Review by Sunetra Chakravati,
2/27/2012 4:50:45 PM
Brilliant and spacious screen, deep customisation, smart UI, excellent camera
The HTC One X is the first quad-core monster mobile to hit market, and the new flagship phone for the prolific mobile manufacturer. Boasting a huge range of excellent features, packed into a slim and desirable body, this Ice Cream Sandwich handset is already a massive contender for our Phone Of The Year award.
Check out our video of the HTC One X's design!
At first glance, the One X looks like your typical HTC phone. From the pleasingly rounded corners to the tough Gorilla Glass display, which stretches across almost the entire front, this is a good looking mobile.
Be warned that it's a sizeable beast, boasting a 4.7-inch screen that's on par with the HTC Titan and Sensation XL. People with dainty hands may prefer smaller members of the HTC One family, such as the HTC One S, but we had no problem handling the One X with a single hand. Part of that is down to the slim build – at just 8.9mm it's impressively slender.
The One X feels as solid as it looks, with a tough unibody shell. You can't crack it open to access the battery, and the SIM card has an iPhone-style slot that you need to jab with a paper clip to open. There's no microSD card slot, but you do get 32GB of internal storage (backed up by 25GB of free cloud storage through DropBox), so you shouldn't run out of space any time soon. You'll find a power button and 3.5mm jack on top, and volume controls and a Micro USB port on the glossy sides.
Flip the One X over and you'll find a soft-touch rear, that's reassuringly resistant to scuffs (unlike the Sony Xperia S, which marked up pretty quickly). A prominent feature is the jutting camera lens, which sticks out a couple of millimetres in the centre of the phone. We thought this might jab our sensitive thighs as we carried the One X in our pockets, but in truth we never even noticed it.
A 1.5GHz quad-core CPU powers the One X, making this one beast of a smartphone. Every app we tried started up in a couple of seconds and ran perfectly, and even with several going at once, we never saw any slowdown or stuttering. Combined with the 1GB of RAM, this phone won't be out of date any time soon. Built-in features such as NFC also help to future-proof the One X.
When we first heard that quad-core smartphones would be the ‘in' thing this year, our immediate thought was ‘what about the battery life?' We hate it when our mobile dies halfway through the day, and feared the worst for the One X.
Turns out our fears were wasted. Even with constant play, including web browsing, texting, shooting photos, calling friends, streaming YouTube vids and messing around with apps, the One X lasted almost 48 hours before it finally died. That's one of the best results we've seen from a modern smartphone, and beats plenty of single and dual-core handsets that are just coming out. This is apparently a result of the One X disabling some of its cores when they aren't needed, to drain as little power as possible. Colour us surprised, and also very pleased.
Check out our video on customising the HTC One X!
Android Ice Cream Sandwich comes pre-installed on the One X – no hanging around waiting for updates here. ICS runs perfectly, boosted by HTC's Sense 4.0 overlay, which adds a huge amount of personalisation and excellent features to an already excellent OS.
The lock screen is a thing of beauty, and deeply customisable. You can unlock the One X simply by dragging the bubble at the bottom of the screen into the middle, but that's just the beginning. Shortcuts to your Contacts, Texts, Email and Camera can be dragged into the bubble to immediately open those apps, which is handy when you receive a new message or need to take a quick snap.
Even better, open the ‘Personalise' app and you can fiddle with the One X's lock screen to add extra features. For instance, you can add your social networking accounts, for a quick view of your latest tweets and messages. Or how about your favourite contacts, so you can call, text or email your best buddies in just a couple of prods.
This personalisation continues on Android's desktops, which you can clutter with the usual shortcuts and widgets. You get a number of pre-installed skins and wallpapers, and can obviously use your own if preferred. You can even set up a number of different profiles (or ‘scenes'), each with their own individual desktops – so if you use completely different apps at work and home, your life will be much easier.
You'll notice three touch-sensitive buttons below the One X's screen – these are the Back, Home and Recent Apps options. Recent Apps shows you a scrollable list of everything you've used in the past day or so, a handy way to get them back up quick.
On to that beautiful 4.7-inch LCD2 screen. With a mind-boggling 1280x720 pixel resolution, photos and movies look incredibly sharp. Movie fiends will be glad for the spacious display, as you can pick out tons of details that you'd otherwise miss, and colours are vibrantly reproduced. Wide viewing angles means you can enjoy a video with friends, which we definitely recommend, if only to see their faces twist in envy.
The spacious display is also perfect for browsing the web. When zoomed right out of websites, we could still make out tiny text thanks to the sharp resolution. Scrolling around busy sites is a smooth experience, with almost no lag or refresh issues, and the touchscreen is responsive to every prod, swipe and pinch. Email and texting is also a doddle, as the busy Sense keyboard is given plenty of room.
If you use your phone for music, you'll be glad to hear that HTC has teamed up with Beats Audio to produce a crisp, full-bodied sound. Movies as well as tunes are really brought to life, via the powerful built-in speakers or your very own earphones. We'd recommend a decent pair to make the most of it.
Check out our video review of the HTC One X's camera!
We've seen some impressive cameras lately, including the excellent 12-megapixel snapper on the Sony Xperia S, but the One X takes things a step further with some brilliant features. The eight-megapixel lens shoots crisp, vibrant photos, but even more impressive is the f2.0 aperture, which allows more light in than standard phone lenses. That means that photos taken in low light come out much brighter than with other phones.
Other features such as an auto-adjusting flash mean your subject won't be overexposed if they stand a little too close, and you get the usual filters for funky effects. Check out our pics below to see the excellent results for yourself.
One feature we haven't seen on a smartphone camera before is the ability to take rapid-fire shots by holding down the shutter button. This takes several snaps each second, perfect for action shots. You can then review your shots and select the best one, if you wish to delete the others.
You can also shoot Full HD video – check out our example clip, shot in a low-lit room with difficult acoustics. The camera shot a surprisingly sharp and bright video, although the audio wavered. In normal use, the mic does a good job picking up voices, but audio quality isn't as strong as we'd hoped.
Even better, you can take photos while shooting video, eliminating the need to do screen grabs. It's little touches like this that make the HTC One X a truly remarkable mobile.
We rarely review a phone that gets everything right, but the HTC One X really is pure portable perfection. Between the friendly and highly tweakable interface, the sharp, colourful screen, the stirling build quality and the brilliant camera, it's pretty much impossible to find a single fault. Our only complaint is that, with this review in the bag, we have to give the damn thing back.