HTC’s flagship device, the One X, has been available overseas for almost a month, and it finally arrives in the United States on AT&T’s network this May 6th. The US version is slightly tweaked and features a different processor, so many have wondered how the two devices would stack up. We were fortunate enough to spend a couple weeks with AT&T’s variant, so read on to see how they compared. Is this the best Android phone yet?
Note: This video was recorded with the HTC One X. Head over to YouTube to watch this video in full 1080p.
1. Beautiful design
Carry the HTC One X around town, and you are sure to turn heads. HTC’s design firm One & Co did an awesome job with the One X and it’s one of my favorite Android phones of all time.
The device is available in white or grey, and I would highly suggest going with the white version. We found that the white version can sometimes get dirty, but a quick wipe with a cloth and rubbing alcohol cleans it right up.
Some people will complain that the camera lens sticks out when the device is resting flat, but HTC slightly altered the design on this AT&T version. We found the ring around the lens was a little thicker than the international version, so the lens will not scratch as easily.
Others have also expressed their concern over HTC’s choice to use physical buttons, instead of on-screen buttons like the Galaxy Nexus. I found there was a period of adjustment coming from the Galaxy Nexus, but they didn’t bother me after I got used to them.
Overall, the HTC One X is a device that’s fun to hold, features incredible build quality, and has a unique look that stands out from the mob of Android phones.
2. Amazing camera experience
This is the smartphone camera I have always wanted. For the first time ever, I now have an Android phone that is “good enough” to shoot video of other phones. HTC claims “it just might be the only camera you’ll ever need to bring with you” and we tend to agree in most situations.
Features of HTC’s camera include instant capture with zero shutter lag, extended depth of field (EDOF) to capture everything in focus, continuous shooting for non-stop, rapid-fire shots, backside-illuminated (BSI) sensor for low-light photos, smart flash for providing the precise light needed to produce great photos, and built in high dynamic range (HDR) imaging.
It would have been nice to see a dedicated camera button, but we can live without one in this case since the overall camera experience is still better than other Android phones.
HTC will also tell you their main camera features a dedicated ImageChip, 8 megapixel sensor, F2.0 aperture and 28mm lens, but the specs don’t really matter in this case. The end result is what we care about, so check out the sample pictures and video below.
3. Superior display
This display is unmatched. I thought the Super AMOLED Plus display on the Galaxy Nexus was the best thing around, but HTC’s Super LCD 2 display beats it hands down. It is not pentile, the text is super clear, and it’s much brighter than the Galaxy Nexus. Nothing I write will do this display justice, so I suggest headed to your local AT&T store to check it out.
4. Blazing fast 4G LTE
My HTC One X has faster download speeds than my home internet connection from Time Warner. In my time with the One X, I found AT&T’s 4G LTE network smokes my Galaxy Nexus on Verizon 4G LTE. I know AT&T’s LTE coverage is still limited, but I found download speeds were around 2-3x faster than Verizon on average.
In Dallas, I was able to achieve download speeds in excess of 50 Mbps and saw upload speeds around 20 Mbps. This is sure to slow down once more LTE devices join the network (like the next iPhone), but AT&T currently offers the fastest mobile data connection.
Seeing these crazy results raises the question if we really need these kind of speeds. LTE allows you to download files at 50 Mbps, but the average user won’t find my cases to take advantage of that. About the only thing LTE is good for is burning through a monthly data cap 10x faster than HSPA+.
The low latency times (sub 100ms pings) would be great for online gaming, but there are not many titles that require that kind of speed. This should change as we see more console quality first-person shooters, but I’m not seeing many other uses for it yet. Streaming music and YouTube videos is still the same experience on AT&T’s and Verizon’s 4G LTE networks.
Having said all that, we were still impressed by the One X network speeds and can’t wait to see what apps take advantage of them.
5. Best Sense UI yet
“We got a little too Kung-fu with Sense [3.x],” said Jason Mackenzie, HTC’s President for Global Sales and Marketing.
If previous versions of Sense UI annoyed you, then you will be glad to hear that HTC toned it down a notch for Sense 4.0. I was never a big fan of Sense, but I found the latest version to be tolerable, and even enjoyable in certain cases. To put it simply, this is the first version of Sense that I don’t want to immediately turn off.
The only thing that frustrated me was HTC’s stock keyboard, but I quickly downloaded an ICS clone keyboard and never looked back.
We plan to do an in-depth look at Sense UI 4.0 in the coming weeks, so check out HTC’s Sense page for further details.
HTC still allows users to unlock the bootloader, so you can flash any custom ROM to your heart’s content. We have already seen CyanogenMod 9 and MIUI 4 ported to the Tegra version of the One X, and we expect similar ROMs for the Snapdragon version once it gets in the hands of developers.
Update: Multiple reports say that AT&T has prevented HTC from unlocking the bootloader on the One X. If this changes, we will let you know.
