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.

Galaxy Note ICS upgrade delayed by Samsung till Q2, but with a good reason (video)

Although Samsung Galaxy S II users have been enjoying their Android 4.0 goodness, it seems the Galaxy Note has been slow off the mark. Samsung originally announced the Galaxy Note would be getting Ice Cream Sandwich along the Galaxy S II in the Q1 of 2012, but has since moved this back to Q2 instead. This however, does come with it’s advantages, mainly the fact that is will be arriving worldwide as part of the new “Premium Suite” software upgrade packed with exclusive applications aimed to emphasize the unique abilities of the S-Pen stylus. Such applications include the S Note, which allows you to combine notes and drawings with pictures or even other apps such as Formula match and Shape match which are also new to the scene to assist recognition of hand drawn formulas and geometric shapes. The final app bundled into this upgrade is My Story, designed to help you create personalized e-cards using any type of content including notes, video content, photos, text or voice. And for those looking to be less productive and have a bit more fun, Samsung have provided a treat in the way of an exclusive Galaxy Note level in the new Angry Birds Space game and free access to 30 “Danger Zone” levels available within the 3 month period.

Now don’t worry, like the Galaxy S II upgrade, the Galaxy Note will be receiving new Android 4.0 features such as Face Unlock and Snapshot . The upgrade will also include swipe to dismiss notifications and the ability to terminate recently opened applications by just swiping them away.

So go ahead and watch that video kindly provided by Samsung and get a preview of what is to come for the Galaxy Note and the “Premium Suite”.

Source: Samsung Press Release

And the Ice Cream Sandwich wheels starts rolling…or so we thought (updated)

We’ve all been waiting for it, to see some of our beloved Android 2.3 Gingerbread devices get some tasty updates.

Sense 3.6 OTA update
HTC Sensation Android 4.0 OTA update

It started with HTC secretly rolling out their updates for the Sensation and Sensation XE in Nordic countries, these lucky devices have received the much awaited Sense 3.6 served on top of a slice of Android 4.0. This update was first reported over XDA by some folks taking part in the HTC Elevate program, but later we heard from users there not in the program that they too were receiving the update. The HTC Headquarters soon confirmed “broader availability later this month”.

It wasn’t long after this before another big name jumped on the Ice Cream Sandwich update wagon though.

ICS update for SGS2
Official Android 4.0 update for i9100 announced by Samsung

That’s right, March 10th and the date is set. Samsung have said it will only be a matter of days before Samsung Galaxy S II owners get there well deserved Android 4.0 – TouchWiz UI styled – available through Kies and FOTA, but it’s only going to be ready on the i9100 (international version) for now. Some things to take note of in the release notes is that the update will include Face Unlock (as expected), Android Beam, data usage monitoring, and multitasking and some applications have been improved. We’re sure there are more features not noted, but strangely the site specifies that because of “ICS OS Feature”, Flash and Bluetooth 3.0 HS is not supported.

The update is to come to the many SGSII variants and their individual carriers in due time, but not without plenty of testing on their end first. At least this and HTC’s rollout of Sense 3.6 to the Nordic countries today means that the ICS train is finally gaining some momentum. For readers out there with i9100, check out the link below to Samsung’s site for more information and instructions on the update.

Samsung Update Details

XDA: ICS HTC Sensation Update

UPDATE: Samsung’s official Twitter account has gone back on the words written on its official website. Samsung says that the March 10th date was a mistake posted by its Filipino website and that the actual upgrade date has not yet been established.

Notion Ink Partners with Texas Instruments; Announces the Adam II

Notion Ink has been a company that everyone has seen a lot of potential in, but their first device, the Adam, didn’t really live up to expectations. You can read our full review of the Adam, here. The Pixel-Qi Screen wasn’t all that legible in sunlight, the touchscreen wasn’t all that sensitive to touch input, and it was stuck running Froyo (officially that is). Notion Ink announced a Pre Alpha release of Ice Cream Sandwich a while back, and recently announced a proper Alpha build. What is exciting is the news that Notion Ink will soon have a new tablet out, the Adam II, and that it’ll run Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box. Oh, and the fact that they’ve teamed up with Texas Instruments and will use the new OMAP SOC.

Here’s the Full Press Release:

Notion Ink partners with Texas Instruments

21 January 2012, Bangalore

Notion Ink has partnered with Texas Instruments (TI) Incorporated for its next generation Adam II Tablets. Adam II will be using OMAP44xx processor along with other TI components like Wi-Link 7.0 and Phoenix Audio Power Amplifiers. Adam II will also leverage the power optimizations achieved using mature combination of TI’s integrated power-management IC.

