The HTC One X Reviewed
The HTC One X, as a device, comes with a lot of responsibilities for HTC and expectations from the users. The year 2011 wasn’t the best for the company and it hopes to revive its mojo. Ever since the phone was showcased at this year’s MWC, I was eager to use this phone and get a feeling what HTC has been up to for last 8 months or so.
First of all, let’s look at this Android 4.0.3 device’s main specifications
- 1.5 GHz Quad-core Cortext A9 (Tegra 3) + ULP GeForce 2 GPU (low-power companion) and 1 GB of RAM
- 4.7 inch S-LCD 2 touchscreen (1280×720)
- Wifi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and DLNA
- microUSB port, TV out (MHL), 3.5 mm audio jack
- HTC Sense 4.0 and Beats Audio powered
- 32 GB of internal storage (not expandable)
I’ve divided the hardware into smaller sub portions so that it’s easier to skim through!
To start with the looks, this phone can stand apart from so many Droids out there. I am glad HTC didn’t give this One X the exact same resemblance that all of its high-end Droid which came out last year, followed. It is not any earth-shattering change or design but it is really, really nice. It’s made out of a single-piece polycarbonate (modern plastic, as some like to call it), which was first seen on the Nokia N9, and feels premium. HTC certainly understood that the feel and material of a device is important and it seems that they nailed it.
On the back, you can see the red Beats Audio brand logo, just below it is the loudspeaker. On the right side, there are volume adjustment keys.
On the left side there is just a microUSB port and that’s it. On the top, sits the Sleep/Power button, 3.5 mm audio port and the micro SIM card tray placed slightly below it.
The phone weighs 130 gram. Thanks to this, you may feel quite less worried while carrying such a big phone. Having said that, One X may not be the most ergonomically well designed smartphone. The size of the phone does take its toll when you are in on-the-move and have to keep worrying about not losing the phone because it is kind of slippery from the side and doesn’t fit perfectly into the palm. Yes, it’s light but the glossy sides ruin it to some extent. Coming to the front, there are three capacitive touch buttons underneath the screen – Back, Home and Multitask. The keys used – Power/Sleep and Volume keys are well made and one has to press them firmly to complete an action. The phone uses a micro SIM. You have to use a SIM eject tool (or an all purpose pin) to unlock the SIM tray, and place the SIM on it. The three capacitive buttons are also placed at gaps and response fairly well.
The screen is a 4.7 inch 720p HD (S-LCD 2), made up of the first generation Gorilla glass. The screen has a slight hinge when the glass joins the main body. You can notice that the screen goes narrower towards the middle part. Further going to the screen quality, I can term it to be the best screen on a smartphone so far. The screen screams awesomeness. The colour saturation is brilliant and you can hardly see any pixels (313 ppi). Even the viewing angles are incredible. One of the main reasons about the screen being so top notch is the air-display. If you closely notice, the gap between the screen’s colour production and outer glass is almost zero. Sort of reminds you the Apple iPhone 4 or 4S (and in a good way) which pioneered the concept of screen for a mobile device. Text appears very crispy. Thumbs up to HTC for building such a splendid screen, making the viewing pleasure on that 4.7 inch screen to even more so. I can say this to be the best part about the phone. It would’ve been apt had HTC highlighted its screen in the punchline rather than the audio quality.
On the front speaker grill, there are LED lights. So, whenever there is a notification, or a missed call the green LED would start blinking, and battery is low or you are charging the phone, the red LED would start blinking. You can choose to switch on or off the LED notifications from the Settings Menu.
Coming to the audio quality, the phone is Beats Audio co-branded and buyer gets a Beats headphone along with the device. We didn’t get the official headphones but from what little we heard at an event, the Beats Audio – software + hardware does enhance the bass, and that’s about it. The sound quality is decent and music is clear. The phone’s loudspeaker is on the rear-bottom (dotted grills). The sound though the speaker is quite good and I found it to be louder than the Sensation’s loudspeaker.
Memory is one area which people are likely to be worried about, but given how most users in India are now starting to buy 16GB and 32GB cards in a quantity that’s worth noting, 32GB of internal memory is easily a lot of fill up. While some people might insist on having everything on their phone, I certainly think, for a majority of people, it’s the other way around, they want to be very selective of they’d like on their phone. It’s like a wallet, you don’t keep everything you have in it.
I don’t see a problem here in terms of memory, I think 32GB is quite a lot of memory to have in a phone.
Talking about the performance and hardware specifications of this superphone – it is powered by four Cortex A9 performance cores clocked at 1.5 GHz in single core mode along with 1.4 GHz combined and a fifth Cortex A9 companion core as well as a 12-core (ULP GeForce) GPU. When you are performing basic tasks on phone, not requiring it uses the companion core for providing longer battery backup. As soon as the user is doing some intensive tasks like – watching an HD video, browsing media heavy websites with a number of apps running in the background it switches to multiple cores. I didn’t find phone with any real lag whatsoever. Even after using the phone for a few days, there was no sluggishness and you could feel that the hardware underneath is doing its job well. There is no Android phone in the Indian market which can beat this phone when it comes to performance, currently. Globally, Apple’s A5X and the Qualcomm chip which is used in HTC’s own One S, probably outdo it in the benchmarks, but in no way does this mean that the phone is slow. . One thing I would like to add is that right now, Android doesn’t consume four cores at once. It can only take up two cores. The next major Android upgrade is expected to change this. So if you don’t feel like the specs bump is showing any noticeable difference, don’t worry, it will with the newer Android flavor – Jelly Bean
It tests and compares CPU, I/O, and 3D graphics.
