HTC was without a doubt one of the brands that I thought would lead the Android revolution. In many ways, it was one of the early pioneers, but for the past year, HTC has been nearly invisible. Several poor designs, poor time to market, and before you knew it HTC was eclipsed. Samsung in particular has been very dominant of late. Creative designs, solid specs, great screens, etc. all led Samsung to dominate the latest wave of Android devices. After several failed attempts at new products, HTC announced a few new products including the HTC One X. With some fairly impressive specs (notably the quad-core and 720p HD screen), the latest Android, and with HTC’s Sense UI – it seemed as if HTC might be finally back. I had to find out.
HTC bought Beats last year and has started to incorporate it into devices. With the One X, HTC decided to also launch a “Premium” set that included a pair of Beats Headphones. I signed up for the early launch, and when I got the e-mail asking me to go collect it, I went down to collect my package. HTC was really gracious enough to offer those of us that signed up for the set early, a slight discount of nearly 10%. We love the marketing!
The One X looks like many of HTC’s previous designs – curved edges are the norm now. But what strikes me about the handset is how thin it is. Officially, that’s 8.9mm (0.4mm thinner than the iPhone) – it feels fantastic. The handset comes with a 4.7” screen and so the handset’s size is very much guided by this screen size. While it may be large, its not overly large (like the Galaxy Note) and still very much feels like a handset. At 130 grams, the One X is not lightest but by no means is it heavy. The solid, metallic construction may add to the weight, but it feels very well built, unlike the plastic feel of the Galaxy S2/Note and comparable to the iPhone – this feels sturdy.
I chose the white color handset and there is a fantastic contrast with the white color of the back and the black front. The screen has a black border around it, which is a different design to almost every phone that normally has very little framing. The contrast does actually look very nice and makes the screen seem larger than it really is. The Premium set comes with a set of White Beats by Dr. Dre BeatsSolo Headset. The usual charger, USB cable, and a headset are also included in the box. You also get a small tool to open the Sim card slot.
The phone is actually slightly curved, something that started with other handsets like those by Samsung. I always thought this was an odd design – why make it curved? But when you use the phone, and especially during a call, it does actually seem to make sense and feels ergonomically correct.
At the bottom of the screen is a touchpad for Back, Home, and Recent Apps function. There is no ‘button’ for home but instead is a touchpad that works just as well, but without that feedback of a button.
The Power button is at the top with the Up/Down bar on the right. This took a little getting used to as all the Galaxy devices and the iPhone have this on the left side. The charging port (standard micro USB) is on the side though, which is quite different from other handsets. This means that there isn’t a “charging dock” that props up the handset like iPhone and Samsung handsets. There may be one later that charges it on the side, but I don’t think that is as nice or practical like the other handsets. There are these exposed metallic dots on the back of the handset which may serve some other purpose. If they are designed to connect to a dock (for charging) or connect in some way to external devices, then this concern would be moot. But I haven’t seen anything announced as of yet.
To my surpise, there is no back cover to remove. No access to the battery or any other slot. This is akin to an iPhone and a departure for HTC. I guess the design of the handset precluded such access. I’m not sure if I like or don’t like this. Honestly, I rarely take off the back cover on phones anyways. I have an external battery pack for on-the-fly charging (instead of carrying around an extra battery), so there really isn’t a need to remove the back cover on any phone.
I do wish that the phone had a micro SD card slot as it would make transferring over data more easily from my other phones. Nevertheless, the phone comes with 32GB of built-in capacity. HTC also provides you with 25Gb of Dropbox space, though this is only for two years. Be warned that after two years, I’m sure Dropbox will charge you for the extra space.
To access the Sim card slot, just like the iPhone, you push a pin into a slot and the card slides out. Interestingly, it’s a Micro-Sim card slot. The One X is one of the first non-Apple phones that I have come across to use the Micro-Sim card slot as well. Luckily, my Sim card is already a Micro-Sim card. Still, anyone with multiple Sim cards, that intends on switching out Sim cards will, like the iPhone, need to resize them to Micro-Sim. Not really an issue I guess given the proliferation of the iPhone and its use of the Micro-Sim size.
Overall, the design of the One X is very good. I would have preferred the charger plug at the bottom (with the potential option of a charging stand) and the addition of a micro-SD card slot, but otherwise, its very good. Some may prefer the option of a removable battery, but with the popularity of the iPhone despite the lack of a removable battery, I don’t think this is a deal-breaker for most.
theVooner says: Form Rating
4 out of 5 - Ideal size device with a great design. Lack of micro SD card slot, removable battery, and different charger port location are minor shortcomings.
The most important spec in the One X is the fact it uses a Quad-core 1.5GHz processor. This is a notable upgrade from the dual-core processors of late. And the improvement is very noticeable. I don’t know if its HTC’s spectacular UI or the processor, but this is the fastest, most reactive phone I have used (as responsive, if not more, than the iOS). The reaction time, transition screens, and just general use are very quick. The tactile feedback and haptic responses feel instantaneous and smooth.
