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HTC One X: The Fastest Android Yet
Let’s see now… how do you talk about a phone that’s already been talked about so often that most details would just appear repetitive? The HTC One X, the first of its kind in the mobile kingdom, is slated to be the apparent game-changer in the new-age, high-speed, mobile arena. Loaded up with all the latest and “greatest” goodies that HTC could throw at you, the One X is aimed at the high-end mobile users who won’t settle for anything less than a great user experience and super speedy functionality. Naturally, we at tech2, were as curious as the next tech-freak to see just whether or not this funky new handset lived up to its promise so we put it through its paces and here are our findings.
On video: HTC One X
Sticking to an otherwise ‘ho-hum’ HTC styling, the minimalistic design on the One X, especially since it’s just 8.9mm in depth and weighs in at just 130g, still manages to look very chic. Going the unibody route the One X takes the iPhone-esque design a step further with a pin-to-release microSIM card slot. The SIM card slot located at the rear of the White edition has a remarkable resemblance to the iPhone 3GS’ (also located in a similar position). HTC has also designed the One X’s brilliant 4.7-inch (720 x 1280 pixel resolution) display with a slight raised edge and an all black border. The effect, much like the Nokia Lumia 800’s, gives you the impression of an Edge-to-Edge display. With corning glass to keep those nasty scratches at bay the Super IPS LCD display is quite a vibrant sight dishing out colors and highlights quite well.
Speediest handset on the shelf
With brightness set to Auto, viewing angles in broad daylight aren’t optimal, although most details are visible, we expected just a little more.
The white edition gives the One X a simple yet refined look and though the shell proved to be quite sturdy, it felt a little too much like ordinary plastic. A set of volume keys are located on the right hand side of the device while a micro USB port is on the left. What’s missing is a dedicated camera shutter release button that would have been handy.
Large clear display
HTC has deviated from their usual design form with this one but only by a tiny margin. However, on the bright side, this is one seriously slim, lightweight handset.
Features and Performance
Sense UI 4.0 is certainly a step up from the older versions, but could still use a few minor tweaks. Since we’re looking at the very first ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich), Sense UI 4.0 device, it wasn’t clearly evident what to expect, nevertheless, in a nutshell, things on this 1.5GHz Quad-Core (NVIDIA Tegra 3) running beast ran seamlessly. However, we’re yet to see an ICS device running the Stock ROM make it out in an official capacity, since the Galaxy Nexus never made an official debut. Sense UI seems heavy but in reality, it isn’t and functions very smoothly. It has more perks than drawbacks. ICS can be seen on some of the inner workings of the device but is not altogether up front since Sense takes precedence. Rooting is the only obvious way to get to ICS’s stock offering though we wish there were a simpler method.
A painful stretch to reach the menu key sometimes
One major issue with ICS is that in lieu of the menu/settings button you’ve got three vertical dots as singular on-screen option to access sub-menus. The problem with this is the positioning that is not consistent. For most part it’s placed at the right hand corner at the very top of the display making it extremely difficult to access it if you’re not using both hands. Should you have average sized hands, it’s quite a stretch to awkwardly reach the menus. This is no good. However some apps like the Whatsapp messenger, Gmail, Facebook etc. features this same menu button but at the bottom of the screen making it so much easier to use. Another little flaw with Sense UI’s iteration of ICS’ Running Apps menu is that in landscape mode, although the orientation changes, the tabs do not and it all looks rather ridiculous. The tabs retain the orientation of the App when it was in use – if you were using Google Maps in portrait mode, the system will always show the thumbnail in portrait even if you’re in landscape.
There are plenty of Widgets to choose from in many categories but the overall look and feel of Sense UI layout hasn’t undergone any drastic changes. Thus, transitioning from older HTC devices to the One X will be stress free.
All New UI but a tad cluttered
Sense has the most efficient contacts integration system for linking details to your various social networking accounts and your regular phone book. The App drawer still looks a bit cluttered and the organization system according to Alphabet or date could work for some, but an option to create folders (available only on the desktops) or move the items around manually would have been better.
32GB of storage makes sure that you’ve got plenty of space for apps, videos and audio. Of course out of that 32GB, 26GB is actually what you can use. That’s still quite a bit. And once again, following in the steps of the almighty iPhone and so many other new devices, HTC has also decided against the option for external storage, so your microSD card will be have no place in the One X.
AnTuTu’s benchmarking tool gave us an impressive score of 10123 second only to the Asus Transformer Prime that was only a little bit ahead. Linpack gave us a Single Thread score of 39.95 (average) and 130.9 (average) MFLOPS.
AnTuTu scores put it better than the best
Just to reiterate – we long for a stock ICS running handset that isn’t as high priced at as the Galaxy Nexus. Other than that the One X, does a great job even if we only get a tiny glimpse of the true Ice Cream Sandwich.
In the media category, the One X is impressive but could have been a little better. With the Beats audio engine to back it up, audio quality is superb. Tones are well balanced with the right amount of thump in the bass and just the right level to the higher and mid frequencies to allow for comfortable listening. A few presets are also available but chances are you might never use them. With ICS comes FLAC support that only makes your audio experience take on a whole new level of appeal. Other standard formats are all supported. What would have made this music player so much more appealing is a ‘Folder Play’ option. If you wish to use a song as your ringtone, a built-in mp3 trimmer is available. The built-in FM radio is also a feather in the One X’s cap. Reception was fairly clear even while commuting through the city.
