HTC One X Review
Thanks to our friends at Clove for providing us with the HTC One X to review. Purchase your HTC One X from Clove today by clicking here.
The HTC One X is the first phone in HTC’s One Portfolio, and it’s also the worlds first quad-core powered phone. It’s also got a Super LCD 2 screen, a unibody polycarbonate build, and it’s also the first Android phone we’ve been excited about in a long time. The question is, does the most powerful phone in the world (as of now) really get you your bang for your buck, or is it more of a gimmick in which we’ve wasted our money?
Well we can happily and safely say that this phone is no gimmick, and it’s in fact the best Android phone we’ve ever tried till today. It is of course not without it’s problems, but which device isn’t!
To find how how the phone fares in our review, continue reading.
The HTC One (read our Hardware review thoughts here as well) X is considered by HTC to be their flagship phone of 2012, so you would expect everything to be in tip top shape, starting with the design. The HTC One X’s superb design actually consists of a polycarbonate unibody build (similar to that of the Nokia Lumia 800/900), with the only slots being for the mini usb port and a slot for the micro sim card. The actual device itself is a little curved (though the screen itself is flat) giving it an appealing look in the design front. It’s actually one of the most gorgeous HTC phones (let alone Android phones) that we’ve seen in recent years, so we commend HTC for moving away from their generic design which we were getting bored of last year. The phone does come in white and grey, but we preferred the white version here as it seems to stand out more. So in terms of the build quality of the phone, we were impressed by how solid it felt, although we must note that it didn’t feel as comfortable to hold in the hands as the Lumia 800 (possibly due to this phone being thinner).
Internally, the phone comes with 32GB of internal storage which we feel is more than enough for the average users. The only downside is that because of it’s unibody build, you will not be able to remove the battery, or add expandable storage cards – something we don’t mind either because Cloud Storage makes up for that these days, on the cheap (or free). As for the main body, the Phone actually has a 4.7-inch Super LCD 2 screen which is gorgeous (but we’ll expand on that in the Display Section), but it’s pretty large as well. The overall dimensions of the phone are 134.4 x 69.9 x 8.9 mm so you’re looking at a thing phone (thinner than the iPhone 4S), and it’s also tips the scale at 130 grams. Meaning that despite the fact it has a larger screen, it’s thinner by 0.4 mm and lighter by 10 grams so you won’t really feel the weight of the large screen.
HTC have also gone and done a smart thing by hiding the notification light under the earphone grill, so it doesn’t blink away in your face, but it sits very subtly under the grill until it’s ready to go to work. The main speaker grill is located on the back of the phone, and you might even miss it at first glance which is something we appreciate in that the HTC Team have put a lot of time and effort into the aesthetics of the phone and come up with a gorgeous design, and feel great in the hands. In terms of the hardware, we didn’t really like the position of the power button – which is located on the top of the device. Occasionally, it could be hard to power the device on, simply because of the angle of which it has been placed. In our opinion, a bigger button would have been nicer.
Now let’s get down the the specs of the phone, something we’re sure you’ve been eagerly looking forward to reading about. We’ve said before, the main face of the device is covered by a 4.7-inch Super LCD 2 720p screen, but it’s the internals that really do matter in this section. A behemoth 1.5GHz Quad-Core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor powers the One X, and in our testing we saw that is was absolutely blazingly fast. 1GB of RAM and 32GB of storage are also on board to keep up with the processor, as well as a 8 megapixel rear camera with a 1.3 megapixel front facing camera.
We’ll get more into the performance of the phone below in the appropriate section, but in terms of the Design and Hardware, it is easily one of the nicer looking phones on the market today, and certainly the best Android phone in the design area.
The 4.7-inch Super LCD 2 screen has a resolution of 1280 x 720, and as far as we’re concerned – it’s one of the best screens we’ve ever seen on an Android device. The color reproduction and vividness of the Super LCD 2 screen is just brilliant! When we first opened up this device, we were stunned at how perfect the screen looked and the 720p resolution didn’t hurt either. Due to the large screen size, the device only has a PPI of 312 (compared to the iPhone 4S’s 330 PPI), but the combination of the 720p screen as well as HTC’s new Super LCD 2 technology creates an amazing imagine on our screens and we loved every moment with it. The actual step up from Super LCD 1 to Super LCD 2 is quite vast, and you can see that SLCD2 is better than any AMOLED screen we’ve ever seen, except when it comes to black levels. In that regard, the Super LCD 2 falls short as black levels are quite black in AMOLED screens, while Super LCD 2 can’t go to those levels due to LCD restrictions. Have a look at the video below where we compare the HTC One X against the Nokia Lumia 800 and it’s AMOLED CBD screen.
Furthermore, we also took pictures to compare the same picture between the Samsung Galaxy Note’s Super AMOLED HD screen, just to see how the two screens compared. The HTC One X was always the phone on the top (or the right).
