Let me preface this review by saying that if the lovely people at HTC (or some benefactor with some extra cash lying around) would be kind enough to deliver a nice white HTC One X to the Gearburn office soon, I will reconsider my plan to run away with the review model. Alternatively, I am willing to name my first born child (or my next cat) ‘One’ or ‘X’, if this would suffice as payment.
Okay, I am being (slightly) hyperbolic, but if you can spend a day with this phone without thinking it deserves some sort of shrine, please let me know. If you’re sitting there going “but… it’s an HTC!” then it is my duty to inform you that this is its flagship product and a pretty darn good option for people who aren’t sold on the Galaxy S III or a phone made by that company named after a fruit.
This is possibly the most beautiful phone I have seen, ever. It’s all sleek lines, rounded edges and simplicity with the One X. It has just two obtrusive physical buttons: the unlock button on the top and the volume rocker on the right side. The three buttons at the base of the phone look like a seamless continuation of the screen. The micro SIM card slots in through a tray at the top, which is almost invisible after you pop it back in. There’s a MHL port on the left side, a tiny camera on the front, a miniscule secondary noise-cancelling mic on the top and a silver-ringed camera on the back. If you look at the phone from the side, you’ll see that it’s actually ever so slightly curved — the ends are faintly raised, but the Gorilla Glass fills the space so that the screen is still straight. Wow.
The camera on the back sticks out a fair few millimetres — it’s not hideous to look at, but it freaked me out a bit at first because slapping down the phone camera-first is a sure way to scratch the glass to pieces. But then I looked closer — the One X actually rests on the base of the metal ring, which means the camera won’t touch the surface when the phone is resting on its back. Nice one, HTC.
The One X is very skinny at 8.9 mm thick, but is definitely not something you could quickly pop into any old pocket or the standard-size cell phone slot in your bag — it’s 134.4 mm tall and just under 70 mm wide. The entire delightful construction comes in matt white and grey, and weighs 130 grams.
Quad-core 1.5 GHz CPU, anyone? The One X is all sorts of fast. It’s actually dizzying — the phone loads apps pretty much before you’ve lifted your finger from the screen and it never hung or crashed while I was testing it out. The Location app impressed me the most: I’m used to waiting for eons for navigation apps to start, but this was a two second wait using the One X. The device runs Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich if you prefer the dessert names) and HTC Sense 4 and although not everyone thinks HTC’s adaptations to the OS are in its best interest, it didn’t annoy me excessively.
The phone comes standard with Beats Audio, but honestly, it’s not life-changing. The speakers are great — not a lot of that awful tininess that tends to come hand-in-hand with music playback on cellphones — but the Beats option doesn’t seem to make that much of a difference. You can only use Beats when you plug in some earphones, but toggling between the different sound options just seems to make the song seem a little bit louder, or gives the bass more prominence.
The display may actually be too amazing. It’s a 720 x 1280 pixel, 4.7 inch LCD 2 screen — that’s 312 ppi. It’s nothing short of magnificent. Everything looks beautiful — a photo of a pale cloudy day looks as good as a sunset snapshot. It’s a bit disillusioning actually. I took some test shots of waves crashing over a deep blue tidal pool– when I looked at the photo later on my computer and on another phone, it looked like someone had dumped litres of bleach in the ocean. The colours are quite oversaturated on the One X — images and videos that look bright and vivid on the screen are probably more washed out than that amazing, 16 million colour display lets on (as the photo above shows). But if you’re happy to swish around in a multi-coloured wonderland, you’ll be happy to know the display glows just as happily in the sun as it does indoors.
Keyboard and Memory
The capacitive touchscreen, coupled with the size of the phone, make typing on this phone seem like second nature. The autocorrect is near faultless, and the .com button that pops up when you’re typing in the browser makes life much easier. Even though the phone is quite large, you can still easily reach the top and bottom of the screen with your thumb and stretching across the keyboard to type with one hand isn’t difficult. There are quite a few arrows pointing in different directions on the keyboard (seven, to be exact) which can make it all a bit confusing until you know what they all do. It’s also one of the only phones I’ve reviewed so far that actually knows the difference between a gentle tilt and the desire to change the screen rotation — the One X doesn’t shuffle the keyboard into landscape when you start typing at a slight angle.
I don’t know if you picked up earlier on (when I was muttering on about how pretty the One X is) that I didn’t mention an SD card slot. That’s because there isn’t one. The phone has 32 GB internal memory, but only 26 GB of that is available for its owner to use as they please. It also has 1 GB of RAM.
In general, the camera on the One X is good — but it’s not perfect. The front-facing camera is 1.3 mega pixels and the one on the rear is an 8 mega pixel (3264×2448) camera with autofocus and an LED flash. It works beautifully in a lot of different situations, and there is next to no shutter delay. Click, and it’s done. It’s capable of simultaneous HD video and image recording, plus a bunch of features ranging from artistic focus options to geo-tagging and face and smile detection. It doesn’t work as well in low light situations – my attempts to take a photo of a lady bug on my desk one evening left me with lots of shots of a fuzzy red blob (if I used the flash, the photos turned out completely white).
Also, if you’re super fussy about the details, this next part may make or break it for you. Even with all those megapixels, if you zoom in to the image (even a little bit), you can see some fuzzy looking edges. I thought it was all in my head until I saw this photo comparison between the One X, the S III and the iPhone 4S. But the camera is more than adequate for general picture-taking and sharing, and shoots decent HD video at 24 frames per second. Don’t believe me? I’ve included some test shots (landscape, close up indoors, outdoors in full sunlight).
Data and Phone
No problems here. The One X didn’t have any of the Wi-Fi issues I’ve experienced with other devices, and plodded along happily even when the router was located three rooms away or on a different storey. It’s Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n , hotspot and NFC capable and browsing on the native app was fast and intuitive.
The 1800 mAh Lithium-ion polymer battery is a trooper. It’s sealed away inside the One X, so I can’t thank it personally for fairing so admirably (or swap it out easily if it gives up on me), but it once survived for one day, one hour and 12 minutes before it started bleeping about only having 15% of battery power remaining. It obviously varies depending on what you do with it, but that processor and mammoth screen won’t suck it completely dry in a hurry.
Look, you know what I’m going to say. I pretty much made my decision a few days ago, when I (temporarily) misplaced the phone and the thought that entered my head was “where has my baby gone?” The phone is beautiful (have I stressed that enough?), it runs faster than I can describe and is more than capable of handling anything you’d like to throw at it. If you have around US $680 to spend on a smartphone (the price varies depending on your location), I suggest you get this one. Gear it, 100%.
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