The HTC One X+ is an update of an older model, the One X. Back in April, I wrote an HTC One X review and mentioned that HTC had reported a massive 70 per cent dive in profits for the first quarter of 2012. HTC was on its uppers, and the One X got a lot of publicity in the hopes, maybe, of helping the company regain some ground. HTC has kept plugging away since then, with handset launch after handset launch. Nothing in the current portfolio has the wow factor that’s been achieved by great rival Samsung, but still, the fat lady is not singing yet.
To be fair, the One X had a lot going for it. Quad-core processor, 32GB of storage, HDMI, NFC, 4.7in 1,280 x 720 pixel screen, and a good quality 8-megapixel camera that introduced for the first time the ability to take a still shot while shooting a video. This was a headline grabber at the time and I still enjoy using this feature whenever I can. Sadly the One X was marred by poor battery life.
Now at the tail end of the year, the One X has had a bit of a refresh, and the addition of a little ‘+’ to its name. Given that the One X was HTC’s 2012 flagship handset, selling at around £500, does the One X+, currently available from Clove Technology for £462 including VAT, offer enough of an update to maintain interest?
Well, HTC has not fiddled with the look of this handset which is very much in the HTC One X mould. In fact the two are pretty much identical with the changes all occurring under the hood. So, the polycarbonate shell is back, with its rubberised finish that is good for grip but not, in my view, the best looking of materials. I wasn’t the first to get this review sample and the back already had some permanent scratch marks. I’d say that the HTC ONe X+ will have lost its pristine look within the first week of ownership unless you are very, very careful.
The back is pretty bare, though it does have HTC’s branding, the Beats Audio logo (changed from actual words on the One X) and the camera lens on it. That latter protrudes rather severely from its surroundings – just like the camera on the HTC One XL I reviewed a couple of weeks ago. I can’t say I'm a fan of this styling, and the lens itself isn’t recessed making it prone to scratching, but at least it gives HTC's handsets a consistent look.
Five little holes on the back of the chassis let you use docking accessories – presumably those available for the HTC One X are compatible.
The chassis is enclosed – you can’t remove the backplate and get at the battery. This means your SIM – it’s a microSIM actually – sits in a slot on the top back edge of the chassis. It also means you can’t expand on the internal storage. The good news in this respect is that you get an exceptionally generous 64GB of built-in storage. For once, even I'm not too bothered about the lack of a microSD card slot.
The HTC One X+ is a very big handset at 134.4 x 69.9 x 8.9mm. The size can only mean one thing – a large screen. In this case it’s the same 4.7in size as the One X, and matches its 1,280 x 720 resolution too. It is a stunningly sharp and clear screen that has to be among the best I’ve seen. But, be warned that you’ll need big hands to operate it one-handed.
I’ve seen some complaints about screen warping and it is true that if you press down hard on the screen there is a bit of this in evidence. But in all honesty I doubt that the average user will be so heavy handed as for this to be an issue.
Like the HTC One X, the One X+ has an 8-megapixel main camera, but the front camera has been upped to an impressive 1.6 megapixels. It's good to see the front camera getting a bit of attention and it's pretty good for video-calling and taking photos with yourself in the frame (and friends can squeeze in with you, photo booth-style too). The main camera also impressed and it’ll shoot 1080p video.
A key disappointment with the older HTC One X was battery life. I struggled to get through a day without needing mains power. HTC has done the right thing and used a higher capacity, 2,100mAh battery this time round and I certainly felt things were better. They’re still not great, though. Handsets with large screens and powerful processors are made for data streaming, connected services and serious gaming, and so a mid-evening power boost will still be needed.
Speaking of powerful processors, the battery has to power a super-fast Tegra 3 quad-core 1.7GHz SoC. This has 1GB of RAM supporting it, making the HTC One X+ fast and very responsive. My only criticism in performance terms was that the handset ran a little hot when gaming, with the back getting warm after just a few minutes. Other key specifications include NFC, DLNA and MHL for HDMI out via the micro-USB connector.
Software-wise, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is on board and of course HTC Sense is here as well. HTC Sense has had a bit of an upgrade, but you’d struggle to really notice much difference if you’ve been using a recent version of Sense. It still has the very distinctive look and feel that’s helped make it popular.
HTC’s extended apps selection includes the usual HTC Car app (good for in-vehicle use thanks to its large touch-sensitive icons), Dropbox (you get 25GB of storage for two years) and HTC’s social media app FriendStream, which you'll either love or hate. There are other pre-installed goodies, too, including Notes (for, as you might guess, making notes) and PDF Viewer, which can fetch PDFs from Dropbox and SkyDrive.
The fantastically fast processor, 64GB of internal storage and superb screen are real highlights of the HTC One X+, and they’re enough to make me rate this handset slightly more highly than its predecessor. Still, the battery life will be an issue for many and while this phone is a worthy flagship handset for HTC, I’m not convinced it does enough to make it a hit.
Manufacturer and model
HTC One X+
1.7GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3
64GB storage / 1GB RAM
4.7in, 800 x 480 pixels
8-megapixel (f2.0, 28mm equiv. lens)
1,280 x 720 pixels
134.4 x 69.9 x 8.9 mm