In the first pic, we can clearly see that the Galaxy Note’s screen shows a brighter and vivid image over the One X’s screen. However, on closer zoom in (which we did from the original picture), the colors are actually more natural and reproduced better than the Galaxy Note’s. That is because due to the Dynamic mode on the Note, the colors are slightly washed out (the gamma has been increased slightly and hue) so it doesn’t look as natural. However, in person the Note’s colors still pop more.
In our new-age Techin5 logo, you can clearly see the different ‘black levels’ in this picture. Both the Galaxy Note (left) and the One X (right) have been put to the same brightness levels to show off the differences in screens. The Colors as you can see, on the One X, are much realistic as compared to the Galaxy Note’s colors (especially in the blues and reds). They black levels on the Note however are much better, and it gives the Green ‘sound waves’ a much nicer look.
Here you can clearly see the differences in the screen ‘black’ levels with the Galaxy Note going very dark in this one (too dark as if the phone didn’t exist). The SLCD2 screen shows off a distinct glow of the blacks, slightly ruining the image for us. Here, the Galaxy Note is definitely superior thanks to the AMOLED HD screen and it’s black levels doing superbly in this fire image.
So overall we can say that while we still rate the One X’s screen above that of the Galaxy Note, Super LCD 2 technology stands no chance against AMOLED technology in dark scenes. Color reproduction is spectacular, and much nicer than any AMOLED screen we’ve ever seen and we’d be willing to take on Super LCD 2 technology just for how well it performs in everyday situations.
While HTC have put in a lot of effort into their latest and greatest phone, one part we felt they could have put in a little more effort should have been the camera. It’s a good camera, don’t get us wrong, but it does fall short in some places (especially macro shots, amongst others). One thing that annoyed us (after being so used to it on other phones) was the fact that HTC left off the designated camera button, something we feel should be on every phone these days. Regardless, the HTC One X’s camera interface is actually very neatly laid out – from the video capture and camera shutter buttons being on the same screen, to the various options you can set the camera to (from HDR mode to different camera fun effects). The camera is very fast as well, and it allows you to take up to 20 shots at once, and then you can select the best photo from the lot. It’s probably the best interface of any Android device out there, and it’s very quick (though it could serve better with a camera button on the phone).
As for the actual quality of photo’s, it falls short of other cameras like the Apple iPhone 4S or even our last review model – The Sony Xperia S. While it’s not bad, take a look of the photo’s below in how they perform in different conditions and zoom levels.
So you can clearly see while the camera is actually quite good, some times you can easilly see some noise and macro shots could look pretty poor, where the lens failed to focus on certain images until I moved it back a certain distance (where as phones like the iPhone 4S or even the Omnia 7 could focus in easily).
Below we did a comparison between previous Sony Xperia S shots and new HTC One X shots in the same area and conditions. It’s not the biggest room in the world, but the size is still enough to test the camera’s performance and strength of the flash. Do note that the Xperia S has a 12 megapixel shooter. (Images above are of the HTC One X, images below are of the Sony Xperia S).
Overall it seemed that the One X performed admirably, even in low light conditions (though with a slight greenish tinge), but color reproduction in pictures better overall on the Sony Xperia S.
If performance is going to matter to you, then this is most probably the phone for you! Featuring a quad-core 1.5GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, it’s no wonder this is considered to be the fastest phone in the world and our benchmarks below attest to that. Basically outscoring most devices (even some Android Tablets) in the Android world, the HTC One X is the first true All-Powerful Phone. Within the actual phone use, it opens app much faster than even the Samsung Galaxy Note (by about 2 seconds) and breezes through web-pages without a hitch. The only thing that might drag it down a little in performance would be Sense 4.0 (read about that in the Software section). Did we notice any lag on the HTC One X? Not really, apart from in the task switcher, and if we tried doing too many things at once (but that might be an Android problem, not the One X at fault here). Overall though, it was generally zippy and did everything we wanted without the annoying burden of having to wait for long periods.
What we can tell you is that Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) also plays a part in the phone’s snappiness as it literally is better in every way than Gingerbread (Android 2.3).
As usual, all our benchmark scores below are stock (meaning the phone has not been modified, sped up, or Over Clocked in any way).
In Quadrant, the HTC One X has absolutely no competition, and it blazes away to a score of 4885 (The Sony Xperia S had a score of 3048). With a score nearly 2000 points ahead of the previous phone we reviewed, the HTC One X is easily the king of the crop with this score (until the Samsung Galaxy SIII is out of course).
In AnTuTu (our preferred benchmarking tool), the HTC One X not only managed to beat every single Android mobile phone on the list, but it also managed to sneak ahead of the Asus Transformer Prime – a quad-core tablet! Once again we see the power of the Quad-Core Nvidia Tegra processor here and it shows no signs of stopping. For comparisons sake, the Sony Xperia S got a score of 6585, so the HTC one X was able to nearly double it’s score.
