HTC One X: One Month Later

Wednesday 02nd, May 2012 / 11:30 Written by
HTC One X: One Month Later

The HTC One X is HTC’s Flagship device for this year, and (along with the One S and the One V), is a device that HTC is betting quite a bit on. HTC hasn’t been the premier Android OEM for a while now; Samsung currently holds that spot, and with that, hasn’t had a very good couple of years, financially that is.

We’ve been using the Device for a little over 3 weeks now and here are our impressions of the device.
Before we move on, here’s a roundup of the Specs:
Processor: 1.5 GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 (International Version)
Display: 4.7″ 720p (1280×720) SLCD2
Storage: 32GB (~26GB available), No Expansion Slots, 1GB RAM
Connectivity: WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC,  Quadband GSM, Quadband HSPA, DLNA, WiFi Direct
Software: Android 4.0 with Sense 4
Imaging: 8MP Camera, 1080p Video Recording
Battery: 1800 mAh, Non Removable.

What’s in the Box?

The box contains the basics; A USB wall wart, data cable and a pair of ear buds. The cable of the ear buds seem to be durable and they’re flat, but the buds themselves aren’t the in-ear type! It’s such a shame HTC didn’t bother bundling proper in-ear headphones (and no, Beats Headphones do not count).

First Impressions

The device is made out of machined polycarbonate, just like the Lumia 800 & 900. What does that mean? The build is absolutely solid. The screen, which is slightly curved outwards in all directions, is crisp, with good colour reproduction and is really sharp all around. The device itself doesn’t feel big, and I’ve had a couple of people ask me if this was the same display size as the Samsung Galaxy SII. The one area of concern was the Camera, with protrudes from the rear, with the lens flush against the metallic ring.

Hardware

The build of the One X is top-notch. The front is dominated by the curved Gorilla Glass that protects the huge display and the three capacitive buttons. Unlike the previous generation devices, these buttons map to the Ice Cream Sandwich softkeys: Back, Home and the Multitasking Key. On the Galaxy Nexus, these are on-screen keys, which has both advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages faced by HTC’s decision is about software, which we’ll discuss in the next area. The front also has a 1.3MP camera, which was okay for Skype and Hangouts (or Tango).

The top houses the Power Button, the 3.5mm Headphone jack, a secondary noise cancellation microphone and the tray for the Micro-Sim. The bottom has the primary microphone. The left side just has one slot for the Micro-USB port, which thankfully support MHL (which means you can use an MHL adapter for HDMI output). The right side has the volume rocker, which is just slightly raised from the body itself, and that’s a bit of an issue because it’s hard to distinguish the buttons. The phone feels like a HTC device, just better.

Software

The device runs Android 4.0 with HTC’s Sense 4 on top (and deep inside). It isn’t a “Vanilla” Android Ice Cream Sandwich device, which led a lot of people to scream “Blasphemy”. Honestly though, which Ice Cream Sandwich has done a lot towards “beautifying” the stock Android Experience, this time, Sense does make sense. I have not been a fan of HTC Sense; Sense 2 added a lot of features that were sort of missing from Android at that time, but Sense 3 and 3.5 just got bloated, with over the top animations and effects that didn’t add anything to the experience. Sense 4 is slimmed down, and honestly, this is the first time I haven’t used a launcher to remove the stock feel (like I have done with TouchWiz before). There are no “3D Carousel” effects, which honestly was headache inducing.

Even the app drawer has an almost stock ICS feel (without the transition effects); you have access to the Play Store on the top right corner, the drawer is horizontal and not vertical like in earlier HTC devices, and the tabs at the bottom which provide shortcuts to the whole tray, favourites and downloaded apps can be edited and removed. A few things that Sense does add include Skydrive, Dropbox and Flickr integration, which is a nice touch. You also get 25GB of Dropbox Storage for 2 Years, which is a really nice touch.

Among all the bundled apps, the ones I found most useful were the Tasks & Notes apps; the Tasks app works perfectly with Google Tasks, and the Notes apps syncs with Evernote. The new HTC keyboard has pretty decent autocorrect, which helps, because I managed to type this segment using the keyboard on the Notes app. You can also use the voice dictation service directly from the keyboard; just tap the mic icon.

