The HTC One X promises to be the hottest Android handset around until at least 10 days time, when Samsung unveils its next weapon in the war against iOS. Its stunning spec sheet boasts much, including a 4.7″ 1280 x 720 resolution, IPS S-LCD 2 display, 1.5Ghz Tegra 3 quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM. Although specs don’t mean nothing, they’re not the be all and end all. What matters most is how the user experiences it, and how well it performs. I took it for a whirl over the weekend and was surprised, pleasantly. (Full gallery at the end of the post.)
Much of this is down to personal preference. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The iPhone’s boxy design is one which I’ve hated ever since the iPhone 4 launched back in 2010. But, I sacrificed my desire to have a good looking phone, for one which was clearly ahead of the pack in terms of performance and display quality. That being said, anyone who looks at it can appreciate the quality of the materials used and effort that’s gone in to making it small, thin and minimalist.
The iPhone’s front face is iconic. The single home key is a patented trademark and one which makes it instantly recognizable. A 3.5″ Retina display sits front and center underneath the minimal earpiece, front facing camera and proximity sensor. All the buttons around the outside are metal and give a really comforting click when pressed. All-in-all a real quality device.
The One X is easily HTC’s finest piece of design in the history of its phones. The unibody polycarbonate with its micro-machined holes over the loudspeaker and earpiece are fantastic. It looks great, and its soft grippy texture feels very good in hand. Despite being big, it’s very comfortable to hold and very light to boot. Nowhere near as slippery as its Apple competitions. That said, the buttons don’t have the same quality feel as the iPhone. I’ve noticed that it’s far too easy to accidentally press the volume rocker at inconvenient times.
On top, the One X has a lock key, a SIM tray and headset jack. All of which are neatly recessed in to the curves of the handset. On the back, the camera is the most apparent feature. It pokes out like a big grey pimple, but an attractive one (if that’s possible). HTC’s branding, Beats Audio logo and FCC markings are all minimal (unlike Apple’s showy chrome features.)
The HTC device’s front face is a real thing of beauty. The display dominates the front, and is neatly, ever-so-slightly rounded at the edges to blend in to the design. The only part I don’t like on the front is the row of capacitive buttons. They’re not terrible, I’d just rather they were software based like the Nexus. All-in-all I think both handsets have their advantages, but it’s hard to ignore the One X’s modern, sleek and comfortable design.
Both displays are impressive when you consider the sharpness. The iPhone’s 960 x 640 (326ppi) screen is amazing, and has been ever since it was introduced in 2010. But, it’s sad to say, the HTC’s display is even more amazing-er. The sheer size coupled with its 312ppi pixel density makes it a sight that you really have to see. Not only that, but, the technology used makes it appear as though the icons and interface are all right under your fingertips. That closeness between touch panel, and display gives an incredible view from almost any angle.
The honest truth (in my opinion) is this: the iPhone needs a bigger display. And, until now, there’s been nothing that matches its sharpness. Sure, there’s are high resolution displays out there, but many use a version of AMOLED that’s based on PenTile technology which leaves text looking fuzzy compared to the iPhone. Brightness also suffers on its competition’s displays. (The Galaxy Nexus is an example of this.) HTC’s One X is the best display on the market that I’ve seen. It’s great for browsing, watching videos, reading text and everything in between.
Quad-core vs. Dual-core means no competition right? No, not really. iOS isn’t anywhere near as memory and processor intensive as Android’s ICS. Both phones are quick and perform tasks as well as each other. The GPU on the iPhone’s A5 processor is fantastic. It takes on high graphic detail in games like Infinity Blade II and Real Racing with ease. That said, the Tegra 3 is clearly no slouch and has equally impressive abilities when it comes to gaming. Neither phone shows any clear signs of being better than the other here.
Before I wrote up yesterday’s camera comparison, I was expecting a complete walkover. Sure, the One X has an 8MP snapper with LED flash, but, so do a lot of phones and they still produce crappy images. The iPhone 4S was launched with the aim to replace your point-and-shoot. To some extent it does. Its backlit sensor, extra lens and filters produce some really great images. The HD video quality is equally impressive.
The One X’s shots are little more washed out than the iPhone’s. Again, a surprise. This meant that the iPhone’s results were a lot more like what my eye saw, but, the One X’s extra customisations and settings can’t be ignored. You can adjust practically everything. It has filters, slow-mo, Macro mode, adjustable white balance, ISO control, and a whole host more. Stuff that you just can’t access on the iPhone’s default camera. It also performs admirably in lowlight conditions.
Personally, I still think the iPhone’s camera is a better piece of hardware. The image and video results are ever so slightly better than the One X’s. That being said, if I was an Android user, and wanted a smartphone with a great camera, the HTC would be my first choice, by a long way. Not much in this, but I still think the iPhone wins it, by a nose hair.
Loudspeaker/Call Quality/Sound Quality
Android devices I’ve used in the past have failed badly in the area of call quality and loudspeaker performance. The Galaxy Nexus was really quiet and tinny, calls were distorted and flat. The iPhone on the other hand gives great call performance. Saying it’s crystal clear is going to far, but, it’s as good as anything I’ve used. The onboard loudspeaker is pretty decent too. Considering its size, it hits a remarkable range of low frequencies.
Similarly, the call quality on the One X is great. I don’t notice anywhere near as much distortion or flatness as I’ve experienced in the past. Thanks to the Beats Audio influence in its circuitry, bass notes are apparent when using the loudspeaker, and perform just as well as the 4S. This one’s a tie.
The iPhone’s battery will easily get you through a day on medium to heavy use. Thanks to its low maintenance operating system, it shouldn’t die half way through the day like many of the top Android phones do. And, if I’m honest, I was expecting the same from the HTC’s 1800mAh battery. But, it’s not what I got. Having charged it to around 85%, I switched it on this morning at around 10am, and it’s still on 63% twelve hours later. And that’S with 3G switched on, emails and reminders all on, notifications buzzing all day and a couple of phone calls. I’m mightily impressed. When the AT&T version is released you’ll notice a big difference, but, on the global 3G model, the battery is killer. Shame it takes so long to charge.
There’s no doubting that the One X is an incredible piece of kit. It sets the bar for overall quality in the hardware department, and is quite frankly the best phone on the market today. Although I’m not a massive Android fan, (hence why I won’t be doing a software comparison) I can appreciate when an awesome device is released. This is awesome in every sense of the word. If you’re in the market for a new phone and you overlook this one, you’ve missed out on one of the very best smartphones every manufactured by anyone, ever. The next iPhone better be good, or I’ll be finding a way to get iOS running on the One X.