Review: HTC One X (AT&T)
The Good -
- Unique, lightweight design
- Spectacular build quality
- Battery life is decent
- Absolutely stunning screen
- Sense 4 is a little bit simpler than previous iterations
- Camera is the best available
- Smooth as butter performance
The Bad -
- Vanilla Android is still superior to Sense or any overlay
- A few software quirks and annoyances
- Non-removable battery
- No micro-SD card
- Uses micro-SIM card
HTC hyped the heck out of the One series, and it was well worth it. The build quality is amazing, but it’s not even the best thing about the device. The screen had me at the boot screen. The 720p resoltion is far better than any other display we have ever seen before. Seriously. As with any Android phone, there are some downsides though. Sense 4 is nice, but still not as clean and minimalistic as stock Ice Cream Sandwich. There are also a few software quirks and annoyances that get on my nerves. Lastly, HTC pulled an Apple on this one. Not only did HTC neglect to include an SD card slot, but they also made the battery sealed into the device, meaning it is not user-removable.
HTC One X Specs
Dimensions: 134.36 x 69.9 x 8.9 mm
Weight: 130g (w/ battery)
4.7-inch Super LCD2 capacitive touchscreen (720 x 1280)
Corning Gorilla Glass
Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
Dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4
GPU: ULP GeForce
32GB built-in storage
8-megapixel (rear) camera w/ AF and LED flash
1.3-megapixel (front) camera
Non-removable 1800mAh battery
Bluetooth v4.0 w/ A2DP
3.5mm audio output
HTC’s 2011 numbers were not pretty. They learned the hard way that you have to keep innovating even if you think you have a strong hold on the market. Samsung quickly cannibalized HTC’s sales, so HTC decided to launch a lot of devices in order to try to regain their lead. Then earlier this year, they announced a new group of employees dubbed “Studio.” This group is working directly with CEO Peter Chou to regain HTC’s hold on the market.
When we look back to the 4th quarter of last year, we simply dropped the ball on products. If we compare some of the products that we have launched, (especially in the U.S., LTE products) with some of our competitors products, you’ll see thicker form factor for example. And LTE at this point also has some compromises, like battery life. So we simply need to do a better job on both the design, and also the internals and the components of products. And these are the various areas where we will be working on. From the design point of view, from the choice of components, having a lot more open mind as to what components we use, and using the most appropriate components for the phone. By having a more focused approach to our product strategy, and having the organization behind the product strategy to support it. I think I have told some people when talked about the creation of this Studio, which is a department within HTC that reports directly to Peter (Chou, HTC CEO). And this group of people comprise the team from design, the team from engineering and etc; working on a cross disciplinary approach, and reporting directly to Peter. It has a lot of focus, is spending a lot of time on the key products that we are going to launch this year. And I think from these various perspectives, organization more focused on strategy and having a more open mind on components, choosing the best components, will allow us to regain the edge in products.
After opening the box and turning the One X on I melted for the clarity of the screen, like none I have used prior. Clear, crisp and clean; it had me at the bootscreen. After a quick boot time I was up and running, as shown in my unboxing video. I have been playing with it ever since I shot that video.
I’ll put it this way. The display flirts with perfection. It is the best display I have ever seen. No if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. It just is.
While it technically isn’t retina, 326 pixels per inch, its 317 PPI on a 4.7-inch display is nothing to frown at. With a 720×1280 resolution, the Super LCD 2 display is amazing. In the past, many manufacturers have opted for Super AMOLED deisplays because they are thinner, but the second generation of Super LCD displays fix that and allow for thinner displays.
Are you like Snooki and hang out at the beach all day everyday? Don’t fret. The One X is one of the few, if not the only display that I could use easily in direct sunlight.
The One X is gorgeous. Let’s start by saying it is a lightweight phone considering its size. The build quality is spectacular compared to previous HTC phones we’ve reviewed and doesn’t have a chintzy feel like the Galaxy Nexus did. From the matte back and stunning Gorilla Glass 2 screen, it just screams sexy, slim and stealthy.
Weighting in 130 grams, the One X is slightly lighter than the Galaxy Nexus, and has a far superior build quality. The two devices are the same thickness at 8.9mm.
