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HTC One X Review: A Quad-Core Superpower
by Dragan Petric -  4/19/2012

Overview

This model is first on the market with a number of features: its quad-core processor on a NVIDIA Tegra 3 chipset (which in fact offers four plus one cores), its 4.7-inch second-generation Super IPS LCD screen with HD resolution, Sense 4.0 user interface upgrade for Google's Android OS 4.0, and its 8 megapixel back-facing camera which takes photographs with aperture of f/2.0 and the widest shooting angle of 22 mm.

In reality, HTC One X is an impressive smartphone and even after just a few minutes of using it, one can clearly see that this is the most powerful model with Android OS currently available. The difference compared to HTC's previous top models (above all, I am talking about the Sensation series), is evident from the way it lies in ones hand, the more convincing and modern-looking body (finally) and especially the screen imaging. Still, the One X has certain shortcomings.

This review is of the international (European) version of the One X. The upcoming U.S. version adds support for 4G LTE but lacks a quad-core processor.

Build & Design

The HTC One X has a polycarbonate shell, and is available in white or black (that's actually a very dark grey). Compared to its predecessors this makes it more elegant, solid, modern and convincing. Gorilla Glass with convex edges covers it practically from edge to edge and adds to the impression of exceptional firmness.

HTC One XOn the other hand, the device has no exchangeable battery or a microSD card slot which could be used for expanding the 32GB data storage. And its button distribution is awkward, given its dimensions and casing. For example, it's possible to switch from stand-by mode by pressing the power button, located along the upper right edge, and then rotating a wheel on the lock-screen, but the handset is so large that right-handed people with an average-sized palm will most likely have trouble performing this operation without having to move the phone in their hand between these two steps.

With its dimensions of 134 x 70 x 8.9 mm, the phone is not that much bigger than Samsung's Galaxy S II which has a 4.3-inch screen and is just somewhat heavier, weighing 130 grams. Still, Samsung's device can be snapped from stand-by mode by pressing a physical key below the display, something the One X does not have. However, because of the slim design and small mass, the One X feels lighter than it looks, even lighter than Galaxy S II.

Display

Imaging on a 4.7-inch Super IPS LCD2 screen is immaculate - craftsmanship for this technology is provided by LG. A 720 x 1280 pixel resolution on this diagonal gives the One X a 312 ppi pixel density, which is not the maximum seen on smartphones (Sony Xperia S, for instance, has a 342 ppi density), but this is surely one of the best smartphone screens available on the market at the moment.

Large size, supreme imaging sharpness, exceptionally wide viewing angles, color vividness, and excellent contrast that's not lost even in direct sunlight makes it a great pleasure using this phone. It is as if this was a smaller tablet and not a smartphone.

Of course, HTC has prepared several themes and wallpapers with very warm and expressive colors that additionally show off the screen's characteristics. If the smoothness and light absorbtion of the Gorilla Glass' surface is considered, it's clear to see that the bar has been raised with this display, even compared to Samsung's Super AMOLED Plus.

Other Buttons and Ports

HTC One X -- Camera ViewThe front of the One X holds the proximity and ambient light sensors, just above the display, as well as a speaker perforation. There is also a user-facing camera for video calls with a 720p resolution, and a tiny LED indicator.

There are three capacitive keys below the screen, still covered with Gorilla Glass (Back, Home and Tasks). According to Google specifications, devices with the Android OS 4.0 should not have any keys, but HTC's user interface upgrade Sense 4.0 requires this. The keys are very responsive and actually more practical to use than what ICS has by default.

The left edge of the smartphone only includes a micro-USB hub, which serves for data transfer, battery charging and connecting with a TV set, thanks to MHL technology support. The right side has just a slim volume control switch. The phone's upper edge includes a standard 3.5-mm slot for headphones, the microphone for video calls and a slot for microSIM cards. This is opened after a key that comes with the device is inserted into a very slim slot (just like the iPhone), which is rather unpractical. Nokia's Lumia 800, for instance, also uses microSIM, but opening its drawer is so much easier and practical.

Performance

To give the One X above-average speed, HTC chose NVIDIA's Tegra 3 chipset with a quad-core processor clocked at 1.5 GHz and added GeForce mobile graphic processor. The Tegra 3 has been optimized for Android OS 4.0, and designed to have four plus one cores. The 'fifth' core taken on process maintenance when the others aren't needed, which significantly saves battery life.

