HTC One X Review

HTC has just reported that profits for the first quarter of this year were down 70 per cent, on last year. The company is still sparing no expense in advertising the One X, where it has forked out for an advert, in which a photographer takes shots on a parachute jump. It's a nice ad and it highlights one of the special features of the One X - the ability to shoot video and stills at the same time.

The HTC One X is the Taiwanese outfit's new ‘hero' handset. It is one of three devices bearing the One marque. There's also the mid ranging One S and the lower end One V, and we'll be looking at these in due course.

The HTC One X really pushes the boat out and has lots of headline features. There's a quad-core processor, an 8-megapixel camera that has dual video and stills shooting capabilities, a vast high-resolution screen, and 32GB of internal storage. There's NFC support and HDMI too, the latter is not available via a dedicated connector, but from the microUSB socket. However, no adaptor has been provided in the retail box.

All of these high-end specs come at a price, just shy of £500 SIM free, though if you go with an operator it will be less. Our review sample came from Vodafone, where the phone is free on £41 plans (900 minutes, unlimited texts, 1GB data).

The HTC One X arrives in the colour choices of grey and white chassis, and Vodafone sent us the white version. It is something of a stunner to look at. The colour reminds us of double cream; its rubberised finish is smooth to the hand, and its sheer thinness, at 8.9mm, makes it a pleasure to hold.

There's an odd strip of five tiny holes on the back cover, and these allow the HTC One X to be used with a docking kit. We've seen desktop and car cradles, for example. Generally, the build standard is excellent with a solid feel to the design that complements its slight, 130g weight.

Do you remember those days when it was generally thought that 4in screens were too large? They are most certainly long gone, and while the HTC One X won't fit easily into most pockets, and most hands will struggle to reach right across it easily, but we found the screen absolutely stunning.

At 4.7in and with a fantastic resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels, watching video, looking at web pages and viewing photos is simply a great experience. It really is possible to read many web sites and without doing any zooming, thanks to the larger display. Moreover, the high resolution means that the seven home screens can cope with 20 app icons on each, as well as accommodating plenty of widgets. So, those who like to cram their home screens should be pleased. And the keyboard is that bit larger than usual too, potentially making typing easier and faster for the stubby-fingered.

The quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 1.5GHz processor does HTC proud. We're not convinced that smartphone manufacturers should continually chase ever faster processors above all else, but we do have to say that as far as performance goes, the HTC One X does impress. Web pages render in seconds, video streams seamlessly (you can enable or disable Flash in the web browser menu) and they play smoothly.

The HTC One X comes complete with Android 4.0 and HTC Sense 4.0. HTC's super lock screen - with its ability to quickly open into any one of four apps - is back. Now, the four apps are duplicates of a new folder supporting the home screen launch-bar. This is just one of the Sense 4.0 tweaks, and we simply don't have space to cover them all. One other addition of note, is the new system for managing all the widgets and home screen shortcuts that you might want.

Tap and hold on any home screen allows you to whizz through all seven of them and drag apps, shortcuts or widgets into place. Being able to see thumbnails of widgets also means you can choose the look, and size of each one.

Removing shortcuts still requires a tap and hold on a home screen itself, before dragging what you don't want to a Remove icon at the top of the screen. This system is a huge advance on what went before and we really like it.

That Recent Apps button under the screen (accompanied by Home and Back buttons) lets you sweep left and right to access any apps, which you've been using recently. Its design is an HTC Sense 4 feature, and is a bit more clunky than the native thumbnails-based system used by Ice Cream Sandwich. We really aren't great fans of this, to be frank.

We've said before that megapixels aren't everything when it comes to the smartphone camera. HTC has clearly been listening and the 8-megapixel shooter here produces reasonable quality shots and captures video at 1080p, along with incorporating some neat touches that add more than mere megapixels.

There's slow motion video and Best Shot, where the camera shoots several stills a second, for as long as you depress the shutter, and you can then choose the one you want to keep. There is also the ability to capture a photo, while you are shooting a video. HTC has put both stills and video capture buttons on the screen, at the same time, so you can use both without switching modes. It is a simple and very efficient system.

Besides all this, we still have a few grumbles. Your microSIM goes into a small caddy on the top back-edge of the chassis, rather than fitting under the rear cover. There isn't a removable rear cover anyway, and the battery can't be accessed. There's no slot for a microSD card, either.

Not being able to remove the battery means no swapping in a second or a replacement battery, and no powering down by pulling the battery, if you need to.

No microSD expansion might not be a deal breaker for everyone. There's 32GB of on-board storage, which ought to be enough for most people, and the HTC One X comes with a further free 25GB of cloud based storage, on Dropbox, for two years. You can even set up the handset so that photos and videos auto sync there. But if you want removable storage, well, you'll have to look elsewhere.

The biggest let down of all, though, is probably battery life. The HTC One X battery has to power a hungry processor and large screen, and we often found the phone struggled to get us to mid-afternoon without needing a boost. If you are a frugal user you'll probably get through the day, but the HTC One X lends itself to catching up on video, game playing on the commute and so on - where this could give you power problems.

If it weren't for the battery letting the show down we'd be saying the HTC One X is probably the best Smartphone we've seen to date.

Verdict

HTC's new flagship handset does much to impress, with Android 4.0, a quad core processor, large screen, some great camera features and 32GB of memory, among its abilities. But it is let down by suspect battery life.

Pros: Top of the range smartphone with a huge screen and quad core processor.

Cons: HTC needs to find a way to prolong battery life, if the One X is to be a roaring success.

Manufacturer: HTC

Price: Free on £41 plans (Vodafone)

Score: 8/10

Specifications

Network: HSPA 850/900/1900/2100, GSM 850/900/1800/1900

Processor: Nvidia Tegra 3 1.5GHz quad core

Memory: 32GB user memory

Memory expansion: none

Display: 4.7in, 1,280 x 720 pixels

Main camera: 8-megapixels

Front camera: 1.3-megapixels

Wi-Fi: Yes

GPS: Yes

FM radio: Yes

Battery: 1800mAh

Size: 134.4 x 69.9 x 8.9 mm

Weight: 130g

ITProPortal.com attended Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona this year, where we published from the HTC launch event of the One Series a hands-on walkthrough in pictures of the One X, a hands-on video and a first looks review.