One test where the HTC One X wasn’t exactly able to top the list in was Nenamark. Clearly Samsung devices have a superior graphics chip to the ones HTC put in the One X, and even combined with the Tegra 3 processor, the One X fell far short of the Samsung Galaxy S2, a phone that came out a year ago. Still, at least it managed to cross the 50 mark in this test.
The overall prognosis from out side is that the HTC One X is clearly a champion device in the performance section. We’ve never seen a phone that’s even come close to this kind of power (it is after all the first quad-core phone) and if they had just improved the graphic chip in the device, it would have been the ultimate phone. However, as it stands – The HTC One X is still the best performing Android Phone on the market now, and benchmarks and real world tests will attest to that fact.
While we’re sure Samsung’s Galaxy SIII will top the HTC One X, it is actually HTC who lead the way in mobile performance for now with everyone playing catchup.
The Achilles Heel of the phone is the software, not because it’s bad but because it’s overly pretty, but let us explain. Sense 4.0 is a dramatic improvement from HTC’s Sense 3.0 (which we hated) and what they’ve turned it into is a pretty, graphics sucking Skin. We actually prefer Android 4.0’s cleaner and quicker stock skin, as opposed to Sense 4.0, just because it’s unnecessary. HTC have done nicely integrating Sense 4.0 tightly with the OS and the phone itself in order to tone down any lag and slow burn from previous Sense Version, and it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
The ability to add a widget/folder/app/bookmark to the home screens is also a welcome change, as it gives users much more option where to add what they want where they want. Ice Cream Sandwich’s ‘Folders’ is also a great step forward which really helps in organizing the home screen, and it also helps in getting to the app you want quicker. From a standard Ice Cream Sandwich point of view, Android has come leaps and bounds from it’s says of Éclair and even Gingerbread, which is great but we also feel when you compare Android to the Windows Phone OS, it takes a lot longer to get in and out of tasks you want to complete quickly. Still, Android 4.0 is the prettiest version of Android we have ever seen, and Sense 4.0 is very pretty as well, with it’s 3D effects and motions.
The decision to remove the 3rd capacitive Options touch button, and replace is with HTC’s quick task switcher is an odd one, but it does seem to work well. Though we can say that it takes some getting used to, especially with the Options/Settings button now being accessible through the slide down menu. While it looks nice, and you can jump back into an app quickly, actually flipping through the ‘apps’ is tedious because the actual switcher is so darn sensitive! That and opening it up quickly and jumping to an app sees some ‘lag’, if we can call it that (probably a better terminology would be stutter).
The main issue with removing the settings physical button is that app developers have yet to add the 3 dots that appear in the top right corner in the One X (to access the settings), so therefore by removing the physical settings button on the One X, the developers have instead implemented a black bar at the bottom of the screen in each app, to act as the options for within that app. Hugely frustrating, but Google is trying to get developers to move away from the physical button and towards ICS’s new menu button (though Jellybean could be out by the time developers really do get around to it).
Another frustrating thing about Sense 4.0 is that whenever there is a checkbox in the settings section, it’s almost impossible to see the Green checkmark unless you bring the phone closer to your face. They could do with increasing the darkness of the actual green tickmark as it looks nice but it’s a little too subtle. Obviously this has to do with how nice and bright the whites appear in the HTC One X, but it’s not nice to change settings on the phone. It’s something HTC could look into for a software update or future versions. Another nuisance was the fact that it was impossible to check how much battery your phone had left (in terms of an actual number of how long your phone is going to last), and we feel that this should be implemented, along with an accurate number of how much percentage is left on the battery, as opposed to the battery icon (both can also be acceptable).
Another interesting thing we thought we’d note is that the HTC One X actually has Microsoft’s Skydrive inbuilt into the phone (or so it seems). Though we never did end up trying it out, we though it was very interesting (though at this point, Google Drive hadn’t been launched yet).
Overall, we enjoyed HTC Sense 4.0 for the most part, but small little things within the software actually drag it down. Good, but leaves room to be improved.
We also did a video review of the Sense 4.0 skin, in which we look at some of the options, settings, the way things run and so on.
When we first heard about the HTC One X, we were sure we would be disappointed with the battery life. After all – A 1.5GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor added in with a 4.7-inch Super LCD 2 display didn’t exactly scream battery friendly. And in truth, when we first got it, it really wasn’t that great but thankfully for us (and HTC) they pushed out an update for the phone during our review period which most certainly improved the battery life to a respectable level.
The screenshot was taken below during heavy usages over a period of 2 hours before the update (screen was on max brightness, and wi-fi was turned on). Clearly the phone wouldn’t have lasted beyond 3 to 3.5 hours at this stage – pretty poor by any phone. Of course, the update soon fixed it.
As you can see, with light to medium use the HTC One X did fare much better in the days following the battery update. It you aren’t using the phone much during the day, it should last you the entire day without needed a charge. On the other hand, with low brightness and constant usage (wi-fi and bluetooth off), you should get between 6 to 7 hours, which is what we averaged on our tests. A fair number, but we’re sure it can be improved in the future with more updates.