Smartphone maker HTC released the HTC One X and HTC One V in Asia on March 30, which was an impressive feat with the release of two smartphones that run on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) at a time when many competing Android smartphones and tablets were still getting their act together.HTCOneX_with_iPhone4S
Fast forward a month, and the HTC One XL, a variant of the HTC One X is due to be launched in the U.S. on Sunday. The HTC One XL will run on AT&T's 4G LTE network, and incorporate a dual-core processor with 16GB of storage. The HTC One X that I tested is the international version and comes with 3G, a quad-core processor and 32GB of storage.
Hands-on with the HTC One X
What struck me when I first laid my hands on the HTC One X was its brilliant 4.7-inch screen. Indeed, a quick check of its specifications showed that the Super IPS LCD2 capacitance touchscreen supports a resolution of 1280x720 for a total pixel density of 312ppi. This is but a whisker behind the 326ppi of the iPhone 4/4S; I am all for the larger display offered by the HTC One X.
One of the features trumpeted by HTC was the unique polycarbonate unibody of the HTC One X, which the phone maker touts as extremely resistant to damage. Fronted by a Gorilla glass on the front, the HTC One X is only lightweight at a mere 130 grams, but looked really good too.
Another enhancement that differentiates this smartphone from other Android devices is its 8-megapixel camera, which comes with a HTC ImageChip that enables it to take up to 99 continuous shots at a staggering four frames per second. Alternatively, it can also record full HD videos and snap photos at the same time, which to my knowledge is a feat that no other smartphone camera is capable of. While its impressive camera functions are practically geared towards consumer usage, the current trend towards BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) makes it almost certain that the HTC One X will be a device at the head of the queue in terms of popularity.
In my tests, the performance of the phone was snappy and I did not encounter any noticeable lags. However, I noticed that the battery bar reduced perceptively in the hour or so that I was installing apps, experimenting with the phone, and browsing the Internet. This could be due to the combination of its large screen and quad-core processor, but could be worrisome in situations where professionals have to use it for long periods of time when away from their desks.
The HTC One X felt somewhat wide to my hands, and the polycarbonate unibody meant that the phone can slip out of your grasp if held improperly. It may be possible to get accustomed to it though, and the phone was certainly nowhere as wide as the Galaxy Note.
Finally, though some have complained about the lack of a microSD slot, it may actually be an advantage from a business perspective. This is due to the reduced likelihood of data leakage taking place through an inadvertently unencrypted media card should the smartphone be misplaced or stolen.
I have summarized the pros and cons of the HTC One X below.
- Snappy performance
- Large, impressive display
- Lightweight and built from of rugged polycarbonate unibody
- Built-in camera that is ahead of other smartphones on the market
- Quad core may not translate into better performance for most apps
- Battery life reduces relatively quickly on active use.
- No way to upgrade the memory capacity of HTC One X
Impressions of the HTC One V
I also had the opportunity to briefly test a review unit of the HTC One V, which is best described as the lower-end version of the HTC One X. The phone came with a smaller 3.7-inch touch screen with a resolution of 480x800, and a slower 1GHz processor. Instead of a polycarbonate shell of the HTC One X, the HTC One V has a plastic shell that comes in a metallic color. Under the hood, the HTC One V incorporates the same camera with HTC ImageChip as its more expensive cousin while also running on ICS. Ironically, the "budget" smartphone comes with two capabilities that the HTC One X lacked: A removable battery and support for microSD storage of up to 32GB.
I did not spend a lot of time with the HTC One V, though it proved almost as snappy in side-by-side comparisons when launching Apps and in terms of general usability. For the downgrade in specifications, the HTC One V is sold at a retail price in Singapore of $398 (US$320), which compares very favorably to the retail price of SG$898 (US$720) for the HTC One X. Ironically, the value proposition of the HTC One V may be sufficient to encourage some businesses to deploy them instead - assuming it is available in their locality.
Though battery life appears to be an area of concern with the International version of the HTC One X that I tested, the opinions of reviewers who managed to test both the HTC One X and AT&T's HTC One XL point towards the latter having a superior battery life even when used on 4G LTE networks. Moreover, there is also no discernible impact observed on overall performance, which throws the spotlight on the question of whether existing software are ready to take full advantage of quad core processors.
The camera is certainly impressive too, though it will probably play little or no part in gaining the approval of enterprise IT departments. Ultimately though, the HTC One X is an impressive smartphone that performs well and has all the right specifications. I think there is little doubt that the HTC One X ranks among the best Android smartphone available.
Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.