HTC One X+ Review

HTC One X+ 1

We’ve had a lot of excitement lately with 2013′s flagship devices being announce and even reviews for the new HTC One are rolling out.  We at DroidDog just got out hands on the HTC One X+ for the first time.  Better late than never right?

Now, I’ve read a few reviews for the HTC One X+, and most of them seem to end up being comparative reviews to the One X.  Yes, they’re very similar phones, and the One X+ is the newer, more powerful, better looking brother of the One X. But how many people are actually upgrading from the One X to the X+? My guess is not very many.  So, for those of you that may just want a phone review, I’m going to do just that.  I’ve handled a One X a few times, nothing more than swiping home screens most likely.  I’ve never owned an HTC device before.  Reviewing this One X+ is my first real experience with an HTC device so I’m going into this without any bias against HTC’s Sense or how I think the One X performs.  This is going to be a review of the HTC One X+.

I’ve had the device in my possession for about two weeks.  I’ve used it as my personal device and have done everything on it I would normally do to a device besides rooting and flashing CM.  You may have read my post on improving your HTC experience, and this review isn’t going to touch on any of that.  I’m going to go over how this phone functions out of the box with Sense 4+ on the X+.

First, we’ll start of with the overview so you get my verdict and move on if you don’t care for the nitty gritty:

Overview

Pros:

  • The build.  I love the build of the device.  It feels amazing and solid in the hands.  It has a great level of grip and and creaking will not be an issue with this device.
  • The display.  I really enjoy the 4.7″ Super LCD2 capacitive touchscreen with Gorilla Glass 2.  Gamercore said it best in the comments of my first impressions post, the “SLCD2 looks as if the picture is floating atop the phone, not actually behind glass.” I couldn’t agree more.

Cons:

  • Gaming.  With the specs the HTC One X+ boasts, I was floored by the gaming issues it has.  Some games worked beautifully like Riptide GP or Mass Effect, while Cut the Rope and Granny Smith were laggy and frustrating to play.  A huge miss by HTC in my opinion.
  • Battery Life.  The 2100 mAh embedded battery rarely made it through the work day without having to be recharged.  I’m accustomed to this type of battery life with Android devices, but have always had the option to carry a spare battery.

Reccomendations

  • People who should not buy this device: Gamers, people on the go who aren’t always around a power outlet
  • People who should buy this device: The media consumer, people who appreciate fine build quality and engineering

HTC One X+ 2

Hardware

The HTC One X+ on paper is a beast of a phone.  It’s loaded with a 1.7 GHz quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 AP37 processor.  I own a Nexus 7 which has a 1.2 GHz quad-core Tegra 3 and that thing is a gaming beast, so I was expecting the same for One X+.  Along with the processor the device runs the MDM 9215m Qualcomm modem giving the LTE/HSPA+/HSPA/UMTS and GSM access.  I’ve been really impressed with the data speeds and radio quality.  On board, the One X+ has 64 GB of drive space and 1 GB DDr2 Ram.  With that amount of space you should be able to put quite of bit of music, movies, and apps on your device to entertain yourself with.  However, as I already talked about, the device has a non-removable 2100 mAh battery that will drain quickly under heavy use.  So if you’re going to use the device for media consumption which I highly recommend with the X+, be sure to have a outlet and wall charger handy.

HTC One X+ 3

I’ve already touched on my appreciation for the 4.7″ 720p super LCD2 display.  It has a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixel giving it about a 312 ppi pixel density.  In comparison Galaxy Note II, not only does the screen get much brighter, it’s crisper than the Note II.  I wouldn’t call myself a color guru, but as I expected, the Note IIs Super Amoled colors seemed more saturated and the blacks were blacker.  So that probably means that the colors (other than black) are probably truer with the X+.  Regardless, the screen looks amazing and I love the size.

Lastly the HTC One X+ is loaded with a few other bells and whistles such as NFC and Beats audio.  It also has a pretty fancy camera on the back as well as a front facing camera which I’ll get to a bit later.

HTC One X+ 4

Software

HTC catches a lot of grief because of its Sense UI.  In my opinion, the UI didn’t ruin my experience with the device.  I personally think HTC’s widgets look really nice.  I’ve always been a little jealous of their weather clock and calendar app and widget.  They just look really nice compared to what comes stock on Android.  Other than the widgets, Sense 4+ really doesn’t add much to Android 4.1.  Really, Sense hasn’t changed much for a while.  The icons have been the same for a long time.  The settings still have the same light theme.  It’s not very interesting.

HTC One X+ Software

I think one huge perk to the One X+ is that it is running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.  So you have access to Google Now which is a fantastic Google service and some that if you don’t have now, I’m sure you’ll use and grow to love.  In my personal opinion, I wouldn’t be concerned about it not running the latest version of Android, Jelly Bean 4.2.  4.2 doesn’t bring many features to the table that I’m super fond of, but I would think the X+ will eventually be upgraded.  HTC announced that the One series will be getting upgrades in the next couple of months, but no word on what the upgrades will be, or to what version of Android or Sense.

The HTC One X+ comes with a lot of AT&T bloatware.  I like to have my device basically bare-bones  but the devices obviously has enough clout to handle the bloatware.  Most of it I didn’t really get to mess with because I don’t have an account with AT&T.