An 8MP shooter and Beats Audio for great multimedia
The One X’s capabilities in the video playback section are somewhat limited. While Hi-Res i.e. Full HD video files in MP4 have no issue whatsoever during playback, the native video player lacks codec support for more popular formats. MP4, H.263/64, 3GP and WMV are the only formats that the device supports as is. Not that it's much of a problem since the Google Play app market has quite a few third party players capable of reading any and all video formats you throw at them. HTC has also included a Video Editing application that lets you create slide shows of your images using any one of 3 themes preloaded. The file can be saved in a video format in a resolution up to 720p HD.
Great quality auido thanks to Beats
Thanks to the ULP GeForce GPU, gaming on this speedy device is another great experience. HD games play seamlessly with no lag or framing whatsoever. Colours and action sequences look great on the large display making character and overall game control quite fluid.
Aside from the FM radio HTC has also preloaded the TuneIn app for online radio as well as SoundHound for music recognition. TuneIn offers a large array of music genres to choose from and if you’re looking at something a lot closer to home, Saavn is also bundled with the device.
HTC has almost all bases covered when it comes to the One X’s connectivity options. From Wi-Fi with DLNA support and Wi-Fi Direct as well, you’ve got hot spot creation for 3G (HSDPA up to 21Mbps), Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP and USB2.0 for PC interfacing. It’s also an NFC equipped handset and supports TV out via MHL. It would have been preferable to have HDMI as you’re going to need an MHL-to-HDMI adapter nevertheless, which is not provided. USB on-the-go would also have enhanced the devices capabilities to quite an extent. These minor absences are what keep the One X from being that ‘complete’ communication device.
Plenty of connectivity but we expected more
Other than Google’s merry band of Android centric apps that also now include Google + with its messenger, HTC has bundled some of their own special brand of features that include GPS enhanced services. First up is Locations which is a 30-day trial of a versatile and easy to use Navigation (with Voice) software. Maps for all sectors can be downloaded and they work quite well with a few 3G images of large structures thrown in. Using it in Delhi saved quite a bit of extra travel. Needless to say it was quite speedy even on EDGE and spot on when it came to accuracy. HTC Hub is the company’s own little Android Market for downloading tweaks for HTC Sense as well as a few choice apps that would work well for the handset. You will need to Sign in/Create an HTC account to download the apps but it’s quite redundant seeing as you’re taken back to the Google Play Store to actually download the app. The News and Weather apps acts as an RSS reader as well as your own personal weather man. eBuddy XMS (Whatsapp style chat) Bollywood Hungama (entertainment news) and 7 Digital (music purchases) are also preloaded out of the box.
There are plenty of handy features that come with the One X out of the box. From HTC centric apps like the Mirror (uses the front facing camera), a Task Manager to kill apps and services, Flashlight and Notes that syncs with your Evernote account to a Data transfer app that works between compatible devices, there’s quite a bit. The ICS and HTC Sense Keyboard is quite large and makes for convenient and speedy typing. However the Swype keyboard on the One X proved to be rather small in contrast. Polaris office and a PDF viewer are on board for document files. HTC’s Car set up gives you a landscape display with oversized icons that make it easy to access features on your device while you’re driving. Naturally it’s not a good idea to use your phone while driving, but this does make it just a little safe.
Don't use it while driving but if you must, the Car Interface is quite handy
Blessed with an 8MP camera and an LED flash capable of full HD (1080p) video recording, this is a feature that truly makes the device shine. There are plenty of features to choose from including an auto stitch panorama mode. Smile/Face detection, Slow Motion Video capture, Group Portrait mode and a burst mode that lets you choose which image is best (and deletes all the rest) are all part of the deal. HTC has also included their slew of effects that can easily be accessed from a little transparent button on the top of the camera’s interface. Touch focus lets you select which object you wish to highlight and works like a charm.
Indoors - with sufficient lighting deatils remain quite intact
With regards to image quality, weather in low light or otherwise, for a mobile phone sensor in this price range, the HTC One X is a major contender and could be compared to some dedicated digicams. Colors are retained well and details remain quite intact. Video quality is almost as good as some high end cameras but in lowlight conditions expect a reasonable amount of grain. Overall, the camera is a great asset to the handsets feature set and it take less than 2.5 seconds for you to access the camera and capture an image which is just another bonus.
Panorama mode - Stay steady for better clarity
Indoors with low light
A 1800mAh Lithium Polymer battery is what powers the One X and although not overly impressive does quite a good job nevertheless. It ran video non-stop for almost 8 hours till the battery finally gave out and audio for over 18 hours. All of this was with Wi-Fi running in the background downloading, emails, updating apps, posting to Instagram and other social networks etc. In real time usage though, we found the handset’s battery to be no more than just adequate. With a single charge the battery died out after about 10 hours. Usage in this time included a little video, music, about 35 minutes worth of calls, 10 messages, chatting, 5 minutes of HD video capture, 20 HI Res pictures and downloading emails throughout. One tends to expect quite a bit more should you have to spend this much of money and taking the specs of the device into account.
The Bottom Line
With a Rs. 37,800 price tag the HTC One X doesn’t come cheap, but considering the kind of features packed into its lightweight shell, it’s one you should seriously consider. It’s left its brethren the Sensation XL and XE in the dust and gunning for the iPhone 4S and Galaxy Nexus at full throttle. As of now and in the near future the One X is by far the fastest Android on the shelf and quite future proofed meaning you won’t need to upgrade for at least a whole year or more. At the end of the day though it’s a hardcore phone with a hardcore price tag and if money is no object and speed, quality and versatility is what you’re looking for in your mobile handset, then this is it.