It tests CPU, RAM, graphics, database, and SD card components
The phone’s call reception is really good and can surprise you when you expect it to be average =, like most of the previous HTC flagships. It is clear and I had no complaints in signal reception, whichever way you hold the phone (remember the Sensation and iPhone 4?). Always good to see that a high-end smartphone doesn’t disappoint when it comes to basics of a phone.
The HTC One X is equipped with an 8 MP camera (with a LED flash) which can also shoot full 1080p videos. The camera is very fast, and uses, what HTC calls, ImageSense processor and the whole camera UI, named ImageSense, has been somewhat revamped.
The ImageSense UI is really convenient to use and makes taking images or shooting videos a breeze. The One X allows you to click photos while shooting a video at the same time. Just click that rounded icon while you are shooting a video. In fact, while watching any video on it, you can click this icon in order to get images (sort of screenshots) from that video.
You can check some images here.
As you can see, few of the shots have fairly accurate colour production while few have noise. Over-processing is quite evident in the results seen. The One X also has Burst mode by which you can take continuous still shots by long pressing the shutter icon. Needless to say, clicking on the screen to take a photo adds to blurry end result. Surprisingly, the burst mode is not bad and even though there is no dedicated camera key, the images clicked through burst mode weren’t bad.
We’ve also got a 1080p video sample from the OneX to give you an idea of its video shooting prowess. The video we’ve got is 24fps video.
One X is powered by non-removable 1,800 mAh battery. Surprisingly, the battery backup on the phone was pretty good. I was able to stretch 16 hours with good usage and most of the days; with no Email, Twitter and very heavy web browsing on Wifi (3G switched off) the phone managed to pull a day on a full single charge. The least it could yield was close to 10 hours with always on Wifi and lot HD video playback. When charging the back of the phone got a little warmed up but nothing worrying about it. Note that it gets a bit warm but not really hot.
Android 4.0.3 and Sense 4.0 – that’s the whole software combination on this phone. When it comes to their Sense UI, HTC has certainly toned it down a bit. It is not in your face, but I hope HTC made it even less bloated. It is well integrated into the whole OS but sometimes it does more than what is required for a trivial task. There are seven homescreens, all customizable and you can choose from HTC skins - pre-loaded or download. There are 4 icons at the bottom plus a dotted square which takes you to the Menu. As usual, you have the lockscreen, with four main task icons present while the phone is locked. You can either pull the ring up to unlock the screen or drag one of the four icons in the ring to unlock and straight away go into that task. You can also drag and drop any notification that pops up while the screen was locked (like an SMS, Email, or Now Playing box of the music player). You can drag and drop an icon from the Menu into any homescreen or to uninstall an app. Long press an icon on the homescreen and you get the option to remove or place it somewhere else on the screen. Hitting the Home button brings you to the centre most homescreen and on a long press, gives you a card preview of all the homescreens which can be managed and reordered. On long pressing any vacant space on the homescreen, you will get a new option Menu to select from all the widgets and app shortcuts. Apart from the native Gmail app, HTC also pre-loads it own Email app and it works fine. Setting it up is no hard thing and in a minute you are good to go with it. If not better, it is as good as the Gmail app.
The multitask view allows you to tap and choose the app you want to open. Swipe up and the app is gone from that multitask view. Removing the app from that card-like view (sort of reminds you of webOS) doesn’t necessarily mean it has been shut.
You may have to separately close/exit from it. Even while scrolling through a number of apps/context Menu opened, there wasn’t any real lag.
HTC has a utility app called ‘Car’, which basically puts all the main functions of the phone in landscape mode with huge icons, so that you can attach or mount the phone on your car’s dashboard or on a dedicated clipper and access the phone comfortably.
There are some pre-loaded music streaming apps -7digital, Saavn and TuneIn (Radio service). Users will also get additional 25 GB of Dropbox storage which is valid for 2 years.
As you can get the idea, the functionality associated with Sense UI is still pretty much there; it’s just that you wish it to be less ‘bloated’ and more towards the Stock Android look and feel. For instance, when you put a light-coloured wallpaper, the titles under the icons cannot be seen, mostly.
I am yet to see TouchWiz 4.0, and in my opinion, Sense remains the most functional UI for any Android OEM.
The Menu now has a dedicated Play Store and -overflow button on the right top. As the One X comes with capacitive touch buttons, the Action-overflow button is almost always present on the screen; giving you options for the opened app.
It can sometimes become frustrating to see that button while you are in a game or in an app which doesn’t require any use of this on-screen key. It takes a considerable amount on the screen. But yes, there is already an unofficial fix available for this. Thanks to the Android community.
The web browser performs relatively well and is good enough for day-to-day browsing (I prefer Chrome Beta and Dolphin, though). You can choose whether to open a website in mobile mode or regular desktop mode, and also, if you want to load Flash content or not.
One gripe I still have with Android is that most of the apps or tasks don’t have Exit or Shut down options. You have to manually close them using a third party Task manager app. Also various apps get started on their own while you are doing some other work. For example, you may be checking your Email and suddenly there’s a notification about a new DM or reply that someone sent you on Twitter, even if you had not opened that Twitter client. I hope Android fixes this very soon. There is no doubt Android 4.0 is a major leap from Android 2.3 and is considerably cohesive, smoother and better in various aspects. You can clearly see how well it runs on this smartphone.
If you are okay with the size of the phone – having a 4.7 inch screen, I don’t think there is any such reason that you should not buy this phone. It is fast, looks nice and runs on the latest version of Android OS. It has so much going for this. Maybe, you should wait a little so that the price touches the Rs. 30,000 mark. This is certainly the best HTC phone till date and also one of the best smartphones available in the market today.
While people might find 32GB less, I think the copious amount of space offered will easily suffice most users.
If you are looking at buying a great phone in 2012, this should definitely be on your list.