Briefly looking around XDA Developers, it looks like there’s a decent development community for the One X+.  It looks like there currently isn’t a method to obtain S-Off, but we’ve seen that lots of current HTC devices are getting access to a software S-Off method and I’d hope the developers can get to the X+.  Regardless, if you’re looking to buy this device, there’s a development community behind it, but I wouldn’t buy this device looking to have huge development support from big name ROMs and developers.

Performance

I’ll split performance into two categories.  First, as a smart phone, the HTC One X+ is zippy and doesn’t slow down.  For every day use it’s fantastic.  I put all my normal apps on the device and used it for two weeks as I normally would use my own devices and it didn’t bog down. It stayed snappy.

Second, I’ll talk about gaming performance.  Gaming was strange on the HTC One X+.  Some games like Mass Effect or Riptide GP performed fantastically and were great fun on the device.  Others, as simple as Cut the Rope lagged and were frustrating.  I first noticed trying to play Granny Smith, which is supposed to be a Tegra optimized game.  I thought it would work awesome on the One X+, but it was laggy and for a game that requires timing it was frustrating.

I Googled the issue, and found that I wasn’t the only one experiencing it.  Senior XDA member ryanjsoo said this about the issue, “We had this problem with the original one x too, its due to the gpu clock being synchronized with the cpu clock. That means that if the cpu load it high, per say a tegrazone game like shadowgun, then the gpu scales up as well allowing for fluid gameplay even with detailed graphics. However this also means that when the cpu load is light, i.e temple run, the gpu will hardly scale at all implying that the phone will lag with simple games like doodle jump but not graphics heavy games like dead trigger. Games like asphalt 7 lag because the game probably only uses 1 or 2 core, thus the gpu is only at around %50 power.”  Here’s the thread if you’re interested in what people are saying about it.  It sounds like with modding the device they were about the get the issues solved with the One X, and there may be ways to solve it with the X+.  However, if you not one to root and mod your device, I would steer clear of this device if you like to game.  This is probably the biggest disappointment I had with the One X+.  Maybe things will even get fixed with an update?

Battery Life

HTC One X+ Battery Life

Well, if you read my overview at the beginning of the review, battery life was a big con for me with the One X+.  In my opinion, this is only an issue if you’re someone who’s away from outlets a lot.  If you work outside, do outdoors stuff etc., this device is probably not for you.  My first day with the device I didn’t bring a charger with me to work and the X+ died while I was still at work.  I made sure to bring the charger with me wherever I went after that.  Unfortunately, this device has a non-replaceable battery, so there are no options for carrying a spare battery.  If you need a charge away from an outlet you’ll need to carry some sort of charge pack.  With the X+ having a non-replaceable battery and having the hardware it has, my opinion is that HTC should have put a bigger battery in the device.  But, they didn’t, and therefore battery life is a con.

Camera

The HTC One X+ comes equipped with an 8 megapixel rear facing camera with auto focus, LED flash, and BSI sensor (for better low-light captures).  This camera also has an F2.0 aperture and 28mm lens which is supposed to set it apart from other phone cameras.  This rear facing camera also offers 1080p HD video recording and has a 1.6 megapixel front camera that can record in 720p.  The camera can snap pictures pretty quickly with very little shutter lag.  It also has burst shot and can take pictures (6 megapixels) while taking video which is really nice with kids and events.

All in all, I wasn’t blown away with the camera.  It was quick, which I really appreciate, but it struggled under medium light conditions.  It couldn’t figure out to turn off the flash under these conditions and would take awful photos.  When I manually turned the flash off, it would do really well.  Below, I have for you a side-by-side comparison with a Galaxy Note II under outdoor lighting conditions.

NII HOX+ bike2

NII HOX+ hydrant

NII HOX+ tree

Network

This discussion you can obviously take with a grain of salt, because network connectivity and coverage is super dependent on where you are.  Additionally, I didn’t have a second AT&T phone to compare the One X+ to.  I live in a rural area, and in town phone calls and quality were great.  Data speeds were fantastic and blew Sprint out of the water hich isn’t surprising.  Leaving town and driving on rural roads my personal Sprint devices did much better at always having some type of data connection and phone coverage.  I’m comparing apples to oranges here.  If you’re already on AT&T you know what you coverage is like.  If you’re not, check to make sure you’re okay it with what AT&T offers.  As far as I could tell, the device performed well in buildings.  I believe the radios performed well and that you’ll be happy with the HTC One+ as far as network connectivity goes.

Conclusion

HTC One X+ 5

The HTC One X+ is a fantastic device.  The display is beautiful.  The design is beautiful.  HTC’s widgets are beautiful.  Outside of gaming, the device doesn’t lag.  If you’re looking for a device that does what it’s told, this device will obey and will do it quickly.  If you’re a gamer and don’t plan to mod your device, steer clear.  If you’re away from an outlet for long periods of time during the day, again, steer clear of the HTC One X+.  But if you’re into a sturdy, powerful, beautifully designed device for media consumption or just being a rad phone, the HTC One X+ is awesome.  You can get it directly from AT&T right now for $199.99 or on Amazon Wireless for $79.99 with a new contract.  Regardless, it’s definitely a device you should be checking out if you’re shopping around.

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