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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 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.
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.
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.
The 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.
HTC 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.
The 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.
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.
HTC 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.)
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.
I'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 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.