Designed specifically for best Power Performance and Multi-tasking Experience, Adam II will be based on Google’s IceCream Sandwich Operating System.

The OMAP44xx platform’s smart multicore architecture pairs its main CPUs with several differentiated features including programmable accelerators, hardware composition engines and a dedicated ISP. Imagination Technologies’ super-fast PowerVR SGX5xx GPU and enhanced memory architecture add still more functionality while an OMAP-specific distributed composition architecture enables advanced image and video layering for crisp, HD visuals. These elements and more are the force behind the OMAP44xx processor’s ability to enable fast and fluid multitasking while maintaining ultra-low power consumption.

Adam II will release the world’s first Modular Based Software Architecture which will further expand the scope of application development and use nearly every single hardware feature in a “user customizable” application. Drag and drop features will enable easy application modification and Open Source Module will further expand the use cases and tablet deployment. Node operations like in Blender, and “Application Authoring Tools” are primarily aimed at non-programmers for composing applications, games and use-case flows in a drag-and-drop fashion, utilizing visual editors and behavior-based logic system.

This System will help consumers, professionals and students become productive as they will be able to use the tablet as a logic analyzer, medical imaging device, signal acquisition and processing, 3D modeling and multi-media.

For more information about TI OMAP processors, visit www.ti.com and follow this blog for Adam II.

Rohan Shravan

 

Source: Notion Ink Blog

Notion Ink Adam gets (Pre-Alpha) ICS; Gets a Discount for the Holidays!

It’s been a year since the Notion Ink Adam went up on Pre-order and about 6 months since we reviewed the Adam. Back then, it was running Android 2.2 aka Froyo along with a skin named Eden. Since then, the Adam for Honeycomb (unofficially of course, check out Adamcomb here) and then, there was nothing much in the way of news out of the NI Labs. Well, the guys at NI have now released a Pre-Alpha release of Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) to the masses, along with the source code. What does that mean? Potentially, an official ICS release for the Adam sometime early next year and custom roms (such as the aforementioned AdamComb) probably earlier.

Here’s a video of the Adam running Honeycomb:

You can follow the progress of the ICS port over at the Notion Ink blog, here.

If you’re feeling adventurous, here are the instructions to download and run the Pre-alpha ICS release on your Adam.

What’s working?

  • Hardware Acceleration
  • WIFI
  • Physical Back Button
  • Capacitive Buttons
  • Accelerometer
  • GPS
  • Power Button [Long press, Short Press for shutdown menu]
  • EMMC mounts
  • SDCARD mounts
  • USB [but won’t boot if attached to PC at boot]

What’s not working?

  • Sleep/wakeup
  • Camera
  • USB flash drives
  • BLUETOOTH
  • Light sensor
  • Compass
  • 3G
  • Audio

If you’re a developer, you could jump on board with the development and help get stuff working. That’s what the community is all about.

Remember, this isn’t ready for regular users just yet! Don’t try this if you aren’t used to the rooting and romming world! 

Oh wait, that’s not all. The guys at NI have a Holiday Sale on, so head over to the Notion Ink Store and check it out! 

 

Now, what’s Notion Ink planning on their next Hardware Revision? My guess is as good as yours. I only hope they get it to market in a reasonable time after they show it (assuming there is a hardware revision in the works and will be shown at CES as they’ve done in the past).

Nexus S Ice Cream Sandwich Update, Android 4.0.3 rolling out

Nexus S users, get ready for some Ice Cream Sandwich. Google announced via the Nexus Twitter account that Ice Cream Sandwich, aka Android 4.0 will be rolling out to Nexus S users over the course of the month, starting today.

Google has also published a set of tips for Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) users moving to Android 4.0.

Pretty handy stuff. You can go through the whole list over Google Support page, here.

As of now, it looks like the update is rolling out to T-Mobile USA Nexus S devices (that would be the i9020T), and if you’re one of them and haven’t received the update via OTA yet, you can manually install it (Not recommended for everyone). Android Central has an easy guide up, along with download links, here.

Do not attempt to install that on any other Nexus S devices, including the variant that was sold in India (i9023), as you could brick your device. (Thanks @gauravh1 for the tip).  If you really want to install it, you can get the file and instructions for the official i9023 release over at XDA.