As a result of this processor, applications just seem better. Apps designed for the Android 4.0 like the Chrome Browser (Beta) are very quick. Not only do apps load quickly, but within the apps, the functions just seem faster. Games, messaging, multi-tasking, etc. all are quicker and better than in previous versions. The combination of Android 4.0.3 and HTC Sense UI 4.0 works well. All of the positives of the Sense UI are there and it just makes the phone feel so much better. I had forgotten how good it was having not used a HTC phone for the past 18 months. This is especially apparent on the Galaxy Nexus, which is just the Android system on its own, and I certainly can see the difference.
theVooner is a huge Android fan and this phone only helps elevate the OS. The bottom line is simple: this is the fastest Android handset that I have ever used, and it certainly shows. Adding the Sense UI only completes the experience. Compared to the Galaxy S2, the Galaxy Note, and even the Galaxy Nexus, this phone is quicker and smoother than any of the past champions.
One thing new that I had not seen before on previous Android devices was the ability to transfer your information from one device to another. On the start-up, I was asked if I wanted to do so and I selected ‘Yes’. The good thing was that this helped copy many of the applications that was already installed on my previous phone. It even kept some of the settings and information. It did not transfer my SMS messages, which was disappointing. It also created a number of duplicates in my Contacts list (replicating what I had on my Google account with the phone), but this was easily resolved within Google itself on a desktop (selecting ‘Merge duplicates’). Otherwise though, this was a pretty nice feature.
The One X comes with a Super IPS LCD2 4.7” 720p screen. The screen has a resolution of 720×1280 that makes it one of the best screens available in the market. And it really shows. Images are especially crisp and with the processor, it really does look amazing. 4.7” is actually the perfect size for a smartphone. While I really like the Galaxy Note, its 5.3” screen can be a bit big for most and does make the device more of a hybrid. The One X is a smartphone. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next incarnation of the iPhone moves to a 4.7” screen.
The Galaxy Nexus has similar resolutions to this, but the One X does look better. It’s also much brighter. Turning both phones to the maximum brightness, the One X appears to be a little brighter. This phone outperforms the Galaxy S2 and even the small screen of the iPhone doesn’t look as good as the One X. Only the Galaxy Note is comparable. All in all, a massive improvement over previous HTC screens and finally a top notch one to compete.
Beats Audio: While I was thought it was a brilliant piece of marketing genius for HTC to buy Beats, I wonder if incorporating Beats into a handset was nothing more than just a gimmick. But to my pleasant surprise – it works! And works well. HTC has never been known for its audio quality, but this handset sounds very good. I’ve generally been happy with the sound quality of the Galaxy S2/Note/Nexus and the iPhone has always been more than capable. But HTC handsets haven’t always had the greatest output. The addition of Beats Audio seems to bring it back up to par.
When I plug in a pair of earphones/headphones, the built-in Beats Audio enhancement turns on (you can select to turn it off), which does improve the sound. The bass seems bigger and the sound more rich as a result of Beats. This is a welcome addition. The built-in speaker is half decent. Though I feel the Galaxy S2/Note have better speakers, it is more than adequate for calls or music.
One of the biggest complaints I have had with the iPhone is that it’s a really poor phone. Dropped calls and poor connections are just some of my frustrations (especially with the 4S). The One X didn’t seem to suffer any of these issues. I have been using it for the past 5 days and I have no issues with it as a phone.
The One X has an 8MP lens that takes very good photos. I tried to compare it to the camera images from other phones, but this is a subjective call. For me, the photos were about the same as the Galaxy S2/Note and slightly better than the iPhone. (This, of course, is very subjective and does depend on many different factors – for me, the One X camera is very good.) The flash is powerful but not overwhelming. The front-facing camera is adequate.
In addition, the phone comes with an amazing array of enhancements for the camera, all designed to make a good photo great. Options like HDR, Panorama and low light are included as well as numerous effects such as Vignette, Sepia, and Vintage (among others). All of these make the One X a really strong device for taking photos. I took a few videos and played them back on a computer. They looked very crisp and clear. I still haven’t played with all the different functions yet though, but the camera looks very capable.
The 1800mAh battery is more than adequate for a full day of use. As a new device for me, of course I was using it more than usual over these past few days and importantly, the battery held out. I ran it down to about 16% after a full day of use, which for me is good enough. I charge my phone every night and have access to a charger (car, office, external battery etc.) throughout the day. Still I’m glad it lasted for a day even though I deliberately turn off ‘Automatic Brightness’ and set all my phones at the mid-point of brightness by default.
theVooner says: Function Rating
5 out of 5 – Speedy performance driven by a quad-core processor and a great screen help make this a fantastic Android phone.
Overall, given the excellent performance of the phone, this has moved to the top of my handset recommendation list. It finally showcases the speed and power of the Android system. I believe we have a handset that can really challenge the iOS and bodes well for future generations of Android.
HTC didn’t skimp on the other factors that it thinks users want as well, putting in a very good camera with a ton of features and enhancements. Beats audio is a great marketing ploy, and honestly, it does work. The Premium set package is a great marketing ploy.
This is probably my 7th or 8th Android handset, but it is definitely the best one yet. Even the same apps that I have been using phone after phone seem “better” on this handset. A sharper screen with a much faster interface just makes it all flow really well. If you are in the market for a new phone, looking for an alternative to the iPhone, or just want an upgrade – the HTC One X is definitely one to consider.
theVooner says: Factor Rating
5 out of 5 – This is the best Android phone right now. Exceptional speed and a great screen is all that you need. It just works.