It’s a single chunk of polycarbonate plastic just like the Nokia N9 and Lumia 900. It also features the same contour design we have seen on the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S. It feels amazing in the hand and is easy to hold for extended periods of time.
However, when you are pushing the device to its limits, it will get noticeably hot in your hand. By no means is it hot enought to cook bacon, but it is definitely toasty.
The One X is a beast. It is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor with 1GB of RAM. How does the S4 stackup against the Tegra 3? In my testing, it performed just as good, if not better, than Nvidia’s processor.
Games performed flawlessly. Loading times were quick and just like in every other instance, I experienced no lag whatsoever.
As I do in all of my reviews, I put the One X through several Quadrant Standard tests. Quadrant is an app, available on the market, that puts your phone through a series of tests, such as 3D and 2D graphics. Quadrant was just updated for multi-core and Ice Cream Sandwich support.
The One X averaged a score of 5,000, which is an amazing score. The Galaxy Nexus, on the other hand, averaged about 2,300.
In March, HTC came out and said that from version 1 of Sense to version 3.5, they added way too many features that just made the O.S cluttered and bogged down the hardware. The company also said that their main goal with with Sense 4 was to make it more minimalistic and lightweight. Which they achieved.
The user interface is a lot cleaner than previous versions, but there are also a lot more features.
Clean and Simple
- Sense 4 presents a simplified, streamlined user interface that offers intuitive touchscreens and reduced visual clutter when compared to stock ICS software.
Enhanced Landscape View
- Navigation in landscape list view is right-aligned, providing more space for content, more visible tabs, and easily accessible action
- Considering that your phone is the most personal gadget you own, Sense 4 offers HTC Sense widgets that are more powerful, interactive and have and improved look and feel in comparison to stock ICS widgets. HTC
- Sense widgets help you personalize your device to suit your needs and quickly access your most important data. Just a few examples of the many widgets you can add to customize your HTC device include Mail, Music, and Friend Stream.
Text Input and Spell Checking
- Although Sense 4 adopts a similar spell-checking functionality as ICS, it offers greater accuracy in word prediction and is a notable improvement over stock Android software – delivering improved spell correction, word completion and replacement words selection. The input method editor featured in Sense 4 supports more than 25 languages and provides better prediction accuracy – which will help you get the words you want instead of the words you typed.
- Sense 4 accelerates, updates, and reorganizes the web browsing function, thereby allowing for a more seamless connection. Featuring the latest version of Flash, fast web rendering, and supporting HTML5, you’ll find that Sense 4 offers a more complete, functional browsing experience in comparison to stock ICS.
- Sense 4’s Auto Text Reflow in the HTC internet browser provides an optimal mobile browsing experience.
- HTC’s Pure Content Reader removes ads and banners, re-lays out articles, and presents a more pleasant reading experience. ave Content for Later
- When you’re pressed for time, Sense 4’s new Browser Bookmark Widget will enable you to save web pages to read later, even when you’re offline. Video can also be bookmarked for later, when you have time and connectivity.
Easier Transitions Through Apps
- Sense 4 enables the new HTC UI for Recent Apps and allows you to quickly access recently used apps and select the one you want.
As an avid hater of UI overlays I will give Sense 4.0 credit for its minimalistic tone HTC has taken; don’t get me wrong, once a custom Vanilla ROM is available I will be on that quick. Using the running app manager takes some getting used to as the only way to kill an app is to swipe it upwards (instead of left or right). Using the One X connected to a monitor with a bluetooth keyboard and mouse is smooth and a great alternative vs. paying for a laptop on top of having a phone.
HTC signed a huge deal with Beats Audio last year,and the whole One series will take advantage of the technology. It use to be that when you played music through the built-in Music app, a Beats logo appears in the status bar — this is your cue that the phone is running some proprietary processing on the signal, and it makes the output sound much “bigger.” In Sense 4, the technology has been updated to work with third-party apps, such as Spotify and Pandora. Which is huge in my opinion.
One downside is that HTC no longer ships the $99 iBeats earbuds with the device, but rather a cheap pair of standard headphones. HTC claims that accessories like headphones do not factor in when consumers purchase a smartphone. I don’t think that is true, but oh wellz.
