HTC One X – initial impressions of HTC’s flagship quad core beast

April 30, 2012
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I’ve just gotten an HTC One X to play around with! After the careful unboxing I charged it up and then turned it on. As so many people have said, it’s set a new standard in smartphones, and I have to agree with that…

How does it feel to hold?

The slightly curved body is smooth and a joy to hold in hand. If it were thicker it would be rather difficult to interact with since the phone itself is so tall and wide. The photo below has my finger to give you an idea of how remarkably thin this phone is. In actual fact, it is 8.9mm thick.

The phone is incredibly light too and I wasn’t expecting that. It’s about two thirds of the weight of my Desire HD coming in at 130 grams. Each time I pick it up a part of my mind goes ‘Really?’. It’s that lightweight.

How they managed to cram in more and make it weigh less is incredible.

Beautiful display

The 1280 x 720 screen is gorgeous to look at, especially when spread over 4.7inches. Spotting individual pixels is very tricky and when holding the phone during regular use it’s impossible to pick them out. All of the applications optimised for such a high resolution also look stunning. This is the future my friends.

Below is a scaled-down screenshot of my homescreen, click it if you want to get a better idea of the true resolution of the image, 1280px by 720px!

This is essentially the Sense 4 look!

 

Amazing audio

When I started playing the sample music I honestly thought it was coming from somewhere else. The Beats Audio really makes a difference when playing music from the device. Everything is in clear crisp stereo. The same is true of games and video-chatting on services such as Skype. Everything is crystal clear and of a very high quality.

Performance

As you would expect from a quad core processor clocked at 1.5Ghz, everything runs like a train. Seemless transitions and never a wait for anything to load. I ran AnTuTu benchmark and it came back at 12000+ – This is a powerful Tegra 3 phone.

As well as basic processing power, the graphical rendering capabilities of the Tegra 3 are astounding too. Dynamic lighting and texturing has been realised, making games in particular look better than ever.

You can see in these screen captures that both the HTC One X and the alleged results from the Samsung Galaxy SIII are both above the Transformer Prime. Although I have a rating of 11128 for the HTC One X, I can’t find a number for the SGS3. For now, lets sit tight knowing that they both beat the Transformer Prime.

Camera

Honestly, for the most part the camera is no different to all the other cameras in all the other smartphones out today. The one difference which I should remark on is the ability to capture several photo’s at a terrific speed. Holding down the capture button takes up 7-9 pictures a second, each one saved separately ready for examination later.

The video that comes out of the device is 720p HD, also gorgeous. Lighting conditions cause the sharpness of things in the video to vary, but if you’ve got good lighting, you’ve got great video.

As for the front camera, it turns out 1.2MP is great for video calling. On Skype I was seen clearly rather than cloudy. The camera also does well when you want to take a photograph of yourself. The soon-to-be-revealed Samsung Galaxy S3 supposedly has a 2.0MP front camera, however whether having another 0.8 megapixels would really improve the quality is a question we will soon know the answer to.

I’ve got a few sample images here I went out and took. Click on these ones to view them in their full size.

The Auto-Focus kept opting to go for the leafs at the base of this flower.

If there is one thing the Internet has taught me, it's that everyone likes cats.

HTC Sense is still clunky

Something I really don’t like (and never have) about HTC is their clunky and bloated HTC Sense. I’m a root and custom ROM fan, and everytime I use Sense I am wondering how much more seamless and speedy the phone would be to use if it were running pure untampered Android 4.0. All the bloatware that they decide to put on just hogs up precious CPU cycles and damages the apparent speed and slickness of the device.

Due to HTC Sense 4 being loaded onto the phone, all the usual stuff like Friend Stream, SoundHound, HTC Hub and so forth are all there to use out the box. HTC also have a higher level of Google integration than before, and include applications such as Google+ and Play Books/Videos out of the box.

Battery Life

This is the big question that I am sure is on everyone’s minds. How does the dinky 1800mAh battery do? This screenshot shows how the battery’s power was delegated across the phone. Please note that it says 81% at 22m because I unplugged it from the wall at ~83%.

Although it’s only a 1800mAh battery powering a quad core beasty, the battery life isn’t too bad. This phone will last you an entire work day, that’s for sure. After work you can use a load of battery intensive applications and I expect it will still last awhile before you need to plug it in.

Don’t think you can switch to one of those high-capacity Magellan batteries though. The HTC One X has a unibody construction! Besides the microSIM card and charger, nothing goes in or out of this phone (no microSD cards either).

Extras

The One X comes with Android Beam/Near Field Communication functionality. Unfortunately there aren’t any retail outlets in England where I can test this out, since the technology hasn’t been approved or uptaken here yet.

Also, the new and improved Bluetooth 4 is within this behemoth. Faster and more battery conservative than ever before, Bluetooth has gone from a energy-guzzling slow-transfer system, to a high-speed system that you can leave on for ages without hitting the battery too hard.

HTC have also gone and included Facial Unlock in HTC Sense 4 for the One X. Whilst the software is still buggy and can have trouble picking up on peoples faces, it does work reasonably well in bright lighting.

Compared to my Desire HD (A phone that is two years old)

The most notable difference between the devices is the screen. The width of the screens are pretty much the same but the One X has nearly twice the spread of pixels across the distance. Everything is at a level of sharpness I’ve never seen before and it continues to stun me.

The speaker quality also hammers my Desire HD into the ground. Two years ago the ‘SRS’ gear in my DHD was amongst the best available. Now it sounds tinny and clunky in comparison to the crystal clear perfection of the One X.

There are of course other obvious differences such as 4 cores vs 1 core, a front facing camera on one and a lack of one on the other. Interestingly though besides the features that are showcased to us, there isn’t really much difference. I’ve upgraded my Desire HD to Ice Cream Sandwich so they both run Ice Cream Sandwich applications, they both have great battery life, and while the Desire HD hasn’t got anywhere near as good a resolution as the One X, the display remains HD and looks great.

Final thoughts

The HTC One X is an exceptionally beautiful smartphone. Real effort went into making this, and every minute of it paid off. It’s probably the best HTC have ever produced and rightly deserves the role of being their flagship model.

When I get my hands on a Samsung Galaxy S3 I will be sure to write up a detailed comparison between that phone and this one for all you prospective buyers. It’s expected that there will be a few distinct differences between the quality of the tech in the phones and I intend to do a side-by-side comparison for you when the time comes.

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