The HTC One X brings the best processor, an HD screen and a sublimely thin chassis as the Taiwanese firm looks to recreate the success of the original Desire.
The One X is a phone that’s had us intrigued for a while – running a quad core CPU (Nvidia’s Tegra 3) plus one of the largest screens on any HTC… and that’s without being given a gargantuan name like the Titan.
It’s clear from the outset what HTC is trying to do with the One X: shake off the slight doom and gloom surrounding the brand’s fall in profits, and bring out a slick, powerful and, more importantly, useable handset that only costs £36 per month (about $57) on a two year deal.
With Ice Cream Sandwich running from the outset, this is the phone that really takes HTC to the next level – but is it a case of too much, too soon for a brand that’s still really just over a decade old?
HTC’s phones have been slowly moving towards sleeker design ever since the purchase of One & Co (which may have had more than a little to do with the new naming strategy) and the release of the HTC Legend.
Since then, unibody designs and smooth lines have been a feature of its devices, and that principle has been evolved with the HTC One X.
However, before you read any further, a note of caution: if you’re not willing to accept a pretty large mobile, then you’re better off waiting for the likes of the HTC One S – the One X is a large piece of phone estate in your hand.
But it’s that large 4.7-inch screen that is such a stunning feature of the One X – it’s a 720p HD display packed into a chassis that’s only 8.9mm thick. Plus it’s also using the Super IPS LCD 2 technology that, while it lacks the vivid colour reproduction of Samsung’s Super AMOLED range, really brings games and movies to life.
We’re not going to get into the pros and cons of OLED vs LCD – suffice to say, it’s a matter of choice whether you prefer improved contrast ratios or a more true to life colour reproduction. In our opinion, both are excellent and the One X will certainly not disappoint.
Like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, it’s got a pixel density (screen sharpness) that rivals the iPhone 4S, but does it on a screen that’s over an inch larger. It’s one of those devices that you have to see to really believe, but there’s a good chance you’ll confuse it with a shop model with a static image Sellotaped onto the front.
The rest of the phone design is, again, pretty subjective. For the large size, it’s very light indeed at 130g. That’s quite a bit heavier than the likes of theSamsung Galaxy S2 (14g, in fact) but in reality you’ll consider it to be almost impossible to feel in the pocket.
The rest of the phone is pretty minimal in design. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, we’re offered some physical (well, touch sensitive) keys on the front of the HTC One X, meaning the display won’t need to jump up and down to show the contextual versions.
There’s an expected volume rocker switch on the right-hand side, a power button on the top (accompanied by a 3.5mm headphone jack) and a microUSB slot on the left-hand side – which also doubles a Mobile High-Definition Link to hook up to a TV.
It’s a very sparse offering on a phone that’s so expansive in its design, and leads to a very minimalist feel, which will likely appeal to many.
That effect is compounded by the microSIM slot on the back of the phone, which requires an Apple-esque device to open it up – and there’s no microSD support to be found here either, with the battery locked into the unibody design.
While the smaller SIM will be a slight annoyance to those upgrading from the full-size version, the lack of a microSD slot will be a big worry for many, especially as HD movies and large games will play very well on a phone like this.
There is 32GB of onboard storage, but that’s not going to be enough for the ilk of smartphone user that wouldn’t buy an iPhone until capacity was raised to 64GB.
The rear of the phone features the 8MP camera, which protrudes quite a lot from the handset, but thanks to the slightly curved nature of the chassis, doesn’t affect the phone too much when resting on a table.
The power button on the top of the phone can be quite hard to hit with the phone resting in the palm if you’ve not got the largest hands in the world, although the travel is such you’ll hit it pretty accurately most of the time, which is something some phones fail to manage.
The size is the main design issue we can see for most people – this sleek-looking, lightweight phone will appeal to both men and women, but those with smaller hands will struggle to use the HTC One X effectively without doubling down on their digits.
We reviewed the white version of the One X, and it’s worth noting that in a few hours it was quite dirty with fingerprint smudges and the like, so be warned you might want to fork out for a case too.
Let’s not beat around the bush here: we love the HTC One X. You can see how we feel about the battery life, but it’s not an insurmountable problem… it’s just frustrating that you’ll have to be frugal at times with your smartphone usage to get through the day.
But beyond that the HTC One X is a beautiful piece of kit. It’s stylishly designed, light, has a cracking screen and comes with enough future-proofing to make us believe our grandchildren may still have one.
The fact it’s rocking the latest version of Android will appeal to many too – except those that don’t want to get involved with the complexity of Google’s OS.
It’s not a tricky system to learn, but whether you buy the HTC One X will come down to two things: do you want a phone that rewards you the more you explore its features? And do you mind having to keep a bit more of a strict eye on that battery level throughout the day?
If the answer is yes to the first question and no to the second, then we have good news: you’ve just found your new phone. The HTC One X is feature-rich, well designed and not another clone in the smartphone market – plus it’s got a fancy CPU, gorgeous screen and grand design.
In short: the rivals better step it up in 2012 if they want to stop the HTC sparking a big revival for the popular smartphone brand.