Moving on, Google announced via the Android Developers blog that it would be releasing Android 4.0.3 (the same version that’s being rolled out to the Nexus S), and that this would be the base version of Ice Cream Sandwich that would be the focus for it’s partners. 4.0.3 brings a few new APIs to developers, including:

Social stream API in Contacts provider: Applications that use social stream data such as status updates and check-ins can now sync that data with each of the user’s contacts, providing items in a stream along with photos for each. This new API lets apps show users what the people they know are doing or saying, in addition to their photos and contact information.

Calendar provider enhancements. Apps can now add color to events, for easier tracking, and new attendee types and states are now available.

New camera capabilities. Apps can now check and manage video stabilization and use QVGA resolution profiles where needed.

Accessibility refinements. Improved content access for screen readers and new status and error reporting for text-to-speech engines.

Incremental improvements in graphics, database, spell-checking, Bluetooth, and more.

Read all about that over the Android Dev blog, here.

If you have managed to receive ICS on your Nexus S, or if you have a Galaxy Nexus, do share your thoughts on the new OS. You could catch us on twitter, we’re @myportableworld, or you could just comment below.

 

Source: @googlenexusThe Verge, Android Developers Blog, Android Central

 

Google Unveils Ice Cream Sandwich and the Galaxy Nexus

Google FINALLY officially unveiled Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. Of course, there has to be a Nexus device to go with it. In this case, it’s the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Ice Cream Sandwich is supposed to be the Android Release that would be a unified build for both Tablets and Phones (although they’ve only shown it off on a phone as of now). It brings along a whole bunch of things under the hood, and even more visible changes.

Google also released the updated API tools and the SDK for developers.

Here’s the post from the Google Mobile Blog, by Andy Rubin (the Android Guy, aka Google’s VP of Mobile):

Unwrapping Ice Cream Sandwich on the Galaxy Nexus

Beaming a video with a single tap or unlocking a device with only a smile sounds like science fiction. Now, you can actually do these things (and more) with a phone that fits in the palm of your hand.

Wednesday morning in Hong Kong—together with Samsung—we unveiled Galaxy Nexus, the first phone designed for the latest release of Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich.

With a super slim profile, Galaxy Nexus features a 4.65” Contour Display with true high definition (720p) resolution and a lightning-fast dual core 1.2ghz processor combined with 4G LTE or HSPA+ technology. Galaxy Nexus also features the latest in software: Ice Cream Sandwich makes Android simple and beautiful, and takes the smartphone to beyond smart. 

Beauty and simplicity
With Ice Cream Sandwich, our mission was to build a mobile OS that works on both phones and tablets, and to make the power of Android enticing and intuitive. We created a new font that’s optimized for HD displays and eliminated all hardware buttons in favor of adaptable software buttons. We also dramatically improved the keyboard, made notifications more interactive and created resizable widgets. 

The desktop-class browser is significantly faster, featuring a refined tab manager and the ability to sync your bookmarks with Google Chrome. Ice Cream Sandwich also features the best mobile Gmail experience to date, with a new design that lets you quickly swipe through your inbox and search messages even when you’re offline. Calendar boasts a clean new look and you can zoom into your schedule with a pinch.

Connect and share
People are at the heart of Ice Cream Sandwich. We rethought how you browse your contacts with the new People app, which combines high-resolution photos and updates from Google+ and other social services. It’s also easier to capture and share your life with family and friends. Galaxy Nexus sports a high-end camera with zero shutter lag, automatic focus, top notch low-light performance and a simple way to capture panoramic pictures. Shoot amazing photos or 1080p video, and then edit and share them directly from your phone.

Beyond smart
Galaxy Nexus isn’t just a smartphone—it’s beyond smart. Ice Cream Sandwich gives you complete control over the amount of mobile data you use by helping you better understand and manage it. We’re also introducing Android Beam, which uses near field communication (NFC) to instantly share webpages, YouTube videos, maps, directions and apps by simply tapping two phones together. Face Unlock uses state-of-the-art facial recognition technology to unlock your phone with nothing more than a smile.

This weekend marks the third birthday of the G1, the first-ever Android phone. Nine releases later, more than 550,000 Android devices are activated daily.

Starting in November, Galaxy Nexus will be available in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. Check out the Nexus website for a product tour and more info. 

Posted by Andy Rubin, Senior Vice President, Mobile

 Source: Google Mobile Blog