HTC said their main focus with the One line was the camera. They introduced a new technology called ImageSense. “ImageSense” is designed to give you “perfect shots — every time,” and is capable to taking a photo in just 0.7 seconds with a 0.2-second autofocus. HTC has alsomade mode switching unnecessary and added a faster burst mode.HTC claims this new camera technology will deliver good results even in very low light conditions.
Also in Sense 4, HTC introduced a variety of new camera effects, ala Instagram.
- Depth of Field
- Vintage Warm
- Vintage Cold
The 8MP shooter on the back is nothing to slouch at. It shoots 1080p full HD video and has what HTC calls “Double Shutter”, meaning the One X can snap stills while shooting videos without interrupting the video capture. The f/2.0 lens aperture and the BSI sensor should fix the problems plaguing HTC cameras of old.
- An f/2.0 aperture that captures 40% more light than an f/2.4 and a backside illuminated sensor that allows for increased light capturing.
- HTC’s ImageChip, which reduces noise, prevents image blurriness and removes color bias.
- ￼￼￼￼￼The HTC One X also features a five-level auto adjustable flash which provides the right amount of illumination for every shot – based upon the focus distance.
- The HTC One X’s market-leading HDR allows consumers to take clear, high-quality photos in varied levels of brightness. Details are preserved and highlighted by fusing different exposures into a singular, more natural image.￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼
- With Instant Capture, quickly launch the camera app whenever you want to take a photo – even when the camera is locked.
- The HTC One X’s camera will instantly activate in less than one second.
- To launch the camera directly from the lock screen, drag the camera into the center ring to unlock.
- The password screen will appear only after you’ve taken the shot you need.
- Capture every moment with Continuous Shooting and select your best shots.
- To utilize this feature, launch the camera app and tap and hold the shutter down to take up to four frames per second.
- Once you captured the moment, scroll through and choose only the images you want to keep.
￼Concurrent Video/Still Capture
- The HTC One X records video in 1080p HD and has a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera with 720p video chat and recorder.
- ImageSense on the HTC One X will allow you to capture high-resolution still images while your video continuous to shoot.
- To utilize this feature, tap the shutter button while recording HD video.
- Note: you may also capture still shots from previously shot video footage.
As an avid camera user this phone destroys everything else out there. Better focus and stabilizer, coming from someone with a shaky hand the Galaxy Nexus was atrocious to use. I can feel confident leaving the point-and-shoot at home and go into the city and be able to take great photos. Low light, bright light, fast action this camera just performs.
Data and Phone Quality
The One X is one of 4 devices compatible with AT&T’s LTE network. The other devices are the HTC Vivid, LG Nitro, and Galaxy Note. Where LTE is available, it is the best. While I do not have AT&T LTE in my hometown, I was recently up in Indianapoplis, IN where LTE is up and rocking. Being the Android geek I am, I ran some speedtests and got some amazing speeds of about 30mbps down and 7mbps up.
Don’t have LTE? Don’t worry. The One X is also compatible with AT&T’s HSPA+ network. In my tests, I would get about 1mbps up and 6-10mbps down.
It’s a phone, so it has to make calls. It does and it does it well. Call quality was very good and I only had one dropped call in my week period with the device.
The HTC One X ships with 16GB of storage with no option for expandable storage other than the cloud. HTC did ink a deal with Dropbox so that anyone who uses Dropbox on a Sense 4 device, will receive 25GB of free storage.
One of the biggest questions about the One X was battery life. The device ships with a 1800mAh battery, which doesn’t seem all that big, but was actually decent. I’d say battery life is one par with the Galaxy Nexus. I was able to get through a day with moderate usage.
HTC did not make the battery removable, which really makes me mad. So keep that in mind if you are not near a charger and like to carry a spare with you.
I was a little worried when HTC said the AT&T variant of the One X would be powered by the Snapdragon S4 processor and not the Tegra 3, but my worries were quickly put to rest.
HTC really went all out with the One X. The display flirts with perfection and the device performs like a beast. There are a few annoyances though. It really makes me that HTC did not include a micro-SD card slot and the battery is non-removable.
HTC has said that their last few quarters have been less than satisfactory, so they really need the One X to catch on and I think it will.
All in all this is the phone to beat and we will see what Samsung has to offer shortly to rival this behemoth of a superphone.