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HTC have been one of leading manufacturers of Android and Windows powered smartphones since the end of the last decade. Historically, the Taiwanese hardware manufacturer has released several different styles of handsets each year, meaning that consumers were often left confused as to which was the most up to date flagship device. HTC have taken this criticism onboard and have announced that their policy now will be to concentrate on quality rather than quantity.
The new HTC flagship device, the One X was greeted with much excitement when it was announced in February 2012 but would this be the device to resurrect HTC as a company and cement Androids place as the world’s most popular operating system.
First impressions of the One X are that it is a beautiful handset to look at. Apart from a thin trim around the edges, the entire frontage of the phone is taken up with the 4.7 inch screen. In recent months, handset sizes have gone full circle where small was once the fashion, large is definitely the look for 2012. If you are upgrading from a small handset, attempting to make a call from the One X will initially feel unnatural due to the fact that your hand will need to be held wider than you are used to. This could cause aching on extremely long calls but on the whole it is something that you will get used to over time. The design of the phone will help you to quickly forget that you are holding a monster in your hand, unlike the Samsung Galaxy Note which literally feels like you are holding a brick.
HTC have rightly or wrongly, depending on your viewpoint moved the micro USB port to the side of the phone instead of the normal position of the bottom of the handset. This does cause a few issues if you are using the phone in your left hand whilst charging it as the USB cable does have a tendency to get in the way of your natural holding position.
The phone also contains a 1.3 megapixel front facing camera, proximity sensor (for detecting when the phone is to your ear, in your pocket, etc) and the standard Android buttons (back, home, recent apps) although these are being phased out in preference for software buttons.
The back of the phone boasts an 8 megapixel camera which we’ll look at in closer detail in a moment. On the top lip of the phone, there is a slot for the SIM card and headphone jack. It is worth noting that if you are buying the handset outright with the intention of using your existing SIM card, the HTC One X uses a micro SIM card, the same as those used in the iPhone so you may need to cut your SIM down to size or get your network provider to send you a new one.
The HTC One X is one of the slimmest handsets currently on the market. This is down to HTC’s decision
Pictures of HTC One X 32GB
HTC One X Homescreen (actual view)
to ship the device in a sealed case. The downside of this decision is that the battery cannot be removed which may cause issues later on in the phone’s lifetime. HTC have also opted for onboard memory meaning that there is no provision for extra storage in the form of external SD cards.
Under the bonnet
HTC have really pushed the boundaries with the HTC One X in terms of the hardware specification. Powered by the nVidia Tegra 3 processor, the One X is one of the first quad core handsets on the market. The phone actually has a fifth companion core which is designed to do all of the standard phone features such as calling, texting and emailing. This companion core serves two purposes, firstly it frees up the main cores so that they can concentrate on the heavy processing that is required to run the fabulous Sense interface and high quality games. It also means that if you are not doing anything that requires high powered processing, the companion core will use less battery power, prolonging the life of the handset between charges.
The phone comes with 32Gb onboard storage. This is split into what the phone describes as internal storage and phone storage. Internal storage contains the Android operating system and program information. Phone storage is similar to an external SD card in the sense that it is visible as a disk drive when the phone is connected to a computer via a USB cable. After the operating system has been taken into consideration there is approximately 2Gb of free space on the internal storage and 25.5Gb of phone storage free for you to install your apps and music and for storing photos and videos taken with the handset. Although this space cannot be increased, it will be more than adequate for most users.
The HTC One X is powered by the Android 4 operating system (Ice Cream Sandwich) which has come on leaps and bounds in the 2 years since I bought my HTC Desire, running Android 2.2. Ice Cream Sandwich now allows you to manage so many more aspects of your phone with information and performance indicators about virtually every key factor of the phone. With this information to hand, you can easily tune performance to give you a nice balance between performance and time between recharges.
My main concern about the One X prior to purchasing it was that the battery wouldn’t be able to cope with all the high tech hardware that was in the phone. The battery however performs so much better than the one in my Desire although the time between cycles will be very much dependant on your own personal activity. If you are going to be predominantly using the handset for calls, texts and bit of Internet browsing then the handset will easily last over 24 hours between charges, something of an achievement for today’s smartphones. However, the fact that you’ve bought a beast probably means you want to test drive it to the limits, after all you don’t buy a Ferarri and then just run it to the shops!! Playing high intensity games on the One X will see your battery drain from 100% to very little in the matter of a couple of hours. With this in mind it is worth ensuring that you carry your charger with you wherever you go.
