HTC One X review: Setting the new standard

HTC One X review

The HTC One X is one of the world’s first quad-core smartphones and in this review, we’ll see if that Tegra 3 chip and the new version of Sense can really propel this to the next level.

Note: We reviewed the international version which has the quad-core processor but the One X that’s coming to AT&T shortly will have a dual-core chip and 4G LTE support.

The Good
  • Amazingly well-designed phone.
  • The camera is incredible.
  • Just a great device overall.
The Bad
  • Some inconsistencies in Android UI.
  • Those who don't like HTC/Sense may not like this.

Hardware

The HTC One X is an amazing combination of grace, elegance and power in a jaw-dropping form factor. I really, really like this phone. The Tegra 3 chipset provides a strong foundation for this device and HTC's camera technology is stellar. There are still some minor issues I have with the One X but it still provides a best-in-class smartphone experience.

Design

The One X is the culmination of everything HTC is about: it's a sweet symphony of curves and gorgeous materials that come from a very confident design company.

The 4.7-inch display takes up the bulk of the face and it's subtly curved to provide for good viewing angles. As you would expect from any high-end smartphone, the One X screen sports a 720p resolution and it's bright, beautiful and pretty responsive to the touch.

There's a large speaker above the screen to go along with the front-facing camera. Underneath the display, you'll find three capacitive Android buttons (Back, Home and Multitasking) and I'm not quite sure how I feel about this. Android Ice Cream Sandwich doesn't require these buttons anymore and I wonder if the One X may have been better off letting all of these actions being handled on the screen.

The screen is quite beautiful and it matches the gorgeous rest of the device. The One X is made of precision-machined polycarbonate material and HTC put on a high-gloss "piano" finish that is aimed at mimicking piano keys. I don't care what you call it, I found it to be stunning when I first took it out of the box (especially the white version). It looks fantastic, it's light, thin and even though it's not metal like the iPhone, it still feels very sturdy and rugged.

It's a relatively minimalist design, as the embedded battery means you can't take off the back cover but it leads to a cleaner unibody design. The right spine sports a single-piece volume rocker, the headphone jack's on top, the microUSB port is on the left and a microphone is on the bottom. That polycarbonate backing feels delightful in the hand. It's relatively bare too except for the HTC and Beats Audio branding, a speaker and the large 8-megapixel camera.

I f you want to get to the microSIM, you have to use the provided tool to pop out the microSIM tray. I've never been a fan of this (even on the iPhones) but it works well enough and when it's locked in, it fits in perfectly.

The HTC One X has a simple, well-executed design that sets the standard for all high-end smartphones.

 

 

 

Guts And Glory

HTC One X reviewThe One X is not just beautiful, it's also packed with power.

The One X sports the quad-core Tegra 3 processor and this probably makes it the most powerful phone on the market. Games, web browsing, HD video and app switching are all handled smoothly. We also saw the most impressive benchmarks we've seen on a smartphone. For those who really care, we saw Quadrant benchmarks of 4788 and a CF Bench of 24036, 6438 and 13477.

Basically, this rocks and those numbers blow away anything else we've seen.

Speeds and feeds are one thing but what I appreciate about the One X and Tegra 3 is that this power is used to deliver a better user experience. Things like being able to consistently switch between apps without any stuttering or lagging may not get commercials but these definitely add up over time. NVIDIA likes to claim it provides "console-quality graphics" and it really does. This phone is capable of playing some games with gorgeous graphics and complex in-game physics.

Besides the 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, the One X is also packed with 1 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, multiple sensors, NFC, WiFi, HSPA connectivity (4G LTE coming to the AT&T version), Beats Audio and everything you'd want in a powerful smartphone.

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Software

HTC One X reviewThe HTC One X uses Android Ice Cream Sandwich with the latest version of Sense and it provides a really nice on-the-go experience. For those who don't use Android, you should know that it's a great way to make calls, send texts, browse the web, send e-mails and get new apps, movies and books from the Google Play store.

The general consensus on Google Play app store is that it's not as robust or filled with gorgeous programs as the iOS counterpart and I still think Apple's store has a bit of an advantage but that's quickly changing. You can find nearly everything you'd want in Google Play and the latest generation of Android apps are really pushing the envelope when it comes to app design.

You also get the cool ICS elements like being able to dismiss individual app notifications by just swiping them to the side. This is a small but crucial thing, I've found. For a deeper take on Android Ice Cream Sandwich, read our full review here.

HTC put its latest version of Sense on the One X and we'll cover that in detail below. There are still a few things in Android ICS which bother me though. I don't like how in core apps like Gmail and Play that all the action buttons are located on the top - I feel like this makes it a bit difficult to operate with one hand. It's not a game killer by any means but there are still just a few things in the core platform which just aren't as intuitive as it could be.

Thankfully, HTC tries to address some of those with Sense.

Sense 4

HTC One X reviewHTC has thrown its latest version of Sense on the One X and even though Google has placed some UI restrictions on the latest version of Android, HTC has  done of really good job of bringing its unique styling to the device without really sacrificing any functionality. HTC representatives have told me before that they don't need their phones to look like Tron and I tend to agree, so I'm happy to see how well the software on the One X performs.

