The next best thing is in, the HTC One X has arrived and the Indian markets are already having a big buzz around with the HTC and Sony brands being more into talks rather than Samsung which was one of the favorites with the “Galaxy” on every hand.
HTC One X is an absolute beauty, sets itself apart from the box-shaped (though not an ugly) Sony Xperia S, and the entire range of Samsung series of phones. First off, you would feel that it was the same HTC series that we had seen with the Windows Phone 7 OS, especially the resemblance with the HTC HD 7, but there are differences that can convince you when you hold the phone in your hands. Read on as we review all the aspects, and tell you why the HTC One X is one of the best launches from the brand.
Design, Form Factor and Display
One hell of a beauty the HTC One X is. May that’s the white color which gives the phone a bit more of appreciation, but the dark one won’t be less impressive. The phone has got curves all around, and is perfectly slim and flat except the top and bottom back edges. The first impression of the switched off display would give a little resemblance to the Nokia Lumia 800 which had a beautiful screen, flat till the end and then turning down into the curve. This is the gorilla glass on the AMOLED display, and the curving in deep into the body would allow no space for accumulation of dust particles.
The beautiful chassis has got a finish and body made from the polycarbonate material which resists the fingerprint. And HTC has made the body resistant to water and dust in the earpiece and back speaker areas, so you don’t need to worry about the speakers getting moistened when there is some around it.
One big complain and a position totally wrong and not appreciated by the users would be the Power key on the top, rather than on the sidebar. People would find it always difficult to use the key with the left hand, and even when you are locking the phone with your right hand, the volume jack keys do come in the way many a times.
What we see on the front side is the large 4.7-inch screen continued with the capacitive-touch responsive buttons for the Back, Home and Recent Apps shortcut. The area above the screen has the front camera and the water-resistant and dust-resistant grill above the earpiece, and this covers almost half of the area on the top from left to right. It looks very neat when you check from the top, there’s a sharp edge that brings out the curves on both the sides, and the top has got the Switch/Power key on the fronter side, and the curve that goes towards back has got the 3.5mm jack for the headset. The top has even got the secondary mic which assists in the noise cancellation.
The back side on the white One X looks too classy, with the HTC logo in silver shine adding to the beauty, and the round camera area which HTC always brings with its own style. The headset jack half-appears from the back side, even though its located on the top, and the top area on the back panel is occupied by the camera and the flash. This is yet another unibody design, so there isn’t any way to open the back panel and remove the battery, but that comes with a disappointment if you are looking for more than 32GB onboard, because there is no option to use an external SD card.
The top of the back side just beside the camera has the iPhone-styled Micro-SIM slot with the piece coming out to adjust the SIM. The slot can be opened just like the iPhone, and HTC has provided a pin along with the guide to show the size of a Micro SIM if someone is trying to cut the SIM manually.
Operating System, Interface and Apps
Anything below the basic Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android is now called traditional and low quality, and HTC was well conscious as they have brought in the HTC One X with the Android 4.0 OS, with a beautiful interface which reminds us of the HTC desire which had something similar. The interface is similar but not the same, because there are things that are changed, firstly with the home screens and their way of customization, and secondly the application lists.
One word that can explain the entire interface of the One X – “Flexible”. We aren’t restricted to a few things and options, but can play around with many features, options and customize the interface in the way we want to make it look better and easier to use. Long press the homescreen and you see a list of homescreens and the options/widgets/shortcuts which you could place on any of the homescreen. The tabs at the bottom can also be customized and changed.
What we loved is the vibrant look of the entire OS and interface, unlike the simple and standard looks of the same OS version in the Galaxy Nexus from Samsung. You won’t get bored of it at all. The app lists shows either the list of all applications, or the ones that were downloaded and not there pre-installed. The Play Store is the new Android Market and except the name, nothing is much changed in there. The new version of Android has concentrated a lot on delivering to people, in the form of search. Each area, each menu or app page is focused to have a search bar so that it makes things easier for people to search.
The notification panel shows all the notifications one after the other, with no categorization or any prioritized notifications. Drag the panel down from the top, and it would show the network you are connected to, and on the top right itself, there lies the button to clear the notifications list or a button to directly go to the settings. The notifications do stay or pop up even when you don’t have the panel open, and the top bar with the network, time, Wi-Fi section fills with the mini icons which let the users know about the latest happenings within the device.
The applications do come in a healthy list, with many pre-loaded apps that would help in getting started easily with some or the other function. But not all of them are always useful, and someone conscious about the processor, memory usage would want to remove the unnecessary apps from the One X. The app lists are in various pages, which are to be scrolled from side-to-side, rather than the big long list that the HTC phones usually have and people had to scroll down.
The App Bloatware doesn’t impress many as we had stated above, but HTC might have given so many apps taking the confidence from the 1.5GHz processor, 1GB of RAM and most importantly, the 32GB memory supported by the 25GB online storage using the Dropbox app. Some of the notable apps that one should take the advantage of, include the Car Mode, Notes, Dropbox, the Google apps like Gmail, Google talk.