The battery indicator on the One X is one of the most helpful I’ve ever seen on a smartphone to date. As well as showing you a graph of how quickly your battery has drained, it also gives you tips on how to preserve the longevity of the battery by doing such things as reducing the screen brightness and the volume of the handset.
The phone’s default setting is for auto brightness which means that it will adjust to your current lighting conditions. Personally, I would manually set the brightness as even on 30-40% brightness, you won’t ever have any problems viewing the screen.
The One X uses a 720p SLCD2 HD screen and it doesn’t just blow everything else out of the water, it buries it at the bottom of the sea. Never before have I seen a screen that comes anywhere close to the brilliance of that on the One X. It makes Samsung’s amoled and Apples retina display screens look like yesterday’s news. Even now after owning the phone for a while, I still look at the screen and think ,’wow’. It really is that good. Even a screen full of text looks beautiful but add in a photograph and the results are simply stunning.
As the technology is extremely new, there was a software bug in the first month of the phones release which forced the screen to flicker in certain conditions. This bug has now been fixed although I was fortunate enough, never to have had the symptoms on my phone.
HTC have invested a lot of time and money in getting the camera right for the One X. One of the main criticisms of previous HTC handsets has been that the cameras have always been substandard. The issues that have affected previous handsets have now gone and the camera on the One X is now up there with the best of them. The HTC camera software allows many shooting modes such as portrait, group portrait, panoramic and close up. This gives the user far more options than ever before on a HTC phone.
The One X is the first phone that allows you to shoot video and take photos at the same time. This is a great advantage for capturing those treasured moments. For example, at my kids sports days, I’ve always had to decide whether I wanted to video their races or just take stills of them as they passed. Now with the One X I can do both at the same time. I can even take stills afterwards as I am watching the recorded video footage making this an exceptional feature for ensuring you never miss that magical moment.
As with all high end HTC handsets, the One X comes with Beats Audio support. When used with suitable headphones, the Beats Audio chip inside the phone enhances the listening experience. Whilst I don’t possess a pair of Beats headphones, the sound though my Sony headphones is greatly improved on the One X over the Desire. Even turning the Beats profile off on the One X shows how the technology works as the quality is nowhere near as good without it turned on.
HTC have agreed a deal with cloud storage provider Dropbox. Using Dropbox on your One X will give you an extra 23Gb of cloud storage for the next 2 years. There are several tasks which need completing before you get the full allocation but these are simple to accomplish, meaning that you will have over 25Gb by the time all tasks are completed. If you wish, you can get your One X to automatically synchronise your images and videos with Dropbox which is a great way of backing up your files without any extra work. Once the images are on Dropbox you can share them by circulating the URL given when you set them as sharable.
Previous HTC handsets have only entered Car Mode once they have been paired with an official HTC car kit. With the One X, car mode is available even when not connected to a car kit. In car mode, users can make easy use of the Google Navigator, Tune In Radio, any music installed on the handset and calling. The buttons in Car Mode are vastly bigger than standard operation and are sensibly spaced out so that operation can be carried out without losing concentration of the road.
The HTC One X is the best handset currently on the market, this is not up for debate. Some people may be put off by the size of the handset and this does take a bit of getting used to but it is not a major problem. With sensible use, the battery in the One X will last longer than the majority of handsets already available but excessive gaming and high usage will require a couple of charges throughout the day. The screen on the One X needs to be seen to be believed, all images that accompany this review are actual screenshots taken from my One X and even though they have been increased in size, they are exactly how they appear on the 4.7 inch screen.
With 32Gb onboard, most people are going to be satisfied with the storage available to them. If you every get close to filling this up then there is always the additional Dropbox space ensuring almost 60Gb is available without needing to pay out on additional storage.
Up until now, most people have perceived the iPhone to be the smartphone that all other manufacturers were aspiring to beat. The boundaries have now moved and the HTC One X has raised the bar so much higher. With the imminent release of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the inevitable future release of the iPhone 5, the future of the smartphone market is looking healthy.
In my opinion the One X is an amazing phone that nobody should be without. To buy the handset outright costs around £450 from Amazon, Carphone Warehouse, etc. I personally got mine on contract in order to spread the costs over 2 years so it is worth shopping around for the best deals.