HTC has brought many of the familiar Sense elements to the latest version, as the look and feel are instantly recognizable if you've ever used Sense before. This includes the 3D carousel for home screens and lock screen with quick-action apps and widgets. That last aspect is really cool as you can set up a few icons on the lock screen, drag the app you want into a the ring and it will launch into the app immediately. If you just want to unlock it, they you pull the ring from the center of the screen up.

There are a lot of other little new features which are pretty nice in the latest version of Sense, as there's a neat task integration function that lets you assign tasks to contacts. There's also built-in Dropbox integration which gives you 25 GB of free storage for two years. life of the device (roughly two years)

If you already have a free or paid account, you get that on top of the 25 GB - so, my free 2 GB account will give me 27 GB. The nice thing is that you can tie your camera to this to automatically upload to Dropbox. While you can also do this with the Google+ integration, some may like the Dropbox storage better because it's more accessible from various devices and operating systems. It's also really good for sharing your 1080p HD videos, as these are sometimes too large to attach to an e-mail.

I felt like the software on the One X was pretty darn good but that doesn't mean it's without flaws.I think HTC did a good job of trying to make Android look more visually appealing but if you haven't liked Sense in the past, I'm not sure if this is going to push you over the edge.  I also experienced some weird visual glitches and a random reboot in my unit but a software update fixed all the issues I had.

HTC has done a good job of utilizing the additional features of Android Ice Cream Sandwich and adapting its Sense UI on top of it. Check out the video below for a deeper look at the software on the One X.

 

Web Browser, Multimedia And Camera

Web Browser

HTC One X screen shotsThe HTC One X has an excellent web browser that really makes surfing the Internet a great experience on the go. The thing can handle HTML5 with ease, it even has Adobe Flash support and what I really appreciate is that it intelligently zooms the text for your screen. This is something that should be standard on smartphones now but I still see way too many phones that can't properly optimize the page for your screen size. The One X does and it does it well.

My only gripe with the One X browsing experience is that you can only use six tabs at a time. It's reasonable but I'd prefer it automatically closing tabs instead of me having to manually do it.

Multimedia

The HTC One X is a great multimedia machine but some may still yearn for the overarching iTunes media infrastructure that iPhone users get. The 4.7-inch screen looks great, so movies play well and the screen is large enough to comfortably watch on the go. You also have the HTC Watch store and it enables you to rent and buy movies and TV shows.

Of course, you can always get content from the Play Store, as it includes apps, movies, audiobooks, music and more. Speaking of music, this phone has the Beats Audio technology built in and this provides a much better bass experience than I'm used to on a phone. I still think the external speaker gets a tad bit distorted if you're blasting music at the top level but listening via headphones is a blast.

Camera

HTC One X reviewHTC has put a lot of work into the camera on the One X and it definitely pays off. The One X has the one of the best cameras I've ever seen on a phone, can truly replace a digital camera and it has a very pleasant UI.

As for the details, HTC built a custom image chip for this thing and the lens packs a f2.0 lens and it has an 8-megapixel backside illuminated sensor. What this means is that shots come out bright, crisp and very detailed. I encourage you to click through on the photos below for the full resolution.

The camera is also capable of shooting 1080p HD video and the neat thing is that you can also snap stills while shooting video. This is a small feature but one I haven't really seen from other top-tier phones and I could definitely see it come in handy. You also have five levels of LED flash and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera that can do 720p HD video.

Take a look at the video below for a look at how the camera UI works. I think it's a very smart way to take pictures, as there's virtually zero shutter lag and it's simple to add things like filters. You also get things like facial detection, geo-fencing and quick sharing to various social networks. Another neat feature is that you can hold down the shutter button and you'll be able to take multiple shots in a row. You can then choose your best one and delete the rest, or you can just keep all of them. There

My only real complaint is that there's no on-screen way to switch to the front-facing camera quickly (you have to dive into a menu) and I still found low-lighting photos to be a little lacking. As you would expect, the zoom isn't as good as a standard digital camera but it's almost there and the quality of the photos is so good that you can easily ditch your standalone camera. You'll also notice in the sample video below that the audio recording is very poor in high-wind situations but that's to be expected.

From the shutter lag speed to the ability to take photos while shooting HD videos, the HTC One X sets the standard for excellence in smartphone photography and I'm betting many of you will very happy with this.

(All photos are on standard settings and the first one is using the flash.)

 

HTC One X sample photos

 

HTC One X sample photos

 

HTC One X sample photos
HTC One X sample photos

The 1080p HD video on the HTC One X comes out looking pretty fantastic whether you play it back on the phone, a computer or even on a TV. The sample video below was taken in very windy conditions, so the audio's not the greatest of quality but it's actually pretty good considering how windy and noisy the area was.

Call Quality And Battery Life

HTC One X reviewI'm using the international version in the San Francisco Bay Area on AT&T and I've found the call quality to be quite good. Callers sound clear without any hissing or echoing and they told me I sounded similarly clear. Be warned though, if you're using something like Google Voice, the call quality can be out of the hands of the phone - Seriously Google, get your call quality game together. Also, the AT&T version will have 4G LTE.

