25 May 2012
A welcome Android alternative to Samsung, the HTC One X should have wide appeal, although we wish the Android obsession with screen size would spare a thought for smaller hands...
For a moment, there seemed a distinct possibility that Samsung was going to swallow up the high end Android universe (which in turn is taking big bites out of the Apple). Motorola's RAZR hasn't been able to recapture its namesake's magic and phones such as HTC's 4G Velocity have been good, but not great.
Thankfully, HTC's One X is a genuine contender for those tiring of Samsung's plasticky chassis.
The most obvious difference between top line Android phones is the body - and we think the One X is a cracker. While its polycarbonate chassis doesn't have that same sense of indestructibility of the chunkier Nokia Lumias, it's an obvious step up from the Galaxy line's plastic backs - yet without a noticeable weight penalty. And the 130g unit looks premium too, nice and clean, and with a choice of black or a matte white.
We like the slightly curved back, which makes it noticeably easier to hold, and helps disguise the fact the ends are a little thicker than an otherwise trim waist.
The camera lens seems to stick out a little too much, although the lens protection glass seems pretty sturdy. Shame there's no dedicated camera button, and some may be disappointed by the lack of expandable memory - though it's not something we miss with the very decent 32GB on board.
The rest of the hardware ticks all the boxes you want in a top end smart phone. Front facing camera, quad core 1.5 gHz processor, a 4.7 inch screen - it's as zippy as any other unit populated by the little green robots.
Android makers seem to be in a somewhat ill-conceived screen size arms race and while the One X does a better job than most of keeping the unwieldiness of the phone down, many people will struggle to reach buttons at the top of the screen when using the phone with one hand. The phone's slippery finish doesn't help - although it's not as likely as others (such as the Lumia line) to squirt out of your hands.
The software experience is great, as you would expect from a flagship. Android 4.0 zips along nicely, with a little bit of a lag if you create too many homescreens - another nice feature. Thankfully we seem past the days where the number of screens was fixed at 5 or 7.
The HTC Sense interface is unobtrusive and we're glad you can adjust widget sizes natively (including the music player, though we sure would love a 2x1 option). There's a very wide array of weather and clock combinations. The native keyboard is pretty good, as you would expect on a larger phone, although our Swype addiction means we installed TouchPal pretty quick.
Phone call experience is...decent. On one call, the caller seemed slightly muffled, though it seemed to clear up fine for the next one. The ringer and speaker are reasonably loud, and music is fine (which you'd expect given HTC's pushing of Beatsaudio.)
We don't get into the pixel peeping as other reviews do, but the One X seems fine, though not a wildly different experience from any other top phone. The software has a few more bells and whistles, the quality is decent - though we did get mixed results at a restaurant trying to capture a couple of more eclectic looking dishes.
The 1800mAh battery life is thankfully quite decent - always a worry with Android. With moderate to heavy use, it comfortably makes it through a working day and an evening.
The HTC One X is clean, well made, trim, fast and looks good, without any major shortcomings, as you would expect from a major player's flagship. There's a bevy of Samsung Galaxy III v HTC One X comparisons out there already, and while we haven't gotten our hands on the Korean juggernaut's latest, we're confident the OneX will offer a highly credible alternative.
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