The home screens on the HTC One X show some 3D graphics and movements when you shift form one home screen to the other, and even when the user flickers through the different pages, app lists etc. The latest apps list that can be opened by hitting the 3rd touch responsive button below the screen, not just helps in browsing through the latest opened apps but would also assist in multitasking.
The touch response is perfect, with the multitouch response doing exceptionally well when we tried using multiple fingers at the same time. Its obvious, that when you have got some moisture or tiny droplets of moisture on the screen, the response becomes too glitchy, and that is always the case with any smartphone. HTC has made things more interesting and beautiful by bringing out drag effects in the settings area, where you drag the screen down to see gaps between each setting.
Internet Browsing and Connectivity
With the upgraded Android operating system, the larger screen size of 4.7-inch and the high-end internal specs, the HTC One X users would find it pretty neat while browsing the web using the Android browser in the phone. One of the features we thought we might get dazzled, is the speed of loading of websites with the Quad-core processor that is placed for the device to perform and make things faster but its a bit of disappointment to see that there is no much noticeable increase in the speed of loading, speed in browsing the web.
But if someone is looking for the display and the web browsing experience, the HTC One X is no less in impressing people with its heavy screen size and the AMOLED display. May that be any page, the phone would adjust the text when you are browsing the page in the browser, and this adjusting comes handy when you zoom in or out in the website content.
There is a Reader option where you can open the content of a website with minimal graphics and images, and this doesn’t only help in keeping the browser speed high, bit would always make reading in the landscape mode easier.
The Android browser has the useragent changer, where the browser can be used in Desktop mode, and after a try we found that the Desktop version of a website loaded up instead of the mobile version when we opened it in the One X. Some of the normal features of the Android browser include the bookmarking, the most visited websites list in a new window section, but a couple things we wanted from the Android browser was the option to save pages or the content from the web pages for reading it offline, and the better downloads manager with more settings, as that’s what we users would be doing with such high specs and memory, and the multiple downloaded items would need an organizing of it from time to time (at least that’s what we feel, when we download pdf’s, docs, music, pictures, videos etc.)
The Camera – Imaging and Video Recording
Check the HTC One X Camera review, and we’ve featured it separately as its camera is one of the best of the recent times. The multiple shots, the various capturing effects etc. are way better than the cameras of the other smartphones that lie in the same league.
The typical list of connectivity options is fulfilled, with the HTC One X having a plethora of those, including the 4G Long term evolution and the latest best versions of the Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and the NFC! We’ve got the Galaxy Nexus along so we did a test, and a simple touch or contact between both the phones is enough to send/share the files between the two devices which have got the NFC activated in them.
The 3G connectivity works great, although we found the signal reception being a little glitchy sometimes, and this could be comparable with the Motorola Droid Razr but both are quite less in accuracy of signals when compared to the Samsung Android phones. Bluetooth is at its best with the 4.0 technology, and the Near Field Communication is the future of sharing and file transfer for the devices.
The Android 4.0 ICS gives a good support to make the device a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, and the sharing of the data network connection to five other devices divides it well. We tested the same with the hotspot connected by 3 devices, and all the three got a good share of the data network.
Performance and Battery Backup
Nothing less can be expected from the Quad-core processor of the HTC One X, and the phone does deliver upto the potential. But two major issues we came across, firstly the heating up of phone on heavy usage of the rear camera or video calling, and secondly the not-so-high battery life (blame the 1800 mAh battery for that). As always, we assess the functioning and performance of a mobile phone based on various tests, which don’t specifically have a name but these are the functions which users knowingly or unknowingly would do. For example, many apps running in the background and you are on some heavy gaming app. This usually reduces the performance but the HTC One X is capable of taking some heavy loads.
But at the same time, the battery gives up and the draining is quicker when you are using the camera, or have some HD video being played. The phone being a unibody one, we couldn’t check but the specs say its 1800 mAh capacity, which should have given more usage time than what we are getting right now. Although we won’t say that the battery life sucks, because we purposely gave the phone a hard time to check the quality.
Final Verdict – Is the HTC One X worth the buzz?
One can feel satisfied that they aren’t missing their iPhone, or the Samsung Galaxy S II, if they are upgrading to the HTC One X. It’s a perfect combination of many things together, and one would feel more conscious and obsessed about the phone if it’s the sexy looking White color in hands. We are totally impressed with the sleek design, slimness, the exceptional camera features and captures, the tidy video recording quality, the appealing interface, a neat front camera and the Android 4.0 operating system. What still needs improvement includes the battery life, the heating up issues and the Micro SIM option which always is an issue for Indian users, who have to approach the network providers or use a SIM adapter when they shift to a different phone and need the normal SIM instead of the Micro SIM. And yes, we understand that when such heavy processors are included, there shouldn’t have been any limitation in the storage and HTC should have given a MicroSD provision for the same.