HTC One XAs this is the first quad-core smartphone available on the market, it can be assumed that it will provide the best results on synthetic benchmarks – better than those provided by current devices with dual-core chipsets, anyways. However, one should keep in mind that there is a newer and better optimized dual-core chipset than NVIDIA's, and that the processor has to deal with a very high screen resolution in this case, and a very demanding Sense 4.0 user interface upgrade.

According to SunSpider, the One X gives the score of 1752, a dual-core One S gives 1720, while the Samsung Galaxy S II's score was 1860 (lower is better). On the other hand, according to BrowserMark, which marks 'higher is better', the One X scores 96912, the One S 98522, and Galaxy S II scored 104439. According to AnTuTu Benchmark, which states that higher is better, One X wins with 10850, One S has 7201, and the Galaxy S II has 5903.

In reality, with every-day use, these results do not mean a thing – this is a ruthlessly fast telephone which performs tasks at nearly the speed of light.

The hardest task – zooming in and scrolling web sites with several Flash elements – shows that images are not always displayed smoothly on the screen. The situation doesn't improve much even when Flash support is turned off. The iPhone performs this task with somewhat greater ease, but it should also be noted that the iPhone's diagonal is over an inch shorter.

The One X easily handles playing video clips (even 1080p ones), zooming in and scrolling photographs, PDF files and other documents. Complex games and applications are opened somewhat faster than on other top models with Android. This means that it can be concluded that the quad-core processor meets all expectations.

Software

HTC One S -- Side ViewCompared to the previous version, HTC's user interface Sense 4.0 brings several smaller cosmetic changes, but the concept is more or less the same. When compared to the UI of "pure" Android OS 4.0, HTC has added functionality to the lock-screen to allow the user to immediately jump to the app of their choice. It also included several theme 'scenes' with which the device adjusts to a certain type of user (for work, travel, social network buffs, gaming enthusiasts...); the creation of up to seven home screens is possible, the status bar has been polished, and more.

What is exceptionally practical is the task manager (turned on with the third capacitive key below the display) that shows running apps in a 3D perspective. They can be rotated and be selected with a finger or turned off by being 'pushed' off the screen upwards. Such neat effects are also included in the address book, the dialer, the music player and other classic software elements.

The most touched-up change is included in the interface for multimedia files, especially photographs, whether these are taken using the rear-facing camera or working with already archived photographs. In times of total global frenzy for software like Instagram, the HTC One X is an ideal tool for 'fresh' photographers, especially due to Sense 4.0.

Camera

HTC One X -- Rear ViewThe 8 megapixel rear-facing camera takes very sharp photographs, even in poor lighting conditions, because the aperture amounts to f/2.0 with the widest viewing angle – which is 22 mm expressed in units equal for a 35 mm film. Sense 4.0 enables video recording and taking photographs with the same interface and it is even possible to perform these two tasks simultaneously – to take photographs while you are recording a video. Also, HDR photo support is included.

Most praises go to the software's speed – when one wishes to record something, it is possible to turn on the camera and take the first photograph in under a second; something that other devices from this class cannot boast about. That said, it's a shame that the One X does not come with a precise key for turning on the camera.

The images are very sharp but the software 'raves them up' so that the saturation is increased. Sometimes, this results in noise on the photographs. The same can be said for the quality of video recordings.

Battery

In my testing, the built-in 1800 mAh battery can go a relatively long time between charges – with heavy use, I managed to work with the phone for two days without charging it.

During Wi-Fi and 3G data transfer, additional heating of the upper back half of the smartphone can be sensed, as well as faster battery drain, but this is nothing drastic or to worry about.

Conclusion

The One X is the most impressive attempt by HTC yet to create the best smartphone with Android OS, and it can be judged that this company has taken over the title from Samsung's Galaxy S II -- at least until the Galaxy S III is introduced. With its 720p display, a quad-core processor, modern and elegant body and a powerful sense 4.0 user interface, HTC has created the most attractive device with Google's mobile OS.

HTC One XOne needs to look hard to find shortcomings, but there are some present. Problem areas include the software that brushes up photographs, the poorly placed power key, the fact that its memory cannot be upgraded, and that the device is too big for persons with small hands. On the other hand, some will find its size the most desirable factor – working on a smartphone which offers such luxury and comfortability while browsing the Internet, going through Google Play, consuming multimedia and everything else will be a real treat.

Pros

Cons