A day before the official start of the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Huawei, Sony and HTC presented their golden tickets for the biggest global telecommunications show. But it was HTC that dominated the day with the best time slot and the most attractive new devices.
HTC One X
HTC's biggest attraction was the One X, a 4.7-inch smartphone with a Super LCD 2 1280 x 720-pixel (720p) screen. It comes with a quad-core Tegra 3 chipset (the version with LTE support has a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor and is called One XL), 1 GB DDR2 of RAM, 32 GB of internal data storage and the Ice Cream Sandwich as its operating system.
Editor's Note: The One X on display at MWC is the international version, which will have a quad-core processor. AT&T in the U.S. has announced plan to offer a version that will have 4G LTE, but a slower dual-core processor. More information is available in this news article.
The One X is very elegant -- its casing is made out of polycarbonate plastic, is 9.3 mm thick, its display is covered with 3D Gorilla Glass and is slightly curved along the edges (just like Nokia N9, Lumia 800 and 900). We tried out this device and loved its speed, ergonomics and software after only about ten minutes.
The speed could easily be assessed while downloading heavy web sites, which have many objects created in Flash -- this is the first device which does not make such sites glitch or twitch during zooming in and scrolling, while running all applications takes place smoothly, even games which take up a vast amount of RAM. It's as if we were talking about a PC not a phone.
Because it is slim, the One X does not seem huge, and its lush diagonal provides pleasure for the user which does not impair its practical nature.
It is exceptionally light when held in hand. Perhaps hard plastic is not as convincing as other materials are, but other smartphones (for example Samsung's Galaxy S II) use the same thing, showing that this does not necessarily have to be a flaw. The back surface is a bit embossed, which makes the user have a better grip on it -- and as HTC explained -- it is fairly resilient to scratches.
The display is fantastic, mostly due to its resolution. It was not possible to assess how it acts during daylight because the presentation took place in the night, but Super LCD 2 provides exceptional sharpness, thanks to which details seem as if we we're looking at a smartphone but something far more realistic. The colors are very vibrant and provide a sense of futurism.
What made our mouths water the most was a combination of Android OS 4.0 and Sense 4 user interface. On a cosmetic level, this is vaguely the same user interface that the previous Sense UI had, but the camera application has had cardinal changes and is now called Image Sense.
Thus, the HTC One X has an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera which can be turned on and can take a photograph in 0.7 seconds. Furthermore, it includes HDR recording support and a so-called Dual Shooter which enables taking photographs while recording Full HD videos at the same time. The camera has a wide shooting angle (22 mm), with f/2.0 aperture, so the images look exquisite, especially on such a big and sharp screen, which we saw for ourselves testing the camera in rather crude conditions.
HTC One S
The One S model is the slimmest HTC smartphone yet, being 7.6 mm thick (but not the slimmest in the world as this record is held by the Huawei Ascend P1 S). It includes a dual-core processor on a 1.5 clock and a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED screen, which makes it hold its ground next to Samsung's Galaxy S II, but HTC considers it a mid-range device.
We tried it out for a while,and the impression we came away with is not that different than the one provided by the One X, especially regarding the camera which has identical features and characteristics. Still, the One S' appearance is not anything particular or notable, unlike the One X.
Yesterday, T-Mobile USA announced that it's going to offer a version of the One S. It didn't get specific about a release date or price, however.
It includes a 1 GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, but all specifications and features of the 5-mega pixel back-facing camera are the same as with One X and One V models.
HTC has raised the bar high in Barcelona and it will be exciting to see what Samsung and Apple have to say in the upcoming months.
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