of the prettiest I’ve seen so far (though I admit I might be saying the same thing once I get my eyes on the Samsung Galaxy S III’s display). The bottom of the screen holds the three navigation keys – back, home and recent apps.

The right of the device holds the volume rocker, while the USB slot (which doubles as a charging slot) sits on the left side. On the top lies the power and 3.5mm jack. The One X has an 8-megapixel camera that I’ll go into depth a bit later. There’s also a 1.3-megapixel camera on the front for video calls and the like.

As impressive as the overall look of the device is, things just get better when you dive under the hood. The powerplant of the One X is a quad-core, NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor running at 1.5 GHz. There’s still Beats Audio technology in the HTC One X, though you won’t find Beats branded headphones this time around. There’s 32GB of storage on tap, with an additional 25GB of cloud storage courtesy of Dropbox. The whole experience is powered by Android 4.0 (ICS) with HTC’s special sauce on top, dubbed Sense. Contrary to the companies’ previous Sense offerings, the one that ships with the One X is simple and not overly complex, a far cry from what the bloated, battery draining mess Sense has become on their other, earlier smartphones not running ICS.

One of the features that HTC is proud of in the One X is its camera.  The camera present on the One X has an 8-megapixel CMOS camera with a backside illuminated sensor which aids in low light performance, as well as having a F2.0 aperture, 28mm lens and a dedicated imaging chip. We were pleasantly surprised at how good the camera was because to be honest, I’ve pretty much given up on the cameras attached to smartphones nowadays. That’s not the case with the One X for a variety of reasons. For one, the One X takes pictures quickly, and exhibits almost zero shutter lag and minimal focus hunt. Another nice thing about the One X is that it’s able to take pictures continuously – as fast as some point-and-shoots – and allows you to choose the one you think is best (or just save them all for posterity). To put it bluntly – the camera one the One X is one of the best I’ve seen so far this year.

 (Click on the pictures below for the original image size)

Performance on the One X was unsurprisingly good. During the time the One X was with me it never hanged nor had problems with any of the apps I ran on it. The quad-core Tegra 3 processor definitely comes into play here, and even with multiple apps open the device never did slowdown.

The overall feel of the device when using it is fantastic as you can feel the snappiness in the UI, especially when you’re going through the apps and menu items in the device.

Of course, no review of the One X would be complete without the requisite benchmark test, so here it is: using AnTuTu, the One X managed to score 10629 points, which is a few points higher than a similar, Tegra 3 powered device, the Asus Transformer Prime.

The One X is a phone first and foremost, so all those fancy features wouldn’t mean diddly squat if you couldn’t speak to other people or send SMS messages, right? Well, I’m happy to report that the overall call quality of the One X is fantastic, with no problems in reception whatsoever. Calls are clear and crisp, with no problems in both outgoing and incoming calls. Sending SMS messages and general typing duties are a breeze to accomplish using the large on-screen keyboard of the One X, as even people with big digits (that includes yours truly) won’t have a problem typing on the large screen.

Battery life is also pretty good, with the unit clocking in about a day and half on single charge with slightly moderate use (texting, calling and a few minutes on data). Of course, that number will vary depending on your use, and you’re probably looking at about a day’s worth of battery with heavier use.

Of course, as lovely as the One X is, it does come with its own share of niggles. The unibody polycarbonate shell means that the battery is non-user replaceable, so if ever the 1800 mAh battery does decide to die on you, you will have to take it to a service center to have it replaced. Also, the HTC One X uses a microSIM, something that you need to be aware of if you’re planning to get the device as an upgrade.

HTC has scored a slam dunk with the One X. The fantastically built body, the excellent performance of Tegra 3 and awesome camera all come together in a package that’s simply beautiful. To put it in simpler words: the HTC One X is currently the Android smartphone to beat. HTC has gotten its groove back.

 

What’s Hot:

 

Solid, unibody polycarbonate body

Large, 4.7-inch screen protected by Gorilla Glass

Fast, Tegra 3 processor

Excellent camera performance in low light

Burst shooting

 

What’s Not:

Uses microSIM

Non-user replaceable battery

 

Bottomline:

 

The HTC One X is the best Android phone you can buy right now. Beg, steal or borrow to get one.

 

Buymeter: 5/5

 

Tech Specs:

  • Operating System: Android 4.0 ICS
  • CPU: NVIDIA quad-core Tegra 3 1.5GHz
  • LCD size: 4.7-inch Super IPS LCD2 capacitive touchscreen, display resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Physical Dimensions: 134.4 x 69.9 x 8.9mm
  • Band: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100