First Class, Review of the AT&T HTC One X
Last year when I went looking for a new phone the choices were crazy. I decided with a Tegra 2 device because the dual core Snapdragons weren’t out yet and after seeing Tegra 2 in a tablet, I was ready for that power in a phone also. HTC was a few months behind the Tegra 2 devices in bringing their devices to market and they have struggled since then.
Thankfully HTC realized they dropped the ball and went back to the drawing board and kept their new line of phones under some serious lock and key. This year at Mobile World Congress HTC came with their A game by announcing the One X and One S, their answer to the Galaxy Nexus and their main products for 2012. Of course now we know Samsung held off for a bit before announcing the Galaxy S III, but can HTC hold the title of top dog in the super phone segment?
HTC completely scrapped designs from previous generation and started over. Gone is the copy cat fat body design that looked so much like everything else. The One X features a slick white smooth curved body with a stunning 4.7 inch SuperIPS LCD2 display with Gorilla Glass. Up top in front is a 1.3MP front camera that will capture video at 720p resolution. Staying with the front bottom, three capacitive touch buttons are used for Back, Home and Recent Apps.
The right side of the phone is home to the volume rocket while the left side of the phone features a microUSB port that doubles as video out using a microUSB to HDMI converter. On the top of the phone is a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSIM slot which requires a Apple-esque tool to open the hidden compartment. Around to the rear of the phone the 8MP camera that protrudes from the back of the device.
Comparing the camera in the G1 to the One X is like comparing a 35mm point and shoot to a modern DSLR. The contrast in features and quality are just insane. The start time for the camera is greatly improved since past devices and others I’ve tested in the past. By putting the Camera shortcut on the dock, you’ll be able to access it quickly from the lock screen.
The One X comes with a non removable 1800mAh battery which allowed around 26 hours of moderate use without scurrying for a charger. As others have noted the screen does seem to take up an good chunk of the battery usage on this device due to the new to HTC SuperIPS display. Hopefully they can improve this in future software updates to better improve battery life.
When it comes to layering Android with a custom layer, nobody does it better than HTC. Their Sense UI is now in version 4.0 and is better than ever. Using many of the new features that ICS provides, they’ve really made the interface solid and intuitive. From personalizing the device to managing network connections, everything about their UI just works.
Thankfully HTC does provide a help guide for using Sense but I think they need to help a new user get started by at least putting a shortcut on the default home screen after initial setup. Sense UI has more whiz bang than any other manufacture out there when it comes to the interface and they have done a great job of just not making things pretty, but it helps to get things done.
From the home screen HTC again includes their beautiful set of Sense widgets that include an assortment of clocks that feature animated weather graphics. The home screen includes 5 panels by default but allow you to remove/add them to your liking. The Recent App button which is new to stock ICS shows a more helpful full screen approach to this list. The Recent Apps are now displayed in a sliding 3D card stack mode which I think is more helpful than the stock ICS way of showing a small screenshot of the app. The app drawer offers a helpful way of sorting your applications separating them to show All, Frequent and Downloads.
HTC kept with using the new font for ICS which is called Roboto. Personally I can see a difference when reading text on any size of screen with this new font. The text seems to pop just a little bit better and is more readable.
HTC has tucked away the settings menu in the notifications tray. Just swipe the notification bar down and select Settings. This can be a frustrating thing to keep going back to if you are changing settings often. To help with it though you could just create a Settings shortcut on a panel or just use the Recent Apps button to switch between applications.
A new section I’m going to try to review more often is connectivity. A cell phone these days is worthless without a signal. AT&T has made some huge improvements since the early days of the iPhone. In fact I don’t even think it’s fair to compare their network now with what was in place then.
With AT&T building their LTE out along side HSPA+, the improvements over 3G will make you do a double take. My max speeds on LTE were 88.99Mbps/8.40Mbps, 85.94Mbps/8.85Mbps and 61.48Mbps/10.12Mbps. The first two were while inside my home and the last was in a rural town about 20 miles east of Oklahoma City.
Most users don’t understand what faster speeds can do for them but posting that 8MP picture to Facebook with LTE literally takes a second. Refreshing your Twitter timeline or opening a webpage just happens now with almost no waiting. Showing this to other people is what sold them not just on the One X but on wanting LTE as a requirement for their next purchase.
First Class, Really?
Yes, really. As a reviewer I tend to compare phones to previous devices I’ve tested. And the iPhone represents a level of build quality that the Android arena has needed for a long time. Samsung has done well with the Galaxy S2 line of phones but many find the plastic shell a turn off, especially when compared to an iPhone. The TouchWiz interface is done well, but I don’t think offers enough in terms of added features.
HTC has really hit it out of the park in terms of competition. The materials used make you feel like you are holding a solid device but lightweight. The interface is packed with features but doesn’t overpower. The hardware features are minimal but well designed. Put it all together and you have a very well built device with the software to back it up.
The HTC One X is available for $199 on a 2yr contract from AT&T