6. Snappy performance
This is the fastest Android phone I have ever used. Some users have already complained that it’s not “quad-core” like the international version with Tegra 3, but we found the dual-core Snapdragon S4 inside AT&T’s model to be just as fast. I’ve had both versions of the phone for several weeks, and I can’t tell a different in normal day-to-day usage.
For a complete comparison between the two models, check out our HTC One X: Snapdragon S4 vs Tegra 3 showdown.
7. Beats audio and loud speakerphone
I’m no audiophile, but the HTC One X paired with Beats headphones produces the best sound I’ve heard on any Android device. I tested the One X with a pair of Beats by Dr. Dre MIXR headphones (normally $249) and I was blown away by the high performance sound.
Beats audio is mostly a software solution that includes an enhanced equalizer setting based on the content. You can toggle it on and off, but everything sounds much clearer and louder with it on and there is no reason to turn it off.
You won’t find a pair of Beats earbuds packaged with AT&T’s phone, but HTC did that for a reason. They did’t want to cheapen the experience by tossing in a pair of free earbuds. If you want the full Beats experience, you will have to pony up the cash and get the high-end gear.
I also enjoyed the sound level of the external speaker. It was much louder than my Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and perfect for watching YouTube videos on the go.
8. Medialink HD
MediaLink HD has to be the One X’s most underrated feature. This extra accessory creates a wireless link between your smartphone and HDTV that extends your mobile display to the big screen.
Users get full-screen mirroring, which means they can take anything on their phone and easily share it with friends. In my brief time with MediaLink HD, I used it to share videos and pictures, browse the web, and play games.
HTC has also created specific MediaLink APIs that allow developers to create dual-screen apps. Example of this include playing a game on the big screen, while using the phone to access special on-screen controls. Users could also play video on the big screen, while browsing around to other apps on the mobile device.
Setup was a breeze and the connection can quickly be established by swiping up with three fingers on the smartphone display. The MediaLink HD connects to any display with HDMI and is powered by USB. Most newer TVs that have HDMI should also have USB, so it’s pretty easy to hook up. Thanks to the small size of the MediaLink HD, it’s also great to carry around to a friends house, or hook up to that hotel TV when you travel.
Pricing and availability has not been announced, but we expect the MediaLink HD to fall in the $99-149 range.
9. On device storage is half of international One X, but still adequate
Some people might not like it, but on-device storage is on the way out in favor of cloud storage. AT&T’s One X includes 16 GB of internal storage, compared to 32 GB that we saw in the international version. Thankfully, HTC still throws in 25 GB of cloud storage via Dropbox. Google also offers an additional 5 GB of free storage space with their Google Drive service.
We understand that the average user will never use up 16 GB of space, but it would have been nice for AT&T to go with the 32 GB option. For this reason, we rate the storage options as average and only reward half a point.
10. Battery performance above average, but not the MAXX
One battery size does not fit all. It’s true that the One X offers the best battery life of any previous HTC phone, but you will still need to charge it every night with normal usage. We would have liked to see a higher capacity battery, like the 3,300 mAh monster found in the RAZR MAXX, but HTC has found that consumers prefer thinner phones.
For the last week I carried around the AT&T One X and the Verizon Galaxy Nexus, two flagship devices with LTE. My Galaxy Nexus has the official Samsung extended battery (2100 mAh), but I found that the AT&T One X and its smaller 1800 mAh battery lasted longer.
It’s nice to see that HTC has found a way extend the battery life with the Snapdragon S4 and software tweaks, but we would still like a higher capacity battery or the option to replace it with an extended one.
I love this phone, and I don’t say that often. It would have received a perfect score if HTC went with expandable storage and a user-replaceable battery, but we understand why those trade-offs were made. Other than those two issues, it’s hard to find much to gripe about
Most Android phones are all the same and boring, but the HTC One X is truly different and I was excited with the opportunity to review it. Compared to my Galaxy Nexus, the One X has a greatly enhanced camera experience, faster performance, and longer battery life.
We receive new review units every month, but I generally only upgrade my personal phone around once a year. I’ve only spent around two weeks with the HTC One X, but it’s such a better experience than anything else that I don’t think I can return to my Galaxy Nexus.
Each user will have features that are the most important to them, and for me it’s camera performance and battery life. I’ve been carrying both the One X and Galaxy Nexus for the last couple weeks, and I reached for the One X every time I wanted to take a photo. HTC’s phone also outlasted my Galaxy Nexus in battery life, which was a major bonus.
When my friends ask me about upgrading their smartphone I like to say, “If you find a better phone, buy it.” The AT&T HTC One X is the best Android phone currently available in the United States, so I would recommend it to anyone looking to purchase a new device.
Keep in mind that Samsung unveils their next Galaxy phone on May 3rd, but we don’t know when it will be released or if AT&T will carry it. I’d suggest waiting to see what Samsung has in store, but go ahead and pull the trigger on the HTC One X if you need a phone now.