The battery life on the One X is pretty darn good and it better be, considering you can't swap the battery. I was able to get through a full day on a single charge and that's about what I expect from a high-end smartphone. I did find that charging from zero seemed to take a bit longer than I thought it would but it's by no means slow. I'm happy with the battery life but I'm not blown away like I was on something like the Droid Razr Maxx.

The Final Take


HTC One X review

The HTC One X is an amazing smartphone that provides a ton of power in an elegant and beautiful package. I've been really happy with the form factor, the overall experience and the quality of the camera. On the downsides, those who don't like Sense won't be won over by this and I did notice a few minor software bugs that were quickly ironed out by an update. Still, the One X is the cream of the crop right now.

Will there be better devices later this year? Probably, as technology always moves forward at a quick pace. But if you want a great device that looks good, feels good, performs like a champ and should be sort of future-proof, then this is the one.

 

 

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  • http://www.wtgbingo.com/ wilson bingo

    This is the best review I have read on Android HTC One X. I am going to be the first one on the door at the opening…

    • Anonymous

      Thanks so much. Let us know what you think when you get one. 

  • http://www.tucargadorsolar.com/ Tu Cargador Solar

    Great review! Thank you

    • Anonymous

      Thanks!

  • lrvstfghbrt

    I saw some reviewers complaining about camera quality (photos and videos) do you think it could be software/hardware problems with some units? Because the sample pictures and videos of some are terrible while the ones of others (like you) are amazing. Great review by the way

    • Anonymous

      Sorry for the late reply – yes, I know for a fact that there were some bum early review units. I’ve found this camera to kick all types of butt still. 

  • Anonymous

    Can you remove all social networking features off the phone. i do not use social networks anymore and dont want to see them on my phone. just want to have my phone contacts and email contacts. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=559601255 Dave Matteo

    How much? – I have a Thunderbolt now – is it worth the upgrade?

    • Trdracer21

      it i was you ill wait for gs3 announcement

  • Ahsan

    I received my phone yesterday so thought I would give you a few ups and downs as it may help your decision

    great visual and pretty much everything you expect from a top range smartphone, but WOW on the download speed as it is SUPER FAST
    poor packaging (dont let this put u off tho), a little laggy at times when flicking through apps or screens and battery is a bit weak. Also when browsing, the pinch technology needs work as the experience is not as smooth as you would expect form £500 quad core (I assume this is more ICS than HTC related)

    I owned an S2 and cannot see a massive difference other than download speed. I am really hoping that there are some software glitches that will be resolved with an update soon as I really dont want my beautiful quad core lagging or juddering…. My S2 never did that on Gingerbread so could be ICS????

    overall… Great Phone but NEEDS WORK…

  • Trdracer21

    @Marinperez:disqus do you think this phone will be better if it ran stock ics? instead of sense? 

    • Anonymous

      Sorry for not replying earlier – I do think it could run a bit better but you lose out on some neat Sense stuff. It all comes down to personal preferences. 

  • TAYYAB

    whats the price of htc one x

    • mec

      600 euro in europe

    • mec

      600 euro in europe

  • http://proworkshop.net/go/kindle3G/ Sonya

    Already pre-ordered one!

  • http://www.socialcubix.com/ Facebook App Developer

    Going to get my hands on it, very soon.

  • mec

    perfect review :)

  • Anonymous

    as Sean implied I am dazzled that a student able to make $9187 in one month on the computer. did you look at this site ===>> seekwork2home.blogspot.com

  • Anonymous

    as Sean implied I am dazzled that a student able to make $9187 in one month on the computer. did you look at this site ===>> seekwork2home.blogspot.com

  • Lisa Scattergood 78

    i had mine on 18th April 2012 and almost 3  weeks down the line my phone has just totally died on me, im really annoyed at this, im taking it back to o2 tomorrow, if this problem hadnt occured i would have been very satisfied with the phone and i was really impressed with it when it was working, i had an iphone 4 before this one, but wish i could now go back to an iphone 4 at least that never let me down n died on me, i mean this HTC one x just wont do anything wont charge or switch on.x

    • johnnyboy96

      Have you tried turning it on and off

  • http://att-uverse.webs.com/ Sharon Thomas

    The HTC One X smartphone is really smart. The design looks great and the software is designed well. The Sense 4 option in the mobile is wonderful. When will Google lift the UI restrictions on the latest version of Android?

  • http://twitter.com/gasOLINEstation Caroline Teo

    It would have been perfect if it had one MicroSD slot!. Double perfect if it had TWO MicroSD slots!.

  • Anonymous

    I owned this phone for a month now, and I’m a very happy owner.  I hear a lot of talk that GS3 is a better phone for its removable battery, microSD slot, and more features (even survived CNET torture tests), but One X nails in aesthetics and powerhouse galore.

    For those who are considering of getting this phone, be aware that a quad core version of One X may come out in Q3, once again exclusively for AT&T. 

    Thanks for the great review!  

  • Jstratocruiser

    much repetitive text and bla bla

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