The accuracy of text input via voice is going to vary from person to person of course; it worked about 50% of the time when I tried using it. Sense 4 also has a different approach to the multitasking list; instead of a vertical overlay, where you can dismiss apps with a swipe to the side on stock ICS, you get a different screen with a Horizontal list, and you need to flick apps upwards to get rid of them. It isn’t that much of a difference in general use though.

The overall experience is only marred by the three small dots that pop up for apps that aren’t optimized for ICS; this is the legacy menu button for old apps, which, in stock ICS on the Galaxy Nexus, would pop up along with the on-screen soft-control keys. HTC has had to tack this on (and it does feel like it was tacked on), and it does detract from the overall experience in apps that haven’t been updated.

We tested the device on Software versions 1.26 and 1.28. There should be an update rolling out now to version 1.29, which should make your general experience snappier.

Battery Life 

The phone has an 1800 mAh battery, which is non removable. Couple this with the fact that it has a quad-core processor and a huge, high-resolution LCD display, and you’d expect pretty pathetic battery life. With normal (Moderately Heavy) use though, we were pleasantly surprised as it almost managed to make it through a day. Check out the screen shots below. This was with Sync on for 2 Gmail Accounts, an Exchange account, Twitter, and many more services running in the background. With really heavy use, it managed to get to half this time before it died out, which is not bad at all.

Comparing the One X against the HTC Sensation, their previous flagship device, here are a few of the differences.

  • Screen Size/Display – As you can see in the image below, the One X, while having a bigger display, is just a tad taller than the Sensation.  There’s pretty much no comparison here; the 720p SLCD2 display on the One X is miles ahead of the qHD SLCD display on the Sensation.
  • Processor/Memory – The Sensation had an 1.2 GHz dual core Snapdragon and 768 MB of RAM, which was a snappy setup that was completely destroyed by the heavy Sense 3 Framework (Skin). The one upside though, was the expandable Micro SD slot. The One X’s Tegra 3 processor, along with the relatively light Sense 4, makes a huge difference, although I would attribute it more to the software than the hardware on the One X.
HTC have come a long way from the Previous Generation devices, with much better build, and more importantly, improved software.
Now, a fair comparison in terms of screen size would be against the Samsung Galaxy Note (Read our review here).
  • Screen Size/Display: The 5.3″ 1280×800 Super Amoled Display is quite brilliant, with really vibrant colours. The 4.7″ 720p display on the One X on the other hand, has much better colour reproduction (and higher pixel density).
  • Phone Overall: After using the Note for an extended period, pretty much every other device feels small. The Note does have the S-Pen which does provide a pretty decent On screen writing/drawing experience, thanks to the Wacom Digitizer, and this still is a standout feature, apart from the overall size that is.
  • Battery: Here’s another place where the Note managed to do really well, the battery life is quite good AND you can replace the battery, which is a HUGE plus.
  • Processor/Memory: The 1.4 GHz Exynos processor (pretty much the same one used in the Galaxy S2) along with the software optimizations done made for a really smooth experience while using the Note. The One X though, is on a different level in terms of smoothness though. It’s much better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imaging 

HTC has been pushing the Imaging capabilities of the One X (and the One Series in general), and there’s a lot of talk about their Image Sense. There are a few add ons to the camera that are quite good, including the ability to take HDR shots, and having access to effects while shooting. The biggest add-ons though, are the Burst Mode; just hold down the shot key, and you’ll capture full frame images at upto 4 fps, and it’ll keep capturing up to 99 photos at a stretch, and the ability to take photos while taking videos; all you have to do is tap the photo capture key while shooting a video. There’s no mode shifting, etc; you have access to everything on the main screen. Here are a few screenshots of the camera interface.
HTC has also added some editing capabilities from the gallery, including adding filters, and tweaking the colours, sharpness, contrast and more. Here are a couple of examples:

Normal Shot

 

With Filters and Additonal Tweaks

HDR Shot

HDR Shot with Filter and Additional Tweaks

Final Impressions

Is the One X the “One” for you? Well, that depends on your budget.For the price, you get brilliant build quality, a really good screen, a good (if not exactly great) camera, and decent battery life. This is, by far, the Best Android device I’ve used so far! There is the looming specter of the Samsung Galaxy S3 of course.

About the author

Drummer, Car enthusiast and wanna be rally driver, between jobs and loving it! @raghukannan

View all articles by Raghu Kannan

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