HTC One X: AT&T’s Best Handset Yet


Please note that portions of this review were taken from the EVO 4G LTE review, as the devices have near identical specs, along with running the same software.

The HTC One X has been out on AT&T for awhile now, but a delay at US Customs has stopped its sales for a few weeks. It will be making a full return coming Sunday, June 10th, and we have just the review for those contemplating purchasing the device. I’ve been using it as my personal device for the last week, to get a better feel for the phone. Is it the best phone available? How does it compare to the new EVO? Read on to find out!

Hardware

To say the One X is a gorgeous device is an understatement; this is quite possibly the best looking handset ever made. I know that not everyone will agree, but there’s no doubt that this is a great looking handset. I had the pleasure of using the white variant of the handset, and does it look great.

The front of the handset is a nice black glass finish, with the back being a white polycarbonate. It feels great in the hand, and gone are my issues of not being able to reach the lock button on the top right of the device. Right behind the lock button is the microSIM card slot, which requires a tool to take the card out. Rest assured, HTC includes a branded little tool for all SIM-swapping needs. Speaking of branding, this is one device that has a little too much of it.

I’m not a fan of branding on devices, and HTC has gone all out with AT&T’s One X. Below the earpiece is the AT&T logo, and on the center of the back of the device is a large HTC logo with a metallic finish. That’s what we’ve come to expect on a device, but HTC went a little too far: there’s a Beats Audio branding on the lower back of the device, right above the speaker. I realize that HTC has a deal with Beats, but this seems grossly inappropriate considering the ‘Beats Audio’ is completely on the software front.
Software

Over the years HTC has been known for its custom UI on Android, otherwise known as Sense. As with just about every other HTC handset released within in the last few years, Sense is running on top of Android. Android 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich, lies under Sense, assuring that this handset has the most up to date version of Android.

The new EVO runs the latest version of Sense, going by Sense 4. Compared to HTC’s last version of Sense, 3.5, this is a huge improvement. From the start Sense was made to improve the Android experience, and it did just that. As time went on HTC just kept adding on and adding on, eventually creating the monster known as Sense 3.0. 3.0 was an incredibly heavy overlay, causing high-end hardware to stutter and lag, along with some of the poorest battery life ever seen on a cell phone. In my use with Sense 3.0, I would be lucky to get 5 hours of use. Sense 4′s predecessor, Sense 3.5, was an even heavier version of 3.0.

HTC listened to its customers feedback and how horrible 3.0 was, setting out to make Sense 4 the best version yet. They most definitely succeeded, and Sense 4 has become my favorite UI overlay to date.

Gone are the days of sluggish performance and heavy animations, with Sense 4 sliming things down. You still won’t find many stock Android elements, but HTC did a good job of adding to the features of the phone, rather than hindering it like 3.0 did. One of my favorite parts of the UI is all the extra personalization options HTC adds, like various themes and ‘Scenes’. HTC also included some very useful widgets like multiple weather updates and clocks, along with some extra toggles. All in all, they are useful in one way or another, and not just extra bloatware on the device.

AT&T included its fair share of bloatware on the phone though, and most of it isn’t good. You can find their full suite of services, including Navigator, Live TV, Code Scanner, and AT&T Family Maps. There’s also some Yahoo stuff on their, due to AT&T’s partnership with the search engine. None of this is removable, and the chances of someone actually using it are very slim. But hey, that’s what you get from carriers these days.

When I reviewed the new EVO, I said that I couldn’t use HTC’s keyboard for more than a few hours. With the One X, that has completely changed. I’ve been using the keyboard’s swiping method for the last week, and I absolutely love it. It tops Swype at its own game, and is now my new favorite keyboard. There is a slight learning curve, but I have now become fully accustomed to it.

Performance and Battery

Just like the EVO, this device has been top notch in terms of performance. Everything has been buttery smooth, from scrolling to gaming to web browsing. It multitasks like a champ, even with multiple games running in the background. Oddly enough, the phone scored an average of about 4500 in Quadrant, while the EVO 4G LTE averaged a 4900. They both contain the same processor and graphics, making this a weird occurrence. GLBenchmark scored the One X at an average of 49FPS, which is on par with the EVO’s 50FPS. This may mean that it’s time to retire Quadrant.

Data connectivity was a mixed bag for me. The One X is LTE capable, but it is not yet live where I lived. I was limited to AT&T’s HSPA+ network, which is in no way a bad thing. I averaged speeds of around 4Mbps down and 1.5 up, which are generally good speeds. I even maxed out at about 10Mbps down and 5Mbps up, which is great for a last-gen network. However, sometimes data would not work at all. I contacted HTC about this, and they believe it’s a bum unit. I’ll be receiving another one by Monday and will be sure to update this section.

Battery life has been exceptional on my unit, despite the data issues. I unplugged my phone at 7:30AM, and was using it until about 4AM the next day after going to the midnight premiere of Prometheus. When I woke up in the morning, my phone still had 20% juice left. I was impressed to say the least, and HTC has done wonders with the battery life on its newer devices.

Camera

The camera in the One X is identical to the one featured in the new EVO, so it’s essentially the same experience. HTC cameras have been historically. . . mediocre. There have been definitely been exceptions, like the MyTouch 4G Slide, but otherwise the cameras HTC throws in its devices haven’t been anything to brag about. This changes with the One series of phones, as HTC is throwing all sorts of goodies in to make this the best camera package possible.

On the hardware side, the lens is of the 8 megapixel variety, with f/2.0 aperture, a 28mm wide angle lens and HTC’s custom ImageChip. What does this all translate to? Damn good photographs. Images come out beautifully, with the possibility of taking up to 4 frames in a second. This thing is fast, and even tapping the camera button can result in more photos than intended. Low-lighting pics don’t turn out quite as well as those in good lighting, but remember, this is a smartphone, not a DSLR.

HTC’s new camera app is the best I’ve used, with endless options and filters. It’s a good addition to the phone’s fantastic camera, and is as fast as HTC claims.

Videos looked good, but nothing too special. They can be taken at up to 1080p resolution, and turn out well if lighting permits. Sound quality isn’t the best, but this is more about the camera itself than the mic.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, the One X is a damn good handset. There’s not another handset on AT&T that I could recommend as of right now, so if you have an upgrade and are looking for a great phone, the One X is the right route. There’s even an added bonus for those who are currently in AT&T’s live LTE markets, as you should receive some of the fastest mobile data speeds around.

You can get the One X from AT&T online now, or wait until it’s in full stock at retail outlets around the country June 10th. The price is $199.99 on two-year contract.

With the Galaxy S III launch right around the corner in the US, we’ll have to see how the two devices stack up against each other. Be sure to follow DroidDog, as we’ll have full coverage once the device hits.

 

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